Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tues night / Wed a.m. posts

Sorry this is a big batch with some long entries. But this elf is pressed for time this morning.

Bishop Neil Alexander’s Statement on the Tanzania Communiqué from Primates of the Anglican Communion

February 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 7:15 am

From here:

Grace to you and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord!

The Primates of the Anglican Communion concluded their meeting today and issued a lengthy communique summarizing their meeting and offering their recommendations. The full text of the communique is available online at Episcopal News Service.

The communique is broad in its scope, and digesting the totality of it will require some effort on the part of all of us. In typical Anglican fashion, the language of the document is highly nuanced. It will take some time before it is clear what the operative interpretation of the document will be. I caution everyone not to assume that our initial reactions are going to be helpful for the long haul. Only after time passes and conversations continue will the meaning of the document for our life together begin to come more precisely into focus.

There is much in the communique for which all Anglicans should be grateful. The emphasis on the Millenium Development Goals, the communion-wide initiatives with respect to theological education, and the forthcoming study on biblical hermeneutics from an Anglican perspective are all matters that hold great promise for our common life. I am grateful to the Primates for taking leadership in these and other areas.

The Primates received the report of the task force charged with evaluating The Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report. It was heartening to see in that report appropriate recognition of the sincerety with which we have struggled with the Windsor Report and the generally positive response to our actions at the General Conventions, imperfect as though they may have been from a variety of perspectives. From the report submitted to the Primates, it seems clear that The Episcopal Church has engaged the Windsor Report with greater energy and seriousness than much of the rest of the Anglican Communion.

Although there is a great deal of work to be done on an Anglican covenant, work that will take place over a number of years, I was encouraged by the tone of the covenant process that has been proposed. Since the recommendation was first made in the Windsor Report, I have made no secret about my concerns with respect to an international Anglican covenant more complicated than the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. The Quadrilateral has served us helpfully for well more than a century. Because it has been the principal Anglican guide to ecumenical relationships, it does not seem unreasonable to consider it sufficient as a framework for our fellowship within the Anglican family of churches. I look forward to the conversations on an Anglican covenant, and I believe the process as proposed has integrity. At the same time I believe that caution, careful reflection and much prayer are in order lest we too easily compromise those principles of our Anglican/Episcopal heritage, which make vigorous gospel-centered ministry possible throughout the breadth of our Communion. Here I refer principally to the ability of our tradition to flourish in the mission of Jesus across the boundaries established by cultural, political and economic variants around the world.

My principal concern has to do with the request of the Primates for clarity and specificity from our House of Bishops with respect to the consent process for the election of bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions. This is problematic quite apart from one’s personal stance on these matters. The request of the Primates does not present a problem in many parts of the Anglican Communion where the provincial House of Bishops largely dictates the positions of the church on all matters. However, to assign such a role to our House of Bishops, to the exclusion of the laity and clergy represented by the House of Deputies, does not respect the unique features of the polity of The Episcopal Church. Since 1786, The Episcopal Church has been a unique American brand of Anglicanism that values the historic episcopate and honors the role of bishops in the church, but stops well short of giving our bishops full and unfettered authority for the governance of the church. The polity of our church is deeply intertwined with our uniquely American form of democracy. For the Primates to assume that our House of Bishops can make the decisions for which they are asking without the full participation of the whole church strikes me as an invitation to violate our own canons. Again, this seems to be an important concern quite apart from where one stands on the issues in question.

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From the Morning Scripture Readings

February 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 7:09 am

If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?

For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,

and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:8-14

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefforts Schori–A Season of Fasting: Reflections on the Primates Meeting

February 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:52 am


Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offered the following reflections following the February 15-19 meeting of Anglican Primates near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

- - - - - - - - - -

A Season of Fasting: Reflections on the Primates Meeting

The recent meeting of the Primates in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, was a challenging one. Fourteen new primates joined the group; three longer-serving primates were unable to be present. It was a great joy to meet and begin to know a number of the primates, and to renew friendships with others. While much of our time and energy was focused on the Episcopal Church, several other agenda items were of considerable interest to many of those who gathered.

The Design Group for an Anglican Covenant submitted an initial draft for consideration by the Primates’ Meeting, which in turn commended it to the Communion for consideration, debate, and revision before the Lambeth Conference next year. This covenant is a further step in the Windsor process, engaged in the understanding that all human communities need boundaries in order to function. Anglicanism has always valued a rather wide set of boundaries, and boundaries are a central issue in the current debate - where are they, and how wide a space can they contain? The Covenant in its current draft attempts to define what the essentials and non-negotiable elements of Anglicanism might be, and how the Communion might live together in diversity.

The new United Nations observer, Hellen Wangusa, was installed during our meeting, and also led a discussion on the Millennium Development Goals. The Goals are directed primarily toward the governments of this world, both those in the developing world, who will have to design the systems to implement the goals, and the governments of the developed world, which are asked to contribute 0.7% of their annual incomes. She challenged us to recognize that these goals only go part way toward achieving full healing in the world, and that our own vision is of a world entirely reconciled and healed in God.

We also heard about the work being done on Theological Education in the Anglican Communion (TEAC). This body has produced thoughtful and creative, outcome-based guidelines for theological education of our baptized and ordained members.

The highlight of our meeting was the visit to Zanzibar and the remembrance of the end of the slave trade. We worshiped at the Anglican Cathedral in Zanzibar, built over the old slave market. Slavery was outlawed in British Empire in 1807, but it took another 90 years for the trade in Zanzibar to finally come to an end. Anglicans were a profound influence all through that period, and the Sultan of Zanzibar only signed the final treaty when faced with British warships in the harbor. David Livingstone is commemorated here for his tireless efforts to put an end to the ancient and inhuman practice of slavery. The struggle to end slavery has some parallel with our current controversy, and we can note the less than universal agreement about the moral duty of Christians over a lengthy period. The United States also experienced major division over slavery, even though the Episcopal Church did not fully divide. Some see that part of our history as shameful, while others see it as a sign of hope, and that, too, has current parallels.

We traveled home from this meeting at Carnival, the farewell to meat (carne vale) that comes just before Lent begins. That is an image that may be useful as we consider what the Primates’ gathering is commending to the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church has been asked to consider the wider body of the Anglican Communion and its needs. Our own Church has in recent years tended to focus on the suffering of one portion of the body, particularly those who feel that justice demands the full recognition and celebration of the gifts of gay and lesbian Christians. That focus has been seen in some other parts of the global Church, as inappropriate, especially as it has been felt to be a dismissal of traditional understandings of sexual morality. Both parties hold positions that can be defended by appeal to our Anglican sources of authority - scripture, tradition, and reason - but each finds it very difficult to understand and embrace the other. What is being asked of both parties is a season of fasting - from authorizing rites for blessing same-sex unions and consecrating bishops in such unions on the one hand, and from transgressing traditional diocesan boundaries on the other.

A parallel to this situation in our tradition might be seen in the controversy over eating meat in early Christian communities, mentioned both in the letter to the Romans and the first letter to the Corinthians. In those early communities, the meat available for purchase in the public market was often part of an animal that had been offered (in whole or in part) in sacrifice in various pagan religious rites. The troubling question in the Christian community was whether or not it was appropriate to eat such meat - was it tainted by its involvement in pagan religion? Did one participate in that religion (and thus commit apostasy) by eating it? Paul encourages the Christians in Rome and Corinth to recall that, while there may be no specific prohibition about eating such meat, the sensitive in the community might refrain if others would be offended. The needs of the weaker members, and the real possibility that their faith may be injured, are an important consideration in making the dietary decision.

The current controversy brings a desire for justice on the one hand into apparent conflict with a desire for fidelity to a strict understanding of the biblical tradition and to the main stream of the ethical tradition. Either party may be understood to be the meat-eaters, and each is reminded that their single-minded desire may be an idol. Either party might constructively also be understood by the other as the weaker member, whose sensibilities need to be considered and respected.

God’s justice is always tempered with mercy, and God continues to be at work in this world, urging the faithful into deeper understandings of what it means to be human and our call as Christians to live as followers of Jesus. Each party in this conflict is asked to consider the good faith of the other, to consider that the weakness or sensitivity of the other is of significant import, and therefore to fast, or “refrain from eating meat,” for a season. Each is asked to discipline itself for the sake of the greater whole, and the mission that is only possible when the community maintains its integrity.

Justice, (steadfast) love, and mercy always go together in our biblical tradition. None is complete without the others. 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.

Please note there is a short related interview here.

Connecticut Episcopal Leaders Expect Anglican Schism

February 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:49 am

Is the American Episcopal Church headed for a schism with its worldwide Anglican parent?

Connecticut Episcopal leaders said Tuesday that a final break with the international Anglican body could well be the outcome of a communiqué issued from Africa over the weekend demanding that the American church renounce its support for gay clergy and blessing civil unions.

The demand was made on Monday, at the end of a five-day meeting in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, of the 38 primates - or archbishops - of the international Anglican Communion. The primates gave the U.S. Episcopal Church until Sept. 30 to formally renounce its policies on homosexuals.

Bishop Andrew Smith, the head of the Episcopal Diocese in Connecticut, doubts the U.S. bishops will reverse their stand.

“If the Council of Primates is asking us to undo what we have already done, that is a step many of the [American] bishops would be unwilling to take,” Smith said.

In 2003, Smith voted to confirm the election of an openly gay priest, Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire. Last October, Smith also announced that priests - with the permission of their congregations - could dispense a blessing on gay couples already joined by civil unions.

Both positions have placed Smith at the center of a long-festering controversy with six Connecticut congregations that object to the American church’s position on inclusion of gays. (There are 174 congregations in the Connecticut diocese.)

While Smith said that he “greatly valued” his relationships with members of the Anglican Communion who disagree with his position, he made it clear that he and most bishops will find it morally impossible to accept the demands of the Dar Es Salaam communiqué.

“I’m not willing to do that,” Smith said. “It has always seemed to me that if we accept gay and lesbian people as full partners in our church, we have to be consistent on matters of marriage and clergy. We can’t advocate two classes of church citizenship: one for heterosexuals, one for homosexuals. Church unity is important, but you can’t compromise on basic principles of conscience.”

The Very Rev. Mark B. Pendleton, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, said he also doubted that Episcopal leaders would change their position. Episcopalians, he said, have always prided themselves on their independence from their international body because that is what the church’s break from Roman Catholicism was all about: freedom for churches in the provinces.

“I can’t see how the [American] bishops could accept an explicit ban on same-sex unions,” Pendleton said. “We’re not going to reverse ourselves as a national church, especially under pressure by foreign bishops.”

Read it all.

A Plea To Blog readers about Episcopal Bishops and Others’ responses to the Tanzania Anglican Primates Communique

February 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:44 am

This blog has many resourceful readers, and I have a favor to ask of you. Right now Episcopal Bishops and others are making responses to the Tanzania Anglican Primates Communique. It would be a big help if you could please send any of which you are aware both to me and to the elves at these email addresses:

Kendall’s E-mail: KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com

The Comment Elves’ E-mail (for comment problems, general feedback, admin issues, etc.):

Please note that other responses (Standing Committees, etc) would be appreciated as well. The concentration on bishops at present is because the Communiqe specifically calls on action and response from the American House of Bishops. If this effort is successful in collecting responses, we hope to provide a compendium here which will be a service for the church–KSH.

Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda on the Primates Meeting

February 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:34 am

(Anglican Church of Uganda)


First, I want to thank all the members of the Church of Uganda and others who were praying so fervently during this meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion. It was the most intense meeting I have ever attended. Even until the last night of our meeting, we were in a deadlock. But, the Lord has prevailed. Biblical authority is being restored, and from that, we are hopeful that Biblical mission will be the result. Thank you for upholding me and all of the Primates in your prayers.


In 2003, the Episcopal Church USA, now abbreviated as TEC (T – E – C), culminated years of their theological revision by consecrating as Bishop a divorced man living in a same-sex relationship. This was a blatant action in violation of Scripture and the historic teaching of the Church.

As the Primates wrote at the end of an emergency meeting in October 2003, this action has torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level. In fact, the Church of Uganda, along with 21 other Provinces of the 38 Provinces in the Anglican Communion, broke communion with TEC. Accordingly, I have not received Holy Communion at any Primates meeting since then – I did not receive Holy Communion in 2005 in Dromantine, Northern Ireland, and the two times we celebrated Holy Communion at this meeting in Tanzania, I did not receive Holy Communion.

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). I, along with several other of my brother Primates, were 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 of Holy Communion. The Prayer Book invitation to Holy Communion makes this very clear. It says, “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)

The Primates Communiqué from our last meeting in 2005 in Dromatine, Northern Ireland, put in place several recommendations in order for trust to be restored within the Communion, which TEC was supposed to address at its General Convention in June of 2006. While TEC may have done the best they could at the time, it was not good enough. We need reassurance that they are really serious. So, we have asked for two simple things before 30th September.

1. The House of Bishops of TEC needs to make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention
2. The House of Bishops of TEC needs to make a statement that all its members will definitely NOT consent to the consecration of any person as a Bishop who is living in a same-sex union

If they do not give these assurances, it will have “consequences for the full participation of [their] Church in the life of the [Anglican] Communion.” TEC’s Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, signed this Communiqué. We pray that she will take it more seriously than her predecessor did when he signed our Communiqués but proceeded to denounce and violate them.

The Church of Uganda remains in broken communion with TEC until they demonstrate true repentance. We continue to reject funds from official TEC sources and from American dioceses who have revised historic and Biblical faith and morality.

Once again, I take this opportunity to urge our Church to embrace this season as a God-given opportunity to vigorously pursue self-sustainability for our Church. We are a strong, healthy, and vibrant Church. We have tremendous assets – natural and human resources. I urge us to pray and work for the release of our God-given creativity to harness these resources not only for the self-sustainability of God’s Church here in Uganda, but for it to thrive and even support the mission of God’s Church in our neighbouring countries. God has blessed us in Uganda. And, when God blesses, we have a spiritual obligation to be a blessing to others.


Since the dramatic and unbiblical decision of TEC in 2003, a number of congregations in America have appealed to the Church of Uganda to provide a safe place of refuge for them. Ten of our Bishops are now providing ecclesiastical oversight to more than 20 congregations in America. I want to assure our Bishops here and our congregations in America that we stand with you. You are safe and secure in the Church of Uganda. We will not abandon you or repatriate you until there is truly a safe and Biblically faithful ecclesial entity in America. That has been our promise, and we stand by it.

We continue in full fellowship and Communion with the members of the Anglican Communion Network, the Anglican Mission in the Americas (a mission initiative of the Church of Rwanda), the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (a mission initiative of the Church of Nigeria), and on an individual basis with those Bishops and Dioceses who have explicitly put policies in place that prohibit the blessing of same-sex unions and the consecration of bishops in same-sex relationships, according to the Windsor Report.


I want to thank my brother Primates from Africa who have elected me to represent them on the Primates Standing Committee; it is an honour and a huge responsibility. We are comprised of five Primates from the five main regions of the world in which the Anglican Communion is present, and chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

This Primates meeting has not solved the current crisis in the Anglican Communion. We hope we have clarified the steps needed for trust to be restored, healing to take place, and for our full bonds of affection to once again flourish.

Anglicanism has always stood for a Biblical faith grounded in Holy Scripture as its primary source of authority. In the 16th century, British church leaders were martyred for this faith. In Uganda, our children were martyred at the hands of Kabaka Mwanga. Our former Archbishop, Janani Luwum, who we honoured last Friday, stood up for the Gospel in the face of unbiblical tyranny.

Not only will I honour the memory of these Anglican ancestors on the Primates Standing Committee; not only will I represent Africa, but my greater responsibility will be our Lord Jesus Christ, who “was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4.25).

I want to take this opportunity to highlight, once again, the appointment of one of our own to be the Anglican Observer to the United Nations. Hellen Wangusa, a former member of our Provincial Staff, was installed on Sunday during a service we held in Zanzibar. Hellen represents Uganda and all of us in the Global South who seek to see the fulfillment of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals for our people, so many of whom are suffering the ravages of extreme poverty, preventable diseases, and lack of access to education. Together with our grassroots efforts and Hellen’s work at a governmental and policy level, we pray for God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

It is not enough, however, to “make poverty history.” We must also “make greed history.” That is why it is not enough to substitute support for the Millennium Development Goals for the fullness of the Biblical understanding of God’s mission in the world. Evangelism, repentance, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and Biblical discipleship are as much a key to the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals as all the programmes and strategies we will put in place. And we have and will continue to put them in place. But, the whole counsel of God in Scripture must be proclaimed and embraced as the only way to the full and abundant life that Jesus promises.


I want to restate what the Church of Uganda stands for:

1. The Church of Uganda upholds the biblical teaching on sexuality, namely that sexual intimacy is reserved for a husband and wife in lifelong, heterosexual, monogamous marriage. For us in Uganda, this is a matter of life and death. For our own good, the Bible teaches abstinence before marriage, and faithfulness in marriage. And, marriage is defined as between one man and one woman.

2. Therefore, the Church of Uganda also supports the 1998 Lambeth Resolution, which states that “homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture.”

3. At the same time the Church of Uganda is committed to providing pastoral care for those struggling with sexual temptation, for example, homosexual urges, heterosexual pornography, pre-marital sex, and post-marital adultery. There is no sin too big for God. Sadly, many of our girls have also been defiled and sinned against, and they grow up with confusion about Godly sexuality. The gospel of Jesus Christ offers the only way to a transformed life, including a transformed sexuality. The gospel of Jesus Christ is about transformation, not inclusion. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more,” not, “Go and sin some more.” For the North American church, pastoral care means providing services for the blessing of same-sex unions. We do not mean that. For us in Uganda, pastoral care means leading people into the fully transformed life that Jesus promises to those who call upon His name. We welcome all those struggling with sexual temptation, and those suffering from sexual violation, to find healing and deliverance through Jesus Christ.

4. I call upon our government leaders to uphold marriage between one man and one woman, and the family they produce, as a foundational building block for our society and our country. This part of our African culture is affirmed in the Bible and we must not let Western influence pressure us into abandoning this part of our heritage.

In my Charge at my Enthronement, I said, “I desire to see the Church rise and shine. Isaiah 60:1 says, “Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” Three years later, that is still my desire. I have a lot of hope for the Church in Uganda, and, if our recommendations are taken seriously, I have hope that the Anglican Communion can be put back on its Biblical foundations, for that is the only place where it can flourish.

–The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi

Bishop Mark Andrus of California Responds to the Tanzania Primates Communique

February 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:31 am

Received via email:

I am writing in response to the Communique coming out of the primates meeting in Tanzania. While many are reacting to the words of the Communique, I would like to respond from an awareness of the foundation of the day-to-day ongoing commitment of Christians to the gospel of Jesus. As bishop to the Diocese of California, I make the following affirmations:

The inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the full life of the Church is a matter of justice: as we are all part of the world, and the kindom of God is like a net laid over that same world. All on the earth are connected by this net, whether perceived or not. Actions of justice and injustice reverberate throughout the whole, promoting either integrity, remembering, and shalom, or diabolic isolation.

Understood as expressed above, our task in the Church is not actually to include or exclude anyone, but to show forth an intrinsic co-inherence that simply is, created and sustained by God.

Gay and lesbian people who come to the Church seeking the blessing of the Church for their unions are people seeking to lead holy lives, exactly like heterosexual couples. The Church must respond to gay and lesbian people seeking the blessing of counseling, community support, prayer, and sacrament in the same way it does to heterosexual couples.

The Diocese of California is a place within the Church — not alone, but prominently — where gay and lesbian people have been freer to offer their gifts: Both professional gifts and those of lay and ordained ministry. As a result, the Diocese of California has been immeasurably enriched. As bishop of this diocese, I know very well that the Christian rights of gay and lesbian people are intrinsic and must be supported, and that without these gifts, this diocese would be as immeasurably impoverished as it is now enriched — immeasurably, as the spiritual gifts of all God’s people know no measure.

The polity of The Episcopal Church requires the deliberation and consent of two bodies, the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, to properly respond to the requests made by the primates in their Communique.

The Episcopal Church should make every effort, including an extraordinary meeting of the two houses, and redoubled efforts to help the other provinces of the Communion understand both our theology relating to marriage and human sexuality and our polity. We should make these efforts, and at the same time not compromise the essentials of theology or our polity.

I will call on the Diocese of California to come together at Grace Cathedral during the Easter Season (at a time and on a date to be determined) when we affirm the triumph of Christ over all that destroys the creatures of God, filling that great house of prayer for all people with the full diversity of the people of God: people who differ in mind but not heart; gay and straight people; men and women; the young with the old; the poor and the rich; people of every ethnicity, all together to show our understanding of Christ’s gift of new life in the Church.

–(The Rt. Rev.) Marc Handley Andrus is Bishop of California

Bishop Sisk Responds to the Tanzania Primates Communique

February 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:28 am

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The long awaited meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion has just taken place in Dar Es Salaam. This gathering brings together Primates from communities all around the world. As a consequence this meeting brings together all the complexities that mark our world and our Communion. Not surprisingly their deliberations resulted in a rather large body of material that needs to be assimilated and addressed by a number of different bodies over the coming months. These issues and concerns require and deserve the very closest attention.

Having said that, even a cursory reading of these documents makes it abundantly clear that the Primates of our Communion are not happy with the Episcopal Church. Further, they are less than satisfied with our responses to the formal requests that we have received at their hand. It is my expectation that our House of Bishops meetings, both in March and in September, will consider what further assurance we can give, while duly respecting the structure and governance of our Church. Bear in mind, the General Convention has legislative authority in our church and the House of Bishops can only speak for itself. I look forward to working with others to discover if there are ways in which we might give the assurance which our brothers and sisters around the world have requested. It is my hope that through that process, our relationship across the Communion will broaden and deepen.

However, I feel that I need to add an important caveat. Over the years I have been prepared to make certain accommodations to meet the concerns of those whose view of the Gospel promise differs somewhat from my own. I am fully aware that those accommodations have not been uncontroversial. Now, I want to make it abundantly clear that I am not in the least prepared to make any concession that strikes at the heart of my conviction that gay and lesbian people are God’s beloved children. They are we. Our witness to the Gospel would be unthinkably deformed if by some tragic misjudgment we willingly submitted ourselves to vivisection. We are one body in Christ. Each and all of us rely upon the love of God, as revealed in Jesus, to attain to the life that is ours in Him. We have all been called by God to offer ourselves for the transfiguration of our lives in order that we “may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory.” This vision of a God who embraces all in the arms of Divine self-offering love is the vision that is at the heart of the Gospel as I know it.

Faithfully yours

–(The Rt. Rev.) Mark S. Sisk

Some U.S. Bishops Reject Anglican Primates Ultimatum

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 11:18 pm

“My assumption is she’s coming home to tell us how it can work,” said Jim Naughton, a spokesman for the Washington diocese. “And since she’s amassed a lot of goodwill in a short time, maybe she can persuade us — though it will be a hard sell.”

Other liberals said it is time to admit that they have been outmaneuvered.

“The American church has been very skillfully and strategically painted into a corner where we really need to face a “Sophie’s Choice” of staying true to our understanding of the inclusive gospel or staying true to our commitment to being a constituent member of the Anglican Communion,” said the Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity, a 33-year-old gay rights advocacy group within the church.

Russell said the U.S. church has done all it can to avoid that choice. “The idea that the criteria for being in communion with each other is you must agree down the line on doctrinal points — that has never been how Anglicans have operated,” she said. Nevertheless, Russell said, her group will urge U.S. bishops, who are scheduled to meet next month at an Episcopal retreat center near Houston, to “utterly reject” the Anglican demands.

The Rev. Mark Harris, a retired priest and liberal blogger who sits on the Episcopal Church’s 40-member Executive Council, said that U.S. bishops may have to tell the Anglican Communion that they cannot speak for the entire U.S. church, which has a democratic structure that includes lay people and priests in decision-making.

“Part of the courage needed for the future is to stand by what we believe is right, and stand by the consequences,” he said.

How many reappraisers and how many reasserters quoted? Hmmm. Read it all.

From the PBS Online News Hour: Anglican Leaders Demand U.S. Church End Gay Unions

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 9:02 pm

KENDALL HARMON, Episcopal Diocese, South Carolina: Margaret, it couldn’t be more serious. The Episcopal Church was already given an ultimatum by the Anglican Communion in 2004 in the Windsor report. And there were three things asked of us.

And this meeting in Tanzania was a meeting to evaluate those three responses. And effectively what the leadership of the communion says is, “We’re going to give you one very last chance. You’re in the penalty box. And we have two things that we asked you to do that we don’t feel that you have done. And we’re giving you until September 30th to do it. And if you don’t do it, we don’t want to do this, but there’s going to be a further severing of our relationship with you as a communion.”

So they’re asking the Episcopal Church, they’re imploring the Episcopal Church to do the right thing and to come back to teaching in accordance with scripture and Anglican history, and they’re doing it with a very short time frame.

And they’re also doing it with a significant amount of challenge to the structure of the Episcopal Church in the process, which one could argue is unprecedented in Anglican history. They’re making a lot of structural suggestions as to how things here should be different while this final seven-month process is going on.

MARGARET WARNER: Reverend Russell, do you see it as that serious a challenge, that really the American Episcopal Church is now, quote, “in the penalty box”?

REV. SUSAN RUSSELL, President, Integrity USA: I don’t know if I’d use that analogy, but I agree we are in a very serious time in the church. From my perspective, the American Episcopal Church has now been very strategically and very intentionally painted into a corner by those in the American church who have been advocating for a schism for many years.

And we’re now faced with what I would call a Sophie’s choice of having to choose our vision of the inclusive gospel over our inclusion in the communion. It’s a profoundly un-Anglican way to make decisions, given that historically we have been a people of God who have not required common belief in order to be in communion with each other.

So I think the greater challenge we face has much less to do with gay and lesbian people or bishops or blessings, but how we’re going to be church together. I think that is really under attack by the radical religious right, who is willing to split this church if they can’t recreate it in their own image.

Read and/or listen to it all.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Bishop of Fort Worth Issues His Reflections on the Communique

From here:

To the Clergy and Laity of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

Dear Friends in Christ:

The primates of the Anglican Communion concluded their six-day meeting in Tanzania on Monday, February 19, by issuing a unanimous Communiqué that points the way forward in these troubled days in the life of our Church. I commend it to you for your careful reading and study. While the meeting avoided a formal schism, it recognized that serious divisions still confront us and called upon The Episcopal Church to take specific actions to heal the breach in relationships caused by actions of our General Convention and a number of our bishops.

The traditional teaching of the Bible, that sexual relations are confined to heterosexual marriage, was reaffirmed as the official teaching of the Anglican Communion, and the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church has been given until September 30th to reverse practices at variance with this or face the consequences. In particular, we are asked to “make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions” and to confirm “that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent” to be consecrated as a bishop.

The primates responded to the appeals for Alternative Primatial Oversight from several dioceses by agreeing to establish a Pastoral Council that will oversee the ministry of a Primatial Vicar, who will in effect act as the Presiding Bishop for those who are unable to accept the ministry of Katharine Jefferts Schori. There are several problems with this proposal, and it raises some serious questions that warrant further discussion.

Another significant element of the Communiqué urges that all legal actions on property disputes between The Episcopal Church and congregations that have left TEC be suspended. Litigation in secular courts is not the way for the Church to resolve these controversies.

There are many questions that remain unanswered, and there are some serious difficulties that have to be addressed. Do keep these concerns in your prayers as various details and decisions are made in the weeks and months ahead.

Best wishes for a devout and holy Lent. May the Lord Jesus fill you with his grace and peace.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
Shrove Tuesday
February 20, 2007

From Kendall

Kendall Harmon and Susan Russell will be on “The Jim Lehrer Newshour” to discuss Tanzania developments

tonight. Check your local PBS station for broadcast times. From the website, it looks like Kendall's segment may be at about 45 minutes into the program, but we're not positive about that.

Archbishop Hutchison says church must look ’seriously’ at primates’ request

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 2:56 pm

The Anglican primates’ directive for the U.S. church to unequivocally bar same-sex blessings and gay bishops is something that the Canadian church “will have to look at seriously,” according to Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Archbishop Hutchison acknowledged that while the Canadian church has not ordained a gay bishop nor decided as a national church to allow same-sex blessings, it could face the same consequences “if it were to follow the same path” as The Episcopal Church. The American church’s decision in 2003 to ordain Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire, has triggered near-schism in the Anglican Communion.

“The American church is in a different position than we are. It’s the ordination of Bishop (Gene) Robinson (of New Hampshire) that was the main issue that triggered all of these and we’re not in that situation in Canada,” Archbishop Hutchison said in telephone interview with the Anglican Journal. “Furthermore, in the United States, same-sex blessings is something that has happened in a number of dioceses across the country. In Canada, there’s only one diocese where that’s happened and we’re still in the middle of a conversation. So it’s hard to say what the implications may be.”

But he added, “I suppose that if Canada were to follow the same path, which would be a radical move in the same direction as the United States, then we might look forward to a similar kind of response.”

Read it all.

Posted in ANGLICAN, Canada, Dar es Salaam 2007 | Edit | 5 Comments

William McKeachie: Grace or Disgrace

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 2:38 pm

The rabbit may not be all white (in more senses than one!) but magic, or rather a last-minute miracle, seems to be what we have witnessed in the apparently successful hat trick performed in Tanzania. In the broad sweep of church history, seven months seems a tolerable time to await the fruits of the Spirit in order to be assured that what has taken place is indeed more than an illusion. Remember not the Alamo but the Reformation!

In the meantime, we are called not only to be patient but to assist the process. I know that many among the beleaguered orthodox in TEC have grown impatient with “dialogue” but we owe it to the Primates to honor the full counsel not only of the Gospel but of their own Gospel-inspired endeavor to make Windsor work. Perhaps that is why they have even allowed Bishop Jefferts Schori a grace period amongst themselves to show the true colors of her leadership.

It is, on the other hand, not propitious that the “spin” has already begun with the way in which “815″ seems to be interpreting the role of the proposed Primatial Vicar as accountable to the Presiding Bishop herself.

For this very reason, I do believe that the unprecedented, albeit provisional, restructuring of our church now underway gives us time (one more time!) to go deeper than Windsor, deeper than ecclesiology, and to make it our imperative to commend the full counsel of the Gospel to those who have strayed from it as much as those who have never heard it. Two postings last week (both on February 17) provide such an opening.

The author of “Unreasonable rift in Episcopal Church” sought to identify the unreasonableness as residing in the traditionalists’ “inability to accept homosexuality as a human condition, no more an affliction than left-handedness.” Similarly, John Scholasticus (in responding to my “Ersatz Anglicanism” posting) speaks for the TEC General Convention majority when he says “surely we’re all agreed … that homosexual orientation per se is morally neutral.” He calls it a “disgrace” on my part to argue otherwise.

These authors have thus helpfully pinpointed what’s at stake in the current debate in the Anglican Communion not just in terms of ecclesial issues but, underlying the symptoms of our dysfunction, more profoundly in terms of the great gulf between those who uphold a classical Anglican and biblical anthropology on the one hand, and, on the other, those for whom modern and post-modern social science trumps St. Paul (see Romans 7), Thomas Cranmer (see the Homily on Salvation), and C. S. Lewis (see “The Abolition of Man”).

As Fitz Allison demonstrated years ago (see “The Rise of Moralism” and “Guilt, Anger and God”) before the debate about sexuality overtook the church, classical Anglicans like Richard Hooker and John Donne were of one accord with both pre-Tridentine catholic theology and, equally, the magisterial Protestant Reformers in terms of moral theology as it pertains to the sinfulness of the human condition. Implicitly, there is no such thing as moral neutrality, let alone virtue, apart from Justification by Grace through Faith and the “imputation” of Christ’s righteousness. Homosexual orientation is but one particular and particularly poignant expression of the endemic character of original sin and alienation from God into which all of us, whatever our carnal appetites, are born (see articles IX and XIII of the Thirty Nine Articles as well as the 20th century Roman Catholic priest-psychiatrist Marc Oraison).

The very notion of homosexual “orientation” (”God made me this way”) as an individual’s morally neutral (at best, or worst?) identity is a 20th century invention incompatible with biblical anthropology. Adapting John Scholasticus’s phrase, I just don’t see how any Christian can argue otherwise. To do so implies that the need for Redemption is redundant.

Now that’s “disgrace”-ful!

–The Very Rev. William Mckeachie is Dean of the Cathedral of Saint Luke and Saint Paul in Charleston, South Carolina

From the Christian Science Monitor: After Anglican meeting, Episcopal Church on notice

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 2:34 pm

Holding to goals of unity and reconciliation, the leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion have taken key steps that buy time for healing in the deeply divided global body.

But they also served notice on the Episcopal Church, Anglicanism’s US branch, that it must give convincing proof of an intent to abide by traditional practices with regard to homosexuality.

During their six-day gathering in Tanzania, the 38 leaders approved the first stage of an Anglican Covenant that will define the principles for membership and accountability. Once the covenant is widely considered and approved – a process that could take a few years – national churches would have to conform to remain within the community.

The Communion faces the most serious crisis in its history because of the Episcopal Church’s consecration of a gay bishop and allowance for blessing of same-sex unions, steps contrary to a Communion resolution on homosexuality. While acknowledging that the church had tried to repair the resulting breach, the leaders said the response was not enough to restore the lost trust.

Read it all.

Tuesday: Batch 3 -- 2:30 pm EST

Anglican Communion Network expresses Gratitude for the Primates Work

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 2:08 pm

Read it all.

Ben Witherington: Anglican Conclave tells American Episcoalian Church to ban the Blessing of Same Sex Unions

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 1:48 pm

In what can only be called a stunning rebuke of the American Episcopal Church, it was given eight months to ban the blessing of same sex unions or face a reduced and censured role in the world’s third largest Christian denomination– the Anglican Communion….

Read it all.

Primates Elect New Standing Committee Members and Alternates

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 1:46 pm

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected Feb. 19 to represent the Americas on the primates’ standing committee, an interim body that meets in conjunction with the Anglican Consultative Council standing committee. In the past, the primates’ standing committee has served as a council of advice for the Archbishop of Canterbury and also helps to shape the agenda of the primates’ meetings.

The 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion are grouped together into five regional districts, and each district elects its own candidate.

Other elected regional representatives are: The Most Rev. Phillip Aspinall, Primate of Australia and Archbishop of Brisbane, representing East Asia and Oceana; the Most Rev. Mouneer Anis, Primate of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and in the Middle East and Bishop of Egypt, representing West Asia and the Middle East; the Most Rev. Henry Orombi, Primate of Uganda and Archbishop of Kampala, representing the African churches; and the Most Rev. Barry Morgan, Primate of Wales and Bishop of Llandaff representing Europe.

Read it all.

Tuesday Backup batch 2: 12:00 noon EST

Archbishop Rowan Williams’ comments at the final press conference in Tanzania

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 10:02 am

May I echo the thanks for your patience which Philip has already shared with you – we’re very appreciative of the fact that it is late and we’re all tired.

Also before I start, I went from one session just to check the BBC news and heard more details about he appalling bombing on the train in India and I know that all the Primates will want to put on record their grief and shock about this and their prayers for all involved and their families.

What I’d like to do is touch briefly – very briefly – on the issues in the final communiqué of our meeting. As usual, you’ll see elements there of narrative – this is what we did, these are the activities we shared and these were the subjects we covered. You’ll notice the reference there to the commissioning of our new representative at the United Nations, and following on form that, some discussion of future work that can be done on the Millennium Development goals by the Communion, especially in the forthcoming conference in Johannesburg in a few week’s time at which I hope to be present.

We also received and welcomed the report on Theological Education and identified a new project on interpretation of the Bible.

The business of following through the recommendations of the Windsor report covers, as you see, a great deal of our business and it touches on what we’ve called the listening process, and we had an extremely good discussion and report from Canon Philip Groves and a great deal of information about the variety of responses and perspectives around the world on these questions around listening to the experience of homosexual people and the challenges of equitable and patient pastoral ministry to them.

There’s a reference to the report on the Panel of Reference, you’ve heard something already of the Anglican Covenant, but it’s probably the remainder of the document, from paragraph 17 onwards that contains the meat of our recommendations.

In short, the feeling of the meeting as a whole was that the response of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church to the recommendations of the Windsor report, a response made at General Convention last year, represented some steps in a very encouraging direction but did not yet represent a situation in which we could say ‘business as usual’. What that means in practice is spelled out in what follows.

We’re still as a communion in a place where our doctrinal position is that of Lambeth 1.10 and where that position has been reiterated in a number of Primates’ Meetings, ACC meetings and a number of other fora. That hasn’t changed. However there are two factors which we needed to take seriously and engage with….

Q What message is this sending to people in the pews who are tired of this … what would you say is the end goal?

The end goal is the Kingdom of God, isn’t it, and that takes a while. What would I say to people in the pews? I would say first of all that Gospel remains the Gospel –that is the love of God, the challenge of God the love of God promising absolution, the challenge of God requiring change. That doesn’t change and for people to go on in the baptised life, sharing Holy Communion, serving the world, there is no imperative bigger than that.

I said I went back from one session and put the news on and looking at the levels of human grief, terror and suffering around the world, it did seem to me that in many ways it’s quite difficult to persuade people that the Church – I don’t just mean the Anglican Church – has transforming good news when most of what people hear about us is our own internal divisions. There’s a lot in this communiqué about what else we’re doing, that is the other 97% of what the Church does in terms of the Millennium Development Goals and other matters. I do hope people will bear that in mind as the primary vision.

Read it all.

Bishop Epting on the Primates meeting

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 9:54 am

Read it all.

From the Telegraph: Anglican Church leaders give ultimatum to liberals

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 9:01 am

One of the leading conservatives, the Primate of the Southern Cone in South America, Archbishop Gregory Venables, said after the meeting:

“We came very close to separation over this.

“But Biblical doctrine and behaviour have been affirmed as the norms in the Anglican Church.”

The communiqué reaffirmed that the official policy of the worldwide Church remained the traditional teaching that sex should be confined to heterosexual marriage.

It said that the primates remained unable to recognize that the Episcopal Church had “mended its broken relationships.”

It added that there was an “urgent need” for the Episcopal Church to reassure those who had lost trust in it that it was prepared to agree to official Anglican policy on homosexuality.

It concluded: “We do not underestimate the difficulties and heart-searching that our proposals will cause, but we believe that commitment to the ways forward which we propose can bring healing and reconciliation across the Communion.”

Dr Williams said at the press conference that the new enclave for conservative Americans was “an experiment”, but the communique makes clear that it could be applied to other parts of the Church that suffer similar tensions, even the Church of England.

He said it represented a challenge to the Episcopal Church to “clarify its position” within a certain time frame.

He said that it would be “difficult” to accept a response from the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops that was not in the language of the communique.

Read it all and note at the top of the article there are links to other articles you should read as well.

Tuesday a.m. posts 08:00 Eastern

Ugandan Archbishop Henry Orombi: The Episcopal Church needs to Accept Responsibility for Plunging the Anglican Communion into its Present Broken State

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 7:32 am

Listen to the whole audio interview. Note carefully the emphasis on “one last” chance for the Episcopal Church, on the importance of Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10, that there need to be “no same sex blessings” in dioceses in order to meet the call of the Primates, and this gracious emphasis: “We wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt.”

From the BBC: Ultimatum for Anglicans in US

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 6:12 am

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said the document provided “a challenge to both sides”.

“A challenge to the Episcopal Church to clarify its position, a challenge also to those who have intervened from elsewhere to see if they can negotiate their way towards an acceptable, equitable, settlement.”

He admitted the communique would “certainly fall very short of resolving all the disputes”, but said it would “provide a way of moving forward with dignity”.

The document announced the setting up of a pastoral council to represent the international church leaders in the US.

Anglicans who do not agree with the Episcopal Church’s stance on homosexuality will be able to worship separately to the others, under the auspices of the council.

The body will be made of up five members - three of whom will be appointed by non-US clergy.

Groups such as Integrity, which represents Episcopal gays and lesbians, have accused the leaders of bigotry and urged Episcopalians to lobby their bishops to reject the demands.

Anglican leaders in many parts of the world were angered by the consecration of openly-gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

Read the whole piece.

From the Los Angeles Times: Anglicans tense but not split after talks

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 6:00 am

A spokeswoman at the Episcopal Church’s New York office said the meeting appeared to have produced no clear victor between the communion’s vying liberal and conservative factions.

“Nobody walks away as an absolute winner or an absolute loser,” said the Rev. Jan Nunley, the U.S. church’s deputy for communication. “Nobody’s going to be happy with this, and there’s going to be a lot of hard work ahead.”

But some conservative Anglicans expressed cautious optimism. The Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, a conservative from South Carolina who posted regular blog updates from Tanzania throughout the meeting, called parts of the final communique “very good news.”

Harmon, who wrote that the meeting did not produce everything he would have wanted, praised the leaders for coming to an agreement and giving the Episcopal Church “specific deadlines with real consequences.”

Conversely, the group Integrity, a 30-year-old national gay and lesbian advocacy organization, on Monday called on its members and allies to urge their bishops to reject the demands of the primates, as presiding bishops are known.

“The primates chose bigotry over the baptized,” said the Rev. Susan Russell, of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena and president of Integrity. The leaders’ action, she said, “grieves the heart of God.”

Read it all.

The Living Church: Overtime Required for Primates to Agree on Communiqué Wording

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:55 am

The primates of the Anglican Communion will assist The Episcopal Church to comply with certain recommendations addressed to it in the Windsor Report after concluding that “sincere” but insufficiently clear previous attempts, particularly resolutions approved by the 75th General Convention, failed to mend relationships which were “torn” by “the controversial events of 2003.”

Those conclusions and discussion related to the implications of the Windsor Report consumed more than 85 percent of the content contained in a carefully worded, nine-page communiqué that was released Feb. 19 during a press conference held after 11 p.m. local time at the White Sands Resort, located outside Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The late hour of the communiqué’s release, which was reportedly due to protracted negotiations over the language of the proposed remedies, meant that a number of meeting participants and media had already departed East Africa to catch flights of 20 hours or more back to their home countries by the time the communiqué was available. Four primates were present at the concluding press conference.

Aside from a daily press briefing, the primates had committed not to speak publicly about the meeting until after it had adjourned. That practice was honored with the one notable breach being an announcement published on the official website of the Anglican Church of Nigeria. That statement explained that seven of the 38 Anglican Communion leaders had declined to share in the Holy Eucharist with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori during the meeting as “a poignant reminder of the brokenness of the Anglican Communion.”

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. “I do hope that people will bear the MDGs as the primary vision.”

Read it all.

Blogs synchronized and links to a few key posts from yesterday

We’ve done our best to copy all of yesterday’s posts from the Titusonenine backup blog and their comments over here to the main site.

For those who may have been away from the blog yesterday due to the US holiday (or any other reason) here is a brief index of some key posts:

The Tanzania Primates Meeting Communique (See also the extensive comments at Stand Firm, where it was posted first)

Kendall Harmon: Early Reaction to the Communique (additional comments at Stand Firm)

Roundup: Commentary on the Communique

Draft of the Proposed Anglican Covenant and REPORT OF COVENANT DESIGN GROUP
(and extensive comments at Stand Firm) (A round up of early commentary on the Covenant draft is here)

BREAKING: From Ruth Gledhill: Schori elected to Primates Standing Committee
(see also comments at Stand Firm)

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Sermon in the cathedral in Zanzibar [Sunday]

Monday, February 19, 2007

From the NY Times: Anglicans Rebuke U.S. Branch on Same-Sex Unions

Facing a possible churchwide schism, the Anglican Communion yesterday gave its Episcopal branch in the United States less than eight months to ban blessings of same-sex unions or risk a reduced role in the world’s third-largest Christian denomination.

Anglican leaders also established a separate council and a vicar to help address the concerns of conservative American dioceses that have been alienated by the Episcopal Church’s support of gay clergy and blessings of same-sex unions. Although the presiding American bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, agreed to the arrangement, some conservatives described it as an extraordinary check on her authority.

The directive, issued after a five-day meeting of three dozen top leaders of the Anglican church gathering in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, constituted a severe rebuke of the small but affluent American branch. Conservative Anglicans described the communiqué as a landmark document that affirms the primacy of Scripture and church doctrine for the world’s 77 million Anglicans, only 2.3 million of whom are Episcopalians.

“This is very, very, very significant,” said Bill Atwood, who serves as a strategist for a group of the conservative bishops. “It was either call the Episcopal Church back or lose the Anglican Communion, and the group agreed it was better to call the Episcopal Church back.”

The decision comes after years of debate and remonstrations within the Anglican Communion over whether and how to force the Episcopal leaders to conform to the wider church’s view of homosexuality — a controversy that has also enveloped other mainline Christian denominations.

Episcopalians in favor of gay rights suggested that the new directive was more likely to freeze the church’s progress toward recognition of gay unions than undo it. “The American church is not going to just roll over and turn back the clock on blessings,” said the Rev. Susan Russell, an Episcopal priest in Los Angeles and president of Integrity, an Episcopalian gay rights group.

Anglican church teaching, reiterated in a series of meetings since 1998, states that sex is reserved for married heterosexual couples.

The Episcopal Church directly challenged that teaching in 2003 by consecrating V. Gene Robinson, a gay man living with his partner, as bishop of New Hampshire. The church’s bishops have also allowed priests to bless gay unions.

In response, more than a third of the other Anglican churches around the world — by some counts more than half — have curtailed their interaction with the Episcopal Church. The church has also faced an internal rebellion from nearly one-tenth of its dioceses, which have appealed to the Anglican Communion to free them from oversight by the presiding Episcopal bishop, Bishop Jefferts Schori. Several dozen more parishes have aligned themselves with bishops outside the United States whose churches are more conservative theologically.

At a late-night news conference in Dar es Salaam, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, the denomination’s spiritual leader, said the group hammered out “an interim solution that certainly falls very short of resolving all the disputes.”

The communiqué yesterday detailed at length what the Episcopal Church should do to heal the rift over homosexuality with a series of recommendations that conservatives characterized as mandates. It called on the House of Bishops to adopt an explicit ban against blessings of same-sex unions and to make clear that clergy in homosexual relationships cannot be confirmed as bishops.

Full article is here

Elfgirl signing off for the night

Y'all, this elf has been at the keyboard for pretty much 16 hours with little to no break. Time for us to call it a night. I will work to get the main Titusonenine site updated sometime in the wee hours (Eastern Time) tomorrow morning when hopefully traffic will be light and access easy.

Sorry we couldn't keep the main site up better. Between spam and the sheer volume of information, comments and links on the main t19 site, it is vulnerable on such days of heavy traffic.

Integrity Press Release: Primates Choose Bigotry Over Baptized

Via Susan Russell's blog

Just issued Integrity Press Release:

"The primates of the Anglican Communion have utterly failed to recognize the faith, relationships, and vocations of the gay and lesbian baptized," said Integrity President Susan Russell, responding to the communiqué released today from Dar Es Salaam.

"Let us pray it doesn't take another hundred years for yet-unborn primates to gather for a service of repentance for what the church has done to its gay and lesbian members today, as they repented in Zanzibar yesterday forwhat it did to those the church failed to embrace as full members of theBody of Christ."

The Rev. Michael Hopkins, immediate past President of Integrity had thisreaction: "Jesus weeps, and so do I. If the House of Bishops (or any other body with actual authority in this church) capitulates to these demands and sacrifices gay and lesbian people to the idol of the Instruments of Unity, it will have become the purveyor of an "anti-Gospel" that will (and should) repel many."

Integrity encourages its membership and allies to directly contact their bishops --urging them to reject the demands of the primates. Our leadership will seek an immediate meeting with the Presiding Bishop to express our deep concerns and encourage the Executive Council to insist on the inclusion ofall orders of ministry in the ongoing process of discernment on Anglican Communion issues.

Bishop Schori's Initial Reaction

via Jim Naughton (h/t Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans)

Bishop Jefferts Schori's initial reaction

From Matthew Davies at ENS:

"It is clear that despite the subcommittee report, a number of the Primates were unhappy with General Convention's response, and clarification of that response is among the Primates' requests of the Episcopal Church," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, one of the Anglican Communion's 38 Primates, said after their meeting's final business session adjournedat 11 p.m. local time.

"There is awareness that these issues are of concern in many Provinces of the Communion, and that the Episcopal Church's charism is to continue to encourage the discussion," said Jefferts Schori, who will offer additional comment after further reflection and her nearly 20-hour journey back to New York.

Jefferts Schori said the Primates "have also acknowledged and supported" her November 2006 proposal to name a primatial vicar who would assume some pastoral duties at the Presiding Bishop's direction.

"The hope is that the proposed primatial vicar will provide enough relief on both sides that the property disputes can be resolved in a way that does not alienate property and allows congregations access," Jefferts Schori said.

She said the Pastoral Council has been requested "to provide accountability for the primatial vicar proposal, as well as for other Provinces that have intervened."

Overall, Jefferts Schori said the Primates' Meeting demonstrated "a positive sense of collegiality, especially in the Bible studies and among Provinces where these issues have been robustly discussed. In addition, a number of Provinces are engaged in the Listening Process, and that is positive."

(The story isn't online yet. Click "continue reading" to see it all.)

Primates endorse pastoral council, primatial vicar in closing communiqué

Presiding Bishop comments on actions; further reflection to follow

By Matthew Davies

[ENS] The Primates of the Anglican Communion have called for the formation of a "Pastoral Council" that would work in cooperation with the Episcopal Church to negotiate the necessary structures to facilitate and encourage healing and reconciliation for those who feel unable to accept the direct ministry of their bishop or of the presiding bishop.

The request came in a communiqué issued at the close of their February 15-19 meeting near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, during which the Primates devoted extended discussions of the response of the Episcopal Church's 75th General Convention to the Windsor Report, a document that recommends ways in which the Anglican Communion can maintain unity amid differing viewpoints.

The full text of the communiqué is available at

"It is clear that despite the subcommittee report, a number of the Primates were unhappy with General Convention's response, and clarification of that response is among the Primates' requests of the Episcopal Church," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, one of the Anglican Communion's 38 Primates, said after their meeting's final business session adjourned at 11 p.m. local time.

"There is awareness that these issues are of concern in many Provinces of the Communion, and that the Episcopal Church's charism is to continue to encourage the discussion," said Jefferts Schori, who will offer additional comment after further reflection and her nearly 20-hour journey back to New York.

Jefferts Schori said the Primates "have also acknowledged and supported" her November 2006 proposal to name a primatial vicar who would assume some pastoral duties at the Presiding Bishop's direction.

"The hope is that the proposed primatial vicar will provide enough relief on both sides that the property disputes can be resolved in a way that does not alienate property and allows congregations access," Jefferts Schori said.

She said the Pastoral Council has been requested "to provide accountability for the primatial vicar proposal, as well as for other Provinces that have intervened."

Overall, Jefferts Schori said the Primates' Meeting demonstrated "a positive sense of collegiality, especially in the Bible studies and among Provinces where these issues have been robustly discussed. In addition, a number of Provinces are engaged in the Listening Process, and that is positive."

The 11-page communiqué noted that, although the Episcopal Church has "taken seriously" its Windsor response, "at the heart of our tensions is the belief that the Episcopal Church has departed from the standard of teaching on human sexuality accepted by the Communion in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 by consenting to the episcopal election of a candidate living in a committed relationship, and by permitting Rites of blessing same-sex unions."

During a news conference at the close of the Primates' Meeting, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said that the response represented "a willingness to engage with the Communion ... Our first question is how do we best engage with that willingness, a stream of a desire to remain with the Communion?"

Meanwhile, the Primates have requested that the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops "make an unequivocal common covenant" that they will not authorize same-gender blessings within their dioceses and confirm that Resolution B033, passed at the 75th General Convention, means that a candidate for bishop who is living in a same-gender relationship "shall not receive the necessary consent unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion."

An answer from the House of Bishops is to be conveyed to the Primates by September 30, 2007.

"If the reassurances ... cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at the best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion," the communiqué says.

Williams recognized that a substantial group of bishops in the Episcopal Church -- almost one quarter -- have committed fully to the Windsor Report and to providing a carefully worked out procedure for pastoral oversight.

"So we needed to see if there is an interim situation while the covenant is being worked out," he said. "That will provide a way of moving forward with integrity, a system of pastoral care ... a way of beginning to negotiate through the very difficult situation of interventions of provinces in the life of the Episcopal Church. We had some very moving testimonies of those, but it can only remain a very temporary solution."

The Primates said that there remains a "lack of clarity" about the Episcopal Church's stance, particularly on the issue of same-gender blessings, and called for some clarification.

They also acknowledged that interventions by bishops and archbishops of some Provinces "have exacerbated ... estrangement between some of the faithful and the Episcopal Church that this has led to recrimination, hostility and even to disputes in civil courts."

According to the communiqué, Jefferts Schori reminded the Primates that some in the Episcopal Church "have lost trust in the Primates and bishops of certain ... Provinces because they fear that they are all too ready to undermine or subvert the polity of the Episcopal Church."

The Primates are urging "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," and have requested the assurance 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."

"None of us agreed that litigation or counter litigation can be a proper way forward for a Christian body," Williams said.

The communiqué said that once the "scheme of pastoral care is recognized to be fully operational, the Primates undertake to end all interventions" and that congregations or parishes in current arrangements will negotiate their place within the structures of pastoral oversight."

"I'd like to put all this within the context of a Covenant process," Williams said. "It's a scheme ... of nurturing those in the Episcopal Church and clarifying its position."

Upholding the bonds of affection that unite the Communion, the Primates supported the establishment of an Anglican Covenant, noting that it "may lead to the trust required to re-establish our interdependent life." They recognized that an "interim response" is required "until the Covenant is secured."

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