Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Virginia property disputes :: ENS

"The leadership of the Diocese of Virginia remains focused on the needs of our churches including those where a majority of members have left the Episcopal Church," Patrick Getlein, secretary of the Diocese of Virginia, told ENS. "When majorities in those congregations voted in December to leave the Church and affiliate with Nigerian Anglicans they set in motion a spiritual and legal conflict that remains unresolved. The fact is Episcopal Church property has been abandoned, efforts have been made by the separated churches to alienate or transfer it, and loyal Episcopalians have been and continue to be excluded from their churches. Bishop Lee and the diocesan leadership remain committed to preserving the sacred legacy entrusted to us by previous generations for the future of the Church here in Virginia."
Exactly. The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has requested the eleven congregations end their illegal occupation of diocesan property. That property is for the use of Episcopal parishes.

Babyblue is wrong - go read and then come back. The reason Babyblue is wrong is that you cannot slice and dice the Communique the way you want. Here's what the Communique says:
On property disputes The Primates urge the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those
congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation. We also urge both parties to give assurances that no steps will be taken to alienate property from The Episcopal Church without its consent or to deny the use of that property to those congregations.
Point 1: It urges

Point 2: It addresses both TEC and the congregation.

Point 3: It refers to all actions in law.

Point 4: It refers to alienation of property.

Facts: The congregations have alienated property and have registered their claim.

The congregations have set in motion the actions in law, theirs and the diocese's response.


1. In his address to the General Synod of the Church of England the Archbishop of Canterbury writes:
"And to try and encourage an internal North American solution to the bitter disputes now raging, we suggested a structure for some kind of supplementary oversight, and an agreement on both sides to back away from litigation – the explicit hope being that this would remove what some see as the need for interventions from other provinces, and would begin to do away with what all agree is the anomaly of diversity of foreign jurisdictions in the USA."
2. Read this article in the Living Church based on an interview with the Chancellor of the Diocese of Virginia. Some extracts:
Mr. Beers noted that the leadership of the departing congregations have not made any effort to come into compliance with the requests made by the primates in their communiqué.“Indeed, the recommendations in the primates’ communiqué concerning a possible suspension of civil litigation over property matters specifically urge all parties in this context to ‘provide assurances that no steps will be taken to alienate property from The Episcopal Church without its consent’,” Mr. Beers stated. “The church is unaware of any movement in this regard on the part of the congregations involved in the pending litigation.”

Monday, February 26, 2007

We believe

*We believe that sex is a gift of God.
*We believe that sexuality is morally neutral, that it can be lived out with beauty, honor, holiness, and integrity and that it is capable of being lived out destructively.
*We believe that wherever sexuality is lived out destructively this church must witness to its negativity. We oppose all forms of promiscuous sex, predatory sex, sex that does not honor one's partner or that does not hold that partner in commitment and love.
*We believe that marriage is to be held in honor and that marriage represents that highest form of human commitment. We believe that through marriage we are called to holiness.
*We believe that celibacy is an honorable vocation for some of God's people and that those who have chosen to live in celibacy for whatever reason have gifts to give that will enrich both the church and the social order.
*Thus, we also believe that the ordained ranks of the church are open to all baptized Christians and that through our regular screening process we will determine who is both called and qualified. We pledge ourselves to ordain only those persons whom the testing and screening process reveals to be wholesome examples to the flock of Christ.

This is an epitome. An unabridged version here.

The impasse of asserting our conclusion as a premise :: Tobias

A must read. Here is a bit:
Those of us who support a neutral or positive view of same-sexuality have not made a case for our position in a way that is persuasive and convincing to the world-wide majority. ... Many and various voices have spoken, my own included, but there has been no systematic effort to produce a definitive examination and demonstration on this issue — at least one capable of moving beyond the impasse of asserting our conclusion as a premise.

Yes, I fear we on the liberal side have been just as guilty of petitio principii as the “reasserters.” We have been swept up in the knowledge of the rightness of our cause, forgetting that knowledge is capable of puffing up rather than building up.
Read it all of Tobias' essay here.

My earlier post less elegantly stating this case is here.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Gone to the loo :: NYT

Hardly a Christian spectacle, the rivalry has been more like a log-rolling contest where the conservatives and the liberals are battling to push each other off a spinning log, while trying to make it look as if their adversaries voluntarily jumped. Now, with the ultimatum, the liberals may need a lot of deft footwork to stay on the log.

Passions run so high that on the more than 150 Anglican blogging sites, the name-calling is vicious.
And there's this, too:
The Episcopal Church is one of the few [American denominations] that did not split over slavery. Churches in the Confederate States did form a separate alliance, Mr. Kater said, but the national Episcopal Church met without them and “pretended they were out of the room,” calling out the dioceses’ names for a vote “as if they had just gone to the bathroom.”

“After the war there was a simple reconciliation process, and they were all brought back in as if it had not happened,” he said. “I was taught in seminary that this was the great strength of the Episcopal Church, that when all the other churches divided, it stayed together and this was a sign of its great sense of unity. I think it was shameful, that the church considered that unity was more important than slavery.”
Will homosexuality be our Waterloo?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Presiding Bishop briefs Church Center community on Primates’ Meeting :: ENS

ENS story here. My version here. See also Ekklesia's version and The Christian Post's. I find it surprising that major news outlets have not picked up yet on the news she made in her statement.

The reaction of Archbishop Gregory Venables (Southern Cone) here:
Tragically, in the Presiding Bishop’s remarks to the Church Center community just two days after the close of the meeting she misguidingly argues that there was agreement and understanding among the Primates that blessings of same-sex couples could continue as “pastoral care” as long as there was no official published liturgy for it. That assertion quite scandalously demonstrates the very concern that the Communiqué addresses in identifying this situation.

The Presiding Bishop speaks to 815

I highly recommend that you listen to all she had say yesterday in her briefing to "the community of people who work at the Episcopal Church Center in New York on the recent Primates’ meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania." Html link here. She speaks for 25 minutes.

Some of things I heard her say:

1. One third of the primates were new, a "reminder that that body changes ... several high profile retirements coming [among the Primates]."

2. "Session where 3 other bishops of this church were present.... each of [us] expressed our own view ... significant part of the church where these issues are not [central] ... helpful for primates to see some of the emotion expressed."

3. "Those issues consumed the vast majority of our time [of the primates meetings]"

4. ABC " reflected in a nuanced way on the connection between slavery and our current controversies ... the role of the Anglican Communion in the end of slavery" Referring to the use of British Navy bombardment to end slavery in Zanzibar she said "I hope it doesn't come to that."

5. "Communique lists expectations... [Not meeting the expectations would take us out of the] councils of the Anglican Communion ... [Was seen as] helping this church resolve its differences."

6. "Entire communion is caught in our controversy.... The blessing in that .... can't deny homosexuals in their community ... TEC's gift is our 40 year conversation won't go away. ... God keeps bringing it back."

7. "Give strong evidence of our desire [to remain in the Anglican Communion] . Lambeth 1.10 teaching of the communion."

8. "My encouragement [to those who would say how dare they tell us what to do] is we might be able to see this as a container ... to continue to discuss " ... "my understanding of body of Christ is we can't say we have no need of you." [Referred to those on both sides of the issue who say let's divorce.]

9. "We are being invited to assert a desire to be full members of the AC."

10. "Change has already begun and I don't expect it to end."

11. There are "more developed churches whose provinces are close to [us]" [listed Brazil, Scotland, many others]

12. "Vast middle who don't see this as a defining issue."

13. "Few neuralgic provinces who have discovered this is their defining issue I think with encouragement from members of this church."

14. "The reality is change is happening in all those [provinces]. ... No where is there monochromatic opinion that the Primate may represent."

15. "Low point of the meeting when two of the primates reminded me of [how far we have to go] ... [One spoke of] homosexuality in same breath as child abuse in the Catholic Church, another said we don't study murderers why should we study homosexuality? ... We have a long way to go so that reason can be equal partner to scripture and tradition.

16. "I don't know what this church will decide ... I do know if we are removed from places [where conversation takes place we] lose opportunity to challenge thing like that."

17. Already in our "missional relationships [to other provinces] the conversation is changing people's understanding ... conversation opens some possibility of conversion."

18. "An enormous price is being asked of us. I don't know if we should pay that price. ... "

19. [paraphrase] This is a decision for the HOB. HOB will meet in March. Executive Committee will meet to discuss. Bishops will in September will come back informed about what they have heard in their own dioceses.

20. "I should clarify some misunderstandings... The reality is the ABC will respect what the primates decide ... official teaching. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York decide who is in communion with them and that's all that matters."

21. "Authorizing means official public ceremonies. ... Pastoral care [is still permitted - "the primates discussed that."]. ... Being asked to refrain from authorizing."

Jim Naughton has asked what the unintended consequences might be of accepting the requirements of the Communique. It appears clear the PB sees an unintended consequence of leaving the communion: it would slow the progress of justice for homosexuals in other parts of the communion.

I also see clear hints that the PB believes that the balance of power in the communion will have swung in a few years. A question one might ask is why not drop out and wait to be invited back when the communion has caught up with us. I can think of two possible reasons. The first is the point just made - the communion will move faster if we stay engaged. The second (paralleling the first) could be that by dropping out of the Anglican Communion's councils we spur divorce in The Episcopal Church.

Her premise of course is that she will not be changed by the conversation -- at least on her views about homosexuality. I don't believe she should. But conservatives will surely want to know what is in it for them to remain in conversation, and will even label her invitation as hypocritical. Actually they already have.

Presiding Bishop sets live webcast to discuss current issues :: ENS

a live webcast conversation with Episcopalians churchwide on Wednesday, February 28, beginning at 10 a.m. EST (9 a.m. CST, 8 a.m. MST, 7 a.m. PST).
Access to the program will be available through both the Episcopal Church's web site and the Trinity Wall Street parish site.

The program will open with the Presiding Bishop's introductory remarks centering on the recent Primates Meeting in Tanzania. Following her comments, she will answer questions from a live studio audience as well as phone and e-mail inquiries. Call-in numbers and e-mail information will be provided during the webcast.
The program will then remain online for on-demand viewing at later times.

Thanks to Mark for the heads up.

Separate, with mercy :: Timothy Fountain

Timothy Fountain writes:
The Episcopal Church is divided between people who don’t perceive, speak or handle reality the same way. The only choices (barring unexpectedly large numbers of changed minds and hearts) are coercion or separation. And Jesus always walks on (or lets others walk on). He does not force anyone to travel the Way.

It is time for what is now the Episcopal Church to separate with mercy.
I think that the HOB and the General Convention and any of the other incoherent (Episcopal Church Foundation’s word, not mine) TEC management entities need to have just one resolution before them:
Whereas The Episcopal Church is divided between those who advocate traditional Biblical and theological formularies and those who advocate a new thing of the Spirit;

And whereas these movements are irreconcilably divided as to basic assumptions about Christology, Biblical interpretation, church polity, Anglican identity and many other issues to the point of each side seeing the other as a “blind guide;”

Be it therefore resolved that the movements separate without penalty to dioceses or congregations joining either one, until such time as God’s gracious intervention allows reunification of the body of Christ.
Yeah, I know. “It raises many questions.”
Among the questions it raises: How will the separation occur at the parish level?

Still, I believe all parties should give Timothy's suggestion serious consideration.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A history of Episcopal blogs :: Diocese of California

Akinola says

Led by Nigeria's Archbishop Peter Akinola and Kenya's Benjamin Nzimbi, the bishops said if Canterbury "does not come back to us by September 30, we will decide whether they will continue being with us or not."

"Let us know if they will have stopped celebrating same sex marriages and ordaining homosexuals," Bishop Akinola who is the chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (Capa) said during the launch of an HIV /Aids prevention plan at Panafric Hotel.
Bishop Akinola described homosexuality as a global problem.

"If God said it is not right, who am I to say it is?" he asked.
The head of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, said the Church in Africa will make the decision to either break away or not depending on whether Canterbury, the Church's headquarters in London, would have acted on their ultimatum.

"We have given the Anglican Church an ultimatum to review the situation and by September we will know whether to continue together or apart," Akinola said on Thursday.
Did he actually put it in those terms - the Church in Africa breaking away if Canterbury does not act?

And what about this line: "Let us know if they will have stopped celebrating same sex marriages and ordaining homosexuals." The Communique instead says

In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church
1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144); and
2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134); unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134).
It is rather easy to say already that same-sex marriages have not been sanctioned by bishop. Moreover, what the HOB is asked to do is - not to prevent same-sex blessings - but to "not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions...."

Regarding "ordaining homosexuals" that is not what the Communique says. It refers to "episcopal orders" - that is consecration of a bishop.

What happened in Tanzania :: First Things

Conservative Episcopalian bishops will be allowed to nominate one of their own number as a “Primatial Vicar,” who will act in effect as presiding bishop for the church-within-a-church under the supervision of the primates’ Pastoral Council.

This new council could act as a significant check on the Episcopal Church’s internal authority, and it has been given great leeway to negotiate its own terms. In an especially telling line, it is given authorization under paragraph 157 of the Windsor Report to consider whether the Episcopal Church’s future actions merit further steps toward the withdrawal of the Episcopal Church from membership in the Anglican Communion. In essence, the new church-within-a-church stands ready to become a new American Anglican province in its own right if the Episcopal Church should decide finally to revoke its own current status in the communion.
Read it all. Thanks to Mark for link.

A golden oldie from Bishop Dorsey Henderson

To those wondering about my personal decision: Beloved, I tell you this in tears because it will hurt some, if not many. I did not consent to Canon Robinson’s consecration. At my own consecration as bishop I vowed to "guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church." As a Church we have not yet determined that the traditional understanding of Holy Scripture on sexuality has been incorrect. Until such time as we may do so theologically, I am convinced that a decision to consent would be a violation of that vow. My intentional efforts at convention have been to establish the structure for doing the necessary theological homework, and they will continue. My commitment to inclusion for all of God’s children is equally firm. In the interim, may God and God’s people of whatever diversity forgive me if I acted in error.

+Dorsey F. Henderson, Bishop of Upper South Carolina, August 5, 2003 (link, pp 14 and 19)
Again, that was 2003.

Is not the season for doing the theological homework very near? Two things are very clear in the primate's Communique. No where is it stated that we may not question traditional teaching on sexuality. It is clear it is all right to study it. It is clear what a change in teaching would mean (unless the Anglican Communion also changes its teaching).

The daily episcopalian points out this question is being raised by many. And like the daily episcopalian, that is how I read the Presiding Bishop's Word to the Church:
While those who seek full inclusion for gay and lesbian Christians, and the equal valuing of their gifts for ministry, do so out of an undeniable passion for justice, others seek a fidelity to the tradition that cannot understand or countenance the violation of what that tradition says about sexual ethics. Each is being asked to forbear for a season. The word of hope is that in God all things are possible, and that fasting is not a permanent condition of a Christian people, nor a normative one. God's dream is of all people gathered at a feast, and we enter Lent looking toward that Easter feast and the new life that will, in God's good time, be proclaimed.
Then on to disambiguation. Do not fear it for fear you will not get your way - if you do you have made an idol.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dear Bishops: Keep it simple

From the Communique -

In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church

1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144); and

2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134); unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134).

The Primates request that the answer of the House of Bishops is conveyed to the Primates by the Presiding Bishop by 30th September 2007.
Keep it simple. Just say "we will" - unanimously. Given the Anglican ambiguity of the Communique, and given our polity, affirmation is open to many interpretations. As to negative consequences what could they be?

The danger of violating the KISS principle is that you allow minorities to highjack the process and exercise a veto. Do we really want to give Bishop Iker a veto? The problem isn't a holdout by a liberal bishop, but by a conservative one.

Thanks to a commenter at daily episcopalian for fomenting these ruminations.

I have other thoughts on the HOB response planted here.

Contrarian thought continues

The consequences:
We acknowledge that in the most extreme circumstances, where member churches choose not to fulfil the substance of the covenant as understood by the Councils of the Instruments of Communion, we will consider that such churches will have relinquished for themselves the force and meaning of the covenant’s purpose, and a process of restoration and renewal will be required to re-establish their covenant relationship with other member churches.

- from the Draft Covenant
I fail to see

1. A definition of "extreme circumstances" except that we will know it when we see it (for me, the Communique also does not spell circumstances).

2. A plain statement of who will make such a finding - but if it by the common mind of all the Instruments of Communion that will so be ponderous as to be (happily) ineffectual.

3. What the consequences of such a finding would be - e.g., would it be second-class membership?

But my thoughts of late have been contrarian. Perhaps I just don't know how to read recipes for Anglican Fudge.

Quote of the day

Patrick Getlein, spokesman for the Virginia diocese, said it has no plan to drop its legal claims. The departures "set in motion a spiritual and legal conflict that at this point remains unresolved," he said.
As I wrote yesterday:
The Communique speaks of alienation of property of The Episcopal Church implying that the CANA congregations are in property owned by TEC, the CANA congregations are using that property -- it is they who are denying use by the faithful remnants, the CANA congregations have also initiated "actions in law"and Akinola also signed the agreement.

TIME and the Episcopals

Not a new band. It's TIME magazine's new name for Episcopalians.

I thought it was politically incorrect not to call minority groups by their chosen name.

Best article about Episcopalians

daily episcopalian suggests that of late it's this one in the NYT.

I suggest it's this one in the NYT. Extract:
The emerging field of social neuroscience, the study of what goes on in the brains and bodies of two interacting people, offers clues into the neural mechanics behind flaming.

This work points to a design flaw inherent in the interface between the brain’s social circuitry and the online world. In face-to-face interaction, the brain reads a continual cascade of emotional signs and social cues, instantaneously using them to guide our next move so that the encounter goes well. Much of this social guidance occurs in circuitry centered on the orbitofrontal cortex, a center for empathy. This cortex uses that social scan to help make sure that what we do next will keep the interaction on track.

Research by Jennifer Beer, a psychologist at the University of California, Davis, finds that this face-to-face guidance system inhibits impulses for actions that would upset the other person or otherwise throw the interaction off.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Your witness, counsel

The Living Church -
At the final press conference, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, said the meeting had damaged the church’s witness in the eyes of the world.

“Looking at the levels of human greed, terror and suffering around the world, it is difficult for people to have transformed views about the Anglican Communion when we have our own internal divisions,” he said as quoted by Episcopal News Service.

Parse this

Also from the Communique recommendations -
On property disputes

The Primates urge the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation. We also urge both parties to give assurances that no steps will be taken to alienate property from The Episcopal Church without its consent or to deny the use of that property to those congregations.
Bishop Minns (CANA) gives this spin:
Bishop Martyn Minns of CANA has said “I am pleased that the Anglican Communion leadership has recognised the serious break in the Episcopal Church and that CANA and AMiA are valid expressions of Anglican life and need to be part of the solution. The Primates are saying that all legal action should stop. I hope so. The Presiding Bishop initiated the legal actions and she has signed on to a document that says she will.”
Surely you jest. (1) Slipping from "urge" to "should" easily allows the false meaning "must" that "urge" does not, (2) the Communique speaks of alienation of property of The Episcopal Church implying that the CANA congregations are in property owned by TEC, (3) the CANA congregations are using that property -- it is they who are denying use by the faithful remnants, (4) the CANA congregations have also initiated "actions in law"and (5) Akinola also signed the agreement.

Regarding CANA being part of the solution, all the Communique says of CANA is this:
Although there are particular difficulties associated with AMiA and CANA, the Pastoral Council should negotiate with them and the Primates currently ministering to them to find a place for them within these provisions. We believe that with goodwill this may be possible.
And what provisions are these?
[S]tructures for pastoral care be established in conjunction with the Pastoral Council, to enable such individuals, congregations and clergy to exercise their ministries and congregational life within The Episcopal Church....
My emphasis.

Is Bishop Minns prepared for the CANA congregations to return to the fold of The Episcopal Church?

Trigger? What trigger? For what? By whom?

From the Communique (emphasis in the original) -

In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church 1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144); and2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134); unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134).

The Primates request that the answer of the House of Bishops is conveyed to the Primates by the Presiding Bishop by 30th September 2007. If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion.

The consequences are not stated. Are they tangible? Ruth Gledhill thinks so:
The bishops of the Episcopal Church have been given until September 30 to respond. If they refuse to comply, action is certain to be taken to suspend in some way the province's membership of the central councils of the Communion. It would be doubly embarrassing for the province given that their Primate, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, was also elected onto the Standing Committee of the Primates, a highly-prestigious seat which places her at the right hand of the Archbishop of Canterbury and at the centre of the structures of power in the Anglican Church.
Doubly embarassing, or doubly unlikely? I would not be so quick to conclude "if they refuse to comply [by September 30], action is certain to be taken to suspend...." First, drop dead dates can always slip when there is evidence progress is being made. Second, will the Primates really want to carry out the threat? Third, if the punishment is to remove KJS from the Standing Committee we are simply back to where we were yesterday. I don't believe the lady gives a damn about embarassment over losing a battle over inclusion. Fourth, KJS just got closer to the levers of power in one of the instruments that would play a role in deciding guilt and punishment of TEC.

The comments of Charles Hohenstein are cogent:
ECUSA was not punished at all--the decision was simply postponed until after September 30th, when no doubt there will be more meetings and more obfuscation and another extension of the deadline for compliance. Note especially that ECUSA bishops don't have to ensure that no blessings of same-sex unions take place in their dioceses. They only have to give their assurance that no formal, public rites for the same will be adopted. ... ECUSA was not required to depose Gene Robinson. The bishops requesting alternative primatial oversight didn't get it. Instead they will get a sort of Vichy solution with the Presiding Bishop nominating two of the five members of the council, and deciding what powers to delegate to the vicar. Note well that nominations for the position of vicar will come, not from the Anglican Communion Network, but from the whole pool of so-called Windsor bishops, most of whom are only orthodox on paper....
Reading around the Episcopal blogosphere it seems my assessment is contrarian. See here and here for example.

UK newspaper roundup: Shrove Tuesday, 2007

Hardliners warm to the woman they hate
Jonathan Petre, The Telegraph - 20 Feb 2007

Anglican primates struggle for consensus
Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent, The Telegraph - 20 Feb 2007

The Anglican crisis
20 Feb 2007, The Telegraph

No schism for now: Williams gets tough on liberals to save the church
Guardian, Tuesday February 20 2007
Stephen Bates in Dar es Salaam

Liberals uncensured as rift is patched up
Ruth Gledhill, The Times, 20 February 2007

Church deadline to curb gay rights
Ruth Gledhill, The Times, 20 February 2007

Pray lift your eyes above the belt
Libby Purves, The Times, 20 February 2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

Report of the Covenant Design Group and Primates Communique

Primates Meeting Communique
-Note that what is referred to as the "Schedule" in Paragraph 35 begins after Paragraph 37 at the heading "Recommendations of the Primates."

An Anglican Covenant, Draft prepared by the Covenant Design Group, January 2007 (pdf)

Covenant Design Group Report and Covenant Draft Text (pdf)

Gledhill also breaks the story that Jefferts-Schori has been elected to the Standing Committee. daily episcopalian clarifies what that means.

As to the Communique, I'll let others masticate on it before I jump in.

A roundup of links to initial reactions here from titusonenine.

Quote of the day: paigeb

This saddens me---it would have been a perfect chance to show that WE will not use communion, or even everyday fellowship, as weapons. What a witness it would have been to take communion from the hands of Bishop Akrofi, and then tell him after the service that you were a supporter of TEC's policies!! I totally understand the diocesan reaction, but I think it was ill-considered and shows the same lack of Christian love and forebearance shown by those who abstained in Tanzania. Sigh.
I do not understand the action of the diocese, the Bishop of Maryland. For one thing it is bad timing strategically -- although it does show a healthy honesty if you were going to do rescind the invitation anyway.

Was the bishop fearful that his diocese would embarass him by refusing communion from Bishop Akrofi, and make communion about them rather about God? I would hope his lack of faith in his people is misplaced. If they are that small let's get it out in the open so we can all begin a healthy examination of our own shortcomings.

Arguments about broken communion don't wash with me. God is bigger than that.

Hear also what Father Jake has to say.

Reading the tea leaves :: The Telegraph

They have until the end of today, the last day of the meeting near Dar Es Salaam, to reach agreement before issuing an official communiqué, which is supposed to reflect the consensus of the primates.

The conservative group of about a quarter of the primates, who represent more than half of all Anglicans in the world, was deeply unhappy over the weekend with the draft communiqué.

A number of them refused to share Holy Communion yesterday at a service in the Anglican cathedral in Zanzibar and the official group photograph of the primates had to be cancelled for the first time because they would not take part.

One senior official said yesterday that he could not rule out the possibility of both a majority and minority statement. The conservatives want the communiqué to give the green light to a "parallel" Church for like-minded Americans.

But liberal primates insist that any enclave for conservatives must remain within the Episcopal Church, and must not include several groups with links to African provinces.
The Living Church adds:
The service also suggested a leftward shift from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams. In his sermon to the cathedral congregation, he offered oblique criticisms of those not receiving the sacraments, and encouraged an inclusive church centered round love. At the June 2005 Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham, England, and at the February 2005 primates' meeting in Dromantine, Northern Ireland, Archbishop Williams' tone spoke strongly to the need for order and discipline within the Communion, deprecating the actions of The Episcopal Church.

Two of The Episcopal Church's staunchest allies within the primates' meeting will have left before the final document is completed. Archbishop Mauricio Andrade of Brazil flew to Rio de Janerio on Feb. 18 to attend a meeting of his province's House of Bishops, while Southern Africa Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane returns to Capetown at noon on Feb. 19.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sentence of the day

"My four male colleagues at the church are all great men, but being the youngest, and being female . . . well, I can't really call them up at midnight on Saturday night and say, 'Do you think fishnets are too much with a collar and long skirt?' " said Erin Smith, a student at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Penn.

Marriage and Divorce Saudi Style :: Black Iris

Black Iris has a nice post on the high rate of divorce and forced marriage in Saudi Arabia. It is speculated that forced marriage was found unIslamic because it was a forced marriage was more likely to end in divorce. But now Black Iris has found an instance of forced divorced.

Background - draft covenant on 19 February

The Anglican Communion Official Website

Report of the Communion Sub-Group

• Covenant Consultation Paper - 'Towards an Anglican Covenant'

Again, "The Primates said that they wish to share the Covenant with the bishops of the Anglican Communion before its public release. Copies of the Covenant Design Group report and the draft Covenant are expected to be made available, along with the Primates' communiqué, on February 19. Aspinall said that they hoped for initial responses from around the Communion within the next 12 months and for a revised version of the Covenant to be presented to the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Bishops."

UK roundup: 18 Feb 07

Cardinal's permission for gays' Mass dismays Catholic traditionalists

A schism with American Anglicans is the least of Rowan Williams's problems. He should worry more about an Anglo schism with Anglicanism

On a chill December morning in 1640, he was hanged on a gallows near Dublin Castle, the only Anglican bishop to date to be executed for a homosexual offence

An exact description of the state of the Anglican Communion

Jim Naughton nails it:
It is a commentary on the state of the Communion that on this day, when the Primates focused some of their attention on the essential work of the Church--theological education, caring for the poor--people are saying that "not much happened."

That isn't quite the case. Here's ENS's story on the day's proceedings. And here's another one from Matthew Davies which points out that contrary to the wishes of Peter and the Akinolytes, the Episcopal Church continues to do important work in Africa.
Read it all. Jim highlights a revealing give and take in the news conference for the day involving Chris Sugden.

At responsible conservative websites like titusonenine few commenters rail about the diversion of spending a day on poverty, more criticize the UN as a partner (I share most of their concerns), and others contribute comments on the other ways in which their parish or diocese has been active in dealing with poverty locally and globally). But mostly few comment at all compared the diseconomy of words on the topic of TEC and Windsor yadda yadda.

The same could be said of liberal blogs. And mine. Well, not this one.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A new Christian

Primates discuss Covenant, Listening Process; continue Windsor consideration

It's all there. Click the headline for the whole story.

One point to note: It seems the next real news (barring leaks, etc.) will come Monday 19 Feb. "The Primates said that they wish to share the Covenant with the bishops of the Anglican Communion before its public release. Copies of the Covenant Design Group report and the draft Covenant are expected to be made available, along with the Primates' communiqué, on February 19. Aspinall said that they hoped for initial responses from around the Communion within the next 12 months and for a revised version of the Covenant to be presented to the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Bishops."

For contributions to the understanding of the institution of St. Valentine's Day

Over at the Adam Smith Institute I have been cited for my contributions to the understanding of the church's day of observance for St. Valentine.

Reader's of The Wealth of Nations (or back issues of the New Virginia Church Man) will know that Adam Smith had much to say about the church including schism and promotion of church membership because of the separation of church and state.

UK newspaper roundup: 17 Feb 07

The Guardian: The Rev Dr Giles Fraser is the vicar of Putney writes,
Monty Python got it spot-on: it's the People's Front of Judea versus the Judean People's Front. The only thing that can reunite the factions is something they all hate more than they hate each other. The idea of a gay bishop in faraway New Hampshire is an enormously useful tool of unity for otherwise fractious conservatives. They purchase their togetherness with the suffering of gay Christians, especially in places such as Nigeria, where the church is egging on a violent and aggressive homophobia. It's textbook scapegoating.
The Telegraph (3 items)

1. Church rift exposed as primates snub liberal

2. Dr Williams will find little comfort:
As soon as he packs his suitcase and flies home, he faces a potentially highly charged debate on homosexuality and civil partnerships when the Church of England's General Synod gathers in London later this month.Tensions in the Church of England, and within his own House of Bishops, could boil over if things go wrong out here.
3. Divided communion:
If evangelicals or rainbow-coalition liberals reject the authority of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and place themselves under the jurisdiction of an overseas primate, they will have left the Church of England.

Perhaps no Church in history has admitted such a broad spectrum of doctrines and liturgical styles as England's Established Church. Preserving that fine balance demands not just tolerance, but also loyalty - loyalty to parishioners as well as to the archbishops.

When Anglicans visit their parish church, High or Low, they are placing themselves under the pastoral care of legally consecrated bishops appointed by the Queen, not some loopy maverick in New England or sub-Saharan Africa.
The Times
Many truths are held sincerely in opposition to each other and is it not time that we learn to live with difference?

Of all people those who espouse religion and its golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do to you”, should understand this truth.

If the Anglican Communion’s answer to the world’s divisions is just another schism why should anyone listen to anything it has to say?

The Rev Cameron Butland, Grasmere, Cumbria
Gledhill's (Times) blog:
Publication of the Anglican Covenant, expected today, has now been delayed until Monday because of the number of changes and corrections needed. It is I am told a very substantial document, but still a draft. The chair of the Covenant Drafting Group, Drexel Gomez, West Indies Primate, will disclose more in an hour or so at a press conference in Dar es. The delay was caused also by the Archbishop of Canterbury having to leave the meeting in the middle of the Covenant discussions to meet Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete...

ABC, KJS and Dean Smith :: NYT

Dean Smith, former basketball coach at the University of North Carolina (a cathedral of sorts), famously created the four corners offense to run out the clock and prevent a comeback by the opposing squad. The shot clock rule effectively banned the 4 corners.

Traditionalists in the Anglican Church are afraid the clock is running out.

Quoting the NYT story (link in post title above):
“Conservatives are very disappointed,” said Timothy Shah, senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, in Washington. “They have the feeling that the policy of the archbishop of Canterbury and the leadership of the Episcopal Church is one of indefinite delay in the hopes that aging conservative primates will retire and eventually be replaced by people who are more open to a negotiated settlement.”
By Friday, conservative Anglicans said they were starting to despair that the meeting here would produce neither of their goals: a condemnation and marginalizing of the Episcopal Church, or a new church structure for American conservatives who want to leave the Episcopal Church but remain within the Anglican Communion.
A draft covenant presented at the conclave on Friday could step up the pressure. Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, who was chairman of the drafting committee, said Friday that once approved, the covenant would provide a way to hold wayward churches in check.
I don't see the covenant holding "wayward churches" in check unless there is a trigger that works as effectively as the shot clock in basketball. If I were advising the conservatives, I'd say that at this point a covenant is a shot clock, but there's not enough time until the end of the game for that to make a difference. Because traditionalists have been defining winning as flushing liberals from the levers of power, and thus driving those with liberal views to other homes of worship. The numbers simply are not in their favor unless the institutions of the Anglican Communion do the flushing. And that isn't going to happen.

Reasserters in The Episcopal Church are trying to hold back a tide that will eventually prevent their tradition from surviving within the Episcopal Church. That's why they will push for a two-province solution so that their traditional tradition can stay alive in the US and remain within the Anglican Communion. (Of course CANA claims that has been achieved de facto.)

The messy part of such a divorce of the parties in TEC will be the fight over the property. And I am not referring to waste measured in lawyer fees. Read on.

One of the things that Anglicanism has been good at is staying in communion / conversation / tension so that we learn from each other in our congregations, dioceses, and national churchs. That is a defining feature of Anglicanism. The organizational barrier to schism (divorce of those bound geographically) is what creates that potential for spiritual growth within the body. Thus, even an amicable division of the property may come at great cost. We will all of us be less Anglican.

And that's why the Primates meeting in Tanzania should not consider the two-province solution.
A closing note of correction from the Associated Press:
In a Feb. 15 story about the Anglican conference, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said a parallel church within the United States was contrary to Episcopal teachings.

That statement was from Robert Williams, an aide to U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. "The canons and the written laws of the Episcopal church do not provide for any sort of parallel structure," Robert Williams said. The corrected version appears below.
If the ABC had said that to the press at this juncture it would be big news.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Living Church report for 16 Feb

News of the broken communion arose at an impromptu press briefing at 1:30 p.m., given by Canon James Rosenthal, director of communications for the Anglican Consultative Council. Canon Rosenthal said that some of the Global South primates had attended the corporate Eucharist that day, the first of the conference.

This followed a press chase of Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria shortly after the primates’ broke for lunch and worship. Dressed in mufti, Archbishop Akinola was spotted by reporters lounging in the lobby on the second floor of the White Sands Hotel, site of the conference.

As Archbishop Akinola descended the stairs, with a sheet of papers and file folders in his hand, a paparazzi frenzy began as photographers, reporters and television cameras descended upon the Nigerian church leader.

As questions were shouted at him, Archbishop Akinola responded “no comment” and placed his files in front of his face and began running back toward the “ring of steel,” the security cordon surrounding the primates’ section of the hotel.

Pursued by reporters including one clad in a bathing suit and towel, the archbishop made good his escape.

Later in the afternoon, taking a side route, Archbishop Akinola returned to the office and was closeted with the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, Bishop of the Convocation of Anglican Churches in North America. A press briefing by Bishop Minns is expected later.
I wonder was the reporter in the bathing suit from The Guardian or The Telegraph, perhaps?

Conservative to put forward plan for "parallel church in US" :: BBC

As predicted....

Despite the report finding in the Episcopal Church's favour, there is scope for further division at the Tanzania meeting, our correspondent says.

Conservative archbishops were due to put forward their plan for a parallel church in the US, under its own bishop, to cater for traditionalists who have broken away from the Episcopal Church.

Such an organisation could attract disgruntled traditionalists from other sections of the Anglican Church outside the US, and could eventually rival the main Church, our correspondent says.
Conservatives may have written off hope of restoring the American and Canadian churches to their vision of Anglicanism. The precedent of a parallel church in North American would have the additional effect of either (1) disciplining liberals in the Church of England, or (2) leading to the division of the Church of England.

A statement from the Church of Nigeria

Quote in full:

Statement from Global South Primates


A number of the Global South Primates have not shared in the Holy Eucharist today with their fellow primates. They include Abp. Peter Akinola, Abp John Chew, Abp. Benjamin Nzimbi, Abp Justice Akrofi, Abp. Henry Orombi, Abp. Gregory Venables, and Abp. Emmanuel Kolini. They represent more than 30 million faithful Anglicans. They have released this statement:

"We each take the celebration of the Holy Eucharist very seriously. This deliberate action is a poignant reminder of the brokenness of the Anglican Communion. It makes clear that the torn fabric of the Church has been torn further. It is a consequence of the decision taken by our provinces to declare that our relationship with The Episcopal Church is either broken or severely impaired.

Scripture teaches that before coming to sit with one another at the Lord's Table we must be reconciled. (Matthew 5:23-26 and 1 Corinthians 11:27-29) We have made repeated calls for repentance by The Episcopal Church and its leadership with no success. We continue to pray for a change of heart.

We are unable to come to the Holy Table with the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church because to do so would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding, "Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith" (Book of Common Prayer)

This is a painful decision for us and also for our host and brother, the Most Rev¹d Donald Mtetemela. He understands our painful dilemma and accepts our decision. Pray for the Church."

Friday, February 16, 2007
White Sands Hotel, Jangwani Beach, Tanzania
Some background from Scott Gunn:
Archbishop Peter Akinola has been meeting with conservative Anglican leaders today. It is not known exactly with whom he is meeting, because they are in a secured area behind closed doors. ...

Several times +Peter has gone in and out of the primates' compound to a room upstairs where conservatives have been huddled. Last time he passed through, Peter was accompanied by a security guard and Mrs. Martyn Minns.

Though the exact agenda is not known to us, it is believed that the afternoon session of the Primates' Meeting has begun, and that Peter is not present with his primate colleagues. He was also absent during the noontime celebration of the Eucharist, meeting instead with the conservative group.
UPDATE: Bishop Martyn Minns appeared from upstairs. He said that "we'll have something today, I hope" in response to a press request for a comment. So maybe there will be news. Still no sign of +Peter, so it appears that he's meeting with conservative leaders this afternoon rather than attending the Primates' Meeting. I hasten to add that this is unconfirmed.
It's odd though that Akinola would skip the business meeting. According to Reuters:
Officials said the Anglican archbishops would also discuss on Friday a draft of an Anglican Covenant, which for the first time in more than 400 years of Anglican history, would set the standards for membership to the worldwide Anglican Church.
Of course Akinola may just agree with The Mad Priest on this one: Standards of membership "will be the end of Anglicanism."

UPDATE: As regards the boycotters' theology behind not attending Eucharist, Caught by the Light does an examination and catches them by the short and curlies.

Does the sub-committee's report create lock-in? :: Confessions of a Carioca

daily episcopalian gives a further take on the subcommittee's report and points to this post at Confessions of a Carioca.

Quoting C of C:

Over the course of the last 3+ years, the Windsor Report has been warmly embraced by conservative Anglicans. I believe the same evolution of sentiment can and should take place with respect to the sub-group’s report.
[He goes on to enumerate why]
The center has shifted, and this report is a sign of the shift. A position that once would have been considered explicitly “conservative” in the Anglican universe is, by virtue of the evolved normative authority of the Windsor Report, now seen as middle-of-the-road. Conservatives should be doing back flips over the fact that many liberals in TEC are saying, “Look, told ya so! Two out of three ain’t bad!” when the “two” that we are apparently judged to have gotten right are inherently anathema to the liberal vision.
Tony Clavier adds: "I think your assessment is right on. Now we shall have to see whether moderate bishops will have the courage to come into the open. Many with divided dioceses fear a revolt and others fear they will be called cranks by their peers."

An analysis worthy of further reflection.

Note, however, that the Presiding Bishop, at the same time as the report is issued, is reiterating her position which runs contrary to a commitment to follow traditional teaching:
Earlier Thursday, an aide to Jefferts Schori said she will not soften her views even as the issues threaten to break apart the Christian fellowship.

"The spirit of Anglicanism will prevail here and there will be a middle way forward," Robert Williams told The Associated Press. But Jefferts Schori "will not waver in her stand for justice and inclusion of all people in the body of Christ."
It looks to me that the report gives The Episcopal Church more time to convince the communion that an accomodation of diverse views on homosexuality in the Anglican Communion is the right thing to do.

Conservatives in The Episcopal Church see that as a very slippery slope for them (c.f. women's ordination where some diversity within TEC was initially allowed). I can see the Global South pushing for pre-approval of a contingency plan to go to a two-province solution if The Episcopal Church doesn't get to 3 out of 3, or falls below 2 out of 3.

Addendum: Preludium gives his analysis of the Carioca essay and ties it in with Kendall Harmon's essay linked to in an earlier post below.

On Faith (of Bishops) :: Washington Post

Peter James Lee, Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Martyn Minns, Bishop of Convocation of Anglicans in North America

UK headlines for 16 Feb 07

The Guardian: "Anglican leaders avoid church split over homosexuals · US Episcopalians take steps to avoid rift · Archbishop's report seen as rebuff to conservatives"

The Telegraph: "Primates consider 'parallel' Church"

The Times: filed under "News in brief" (scroll down)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Real news: Report of the Communion Sub-Group

Here's the link to the report. (pdf here)

Members of the Sub-Group
The Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Central Africa
The Archbishop of Wales
Chancellor Philippa Amable, Province of West Africa
Canon Elizabeth Paver, Church of England
The Secretary-General
At their meeting in London in March 2006, the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council nominated four of its members to assist the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion in discerning the response of the Anglican Communion to the decisions of the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Some of these decisions related to requests made of the Episcopal Church in the Primates’ Statement of February 2005 at Dromantine, which incorporated the Primates’ response to the recommendations of the Windsor Report. The group appointed met in London in September 2006.
Jim Naughton at daily episcopalian gives a quick analysis (" I've read it through once, so here is a quick response that I may, no doubt, live to regret: In general it seems a positive evaluation of the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report"). His commenters add more (including Charlotte: "The report, significantly, states that we complied with the Primates' requests (i.e. Dromantine) and not merely the Windsor Report. And it ends with the wish that violations of the Windsor Report's strictures against boundary-crossing could be addressed with equal seriousness. It provides no basis for the "expulsion" or "disciplining" of TEC, and I don't see that it provides much of a rationale for APO, or a "two-province" solution, either.").

Commenters at titusonenine are discouraged. Those at StandFirm call it fudge.

Ruth Gledhill:
'Chilling,' is how Kendall Harmon described it, warning that schism now was even closer than before. This report would have the effect of propelling TEC further away from the centre and hasten any breach that is looming, he said.
Kendall Harmon of TitusOneNine was one of the first off the mark. 'It is a really, really poor report. This report was written by someone who was not at General Convention. It is shocking that a report like this could have been written at this stage. General Convention took the Windsor Report and subverted it entirely so they could use it as they wanted to use it and they have already started doing this.
Kendall warned that schism had now been brought even closer. 'This has made the survival of the Anglican Communion less likely. That is what breaks my heart. I would say there is an inch of thread left.
Fundamentally, the response of TEC to Windsor at GenCon06 was deemed by the group to be adequate except with regard to same-sex blessings. At the meeting, which began at 9am and went through to 5pm at the heavily-guarded White Sands Hotel in Dar es Salaam, both TEC's Primate Katharine Jefferts Schori and the CofE's Dr John Sentamu remained present as full members.
At the press conference, Aspinall, pictured above, was asked whether TEC still needed to be disciplined, and whether schism was closer or further away. The answers he gave to both were frustratingly imprecise. He said that although TEC in its GenCon resolutions did not use the precise language of the Windsor Report, it did the most that could have been done, and the reponse was adequate in its own terms.
Gledhill's post ends with a sentence from an email to her from Harmon:
There is now a real chance that South Carolina will not get the necessary consents by the March 9th 2007 deadline, in which case what will be communicated is: no one of traditional faith can be approved as bishop in this province again. Chilling.' "
Uh, no. No one who expresses readiness to take his diocese out The Episcopal Church should be considered for bishop. Which is essentially how the ACC's report concludes as well.

Living in three separate worlds :: First Things

Some extracts from an essay by Jordan Hylden:
Archbishop Williams, in a sermon last summer titled “The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today,” noted that Anglicans have uneasily coexisted for generations as three distinct groups in one church: evangelicals, catholics, and liberals. Part of being an Anglican, he argued, is believing that all three groups have something to learn from one another. Most Christians would agree with his point. But the practical difficulty of it is that the three groups increasingly live in separate thought-worlds, each with its own distinct vocabularies and ideas about what it means to be a Christian.
Rather than preach the repentance of sin and forgiveness of Christ, the liberal church primarily exists to help create the “kingdom of God” by advocating for social justice, inclusion, and so on. In Schori’s new book, A Wing and a Prayer, it seems that she does, in fact, affirm doctrines like Christ’s divinity and resurrection. But for liberals such as Schori, such matters are relatively unimportant. For Schori, disagreement on such issues is possible, even desirable, within the Church. The only nonnegotiable doctrines have to do with the Church’s new central mission, defined as matters like gay rights and the UN Millennium Development goals.
Sentamu, a native Ugandan who has forcefully and winsomely stood for historic Anglican faith in his adopted England, is also a theological ally, and ought to be welcomed by evangelicals as such. One hopes that this will be realized sooner rather than later.
Details are currently a bit fuzzy on the remainder of the Global South primates’ requests, but reports are that they also want a new American province to be formed forthwith as an immediate replacement for the Episcopal Church. At present, it is unclear if this is meant literally. If so, and if Akinola brooks no dissent on this point or others, it may well result in full-blown global schism. Akinola has shown little patience for compromise in the past, and this may well be his final line in the sand, after which he and the Global South will depart permanently. But their proposal is, to put it mildly, dead on arrival. It would apparently require Episcopalian conservatives to, in effect, abandon the Episcopal Church by next week, bypassing established constitutional processes for creating a new Anglican province and preempting entirely next year’s pan-Anglican conference in London. For most American and English conservatives, most of whom want to work with rather than against the Archbishop of Canterbury, this will not wash.

Other reports seem to paint Akinola’s proposal in a different light, and hopefully they are correct.
At this critical moment in Anglican history, evangelicals and catholics have need of each other more than ever. Sadly, there is no guarantee they will embrace each other as brothers in Christ, or even that they will learn how to understand one another. After hundreds of years filled with faith and struggle, the beautiful dream of the Anglican Communion—which sought truly to live out the maxim “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity”—may turn out to be a dream that failed.
Read it all.

And it´s no sacrifice
Just a simple word
It´s two hearts living
In two separate worlds
But it´s no sacrifice
No sacrifice
It´s no sacrifice at all

Mutual misunderstanding
After the fact
Sensitivity builds a prison
In the final act

- Elton John

What if we insisted that the Anglican Communion ...

... be only a foot?

Perhaps schism is what God wants -- there certainly is plenty of schism in Christianity and the faith has thrived because of it, not in spite of it.

If it is of God there won't be any stopping it.

See also point 3, here. Is the purpose that the Anglican Church serves it is an example of diversity? Is it an object lesson that the tension is good, or bad?

Conservative Anglicans set out their stall :: The Irish Times

Quote ($):
Martyn Minns, a conservative vicar of a parish in Virginia who was recently made a bishop of the Nigerian church by Archbishop Akinola, said the issue was about more than homosexuality.

"It is a question of world view," he said. "Do we seek authority from our own experience and look for justification in scripture or do we seek authority from scripture and then try to marry it to our experience?"

He said that if liberals were unable to recognise the primacy of scripture then the only option left would be an "amicable split".

What I would say: Kendall Harmon

The Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina on what he would say if he were before the Anglican Primates in Tanzania this afternoon about the question of the adequacy of the Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report.

In Falls Church continuing Episcopalian members continue to gather every Sunday across the street :: Falls Church News-Press

While the Episcopal denomination and its Virginia diocese await the court’s response to its petition for a restraining order requiring the removal of the defectors from the church properties in question, in Falls Church continuing Episcopalian members continue to gather every Sunday across the street, at the Falls Church Presbyterian Church that has welcomed them.
Also, the pastor of the F.C. Presbyterian, the Rev. Tom Schmid, has invited the group to use the main sanctuary of his church for an Ash Wednesday service next Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 6 p.m.

Editorial: Simply Trepass? :: Falls Church News-Press

The national denomination joined in the legal efforts of its Virginia diocese to secure access to its church properties that continue to be occupied by the defectors. Those defectors, meanwhile, continue to forbid access to the facilities by continuing Episcopalian members.

While the defectors deny this profusely, in reality, this appears a simple case of trespassing. The defectors are surely within their rights to leave the church. People join and cancel memberships in churches all the time, and when a large group agrees to do it together at the same time, it can go off and start a new church or even a new religion. Doing that sort of thing is nothing new. In fact, it is a grand and time-honored tradition within organized religion.

But it is another thing when such a group wants to take someone else’s property along with it. It is straightforward that since 1793 Virginia Episcopal Church canons stipulate that a parish’s property “is held by and for the mission of the church.” Now, the defectors want to undo those rules, which they’d agreed to for years, through the courts, and the Episcopal Church is fighting back. It’s that simple.
The defectors should not cry over this, or assail the denomination for being “un-Christian.” They should expect it and embrace it as the price of maintaining their religious convictions. They shouldn’t let an idolatry of physical possessions or formal titles taint them.
In reference to The Falls Church spokesperson.

Church faces wider split over gay unions :: The Scotsman

Nothing new.

On Day 1, Spotlight on The Episcopal Church :: The Living Church

Letter to Williams calls for rejection of alternative primatial oversight :: ENS

Coming, this Sunday, in The Times

Of haunting, hanging and homophobia
...him to the answer. Atherton was a wealthy and distinguished Anglican clergyman, and shortly before Elizabeth decided to bring supernatural...he was hanged on a gallows near Dublin Castle, the only Anglican bishop to date to be executed for a homosexual offence. Sodomy...
John Carey
18 February 2007 The Sunday Times
Top result today (15 Feb) of a search of The Times online, search word = "Anglican"

Catholics set to pass Anglicans as leading UK church :: The Times

And it's not merely because the CoE is in decline (or should I say has bottomed out?).

Ruth Gledhill in The Times:

Roman Catholicism is set to become the dominant religion in Britain for the first time since the Reformation because of massive migration from Catholic countries across the world.
A Church of England spokesman said: “I don’t think you can talk in terms of decline in the Church of England. It is fairly clear that with small fluctuations the worshipping population of the Church of England is 1.7 million a month. That is actually a stable figure.”
From being an Irish-English church in a mindset of managing steady decline, the Church has within the space of 12 months found itself having to countenance an unprecedented expansion and change in its ethnic make-up.

Figures for 2005 show that there are 4.2 million Catholics in England and Wales, under one fifth the 25 million baptised Anglicans and double the number of Muslims.
Gledhill refers to a report but provides no clarity about whose report. She does refer to "Cambridge researchers" in the last paragraph.

25 million baptized Anglicans and monthly attendance of 1.7 million. Hmmm. I believe the Americans do better than that.


This is London:
Today's report ["Ground of Justice"], by the Von Hugel Institute at Cambridge, said most of Britain's Catholic migrants settle in London, where some parishes are now holding Sunday Mass from 8am to 8pm to cope with the influx.

Figures from 2005 show there are 4.2million Catholics in England and Wales, under one fifth of the 25 million baptised Anglicans and double the number of Muslims. But those figures will have been overtaken by the recent arrival of so many Catholics from eastern Europe.

The scale of the growth became apparent last May when thousands of Catholic migrants attended a Mass in Westminster, prompting the dioceses of Brentwood, Southwark and Westminster to commission the report.
The Telegraph:
Catholic churches are struggling to cope with huge numbers of new worshippers arriving in Britain from Eastern Europe, according to a new report.

In at least three London parishes, more than three-quarters of those attending Mass were found to be illegal immigrants, while others are using churches as job centres and social welfare offices.

It is not known exactly how many Catholic worshippers are now in Britain, because of the unknown number of illegal immigrants, but their numbers are expected to rise by hundreds of thousands over the next few years while Church of England congregations face a slow decline.

Researchers at the Von Hugel Institute at St Edmund's College, Cambridge, interviewed 1,000 migrants as well as members of the clergy to find out how the Church is being transformed by mass immigration from countries such as Poland, where up to 95pc of new arrivals to Britain are practising Catholics.

Their report states: "The Catholic Church is undergoing a shift in its ethnic make-up, social diversity and relationship with the rest of the international Catholic community.
Independent Catholic:

Statement from Von Hugel Institute
We are not some rogue body.
VHI emphasises that their report is about need of the immigrants not the number of them - hence the title, "Ground of Justice".

The media - and I, too - are taken by the numbers.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Archbishop Rowan ... made it clear that Bishop Jefferts Schori's presence at the meeting is "absolute and by invitation"

More on the press briefing from Reuters.

The Canadian take :: Toronto Globe and Mail

The Anglican Church of Canada will decide nationally on blessing same-sex unions at its general assembly, or synod, in June. A majority of its priests and bishops will likely approve.

The five-day Tanzanian meeting is formally an assembly of the communion's primates, or senior archbishops of each province.

But Archbishop Williams also invited two conservative bishops of the Episcopal Church to attend -- a move that elicited a scorching letter from the Canadian primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchinson -- thus implying there are not one but two branches of Anglicanism in the United States, although only seven of the 100-plus Episcopal dioceses have indicated they want to pull away from the main church.

The Global South has been pushing for a "two-church solution" in the United States that would become a model for every Anglican province such as Canada that has a liberal majority and a conservative minority.
Somewhere along the line I missed this scorching letter and could not find it just now.

Announcement of death premature :: Free Lance Star

A wonderful reminder for me of the Episcopal Church in Virginia - our stories and the gift of laughter. See the quote from Churchill Gibson at the end.

It all sounds ominously catastrophic. Yet if you take a peek in the history books, you'll find that the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has witnessed several waves of divisiveness in its 217-year history. And each time, it has survived to carry on its Christian mission.

From civil war to civil rights, the church in Virginia was rocked to its foundations.

Indeed, in the post-Revolutionary War period, the church almost disappeared. Suffice it to say that its traditional ties to England did not win many popularity contests in the late 1700s.

Matters of theology, often described as low church vs. high church, divided congregations and enraged bishops in the 19th century.

One Virginia bishop was reputed to have cut off crosses from the tops of a church's pews as a way of casting out the "popish" influences associated with Roman Catholicism.

Yet if you take a look at the dozen men who have served as diocesan bishop of Virginia since its founding in 1790, you'll find spiritual leaders who, more often than not, have found ways to raise the passions of their flocks while calming the waters of dissension.
But then came crisis again--the national breakup of the Episcopal Church during the Civil War.

The 20th century saw the "updating" of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, the era of civil rights and the ordination of women. All produced passionate divisions--and yet the church survived.
Churchill Gibson, a priest in the Diocese of Virginia, tells this story about his grandfather, Robert Atkinson Gibson, who served as bishop of Virginia at the turn of the 20th century.

A visiting leader of the Australian church asked Bishop Gibson about how he functioned in his high office.

"I exercise a great deal of influence," answered Bishop Gibson.

"Oh dear," said the Australian. "I exercise a great deal of authority and have very little influence."

UK newspaper roundup : 14 Feb 07

The daily episcopalian has captured what the British press has to say today on the Anglican Communion here.

- Jonathan Petre (The Telegraph) here

- Stephen Bates (The Guardian) here and here:
Sunning herself by the hotel swimming pool, Angela Minns, wife of Martyn Minns, the British-born conservative evangelical vicar of a parish in Virginia, who has just been made a bishop of the Nigerian church by Akinola to minister to conservative American Episcopalians, said to me: "Akinola is a wonderful man." Several times spurned for a bishopric in the US before throwing his lot in with Nigeria, her husband has been constantly by the archbishop's side this week. An influential figure, he is advising Akinola as to what moves to make.
- Ruth Gledhill (The Times) here (opinion) and here

- Jonathan Petre blogging here: "The wildlife in my hotel in Tanzania, where I am covering a critical Anglican Church summit, is proving unexpectedly exotic. First there were sightings of rat-like creatures scurrying along the roof beams of the open-sided, thatched restaurant on the beach. Then I was forced to leave my room in a hurry after a cleaner spotted a snake slithering under my door. My room was thoroughly searched by a team of men with long sticks, who found nothing. Nevertheless, having been told by an ex-pat businessman that all except one of the local species of snake was venomous, I expeditiously moved to another room. Now there is a new creature on the premises, often resplendent in colourful finery: the Anglican primate. They are generally shy and retiring, preferring to gather together in dark corners; approached by members of the press, some scuttle away while others look furtive."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Carbon sinks grow with assignment of property rights to trees :: Marginal Revolution

A market solution to deforestation: make trees the property of individuals, not the state. It's working in Niger.

Global South will propose two-province solution :: Living Church

Gathered at a hotel next door to the official venue of the primates' meeting, members of the Global South coalition of primates met with U.S. and Canadian traditionalist leaders Feb. 11-12 to discuss plans for a possible future shape of the Anglican Communion. A second meeting of primates of the CAPA (Conference of Anglican Provinces of Africa) was planned for today, and the primates' meeting itself begins Wednesday.

The Global South bloc at the primates' meeting will ask their follow primates to give approval to plans outlined in the Kigali Communique published last September and developed in a paper titled "The Road to Lambeth" that establishes a separate Anglican jurisdiction in the United States in communion with the See of Canterbury. This jurisdiction would gather "Windsor-loyal" Episcopalians, parishes, dioceses, clergy and bishops into a second church.
The two-province solution is seen as an interim measure until such time as an Anglican Covenant can be formulated and adopted that would define who is, and who is not, an Anglican, sources noted, adding these plans had been presented to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in advance of this week's gathering.
A two-province solution is not Anglican by definition.

What we have is a dismember-first-then-banish solution.

Report from Dar Es Salaam 01 :: Changing Attitude

Quoting: The Revd Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria and the Revd Caro Denton Hall from Integrity USA arrived at the White Sands Hotel, Jangani Beach, Tanzania on Monday.
The conservatives are already here, and as reported elsewhere, have set up headquarters at an adjacent hotel where they have been planning their strategy for the coming week with Archbishop Peter Akinola and Bishop Martyn Minns (CANA). Canon David Anderson (American Anglican Council) and Chris Sugden (Anglican Mainstream are here too....

The Primates and those involved in the organisation of the Primates meeting are in a self-contained part of the building, protected by security guards. If they remain inside their own enclave, contact with any of them will be impossible. However, if they want to speak directly to their own lobby group, beyond phone conversations, they will have to come outside. Then Davis will have an opportunity to introduce himself to other Primates, including his own, Archbishop Peter Akinola, and engage with them as one Anglican to another. If, like David Anderson and Chris Sugden, they reveal a reluctance to engage, this will reveal the dishonesty of Primates who claim to be committed to the listening process and to love their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church, but in reality, are unable to overcome their instinctive prejudice and fear.

If the conservatives were not so fearful, they would not need to be here 4 days in advance, meeting and planning their strategy.

Via titusonenine.

Hero’s sendoff for Presiding Bishop :: The Living Church

Prior to her departure for the primates' meeting in Tanzania, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached and celebrated before a congregation of some 650 worshipers on the transferred Feast of Absalom Jones Feb. 11 in Philadelphia at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, the parish Jones founded in 1792.

Absalom Jones was born a house slave in 1746 in Delaware. He taught himself to read out of the New Testament, among other books, and purchased his freedom in 1784. He became the first African American priest in The Episcopal Church when he was ordained by Presiding Bishop William White in 1802.
Bishop Jefferts Schori left from New York City early Monday morning and is scheduled to arrive Tuesday afternoon in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, shortly before the start of the special session involving three other bishops from The Episcopal Church. It is expected that seating arrangements will be finalized after the special session, said Canon Jim Rosenthal, director of communications for the Anglican Consultative Council.
The American church was slow to open its doors to African American priests. And gays. Will Anglican in Africans now shut the door on the American church?

More irony: Wikipedia tells us Absalom Jones "founded St. Thomas African Church in Philadelphia, which petitioned to become an Episcopal parish. Jones was later ordained as the first African-American priest in the Episcopal Church." Petitioning to become an Episcopal parish. Novel concept. Good polity.

More irony. From the readings for the feast day of Absalom Jones:
The Collect
Set us free, heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear; that, honoring the steadfast courage of your servant Absalom Jones, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which you have given us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

John 15:12-15
Jesus said, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father."

Quote of the day: Ian Douglas

"The theology espoused by the presiding bishop is absolutely consistent with the creeds. ... People are using scripture in a dangerous way – it is a living document and not something to be used as a proof text or a club." - The Rev. Ian Douglas, of Episcopal Divinity School.

Moderate evangelicals are also upset at the vituperation of the current arguments in the church :: Spero News

Amid confusion about who will play a role at the global Anglican Primates meeting in Tanzania this week – with reports that even the evangelical Dr John Sentamu is unacceptable to hardliners gathered around Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola – a UK-based broad church organization has declared “Enough is Enough”.
Speaking at the launch of a fundraising initiative for “the Anglican centre”, the Bishop of Salisbury, Dr David Stancliffe, said: “I live by the catholic conviction that the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts. I welcome this campaign to reinvigorate and encourage the broad centre of the Church of England.”
an ‘open letter’ has been sent to the Archbishops of Canterbury, York, Wales and Armagh on behalf of a 500-strong Anglican clergy organization, the Society of Catholic Priests, calling on them to refrain from action against the Episcopal Church of the USA.

The letter warns the leaders of the Anglican Communion not to treat TEC/ECUSA as the source of all the problems in the church. Instead, the Rev Jonathan Clark, who heads up SCP, asks the Primates to recognise that “fractures within the Communion run not between but through provinces, dioceses and parishes.”
Moderate evangelicals are also upset at the vituperation of the current arguments in the church. Fulcrum (“renewing the evangelical centre”) is among those who are seeking to maintain dialogue while holding on to their biblical and Reformed principles.

FAQs on Anglican Ruction :: The Independent

One example of many:
Where does the C of E stand in the debate?

Wriggling agonisingly on the proverbial fence. On the issues of women priests, gay clergy and gay marriage it has proved even more split than the worldwide Anglican Church. The cracks opened up by women priests were only just papered over. The issue of women bishops has still to be properly faced. The question of gay marriage has been sidestepped. You would be hard put to ask any Anglican today just what the Church actually believed on these questions.
Again, the conservatives aren't just gunning for the North Americans. Their ultimate goal is to direct the course of the Church of England. Drawing a circle that excludes "the Americans" will also bind the Church of England -- if it wants to stay in the Anglican Communion.

I am an Episcopalian :: Scripps News

Before hundreds of congregants at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Lodi, Calif., Bonnie Anderson said her name and three words: "I'm an Episcopalian."

The crowd rose for a standing ovation.
St. John's is one of only three churches among 48 in the diocese likely to remain with the Episcopal church.
The service Anderson led Saturday _ which she, the national church's top-ranking elected lay person, flew cross-country to lead _ offered a unique and historic glimmer of what it would mean if dissenters and supporters of the Episcopal Church in the United States all worshiped together.

"We are the followers of Jesus, gathered," Anderson said in a sermon on the idea that the work of Jesus _ and the unity of the church _ lies in social action.

Bishop John-David Schofield, who heads the diocese and its preparations to be the first to leave the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church, sat in the first row. Conservative clergy and parishioners from across Northern California also came.

Schofield drank from a communion goblet extended to him by Anderson, the president of the House of Deputies in the Episcopal Church, whose authority Schofield rejects. And Schofield and others sang hymns of unity, such as "All are Welcome" and "The Church's One Foundation."

But unity was sometimes scarce during four hours of meetings after the service.

The rest.

Duke Divinity School professor David Steinmetz says the Anglican Communion is unique and significant to all Christians because it is the biggest, most unified Protestant group on the planet.
"Everybody is watching the Episcopal Church to see how this goes," said Steinmetz, who is a Methodist. "If it comes apart, in a way, it's too bad because it's about Protestantism's only entry into this kind of global sweepstakes, a kind of international church that tries to regulate itself internationally."
Perhaps we are trying to do something that is unnatural.