Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gay activist says split regrettable but admits it might make life easier

[The Toronto Star] 29 Sep 2007--The leader of a Toronto gay Anglican group says he would be sorry to see a split in the church but thinks his own life might be made easier if a conservative wing were to break away.

"I'm getting to the stage where I'm not sure that I want to be perpetually justifying my existence in the church as a gay man," Chris Ambidge of Integrity Canada said yesterday.

"I want to get along with worshipping God and doing what I need to be doing in the church," he added.

Path cleared for Anglican women bishops

[ABC Online. ] 29 Sep 2007--There is a mix of celebration and apprehension among Australian Anglicans today after a ruling by the church's highest legal authority cleared the way for women to be ordained as bishops.

Even church leaders who support the decision are concerned that it could cause deep division among different Anglican dioceses.

Some will accept female bishops and the priests they ordain. Others are set against it.

Anglican rift sparks move for new church

[The Toronto Star] 29 Sep 2007--Conservative Anglicans in Canada and the U.S. plan to break away from their increasingly liberal national churches within 15 months, setting up a parallel continental church along orthodox theological lines.

"This is necessary because of drift in the church in the West," Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan said at the close of a four-day meeting of rebel bishops to discuss separation.
"This is a time of reformation. This is a moment in Christian history," said Duncan, who has been a leader in the effort.

If successful, it would be the first time the worldwide Anglican Communion has seen a church, known in Anglicanism as a province, established solely on the basis of shared theology. Currently, provinces are only set up along geographic lines.

Notes from a clergy conference: +Schori to prevent Departing Parishes from Communion Connection

[Stand Firm] 29 Sep 2007--First, until Bishop Steenson’s resignation is accepted by the Standing Committee, the HoB cannot vote. They will mail a ballot to each bishop when the SC completes action, probably next Thursday.

Second, ++KJS is quite insistent that a clause be added to the St. Clement’s contract making it null and void if they cease to be an independent congregation or join another part of the Anglican Communion/ She, rightly in my mind, sees this as crucial for TEC. I believe she repeated that at least once and referred to that principle several times in the question and answer session. However, the agreement is signed, sealed, delivered and the money became an investment instrument the minute it was received. I don’t believe it can be legally reopened. But she is steely eyed committed to see that this clause gets in all the next agreements. “Warning Will Robinson!”

Third, two bishops threatened +Jeffrey, over this agreement with St. Clement. CO and I believe XX were the bishops. He was really upset by this –in tears and shaking- and it included deposition, law suits, not allowing him to resign. . . We were quite angry on hearing this and wondered if they realized they were talking to a NM – TX bishop. Their cities may have a lot of urban gang problems; but, they don’t realize most of us have guns, know how to use them and nobody’s gonna mess with our bishops!

Orthodox Anglicans Open Talks on Heels of High-Powered Meetings

[The Christian Post] 29 Sep 2007--Orthodox Anglican leaders on the move toward forming a new Anglican structure that they hope would replace The Episcopal Church are convening for the first time this week to discuss a way forward.

The "Common Cause Partners," consisting of U.S. Anglicans discontent with The Episcopal Church and those who have already split, opens a four-day meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Tuesday with some 50 bishops and some observers.

What is claimed to be a historic council meeting comes with predictions that The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – will "walk apart" from the global Anglican Communion by the conclusion of an Episcopal meeting in New Orleans

AnglicanTV: Common Cause Press Conference

[Stand Firm] 29 Sep 2007--Common Cause press conference.

Weeping in the Cathedral

[Charisma Magazine] 29 Sep 2007-- don’t particularly enjoy writing obituaries. But today I hear the solemn sound of a tolling bell—deep, somber and depressing. For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for a denomination that has died.

I am speaking of the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the worldwide Anglican communion. Its grand cathedrals still stand in many of our major cities, even though membership is plummeting as its graying congregants pass away and its Bible-honoring members jump ship as fast as they can. Our own National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., is a part of the Episcopal Church USA. But it, like most other Episcopal churches, is just an ornate, hollow shell of what it once was.

There was a time when the Episcopal Church thrived. Decades ago it carried the good news of Christ throughout the world. In the 1960s and 1970s it experienced a miraculous charismatic renewal that was accompanied by conversions and healings. But today it preaches another gospel and its leaders have embraced a blasphemous delusion.

A Clarification on my Response to the Secretary-General’s Statement: Michael Poon

[Global South Anglican] 29 Sep 2007--First, I wish to clarify that my response is not meant to be a personal attack on Canon Kenneth Kearon. My reference to the “heart of darkness” refers to a pervasive mentality in some parts in our Communion, which takes a view that the “post-liberal” outlook is superior, and should be enforced to the rest of the world. The title “Heart of Darkness” comes from Joseph Conrad’s critique on a similar European “civilising project” in Congo a hundred years ago. As I suggested in my response, all (both East and West) are prone to such outlook. I do apologize to Canon Kearon for any misunderstanding I caused.

Anglican Bishops Take First Steps to New Structure

[29 Sep 2007--Anglican bishops from ten jurisdictions and organizations pledged to take the first steps toward a “new ecclesiastical structure” in North America. The meeting of the first ever Common Cause Council of Bishops was held in Pittsburgh September 25–28.

The bishops present lead more than 600 Anglican congregations. They formally organized themselves as a college of bishops which will meet every six months. They also laid out a timeline for the path ahead, committed to working together at local and regional levels, agreed to deploy clergy interchangeably and announced their intention to, in consultation “with those Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion offering recognition under the timeline adopted,” call a “founding constitutional convention for an Anglican union,” at the earliest possible date agreeable to all of the partners.

“We met deeply aware that we have arrived at a critical moment in the history of mainstream Anglican witness in North America. God has led us to repentance for past divisions and opened the way for a united path forward. To him be the glory,” said Bishop Robert Duncan, convener of the council.

The full text of the bishops’ joint statement follows....

Andrew Carey: Further Troubles Ahead (CEN)

[Global South Anglican] 29 Sep 2007--...Dr Williams openly declared that September 30, which the Primates had set as a deadline for response, was no ultimatum but merely a convenient date following the House of Bishops meeting. It is clear that this is not a view shared by many of his fellow primates and does not reflect the language of the communiqué itself. This declaration however gives an open signal that Dr Williams himself is not prepared to lead the Communion in any proper sanction against The Episcopal Church. We can therefore expect further tragic fragmentation in the coming months.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Rowan Williams Friend or Foe?

Commentary by Robin G. Jordan

Do you remember the arguments that you had on the playground as a kid? Do you remember how good it felt when a friend took your side in a dispute? Right or wrong, you had someone who was backing you up. You had some who was on your side.

God, unlike human beings, looks at the heart and not the outward appearance. We, however, are not able to see directly into the heart as God does—into an individual’s innermost being. We must look at actions and words and then draw our conclusions from them about the individual’s heart. Since his appointments, Anglicans like myself have been struggling to fathom the heart of Archbishop Williams. We have been trying to figure out whose side is he really on. It has not been an easy task.

Archbishop Williams was quick to denounce the alleged anti-gay statements of a Nigerian bishop; yet to my knowledge he has not made a public apology to that bishop since it was subsequently determined that the bishop in question had not made those statements. As he was flying to New Orleans for the meeting with TEC House of Bishops the Internet was full of stories of the latest pro-gay statements Williams had made and his secretive meeting with gay and lesbian church groups in England. We read about his refusal to accept phone calls from the five conservative bishops who may take their dioceses out of TEC. In his two days of meetings with TEC bishops Williams was reported to have said very little. The four primates who were with him addressed the bishops. Only one of these addresses was released. One TEC bishop announced his resignation following those meetings. He attributed his decision to resign to recent developments in the denomination.

Before Williams left New Orleans, he publicly stated that he did not see the need for disciplinary action against TEC and he was going to report his conclusions to the other primates. He went on to say that the TEC bishops were highly committed to the Anglican Communion. He also stated that had no plans to cancel the 2008 Lambeth Conference or to call an emergency meeting of the primates.

On Tuesday TEC House of Bishops released its highly unsatisfactory response to the Primates’ Dar es Salaam Communique. While calling for restraint in the election, confirmation, and consecration of another sexually active gay bishop and the adoption of official rites for the blessing of same gender unions, the bishops took no action to stop the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians in TEC or the blessing of same gender unions by priests in their dioceses, or to deprive Gene Robinson of his bishopric. It was business as usual. It certainly was not the repentance, the turning around, for which the global South primates have repeatedly called.

The response of the House of Bishops has done nothing to mend the tear in the fabric of the Anglican Communion. Archbishops Akinola and Orami have condemned the response, as have conservative Anglican groups in the United States. TEC continues to hemorrhage members. A number of conservative clergy and congregations are reviewing their options.

The response of the House of Bishops was purely cosmetic. It was intended to give the appearance of meeting at least half way what TEC bishops have characterized as the “demands” of the Tanzania Communique. The House of Bishops responded to the recommendations of the Tanzania Communique as it did to the recommendations of the Windsor Report. The aim is to keep the primates from taking any disciplinary action against TEC while providing TEC with more time to influence the other provinces of the Anglican Communion and to bring them around to TEC way of thinking. This seeming compliance is upon close examination no compliance at all. The liberal bishops have no intention of backing away from the present course of the denomination. Their real intention is to wear down their opponents until they cease their opposition. It is a strategy borrowed from gay rights campaigners. The liberal bishops believe that global South Anglicans will inevitably come to think like they do. It is just a matter of time. The Tanzania Communique represented a setback of sorts but one they could use to their advantage.

In his address to the House of Bishops in New Orleans, Archbishop Anis put his finger upon what divides TEC from most of the Anglican Communion. He drew the attention of the bishops to how Anglicans outside the United States see TEC not just as a “different church” but also as a “different religion”. The denomination’s radical position on homosexuality is only the presenting problem, a symptom that causes people to recognize the existence of a complex of related difficulties. The decreasing place that TEC gives the Bible in the denomination looms large among these difficulties. When these problems are viewed together, they embody a significant theological shift in the denomination away from orthodox Christianity and biblical Anglicanism. This is evident more in some parts of TEC than others. It may not be immediately recognized because of the veneer of traditional Anglo-Catholic worship that overlays it.

This shift is evident in the Episcopal churches in the part of Kentucky in which I am now living. It represents a radical change from what I heard preached and taught in the same churches over 20 years ago when I first began to visit the area. The message is not just one of the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church but of universalism, pluralism, and social and economic liberation. At the same time the worship in these churches can be characterized as traditionally Anglo-Catholic – candles, eucharistic vestments, elaborate ritual, processions, chanted prayers and other liturgical texts, incense, vested choirs, organs, standard hymns and anthems, and Holy Communion on weekdays, as well as Sundays.

Of the five Episcopal churches in the area, only two give any appearance of real vitality. The latter can be attributed in part to their location, one in the downtown district of the region’s only city and the other in a university town. The area had six churches but the sixth church was closed in 2005 and its congregation merged with that of another church. One of the remaining five churches gives all appearances of being slated for closure at some future date: it is little more than a preaching station.

Before he flew to New Orleans, Archbishop Aspinall talked about the need for “compromise”. However, one cannot compromise with what is clearly heresy. What is happening in TEC goes beyond a simple difference of opinion over human sexuality. It is not something upon which one can agree to disagree, a matter of secondary importance upon which Anglicans can amicably have different opinions and even reach compromises.

The five Episcopal churches in which I was involved in Louisiana were fairly orthodox. They upheld the historic Christian faith as the former Protestant Episcopal Church had received it. One of these churches was the parish of my youth where I was a regular attender and then a member for 26 odd years, where I was confirmed and where my nieces were baptized and my youngest niece confirmed. Another was a church that I helped to start and where I served as senior lay reader for 15 years.

However, the so-called “progressive” ideology that dominates Episcopal thinking at the national level is unavoidable in my part of Kentucky. This has, on a personal note, prevented me from becoming involved in the worship and life of any of the Episcopal churches in the area. It has also highlighted for me that the problems that beset TEC are more far reaching than the homosexuality issue that has gained the most attention from the media.

In the last decade of the 20th century I grew increasingly concerned over the apathetic and even hostile attitude of Episcopalians toward evangelism. I began to identify more and more with Anglicans in the global South where the Anglican Church was experiencing tremendous growth, clear evidence that for global South Anglicans reaching the lost and planting new churches were actual values and not values to which they aspired. Even the Church of England was displaying some vitality in its two provinces where Anglican Evangelicals were involved in evangelistic outreach and new church development.

I became convinced that if the Anglican Church was to enjoy similar growth in the United States, it would not be through the official US representative of the Anglican Church, the then Episcopal Church USA. In order to reach the spiritually disconnected and unchurched in the United States, it would be necessary to plant non-Episcopal Anglican churches in the shadow of the Episcopal Church. These churches would need to be Bible-based and mission-oriented, and wholeheartedly committed to the Great Commission. The Episcopal Church did not offer an environment conducive to the establishment of such churches.

It was also increasingly evident to me that TEC, despite its standing as a member of the Anglican Communion, was not really Anglican. Indeed developments in TEC had moved the denomination out of the Anglican via media and onto a different path early in its history. Contemporary Episcopalianism is arguably a divergent tradition from Anglicanism. It was for me the beginning of the transition from the ranks of those who see themselves as Episcopalians to the ranks of those who view TEC as a “different church” from the Anglican Church and a “different religion” from orthodox Christianity and biblical Anglicanism.

This transition has taken several years. One of the consequences is that I no longer have a church home. Western Kentucky has no Anglican churches that share my enthusiasm for the Biblical and Reformation theology of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1562 and the Book of Common Prayer of 1552, 1559, 1604, and 1662 or my tastes in church music. Right now I am sojourning with a two-year old Southern Baptist church start that is primarily targeted at university students and has its Sunday worship gatherings on campus. It is an opportunity to be a fellow worker with God in ministering to these young adults. When I arrived in town, I looked for a new church start where God was at work; God led me to this one.

At times I wonder if Archbishop Williams gives any thought to the plight of Anglicans like myself. Does he care about us as much as he seems to care about gays and lesbians? During his visits to the United States he has not, to my knowledge, met individually or in groups with any of the clergy and congregations that have left TEC. He met with gay and lesbian church groups in England. He met with TEC House of Bishops. Why does he not meet with us? What are we to conclude from his actions and words? These questions deserve an answer.

While Archbishop Williams has repeatedly spoken out against the stigmatization and ill treatment of gays and lesbians, he has not made any strong public statements on the behalf of conservative Episcopalians persecuted by their bishops because they cannot in good conscience support the actions of the 2003 and 2006 General Conventions. He has chosen to view as irregular the Nigerian, Kenyan, and Ugandan consecrations of American bishops as did his predecessor viewed the Rwandan consecrations even though Lord Carey has publicly changed his view of the Rwandan consecrations. He is going ahead with the 2008 Lambeth Conference to which the TEC bishops are invited even though the Nigerian bishops have asked him to postpone the conference. He has talked about inviting Gene Robinson to the 2008 Lambeth Conference as a guest or observer. These and other statements and actions reveal a lack of sympathy and understanding upon his part for those who dissent from the General Conventions’ actions and their international supporters and an unwillingness to hold TEC accountable for these actions and the deep division that they have caused in the Anglican Communion. They also suggest that Williams believes that he can ignore the global South primates with impunity. They are not going to do anything but bluster.

The liberal TEC bishops lambasted Archbishop Williams for “dehumanizing gays” at his meetings with them in New Orleans, as gay advocacy groups have in the past whenever he teetered toward the hard line of the global South primates. However, I do not see Williams as being on the side of people like myself who cannot in good conscience embrace the normalization of homosexuality in the Church or society based not only upon what we understand is the Bible’s teaching upon homosexual practice but also upon how we view the authority and inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. He has questioned our understanding of the Bible and he certainly does not share our view of biblical authority and inspiration. His past comments suggest that he essentially views us as bigoted and homophobic. Those who believe that he is on our side are deceiving themselves. They are engaging in wishful thinking.

If any lesson is to be drawn from the events of the last three years, it is not to put our trust in men but to place our confidence in God. This is also a theme that runs through the Old Testament. We may not always understand God’s ways but of one thing we can be certain, he does have our best interest at heart. He loves us. We are important to him. God is better than even having a friend on our side. People are always changing their minds. They are blown this way and that. God, on the other hand, is unchanging and changeless. We can trust him. He is the best friend of all.

Anglican church allows women bishops

[The Age] 28 Sep 2007--Australia could have its first Anglican woman bishop as early as next year following a decision by the church's highest court.

The head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Philip Aspinall, said the appellate tribunal had decided there was nothing in the church's constitution that would prevent a woman becoming a bishop.

In 2005, a group of 25 members of the church's national parliament - the General Synod - asked the tribunal for its view on the lawfulness of women bishops.

The tribunal, by a majority of four to three, on Friday found it was possible to consecrate women bishops.

However, it said it could only occur in a diocese that had adopted a 1992 church law allowing women priests and which had ensured its own laws and constitution allowed it.

"So basically there is now nothing in the (church's) constitution to prevent a woman becoming a bishop," Dr Aspinall told reporters in Brisbane.

An Open Letter To The Common Cause Council of Bishops

[Stand Firm] 28 Sep 2007--This letter was posted on the Global South website in response to Michael Poon's Response to the House of Bishops posted here.

A Statement from Dr Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney on the Opinion of the Appellate Tribunal concerning the consecration of women as Bishops

[Stand Firm] 28 Sep 2007--There are many people in all dioceses who, while they welcome women priests, will not agree that a woman should be consecrated as a Bishop. This is because the position of Bishop affects relationships with every parish and with every other Diocese.

I am also deeply concerned for those Anglicans in other dioceses who will have similar difficulties. It may be that the Australian church will have to look for some means of taking care of minority groups who are disenfranchised by this development. There is of course a model in the arrangements for disenfranchised minority groups within the Church of England.

What Really Happened in New Orleans?

[The Albert Mohler Radio Program] 28 Sep 2007--The recent meeting of the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops in New Orleans has only deepened the division and discord within America's Anglican community. On today's program, Dr. Mohler welcomes Ralph Webb and Canon Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon, two evangelical voices from within the denomination, to comment on the significance of the New Orleans meeting and its implication for the future of Anglicanism.

The Church of England Newspaper reports reactions to the House of Bishops’ Statement

[Anglican Mainstream] 28 Sep 2007-- The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church took many observers by surprise, but it still provoked mixed reactions from across the Church. While the compromise eight-point statement was being heralded by many as just enough to avert schism, at least in the immediate term, it was derided by both liberals and conservatives.The Rt Rev Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh, said that the final statement from the House of Bishops was more about manoeuvre than movement. “The American church is moving in one direction. The Western church is moving in one direction. The classic church stands where it has always stood,” he said.

The Rev Canon Chris Sugden, of the Anglican Mainstream group, said orthodox bishops, dioceses and clergy in the USA had appealed constantly to the Archbishop of Canterbury to help them, yet had received no help. He said: “The Archbishop of Canterbury’s own position is ambiguous with the news that he will be leading a communion service in London for those living in direct flouting of his own House of Bishops guidelines. The liberal leadership sees compromise as a permanent state of affairs. But compromise is not an end but an activity towards an end. The members of the church in the orthodox networks want to get on with the mission of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God based squarely on the authority of the Bible. They do not find space for or leadership given to this from the current liberal hegemony that runs the instruments of communion of the Anglican Communion.”

Rod Thomas of the conservative Reform group, said the Church needed stronger leadership from the Archbishop of Canterbury. He said: “I think he genuinely tried to avoid it [schism], and nobody doubts his graciousness and desire to see people in conversation with one another. But what we needed was leadership and not conversation.”

US bishops' pledge is not good enough says world's most powerful Anglican

[Times Online] 28 Sep 2007--The leader of the Anglican Church's Global South group of conservative churches has condemned The Episcopal Church of the US for not showing "repentance" or a true change of heart over its liberal pro-gay agenda.

The Archbishop and Primate of Nigeria, Dr Peter Akinola, said the US church's pledge to put the consecration of any more gay bishops on hold and not to authorise same-sex blessings did not meet the demands made of it by the Anglican Communion's primates in Tanzania last February.

New Orleans, Munich, Nehemiah and Lencioni by David Holloway

[Anglican Mainstream] 28 Sep 2007--The pro-gay leadership in the Western Churches, especially in TEC, is doing untold damage to the cause of Christ world-wide and frustrating the work God has called us to do. So surely the talking must now stop and action must be taken as a consequence of the current reality. To repeat, the Primates have said that a failure to give the reassurances required would “at best” continue the existing damage and this “has [not will have] consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion”. Communion is broken. Does it not, therefore, mean that it is quite inappropriate for TEC Bishops to be represented at the Lambeth Conference 2008 or on other Anglican bodies? As soon as there is an unambiguous change of heart and mind, immediately, representation could again take place.

What happens now to some extent will be a test of our current leadership. It will be a test of the credibility of the Primates now evaluating this American response. Hooker said that the church is “a society and a society supernatural”. Since it is a human “society”, the requirements for good leadership need to be met in the church as well as in the wider society.

Conservative Anglicans See No Change in 'American Problem''American_Problem'.htm

[The Christian Post] 28 Sep 2007--What The Episcopal Church had hoped to be a "clear and unambiguous" statement has left both sides of the Anglican divide dissatisfied, with some saying the Episcopal bishops are again dodging their response to avoid losing their place in the global communion.

"I'm saddened but not surprised," said the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, missionary bishop of the Anglican breakaway CANA (Convocation of Anglicans in North America), in a teleconference on Wednesday. "I think basically they ducked. The response they've offered does not clarify as was requested."

"It's business as usual," said Minns, who is currently in Pittsburgh, Pa., with 50 other orthodox Anglicans to discuss how to up the level of their "Common Cause Partnership" as they see The Episcopal Church walking apart from the global Anglican family.

"I think it's clear the American church wants to continue its way and to ignore the persistent requests that have been made from the rest of the communion," the CANA bishop noted.

African archbishop says Anglican church still faces 'gay' crisis

[Global South Anglican] 28 Sep 2007--An influential African archbishop said Thursday that the Anglican church was still in crisis despite the US Episcopal Church agreeing to halt the ordination of gay bishops and blessing same-sex unions.

Benjamin Kwashi, archbishop-elect of Jos province in Nigeria, insisted that the gay crisis was “not resolved” by the statement by US church leaders.

“The statement by the U.S. Episcopal bishops should be taken with extreme caution,” Kwashi told Nigerian media.

“The US bishops have not said anything different from their earlier liberal stance, which supports same-sex unions.”

Responses from Fulcrum, UK

[Global South Anglican] 28 Sep 2007--Fulcrum Response to the Statement from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church, New Orleans, 25 September 2007.

Fulcrum Comparative Study of Statements From Dar es Salaam and New Orleans.

From the AAC: What The Tanzania Comnmunique Asked for, and What the Bishops said in New Orleans

[TitusOneNine] 28 Sep 2007--Read it all.

Link to PDF file.

Truth, Unity, and The Church of Christ

[TitusOneNine] 28 Sep 2007--In its report of the recent meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church – in post-Katrina New Orleans, of all places – the Associated Press accompanied its article with a color photograph of several vested bishops taking part in a rendition of "When the Saints go marching in"!

Considering what had, or more importantly had not, transpired at that meeting, my first reaction on seeing the photograph was to recollect a poem by the late T. S. Eliot entitled The Hollow Men. On further reflection, and taking into account the visually gender-correct prominence of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in the front row, I was at length struck by the realization that the entire Anglican process of "compromise" since the publication of the Windsor Report in 2004 has been all too much like the re-arranging of deck chairs on the Titanic.

Although I have commended the Christian virtue of patience as we watch and pray during this time of a New Reformation, it is becoming more and more questionable whether the present Archbishop of Canterbury, in his repeated reluctance to assume the risk of prophetic leadership, is able or willing to see what is lurking in the ecclesiastical waters rising around him. But is there not now a clear irreversibility to The Episcopal Church’s institutional descent into apostasy? Even if the Windsor process has so far taken the form of indecision and procrastination, the imperative of decisiveness is now, with the collapse of any common witness on the part of the so-called Windsor bishops in this country, looming over us.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Archbishop Makgoba to ‘do it his way’

[Business Day] 27 Sep 2007--Newly elected Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said yesterday he would not imitate his predecessors, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane.

Makgoba, 47, the bishop of Grahamstown, is the youngest person to be elected archbishop of Cape Town and head of the Anglican Church in southern Africa.

He was elected on the second ballot, ahead of Unisa vice-chancellor Barney Pityana and Johannes Seoka, the bishop of Pretoria. Makgoba takes over from Ndungane on January 1.

Quincy bishop will pray, seek input

[Peoria Journal Star] 27 Sep 2007--Episcopal Diocese of Quincy officials won't know what they think of this week's Episcopal Church House of Bishops action until they have a chance to ponder it.

"I need to scrutinize it, literally pray over it and then sit down with my standing committee so I can have clergy and lay input," Bishop Keith Ackerman said Wednesday.

Bishop Peter Beckwith of the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, though, said he was "disappointed" by the resolution and called it "the same old stuff."

Nigerian Bishop Rejects U.S. on Gays,,-6953376,00.html

[Guardian Unlimited] 27 Sep 2007--Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola has rejected the U.S. Episcopal Church's latest efforts to calm tensions over the consecration of gay bishops - an issue threatening to split the global Anglican-Episcopalian family.

Akinola, a vocal and influential leader of the faction seeking an outright ban on gay bishops, said a resolution this week by the U.S. Episcopalians that failed to explicitly bar gay bishops from the pulpit meant his followers' ``pleas have once again been ignored.''

``Instead of the change of heart (repentance) that we sought what we have been offered is merely a temporary adjustment,'' Akinola said in a statement posted on his church's Web site late Wednesday.

John Woodhouse: The Babylonian Unity of the Church

[Stand Firm] 27 Sep 2007--The unity God is creating through the power of the Spirit and the proclamation of Christ, itself creates a division. It is the division between those to whom the word of the cross is foolishness and those to whom it is the power of God.

That is one kind of division. It is the kind which Paul told the Corinthians was necessary. Not pleasant. Not desirable. But necessary wherever Christ is proclaimed.

But there is also division caused by human sin, human “boasting”. This is the kind of division caused by personalities, by personal preferences, by human pride. This kind of division is a denial of Christ. “Is Christ divided?” Paul pointedly asked the same Corinthian Christians.

Faithfulness to Christ must be willing to accept and even cause the first kind of division. But we must oppose and — where appropriate — repent for the second kind of division.

Christ Church, Plano: One Year Later

[Stand Firm] 27 Sep 2007--In September of 2006 Christ Church, Plano, finalized a negotiated settlement for its withdrawal from the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Diocese of Dallas. It has been quite a year for me... for the parish of Christ Church. I'd like to offer a few thoughts on the kind of year it has been. I will mention the good, the bad, the ugly, and finally, the hopeful. I don't do this for any other reason than to assist my friends and colleagues, known and unknown to me, in various places and situations. Perhaps my reflections and comments might be helpful or encouraging... if not, please ignore this.

First, let me offer ‘the good.'

In some ways, leaving TEC was like closing the door on a bad party that started as a family reunion and ended in a fight. The door closes, you walk away, and you leave it behind... and the noise subsides. The silence is uncomfortable for a little bit... but pretty soon you think to yourself, "Hey, no one is shouting any more!" It feels different... and it feels good.

Bishop Stanton: Reflections on the House of Bishops’ Meeting

[Stand Firm] 27 Sep 2007--When Draft 1 was presented, it was immediately recognized by many on both sides of the issue that no assurance was being given. Indeed, it was pointed out that the last sentence constituted a “red flag” – making a point that seemed to contradict what assurance one could read into the statements above it.

Furthermore, it appeared to many that the quotation from the Primates was leading into the conclusion that such blessing rites as were in use were therefore justified – a conclusion which the Primates Communiqué does not bear! Considerable discussion took place on how to rectify this matter, with a majority opting to eliminate the sentence altogether. Draft 2 does in fact eliminate the sentence. But does it give any additional clarity on this matter? The final resolution seems once again to restate the obvious, that no liturgies have been approved. It adds only that the majority of bishops in The Episcopal Church “do not make allowance for the blessing of same‐sex unions.” And again, the resolution quotes from the Primates with respect to the need to provide “pastoral care.” The net effect, it would appear, is to suggest that the Primates themselves are unclear.

This final form of the second “response” is unsettling in that it falls short of the clarity requested.

Aspinall: Response to New Orleans

[Stand Firm] 27 Sep 2007--The Primate of Australia, the Most Reverend Dr Phillip Aspinall, has responded positively to the official response from the House of Bishops after several days of talks in New Orleans.

The Primate and Archbishop of Brisbane is now returning home from New Orleans where he addressed the House of Bishops and took part in days of conversation and discernment.

The Anglicans Get Ready to Rumble,8816,1665682,00.html

[Time] 27 Sep 2007--But it may not be enough. The Rev. Kendall Harmon, a conservative strategist, was quoted in the Religion News Service as calling the results of the conference "insulting." Martyn Minns, a former Episcopal rector who jumped ship to take a position in a competitor Virginia-based Anglican "convocation" under Nigeria's Akinola, gave TIME what is probably a milder preview of his boss's likely response: "I think this is far short of what was asked for. It's a technical slide-by at best." The Associated Press quoted the Right Rev. John Howe, the conservative Episcopal bishop of Central Florida, as saying the statement wouldn't satisfy all Anglican leaders, but that "most will find it acceptable." But that may be wishful thinking on Howe's part, who despite his differences with church leadership says he will not abandon the American organization.

The Communion is scheduled to review the Episcopal vote over the next few weeks. It is always possible that Williams will be able to forestall drastic action against the American church at least until all the Anglican Bishops gather at their once-a-decade Lambeth conference next July. However, both the liberal Episcopalians and the Communion conservatives seem so fixed in their positions that it is hard to imagine that the current delicate balance can be sustained too much longer.

Not simply a battle for doctrinal purity but for pastoral practice

[Anglican Mainstream] 27 Sep 2007--This is not simply a battle for doctrinal purity, it is a battle for pastoral practice. The TEC House of Bishops want a “breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care” but some of them never ever even contemplate that ministries that help those who struggle with homosexuality are the resources we should now develop and promote. Even strongly orthodox bishops in the USA and England are happy to do the theology but less eager to put their money behind this kind of vital pastoral support. When was the last time you heard of a Diocesan Bishop providing a stipend and resources for a priest to offer this kind of crucial ministry to the whole church? Never.

This is the time for us to put our money where our mouth is. If we truly believe that this is a struggle not just for doctrinal purity but also for orthopraxis that comes from it, then we need to have bishops who not only make bold stands for truth but who also have bold wallets to support those of us on the ground who day after day field calls and emails from men and women who struggle in this area and need our help. We have the Bishops who publicly patronise Integrity and Changing Attitudes. Where are the Bishops openly promoting Redeemed Lives, Desert Stream, Living Waters and True Freedom Trust?

It's time to let Episcopalians go on their own

[Delaware Online] 27 Sep 2007--Contrary to the vibrant history of unity movements in modern-day Christianity, too many forget -- or refuse to accept -- that it is biblical to part company.

This is what the Episcopal Church in America needs to consider, even had bishops from Third World dioceses not raided their corps to assume authority over disaffected conservative members.

Clarity, please -- and my own "radical solution"

[Inclusive Church blog] 27 Sep 2007--Not too long before the House of Bishops began to meet, Kendall Harmon made this plea:

So let the TEC leaders have the courage of their convictions and say what they actually believe before God and the global Anglican leaders. If they fail to do so, where is the justice in that?

I'm in full agreement with Kendall here. Too often, we progressives in ECUSA have been willing to duck behind polity or otherwise obscure our actions. The bishops needs to acknowledge their authority and their responsibility. (I read a great blog posting about this last week, which I can't find just now.)

Threat of Anglican schism still looms

[BBC News] 27 Sep 2007--Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States have bowed to pressure and taken what they call "sacrificial action" over their approach to homosexuality, in order to remain fully part of the Anglican Communion.

But while Episcopalians have been debating the issue a cuckoo has hatched in their nest, and shows every sign of wanting to displace them as the official Anglican Church in America.
All Saints' in Woodbridge, Virginia, will never see a service like it again.

It was conducted last Sunday in a clearing in the woods at the end of a winding path, and concluded with frenzied digging in dusty soil with a dozen heavy shovels.

This traditionalist congregation - one of 20 to leave the Episcopal Church for the Church of Uganda - was breaking the ground on the site of its ambitious new building.

The liberals and revisionists in them Episcopal Church are the cuckoo hatchling. They are the ones pushing their foster mother's chicks and eggs out of the nest!

After Episcopal showdown in Louisiana, leaders say rift may splinter U.S. church

[Minneapolis Star Tribune] 27 Sep 2007--This has been an emotionally trying week for the Episcopal Church, and only time will tell if it's also going to be known as a historic turning point in a split within the church.

On Wednesday church leaders spoke of "building by consensus" and "reaching for compromise." But at the same time, there was a growing sense from people on both sides of the issue that the conversation about a divided church is starting to focus more on "when" than "if."We've had years of meetings with no movement," said Bishop Martyn Minns of Fairfax, Va., a leader of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a network of churches that are considering severing ties with the U.S. church to form a network with an international body. "Sooner or later, we're going to have to acknowledge that the current approach isn't working."

In their statement Tuesday, the bishops agreed to "exercise restraint" in the ordination of gays and promised not to authorize public rites for same-sex unions. In a nationwide teleconference with reporters Wednesday, Minns dismissed the response as rhetoric.

"They dodged the issue," he said. For example, he said, many churches bless same-sex relationships on their own without seeking approval from their dioceses, which means a promise that dioceses won't endorse the blessings is moot.

"Basically, they're saying that it's going to be business as usual," he said. "The American church is serving notice that it's going to go on its own way and ignore the request from the rest of the world."

Diocese of San Joaquin responds to House of Bishops’ Meeting

[Diocese of San Joaquin] 27 Sep 2007--What did the House of Bishops accomplish?

The clear message of the September 25th House of Bishops (HOB) statement is that they are determined to stay on the exact same course that they have been on all along.

Although promising “not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions” sounds like a prohibition, in reality it is a “don’t ask; don’t tell” policy in practice. This has been demonstrated by Bishop Bruno’s recent comments that he has not authorized such blessings, while priests in the Diocese of Los Angeles do so without hesitation. If this were a prohibition, priests who conduct such blessings would be inhibited by Bishop Bruno. To date, this has not happened. Not authorizing “a public rite” means that The Episcopal Church (TEC) will not authorize and publish an official prayer book service for same-sex unions. In other words, clergy in dioceses who wish to perform same-sex unions may continue to do so, so long as it is not an official public rite. This is neither prohibition nor restraint. It is simply turning a blind eye.

Possibly the Most Significant Detail of the Mind of the House Statement

[Anglican Action] 27 Sep 2007--I already covered this in my previous report on the second Tuesday afternoon press conference, but I reprint it here and expand upon it because it is, in my mind, probably the most important feature of the mind of the house statement.

I asked Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori why the mind of the house statement said:

"We ... pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of same-sex blessings until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action" (emphasis my own)

instead of: "unless a broader consensus ... unless General Convention ..."as the primates' communique said.

The presiding bishop responded that "until" was Windsor language. I concurred and asked if any bishop objected to the use of "until" as opposed to "unless," and she replied, "no." She could not recall any opposition to this major shift in wording.

That's incredible. Let's remember that while the Windsor Report said "until," the primates deliberately changed that word to "unless."

There's a huge difference here. The primates asked the House of Bishops for assurances that they would stop same-sex blessings and stop consenting to the consecration of bishops in a same-sex relationship unless the mind of the Communion ever changed on these matters.

Gay bishop move rejected by Kenya

[BBC News] 27 Sep 2007--The head of Kenya's Anglican Church has rejected a compromise over gay bishops by US Episcopal Church leaders.

They have said they will halt the ordination of gay bishops and public blessings of same-sex relationships to prevent a split in the Anglican Church.

"That word 'halt' is not enough," said Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi.

You almost have to smile

[What's in Kelvin's Head] 27 Sep 2007--You almost have to smile at the bishops of the Episcopal Church in the states. It would appear that they have managed to get Rowan Williams the headlines that he wanted without changing their policy on anything at all.

The BBC is reporting things particularly inaccurately.

They say today:

Leaders of the Episcopal Church in the United States have agreed to halt the ordination of gay clergy to prevent a split in the Anglican Church.

The Church will also no longer approve prayers to bless same-sex couples.

But neither statement is true at all. The bishops have not said they will halt the ordination of gay people. Some people think that they said that they would not ordain any more gay bishops. That is not quite right either. The polity lingers on. If any diocese elects a bishop who is in a partnership, it will still be for the other diocesan bishops with jurisdiction & Standing Committees to vote on whether to confirm the election just as they do for all bishops. We might presume that quite a few of them would vote against such an appointment at this time. We must also assume that quite a few would vote in favour. The process has changed not a jot as a result of this latest meeting.

A Statement on the Response of The Episcopal Church to the Dar Es Salaam Communique

[Global South Anglican] 27 Sep 2007--In accordance with our desire to walk “in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, … eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians (4:1,2) we have looked forward with hope to the response of The Episcopal Church as requested by the Primates when we met earlier in the year in Dar es Salaam. That request was the culmination of many conversations and years of painful negotiations. It was our expressed desire to provide one final opportunity for an unequivocal assurance from The Episcopal Church of their commitment to the mind and teaching of the Communion. We also made clear that it is a time for clarity and a rejection of what hitherto has been endless series of ambiguous and misleading statements. Sadly it seems that our hopes were not well founded and our pleas have once again been ignored.

While we await a meeting of all the Primates to receive and determine the adequacy of The Episcopal Church’s response it seems clear from first reading that what is offered is not a whole hearted embrace of traditional Christian teaching and in particular the teaching that is expressed in Lambeth Resolution 1.10. The unequivocal assurances that we sought have not been given; what we have is a carefully calculated attempt to win support to ensure attendance at the Lambeth Conference and continued involvement in the life of the Communion.

Instead of the change of heart (repentance) that we sought what we have been offered is merely a temporary adjustment in an unrelenting determination to “bring the rest of the Communion along” as stated by a bishop at one of the press conferences. We also note that while we have repeatedly asked for a moratorium on same-sex blessings –across the Episcopal Church the clergy have continued with these blessings with the full knowledge and support of the Diocesan bishops even if not technically authorized.

Heart of Darkness

[Global South Anglican] 27 Sep 2007--“And this also . . . has been one of the dark places of the earth (Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness).”

The Statement the Secretary-General crafted on behalf of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council is remarkably misleading. That such statement can come from someone in such high office in the Communion is an indication of the heart of darkness in the once Christian and self-proclaimed civilized West that is slowly eroding the Communion of its Christian foundations. Such encroachment on the Lordship of Jesus Christ upon his holy and catholic church – his rightful property – must end.

Related article:
A Statement by the Anglican Communion Secretary General - TitusOneNine

Joint Statement on the Resolution of the House of Bishops

[Global South Anglican] 27 Sep 2007--Three orthodox Anglican groups, the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Communion Network, and Forward in Faith North America, have issued a joint statement on the recently-concluded meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans.

The last seven days have been eventful ones for the worldwide Anglican Communion. The future of our 500-hundred year fellowship has been focused on The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops (HOB). The worldwide Anglican Communion has been looking for clarity, praying for unity, and searching for Christ and His will in our lives. Unfortunately, the HOB has failed the Communion; their continued ambiguity, questioning of basic Christian beliefs, and rejection of obvious Scriptural teaching has widened the gap between them and biblical Christianity.

An Editorial comment - Why the TEC House of Bishop’s Statement will not ‘mend the torn fabric”

[Global South Anglican] 27 Sep 2007--The addition of “(1) The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains” may be read as a significant change or clarification to B033 but it is not. It is a worthless “sequitur” statement which don’t add anything. After all, we know that B033 pertains to anyone, including ‘non-celibate gay and lesbian persons.” It does not affect the intent of B033 which avoids responding to the specific Windsor language of regret/repentance or Dar es salem’s request for clarification in this regard. B033 should be reworded to address specifically what caused the tear in the first place and make specific mention that they will not consecrate again such persons. But we all know that this is not possible from the HOB. Nothing changes in this direction. What has been consistently coming across is “Yes, we know it is very painful for you. It is also for us. But we cannot and will not change.” But pity alone is not enough to heal this kind of tear.

The lack of understanding of how the 2003 act has caused grief (breaking trust) to the Communion and genuine repentance from this act also explains their request for Gene Robinsons to be included in Lambeth 2008 and a lack of sympathy for the pastoral intrusions, which were initiated based on requests from their own ranks. It is time that Communion leaders respond to orthodox Anglicans and not marginalized them due to polity reasons and I cannot see how conservative GS Primates will abandon them, which will be a deep pastoral error.

Bishop Salmon explains why he cannot support the TEC House of Bishops statement

[Global South Anglican] 27 Sep 2007--In the interest of clarity, I would like to report to the clergy and people of the Diocese of South Carolina on the meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans. I am particularly concerned that you hear directly from me as the distortion in the media and on blogs is profound.

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

South Africa Elects Conservative as Next Primate

[The Living Church] 27 Sep 2007--The Rt. Rev. Thabo Cecil Makgoba, Bishop of Grahamstown, was elected Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan and Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa on Sept. 25.

Bishop Makgoba, 47, will succeed the Most Rev. Njongonkulu Ndungane as archbishop, and will assume office on Jan 1. Viewed as a conservative on issues of human sexuality, he is expected to try to move the South African church closer to the other African Anglican provinces. The spiritual reconstruction of the church and of South African society will guide his tenure as archbishop, he told the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Episcopal bishops try to buy time on sexuality issues,1299,DRMN_15_5707319,00.html

[Rocky Mountain News] 26 Sep 2007--Colorado Episcopal Bishop Rob O'Neill joined his colleagues Tuesday, pledging not to push same-sex unions and openly gay bishops until a wider consensus emerges in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The U.S. bishops, meeting in New Orleans, were responding to a demand by the conservative Anglican majority overseas to renounce their pro-gay policies by Sunday, or face censure or even expulsion from the 72 million- member communion.

However, conservative churches in Colorado won't buy the bishops' carefully worded compromise, the Rev. Jim Paul, of Fort Collins predicted Tuesday.

"We've heard all this before," Paul said.

Paul said his 225 parishioners at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Fort Collins will announce on Sunday's deadline whether they plan to leave the diocese for a more compatible Anglican organization. He expects other Colorado churches to make similar decisions.

"They're being very quiet out there, but we know other parishes are lined up behind us," he said.

UK gay Christians disappointed at American Church decision

[ekklesia] 26 Sep 2007--The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) in the UK has expressed "disappointment" at the compromise on the Anglican gay row agreed by the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in the United States - saying it will not halt division or stop the ministry of LGBT people.

Responding promptly to a statement issued by the bishop on 25 September 2007, LGCM spokesperson the Rev Martin Reynolds declared: “Our disappointment with the American Church was profound when their General Convention outlawed gay bishops in 2006, that disappointment has now been reinforced.”

Episcopalian statement dissatisfies local diocese

[Fresno Bee] 26 Sep 2007--Any hopes Fresno's Episcopal diocese held for the national church to change its doctrine regarding support for gay clergy and same-sex unions were dashed Tuesday.

Episcopal leaders instead affirmed that they will "exercise restraint" in approving another gay bishop and will not approve prayers to bless same-sex couples. The leaders were in New Orleans for the church's House of Bishops' semiannual meeting.

The statement mostly reiterated previous pledges made by church leaders and did not satisfy officials at the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. The local diocese would have considered pulling back its bid to split from the U.S. Episcopal Church if the bishops agreed to the Anglican Communion's demand to stop consecrating gay bishops, said the Rev. Van McCalister, the diocese's spokesman.

"I think they have used the exact terminology in the past, and it doesn't change anything," McCalister said. A change in doctrine was "what a lot of people were hoping and praying for.

Conservative group leaves Episcopalian parish in PV

[The Arizona Republic] 26 Sep 2007--About 15 percent of the members are splitting from a prominent Valley Episcopalian parish and affiliating with an African church because they say the conservative congregation here is not conservative enough for them.

The departure is one of many across the United States by former Episcopalians who believe the church, the American arm of the worldwide Anglican Communion, has turned its back on its own traditions and become too liberal.

A leader of the group that left Christ Church of the Ascension at the end of August says the decision had nothing to do with a statement issued Tuesday by American bishops attempting to appease fellow church leaders on the gay issue.

Anglican split gains ground

[The Toronto Star] 26 Sep 2007--A possible massive realignment of the worldwide Anglican Church got started last night in America's Steel City.

Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan, long a critic of his church's liberal drift, called on conservative Anglicans in the United States and Canada to return to traditional Christian values to revive the church, and to even split from their national churches if need be.

"Anglicanism seems to be failing in the west," said Duncan, a major force in the conservative Anglican movement. "Would each one of us become a missionary bishop?"

He was speaking at the opening last night of a four-day meeting here to discuss splitting the Episcopal Church, as Anglicanism is known in the U.S., in two – one liberal and one conservative.

The Fall of the Windsor Bishops, the loss of the House…

[Stand Firm] 26 Sep 2007--The Response by the House of Bishops, joined with their earlier responses and those of the Executive Council, represents an utter rejection of the Primate’s request. There is a bold commitment to permit same sex blessings. There is an avenue ripe for exploitation with regard to episcopal consents. And, as was evident in past statement and in this Response, there will be no attempt to provide adequate oversight for dissenting people, parishes, and/or dioceses. The very sad thing is that the Windsor Bishops did not lose the fight. They did not fight...

House of Bishops Stands Firm

[Walking With Integrity] 26 Sep 2007--The members of Integrity have prayed unceasingly for their bishops as they met this week to consider a response to the primates' communiqué. The bishops were pressured by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other international guests to comply with the primate's demands. The bishops struggled mightily amongst themselves to achieve a clear consensus on how to respond. Integrity is gratified that the final response from the House of Bishop declined to succumb to the pressure to go backwards, but rather took some significant steps forward.

We are encouraged by their strong language against the incursions of uninvited bishops into this province, their commendation of the Anglican Listening Process, their unequivocal support that the Bishop of New Hampshire should receive an invitation to the Lambeth Conference, and their affirmation of safety and civil rights for LGBT persons.

Integrity President Susan Russell said, "In response to requests for 'clarity' the House of Bishops made it clear today that the Episcopal Church is moving forward in faith. I believe today’s response will be received as a sign of great hope that we are committed to working through the hard ground of our differences. I look forward to taking the support of the House of Bishops for the Listening Process with me when I and other Integrity representatives meet with Anglican colleagues in London next month to prepare for our witness at the Lambeth Conference."

What Really Happened in New Orleans? An Anglican Schism Draws Closer

[Albert Mohler] 26 Sep 2007--Similarly, The New York Times reported:

The Bishop Martyn Minns of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a prominent conservative group supported by the Archbishop of Nigeria, responded to the bishops' resolution: "They're offering business as usual. The communion asked them to make a change, to embrace the teaching of the communion about homosexuality, and there's no change at all."

This indeed appears to be the bottom line -- no change at all. This is indeed a tragedy, and one that will effect other denominations and churches as well. The most important issues at stake in New Orleans were not same-sex unions and gay bishops but biblical authority and the integrity of the church.

There seems to be little room for hope that this situation in the Episcopal Church can be reversed at this late point. Mark yesterday as another date of disaster in New Orleans.

Episcopal bishops decline to roll back inclusion of gays

[The Times-Picayune] 26 Sep 2007--Episcopal bishops meeting in New Orleans declined Tuesday to give powerful conservative Anglican primates overseas the new, unequivocal guarantee the primates demanded to end the ordination of partnered gay bishops.

But the bishops said the vote was not an act of defiance. Rather, they said they reconfirmed the same moratorium on new gay bishops the Anglican Communion sought and received last year after the ordination of Bishop V. Gene Robinson shocked the Anglican world in 2003.

In addition, the Episcopal bishops pledged "not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions," another flash point in the Episcopal church's collision with the primates, or heads of churches in 37 other autonomous Anglican provinces around the world.

But, significantly, the bishops did not pledge to stop some priests' under-the-radar practice of using rewritten house blessings or other rites to bless gay couples, usually with the tacit approval of sympathetic local bishops.

Is Only 5 Percent of the Episcopal Church Experiencing Conflict?

[Anglican Action] 26 Sep 2007--This morning, after listening to tales from over 20 dioceses of congregations splitting and foreign "incursions" (evidently the new preferred term for the formerly popular "border crossings") around the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori made this astonishing statement:

"The conflict that you read about in the headlines is not reality for 95 percent" of the church.

Really? But then what do we make of the Episcopal Church's own summary of its 2005 congregational research?

Episcopal Bishops Reject Anglican Church’s Orders

[The New York Times] 26 Sep 2007--Bishops of the Episcopal Church on Tuesday rejected demands by leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion to roll back the church’s liberal stance on homosexuality, increasing the possibility of fracture within the communion and the Episcopal Church itself.

After nearly a week of talks at their semiannual meeting in New Orleans, the House of Bishops adopted a resolution that defied a directive by the Anglican Communion’s regional leaders, or primates, to change several church policies regarding the place of gay men and lesbians in their church. But the bishops also expressed a desire to remain part of the communion, and they appeared to be trying to stake out a middle ground that would allow them to do so.

Still, up to five American dioceses led by theologically conservative bishops may try to break with the Episcopal Church and place themselves under the oversight of a foreign primate in the coming months, said the Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, a conservative Episcopal strategist.

“We’ll have the chaos here increase as more individuals, parishes and dioceses begin moving,” Mr. Harmon said. “What will happen is that we will see more of the disunity here spread to the rest of the communion.”

Bishop Duncan’s Opening Address: Common Cause Council of Bishops

[Global South Anglican] 26 Sep 2007--A total of 51 bishops and bishops-elect representing tens-of-thousands of Anglicans in North America are meeting together Sept. 25-28 in Pittsburgh , PA. The meeting of the first-ever Common Cause Council of Bishops brings together bishops and observers from the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Coalition in Canada, the Anglican Communion Network, Anglican Network in Canada, the Anglican Province of America, Anglican Essentials Canada, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, Forward in Faith North America and the Reformed Episcopal Church.

In welcoming the assembled bishops, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh and convener of the gathering, said that before any unified orthodox Anglicanism could be expected to emerge in North America relationships among bishops and jurisdictions need to be reordered. “Our shortcoming is not ‘right Faith.’ Our shortcoming is ‘right Order’ and ‘right Mission ,’” said Bishop Duncan.

Bishop Duncan went on to suggest that the bishops discuss a number of practical points that could contribute to building a more unified orthodox Anglicanism in North America . Among those points, he asked that the bishops agree to consult each other as they plant congregations, mutually review candidates for bishop before consecrations, share ministry initiatives instead of duplicating efforts, work actively together at the local level, and allow those ordained in one jurisdiction to function in all jurisdictions.

“Our theme for this Council of Bishops is ‘Together in Mission : Restoring Confidence in an American Episcopate.’ The whole world is watching. After speaking the truth to each other, we will need to speak the truth about what we have done - or not done - to the world,” said Bishop Duncan.

The full text of Bishop Duncan’s opening remarks follows....

Maneuvre not movement: Duncan and Harmon on New Orleans

[Anglican Mainstream] 26 Sep 2007--Pittsburgh Episcopal Bishop Robert W. Duncan Jr. last night dismissed the promise of church leaders meeting in New Orleans to “exercise restraint” in approving gay bishops and same-sex blessings.

Speaking before the opening in Pittsburgh of a four-day gathering of more than four dozen bishops representing both the Episcopal Church’s conservative minority and U.S. and Canadian offshoots of the denomination, Bishop Duncan said the leaders’ promise was “the same stuff; it’s not movement.”

“The American church is moving in one direction,” he said. “The Western church is moving in one direction. The classic church stands where it has always stood.”

US bishops offer lifeline in effort to keep world Anglican church intact,,2177158,00.html

[Guardian Unlimited] 26 Sep 2007--A slender lifeline was offered to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his attempt to keep the worldwide Anglican communion intact, when Episcopal bishops pledged at a meeting in New Orleans yesterday to maintain a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops.

While the statement may satisfy parts of the Anglican communion, and just be enough for the archbishop to sell to other church provinces, it was dismissed by conservative evangelicals as inadequate.

US Bishops respond to Primates

[EV News] 26 Sep 2007--The US House of Bishops (less a number of conservative Bishops who refused to stay after the Archbishop of Canterbury left) has issued a statement from their meeting in New Orleans. They were seeking to respond to the Primates Communiqué from Tanzania earlier in the year. The meeting went on far longer than planned and the members of the Primates' Standing Committee, who had been present earlier on, had also left before the statement was issued.The full text has appeared on the Stand Firm website.The following summary was part of the full text:

We reconfirm that resolution B033 of General Convention 2006 (The Election Of Bishops) calls upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees "to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."

We pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

We commend our Presiding Bishop's plan for episcopal visitors.

We deplore incursions into our jurisdictions by uninvited bishops and call for them to end.

We support the Presiding Bishop in seeking communion-wide consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.

We call for increasing implementation of the listening process across the Communion and for a report on its progress to Lambeth 2008.

We support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.

We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety, and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.

In some respects this is a positive move since it does show a willingness to try to satisfy the conditions laid down by the Primates. However, the problem is that at heart it changes nothing. Most of these Bishops are still committed to teach things that are contrary to Scripture (a fact which the Primates did not address) and they are determined to press ahead with their revisionist agenda. Although they have said they will not authorise services for same-sex unions, yet such services are happening in their Dioceses and nothing they have said will alter that. Their plan for episcopal visitors seems to fall a long way short of the sort of oversight the Primates envisaged and even further short of what many conservatives require. They clearly recognise nothing wrong in the fact that Gene Robinson is a Bishop and are merely biding their time.

All this is likely to mean that the whole unseemly mess continues without resolution. Moreover The Archbishop of Canterbury and the majority of the Primates' Standing Committee are in agreement with the US revisionists, so they are going to play along with the charade and interpret the words as favourably as possible.

David Phillips

Goodbye Father Jeffrey. Hello, Sister Moon.

[Ruth Gledhill] 26 Sep 2007--As we report, the Bishop of Rio Grande, Jeffrey Steenson, has today explained to the US bishops why he is to be received into the Roman Catholic Church. He leaves an Episcopal Church in disarray, led no longer by a 'house' but by a 'community' of bishops, with a songbook of praise to Mother Earth, Sister Moon and Brother Sun. Thank you BabyBlue for finding out what the bishops are singing in New Orleans and thus reminding us that this whole affair actually has very little to do with homosexuality. Read on to enjoy the words of the songs. (Update: here is the updated report in today's Online Times on the message of the US bishops.)

Bishops Briefed on Lambeth Conference

[The Living Church] 26 Sep 2007--The Lambeth Conference of Bishops in England next July will bear a striking organizational resemblance to a recent pan-Anglican consultation underwritten by Trinity Church, Wall Street, last July in Madrid.

“I assure you there is no collusion,” said the Rev. Ian Douglas, professor of world mission at Episcopal Divinity School and a member of the Lambeth Planning Committee. “The idea was to create a space for many voices to speak.”

Prof. Douglas addressed the House of Bishops during a plenary session Sept. 24. He said the Lambeth Conference will be radically different in design from any other Lambeth Conference in recent memory.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Duplicity and same sex blessings: The difference between Pastoral Care and Public Rites

[Stand Firm] 25 Sep 2007--It is somewhat embarrassing even for those of us who oppose these things to see Anglican bishops prevaricating like adolescent boys caught throwing a party while dad and mom are out of town. I would hope that they too are somewhat shamed this morning and that those bishops with a sense of honor and integrity who favor and allow same sex blessings will be willing to stand firm, to proclaim with true clarity the revelation they believe they have received from the Holy Spirit.

Related TV interview:
“I don’t know what you are talking about. . . I’ll look into that”: Bishop Bruno to the NYT Reporter - Stand Firm

Consequences and Decisions: Comments on the Howe Proposal and other things

[Stand Firm] 25 Sep 2007--Today and Tuesday, despite the Archbishop of Canterbury’s claims otherwise, are days of decision. Whether or not Communion leaders or the House of Bishops care to recognize it, the choices made here in New Orleans, or not made, will determine the course and shape of the Anglican Communion. A “fudge” on the part of the House followed by weakness at Canterbury will mean inevitable division and dissolution. Canterbury will have, like Eli, failed to restrain errant priests and the Communion, like the house of Israel, will face the consequences. On the other hand, compliance here or willing self-sacrifice in keeping with Howe’s proposal, will, at least for a time, preserve the Communion intact.

How the House of Bishops Could Save the Anglican Communion

[Stand Firm] 25 Sep 2007--Where does this leave us? In an interesting position I would think. Division seems even more inevitable than compromise. If the Episcopal Church does not pull back from the brink and, subsequently, Lambeth invitations are not withdrawn from Episcopal bishops and, further, if invitations are not issued to Nigerian, Ugandan, Rwandan, and Kenyan bishops, then there is, seemingly, an insurmountable impasse. The Windsor “Process” will be at an end. While the Church of Nigeria and some others will not, probably, declare independence from Canterbury, they will not meet. They will proceed as if Canterbury did not exist and as if the Episcopal Church is no longer a member of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. All of this, I think, will be perfectly justified and yet terrible. But there is, to my mind, only one last and quite improbable scenario that might prevent this outcome.

Bishop of Lichfield: “The appointment of gay bishops is wrong”

[Anglican Mainstream] 25 Sep 2007--The Bishop of Lichfield has said a rift in the Church of England over the issue of gay bishops is likely to lead to a permanent split. The Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill said the American Churches were wrong to appoint a gay bishop and said 95 per cent of the Anglican Community would agree.

Churches in America have been given until September 30 to reverse their stance on gay bishops by the Anglican Communion. Religious leaders in the UK have said it could split the Church of England.

50 Orthodox Bishops to meet in Pittsburgh:

[Anglican Mainstream] 25 Sep 2007--Conservatives alienated by the Episcopal Church’s liberal theology are meeting in Pittsburgh today through Friday to seek unity as American Anglicans.

Conservative Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh left early from the Episcopal House of Bishops meeting, which wraps up today in New Orleans, saying the denomination’s departure from traditional teachings on homosexuality and the Bible left him “heartbroken.” Attending the Pittsburgh meeting are more than 50 bishops many of them former Episcopalians whose congregations are now aligned with conservative Anglican churches overseas.

Duncan says that while Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has been unwilling to recognize an American Anglican province other than the Episcopal Church, there’s growing pressure to do so from churches representing the majority of Anglicans worldwide.

The Episcopal Church Plays and Loses the Numbers Game

[TitusOneNine] 25 Sep 2007--As is well known, the Episcopal Church radically altered its theology and practice at its General Convention in 2003. As a result a significant amount of unrest has gone on in the TEC community which the leadership has tried to downplay or deny.

House of Bishops talks make 'enormous progress,' go into overtime

[Episcopal Life Online] 25 Sep 2007--After a day of mostly closed-door and overtime sessions, Episcopal bishops on September 24 said they'd made "enormous progress" toward a productive response to the concerns of Anglican Primates.

Kendall Harmon: We Have Seen This Movie Before, Will it stop?

[TitusOneNine] 25 Sep 2007--The Rt. Rev. Dr. Phillip Aspinall, Archbishop of Brisbane Australia, spoke to the House, telling them that they must reassure the Communion that they will live into the resolutions passed at General Convention last year. He asked what the rest of the Communion was to think when they vote to refrain from authorizing same sex blessings and 14 bishops quietly (but publicly) authorize rites to be used in their diocese and give permission to their clergy to perform same sex marriages as a pastoral care issue. Aspinall asked, “What good is your vote? How do we trust you?”

Bishop Aspinall's question still stands. The fact that we are seeing reruns of the Bishop Sisk movie from February from Bishop Bruno on the second to last day of this House of Bishops meeting in September (never mind all of the other showings) is not encouraging. This is not a game where it all comes down to what the meaning of is is. The movie needs to stop, that is why the Tanzania Communique used the language of "local pastoral provision" for same sex blessings in the first place--KSH

TitusOneNine has a lot more on this week's House of Bishops''s meeting sessions. Go to:

Do They Have the Guts to Stand Their Ground?

[Charleston Gay] 25 Sep 2007--As any living, breathing LGBT person knows, we’re usually hard-pressed to find a church that is going to be open and accepting. And, say we do find a church that is accepting of us as individuals … How will they feel if I bring my girlfriend and heaven forbid, want to hold her hand or put my arm around her? The last thing I want is to walk into a church and feel the glare of many judging eyes. I’ve been there before. And, to be honest, it’s kept me away from Christian churches for substantial amounts of time and made me wonder if there would ever be a place where I could go and be myself … As I believe God created me to be.

Anglican Church could split by end of year

[Telegraph] 25 Sep 2007--The worldwide Anglican Church is expected to split radically by the end of the year under plans being drawn up by a leading conservative archbishop to "adopt" a breakaway group of American dioceses, the Daily Telegraph has learned.

Under the unprecedented proposals, the archbishop would allow the conservative dioceses to opt out of the liberal American branch of the Anglican Church and affiliate with his province thousands of miles away.

It is understood that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has been informed of the plans.

Fishy business in New Orleans

[Ruth Gledhill] 25 Sep 2007--A source in New Orleans tells me the House of Bishops, due to finish their deliberations later today, are like a 'shoal of fish'. The source, who is inside the meeting, says: 'They are all swimming in the same direction. The difficulty is knowing which direction they are going in. They could suddenly move off together in a completely different direction. It is wide open still.(Update: see report in today's TimesOnline about Bishop Jeffrey Steenson's statement to the Bishops today.)

Bishops: New Document Will Preserve Status Quo

[The Living Church] 25 Sep 2007--The new document essentially preserves the current status quo within The Episcopal Church, according to several bishops who were present. In the media briefing Bishop Bruno said the document in no way represented a “turning back of the clock. Gays and lesbians are fully enfranchised in our life.” There will be no going back on that, he stated.

Bishops Debate Resolution Behind Closed Doors

[The Living Church] 25 Sep 2007--Bishop John Chane of Washington did not need to request a point of personal privilege to debate a revised version of a resolution submitted by Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana when the House of Bishops went back into plenary session Monday afternoon. The room was cleared for about 30 minutes while a revised version of the resolution was discussed.

Writing Group Presents House of Bishops With Draft

[The Living Church] 25 Sep 2007--The House of Bishops went into open session late Monday morning for the first time during its Sept. 20-25 meeting in New Orleans. The open session began with the draft of a lengthy mind-of-the-house statement which attempted to incorporate many of the concerns raised in the many resolutions submitted for consideration.

Historic Two Days Ahead for House of Bishops

[The Living Church] 25 Sep 2007--Sunday was intended to be primarily a sabbath day on the House of Bishops’ meeting schedule in New Orleans. Instead the resignation announcement on Sept. 23 by Bishop Jeffrey Steenson of the Rio Grande revealed publicly how frustrated some of the bishops may be.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Anglican TV interviews Bishop Bob Duncan

[Anglican TV] 24 Sep 2007--Interview with Bishop Robert Duncan.

Homosexuality not a 'disease', says Archbishop

[Telegraph] 24 Sep 2007--The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has said that homosexuality is not a "disease" on the eve of a crucial decision that could split the Anglican Church worldwide.

A Proposal to the House of Bishops from Bishop John Howe

[Stand Firm] 24 Sep 2007--We are deeply, tragically, horribly "stuck," not only in The Episcopal Church, but in the Anglican Communion as a whole. In the past three days we have heard again what we already knew, that we have damaged our relationships with many parts of the Communion by failing to give sufficient attention to "common discernment," and by moving ahead with decisions in the area of human sexuality before the rest of the Anglican family is able to accept those decisions. It is clear that the great majority of our Bishops cannot retreat from what they believe to be not only a matter of justice, but a "Gospel imperative." But, in the light of that, we are squandering members, finances, and energy in our deadlock.

Bishop Steenson Will Become a Roman Catholic

[The Living Church] 24 Sep 2007--The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson, Bishop of the Rio Grande, will resign from his position and become a Roman Catholic, The Living Church has learned.

Masterly inactivity in the Great Game

[Anglican Mainstream] 24 Sep 2007--What is happening is the rejection of customary hierarchy for its failure to protect not just the vulnerable in the institution but those who are its mainstream. The message is being put across that parts of hierarchy are disconnected from the Communion’s mainstream and life-blood. The Anglican Communion needs to be rescued from disconnected, atrophied leadership. So what happens next? How long can Lambeth’s policy of “masterly inactivity” be maintained? As Bishop Bob Duncan noted, Dr Williams has done and said nothing so far to protect the orthodox in the United States.

77 million member Communion or 53 million member?

[Anglican Mianstream] 24 Sep 2007--Newspaper reports of the crisis in the Anglican Communion regularly state that it has 77 million members. It should be remembered that of these 26 million are counted from the Church of England. There would be few who would claim that the Church of England has 26 million adherents. The Church’s own statistics put it in region of 2 million. Read hereWould it therefore not be more accurate to report the Anglican Communion as having 53 million members?