Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thursday March 22: A.M. Press Roundup re: Bishops' meeting

Kendall has posted a bunch of stories from the U.S. and the U.K. concerning the U.S. House of Bishops meeting. Here they are:

USA Today: Episcopal bishops reject ultimatum
March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:48 am

Through a spokesman Wednesday, [Arhcbishop Rowan] Williams called the bishops’ resolutions “discouraging” and added, “No one is underestimating the challenges.”

Williams had urged the House of Bishops to take action promptly without waiting to consult the second half of the U.S. church’s legislature, the House of Deputies. The two houses don’t meet again until the 2009 General Convention. U.S. bishops said they would not act without the convention.

At Wednesday’s news conference, Jefferts Schori called for the bishops to spend the summer in a churchwide discussion “about our identity as a church and as a member of the Anglican Communion.”

But to conservatives and liberals alike, the resolutions seemed clear.

Telling the Archbishop and the primate “to go take a walk is just astounding. It’s the clearest message I’ve seen that the Episcopal Church really does intend to walk apart from the Communion,” said the Rev. David Anderson of the American Anglican Council, which works with churches that dissent from the Episcopal Church.

But the Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints in Pasadena, Calif., president of the gay and lesbian group Integrity, saw the resolutions as “good news … for the whole church.”

Read it all.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Episcopal bishops reject Anglican demands

March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:45 am

The Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan Jr., bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese, attended the Texas meeting but did not respond to a request for comment.

[Bishop]… Duncan is leader of the Anglican Communion Network, an association of theologically conservative dioceses and parishes dissatisfied with recent actions by the Episcopal Church. The 2003 consecration of openly gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson has been the most divisive of those.

In a news conference yesterday after the meetings in Navasota concluded, the presiding bishop said the resolutions would be taken up by the Executive Council, a group of lay and clergy leaders that oversees the church.

The Rev. J. Robert Wright, historiographer of the Episcopal Church, called the resolutions “a very careless kind of statement” for their lack of specificity.

“What the resolutions do say is that what you, the primates, have proposed for us to do, we cannot see how to do it nor do we believe we should do it,” he said.

The Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, president and CEO of the conservative American Anglican Council, said the resolutions showed that the Episcopal Church was not willing to be a part of the wider Anglican Communion.

“The bishops’ rejection of the primates’ pastoral scheme is in fact further proof that such a plan is now needed more than ever to intervene on behalf of the orthodox in America,” Rev. Anderson said.

“A default on the part of the House of Bishops and her presiding bishop should not delay the implementation of the relief effort.”

Read the whole piece.

BBC: US bishops refuse Anglican demand

March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:42 am

US bishops have refused demands by the worldwide Anglican Communion to create a parallel church for those upset by its stance on homosexuality.

The Anglican bishops’ decision may move the American church significantly closer to splitting from the communion.

In a statement, the bishops said they wished to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

The American Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop in 2003, sparking dozens of its own parishes to leave.

Last month, Anglican leaders threatened the Americans with expulsion unless they agreed to the appointment of a separate leader for the traditionalist wing.

Under the Anglican Communion’s plans, the separate church would have catered for traditionalist congregations, including seven entire dioceses.

It was to have its own version of an archbishop, answerable to the Communion itself.

Read the whole piece.

From the Newark Star-Ledger: U.S. Episcopal bishops reject call for a second leader

March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:38 am

The controversy dates to 2003, when the Episcopal Church approved an openly gay man, V. Gene Robinson, as New Hampshire’s bishop and authorized blessings for same-sex unions in dioceses where bishops allow them.

Since then, Anglican conservatives in America and abroad — especially in Africa — who oppose gay ordinations have criticized or moved to break ties with the Episcopal Church.

“The bishops’ rejection of the primates’ pastoral scheme is in fact further proof that such a plan is now needed more than ever to intervene on behalf of the orthodox in America,” said the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council, a traditionalist Episcopal group that opposed Robinson’s ordination.

The archbishop of Canterbury has been trying to keep the peace. Yesterday Williams released a statement saying he found the bishops’ resolution “discouraging.”

David Steinmetz, a Christian- history professor at Duke University Divinity School, said: “The archbishop of Canterbury is trying to hold everything together. The difficulty is, … holding everything together means there would be a certain kind of split in the American church, with a primatial vicar who would be the leader of a conservative wing of the church, and then the current presiding bishop (Schori) who would be in charge of the rest of the parishes and dioceses.”

Several observers of church politics said they were surprised the bishops acted so far in advance of the Sept. 30 deadline.

The controversy dates to Lambeth 1998, please remember that. Read it all.

From the Houston Chronicle: Episcopal bishops spurn demands from Anglicans

March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:35 am

The bishops also called for an urgent, face-to-face meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the titular head of the 77 million-member worldwide church.

There was no immediate response to their request, but Williams issued a statement calling the actions of the House of Bishops “discouraging.” He indicated a need for further discussion. However, he told U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori last month that his calendar was booked for the rest of the year, she said.

The U.S. bishops are facing a Sept. 30 deadline set by the leaders of the Anglican Communion to agree not to authorize any rites of blessings for same-sex unions and not to consecrate any bishop who is living in a same-sex relationship.

Bishop Mark Sisk of New York said they did not discuss the moratorium request. But Bishop Ed Little of Indiana said there was widespread agreement that gays and lesbians were welcomed and beloved as members of the church.

In their closing statement, the bishops proclaimed belief that “all God’s children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church.”

Jefferts Schori said the bishops discussed the strains within the communion. She said U.S. bishops would spend the summer listening to church members’ concerns about the issues, then meet again in September.

“These issues are not going to go away,” she said of the sexuality debate. “In large part it’s been this church’s gift to keep the conversation going. I think it’s a part of us, however much some of us would prefer that we not have to do it. It’s God’s gift to us.”

Read it all.

From the NY Times: Episcopal Church Rejects Demand for a 2nd Leadership

March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:33 am

The primates had also asked the Episcopal Church to pledge not to consecrate partnered gay bishops, and to stop authorizing blessings of same-sex couples. The bishops, while not addressing those demands for a moratorium directly, reiterated their commitment to the full inclusion of “all God’s people,” including gay men and lesbians, in church life.

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, said the bishops would spend the summer consulting with church members to develop a more complete response to the primates by September.

She said that she had previously asked the archbishop of Canterbury to visit the United States and been told that his calendar was full, but that she would ask him again.

“There is some belief in this house that other parts of the Communion do not understand us very well,” she said at a news conference after the bishops’ meeting.

The archbishop of Canterbury issued a two-sentence response on Wednesday, saying that the bishops’ statement was “discouraging and indicates the need for further discussion and clarification.” He added, “No one is underestimating the challenges ahead.”

What really agitated the American bishops was the primates’ insistence that the Episcopal Church accept a parallel authority structure composed of a “primatial vicar” and a five-member “pastoral council,” a majority of whose members would have been appointed by the primates. Bishops said they had a sense of urgency because names of potential pastoral council members were already being proposed.

Read it all.

From the Washington Post: Episcopal Bishops in U.S. Defy Anglican Communion

March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:31 am

In Tanzania, the primates gave the U.S. bishops until Sept. 30 to meet their demands or face unspecified “consequences,” which could include not being invited to the next worldwide gathering of Anglican bishops at Britain’s Lambeth Palace in 2008.

Jefferts Schori joined the other primates in issuing the Tanzania communique. But she said yesterday that her agreement consisted only of a promise to bring it back for consideration. She described the bishops’ action as a recommendation to the entire U.S. church, and noted that the bishops will meet again in September.

Chane, who is widely viewed as a liberal bishop, said the primates’ demands “galvanized” his colleagues. “I think the primates underestimated how the bishops would respond, because until now we’ve been rather passive,” he said. “My personal feeling is, they overplayed their hand.”

Martyn Minns, bishop of a Virginia-based mission of the Church of Nigeria and a leading U.S. conservative, said that after Tanzania, “I thought there was some genuine hope that we’d find a way forward, and this has upset that quite significantly.”

Read the whole article.

From the LA Times: Episcopal-Anglican rift deepens

March 22nd, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:29 am

The Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, who attended the Texas meeting, said the bishops’ discussions were thoughtful and without rancor.

“The attitude of the House of Bishops was the best I’ve seen it in a long time,” Bruno said in a cellphone interview as he left the meeting.

“We were all working together, people of progressive and conservative stances.”

Bruno also said the bishops intended by their action to make it clear that despite the primates’ directives, the bishops would not take action on their own.

Significant decisions in the U.S. church, unlike those of Anglicans elsewhere, are generally made at conventions that include all orders of the ministry — bishops, clerics and laity — or by the executive council, which also includes all orders.

“We are giving our thoughts to the executive council of the church,” Bruno said. The council, on which Bruno sits, is scheduled to meet in New Jersey in June, with another meeting of the Episcopal bishops set for September.

Also Wednesday, New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, whose consecration as the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop sparked worldwide controversy, said the meeting in Texas had been calm and peaceful.

In the letter, Robinson said, the majority of the bishops, both progressive and conservative, saw the primates’ demand for a special vicar as “an unfair, illegal and wholly unprecedented assault” on the governance and “internal integrity of the Episcopal Church.”

Read it all.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Message to God’s People…from the Bishops of the Episcopal Church

A Message to God’s People…from the Bishops of the Episcopal Church

March 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 7:59 pm


Spring House of Bishops Meeting
Camp Allen Episcopal Conference Center
Navasota, Texas
March 16-21, 2007

A Message to God’s People…from the Bishops of the Episcopal Church

As we prepare for Easter and the joyous celebration of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we send you greetings from Navasota, Texas where we gathered for the spring meeting of the House of Bishops. We represent fifteen sovereign nations, the fifty United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, and Micronesia bearing witness to the Gospel of Our Lord and the wonders of Christ’s redeeming work in the world. We were reminded of the health and vitality of our Church as our new Presiding Bishop recounted her travels. We have experienced a sense of identity, clarity, and purpose in fulfilling our vocation as bishops. We were blessed by the presence of the Primate and the House of Bishops of the Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico. Together we discovered a growing unity as we seek the mind of Christ. Our meeting was marked by a spirit of thanksgiving and respect, lived in a rich rhythm of worship, work, study, and rest.

That spirit moved us deeper into our focus on mission for Christ. In that context we discussed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Primates’ Communiqué, the draft Anglican Communion Covenant, as well as a number of other mission opportunities.

The central theme of the address by the Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas of the Episcopal Divinity School was that “the mission of the Church is to participate in the mission of God”. This observation set the tone for our study and discussion of the MDGs. We gave special attention to the challenge of environmental sustainability, the theme of a presentation by Dr. John Pine of Louisiana State University who addressed the environmental implications of global climate change.

We heard from the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner and the Rev. Dr. Katherine Grieb, members of the Covenant Drafting Committee, each of whom brought a distinct perspective regarding the proposed Covenant. Their presentations, which are available on line, will inform further conversations as the drafting process continues prior to the Lambeth Conference of 2008.

Mission concerns received attention in a variety of workshops and presentations, including: the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, Darkness into Day campaign, TEAM (Toward Effective Anglican Mission), TEAC (Theological Education within Anglican Communion), Bishops Working for a Just Society, issues facing returning military personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan and their families, as well as immigration and border issues viewed from both the United States and Mexican perspectives. The fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq was marked by a prayer vigil for peace. Then, in both formal and informal ways, members of the House expressed their strong desire to keep God’s mission at the center of the life of the Church.

We also heard a well-documented report by the House of Bishops’ Task Force on Property Disputes on the history and strategy of groups, including some in the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NACDAP) and others, to remove congregations and church property from The Episcopal Church. This report will be made available at a later date. We commend it, once publicly available, to diocesan Standing Committees.

We had an extended and thoughtful discussion of the Communiqué from the Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam, which represents the beginning of a longer process of response that will continue through the coming months.

It is our strong desire to remain within the fellowship of the Anglican Communion. The Primates’ Communiqué, however, raises significant concerns. First among these is what is arguably an unprecedented shift of power toward the Primates, represented, in part, by the proposed “Pastoral Scheme.” This proposed plan calls for the appointment of a Primatial Vicar and Pastoral Council for The Episcopal Church whose membership would consist of “up to five members; two nominated by the Primates, two by the Presiding Bishop, and a Primate of a Province of the Anglican Communion nominated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to chair the Council.” We believe this proposal contravenes the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. Moreover, because it is proposed that this scheme take immediate effect, we were compelled, at this March meeting, to request that the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church decline to participate in this aspect of the Communiqué’s requests. Nonetheless, we pledge to continue working to find a way of meeting the pastoral concerns raised by the Primates that are compatible with our own Church’s polity and canons. We should note that our recommendation to Executive Council not to participate in the Pastoral Scheme, though not unanimously endorsed by this House, came at the conclusion of long and gracious conversation.

Finally, we believe that the leaders of the Church must always hold basic human rights and the dignity of every human being as fundamental concerns in our witness for Christ. We were, therefore, concerned that while the Communiqué focuses on homosexuality, it ignores the pressing issues of violence against gay and lesbian people around the world, and the criminalization of homosexual behavior in many nations of the world.

The Theology Committee of the House of Bishops was charged with the responsibility of developing a teaching guide for consideration of both the Primates’ Communiqué and the proposed draft Covenant for the Anglican Communion. We anticipate this guide will be available by late May for use by bishops and dioceses in preparation for the September meeting of the House of Bishops.

The bishops unanimously affirmed a Mind of the House Resolution inviting the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Primates’ Standing Committee to meet, at a time of their choosing, with the House of Bishops.

As we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery we call for your prayers for and commitment to God’s mission of making all things new.

For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5)

A Little more Color from the Associated Press on the House of Bishops meeting

A Little more Color from the Associated Press on the House of Bishops meeting

March 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 7:56 pm

This afternoon beginning at 3:30 central time there was a press conference at the conclusion of the House of Bishops Meeting. If you are keeping track, this is the third write through of today’s AP article, and it now includes a section from the press conference (in the blockquote below):

“Episcopal bishops did not respond to the Anglican demand about gay bishops and blessing ceremonies. However, the leaders noted that they had previously met requests not to approve another gay bishop “at great cost to many, not the least of whom are our gay and lesbian members,” only to have Anglican leaders say the pledges weren’t sufficient.

Still, the bishops insisted in a news conference after the meeting that their new statement was not their last word on Anglican demands. The panel of lay people and clergy who oversee the Episcopal church, the Executive Council, will soon take up the bishops’ resolutions, and the House of Bishops will meet again in September.

“It is not a final decision,” Jefferts Schori said.

A Statement From the Bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

A Statement From the Bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

March 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 7:17 pm

The Spring Meeting of the House of Bishops has been filled with a readiness, an eagerness, to further the mission which God has entrusted to us, to proclaim the gospel in our life and our witness. As we have prayed and met, we have been aware of our relationships within the Anglican Communion and we have debated especially the implications of the communiqué which the primates of the provinces of the Communion released from their February meeting in Dar es Salaam.

On March 20 in our Business Meeting, the bishops of The Episcopal Church passed three resolutions which address the relationship of this Church with the Anglican Communion. We your bishops participated in the preparation of the first and third resolutions listed below, and we both voted to approve all three.

The foundation for all three resolutions is the clear and deep desire of the bishops as chief pastors of the Church to conserve the nature and spirit of the Anglican Communion, and to ensure the integrity of this Church.
The February 2007 Communiqué from the meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion in Dar es Salaam prescribes a method for international intervention to settle differences within The Episcopal Church. We your bishops in Connecticut believe their scheme would fundamentally change our historic Anglican fellowship. Their prescription for the Communion, and especially what they set forth for The Episcopal Church, would override our Constitutional responsibility for our life and governance. And it would change the Communion into an international church with a supreme council of archbishops who could intervene in and regulate the internal life of individual geographical provinces.

The first resolution of the House asks the Executive Council of our Church to join us in declining to accept the imposition of a “Pastoral Council” comprised mostly of persons outside the Episcopal Church who would oversee an appointed “primatial vicar” who in consultation with our Presiding Bishop would care for dissident dioceses and congregations.

A second resolution asks the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Standing Committee of the Council of Primates to meet with the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church as soon as possible. This resolution was passed unanimously by the bishops.

The third resolution, more lengthy than the other two, is addressed to the members of The Episcopal Church. It describes the situation before us and the theological and ecclesial reasons for our decisions.

A fourth statement, a much fuller report of the meeting, including the many other concerns which we engaged, was adopted in our last session and will be circulated to the Church. We commend this report to every one of our members.

The meeting of the House has been marked by widespread shared concern on all sides for the innovations from the primates. We spent a day listening to and questioning our Church’s two representatives to the international Anglican Covenant Design Committee, and we were newly enlightened by their very different perspectives. Our debate has been thoughtful, measured, respectful.

The attempts of the council of primates to intervene in the struggles and life of The Episcopal Church by demanding either that we agree to repudiate the presence and ministry of gay and lesbian persons in this Church, or, in the alternative by imposing an alternative authority and so settle our conflict essentially by dividing us, has an all too familiar ring for us in Connecticut.

We your bishops believe the time had come for us to stand as Episcopalians, Anglicans, people of Jesus Christ, and to draw a line. To accept the terms set down by the primates would compromise for all time the nature of the Anglican Communion by setting us on a slippery slope, granting permission for others to shape and govern this Church and other provinces as well. Episcopalians embrace a polity which is built on the participation of all the baptized, and we your bishops will resist every attempt to allow authority to be placed in the hands of foreign primates, many of whom have not been chosen by the people they govern.

We want Connecticut to continue and grow as a diocese that respects and welcomes all persons seeking Jesus, with no distinction, as Saint Paul wrote, based on heritage, race, or sex. Nor do we seek to discriminate theologically; we seek to honor and embrace the wide spectrum of Christian belief which exists among us. Further, we know that our ties with Anglicans throughout the world are a sign of Christ’s supremacy over us, and are indispensable for our common mission and spiritual health. Both of us rejoice in our diocesan and parish fellowship and mission work with Anglican partners in Africa, South America, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. We remind the diocese that we have committed ourselves to others in mutual support for mission, and to help fulfill the Millennium Development Goals.

What we see at stake is our Anglican heritage as brothers and sisters in Christ, and our particular mission and ministry which we discern through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. Our prayer is that our Anglican Communion will continue to bring Christ to all persons, in all places. Please do pray for Christ’s Church Universal, the Anglican Communion, for The Episcopal Church, and our diocese, that in our day, as in every age, we may seek to be an effective witness of Christ’s love and invitation into new life for the whole world.

The Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith
The Rt. Rev. James E. Curry
From the House of Bishops, Camp Allen, Texas

Bishop MacPherson on the House of Bishops Meeting March 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 6:36 pm Read it all. Posted in ANGLICAN, TEC/ECUSA Bishops,

From the LA Times: Episcopalians brace for possible split from American church

From the LA Times: Episcopalians brace for possible split from American church

March 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 5:37 pm

Today, reaction to news of the bishops’ decisions was swift, from Episcopalians on all sides of the issues.

The Rev. Canon David Anderson, president of the Atlanta-based American Anglican Council, which has helped dissident congregations leave the Episcopal Church, said he was surprised and disappointed by the bishops’ action.

“I was very surprised that in their first meeting after Tanzania that they would start out by alienating the primates and the archbishop of Canterbury and basically giving them a stiff arm,” Anderson said. “Strategically, I think it was most unwise on their parts.”

Bloggers on a host of church-related websites offered a variety of views. Liberals applauded the bishops, with many saying they were relieved and pleasantly surprised by the tone of the resolutions. Conservatives expressed concern for the future of the U.S. church and said they worried about its ability to remain a member of the wider communion.

In a letter to New Hampshire church members, meanwhile, Robinson said the bishops’ meeting, in which he is participating, had been calm and peaceful.

In the letter sent today, he also said the majority of bishops, both progressive and conservative, saw the primates’ demand for a special vicar as “an unfair, illegal and wholly unprecedented assault” on the governance and “internal integrity of the Episcopal Church.”

Read it all.

Integrity Applauds Bishops’ Strong Stand Against Primates

Integrity Applauds Bishops’ Strong Stand Against Primates

March 21st, 2007 posted by admin at 5:33 pm

[From Integrity’s blog. Note, the headline is exactly as worded in the original for those who might be wondering]

March 21, 2007—Integrity is gratified by the strongly worded resolutions passed yesterday by the House of Bishops. “The bishops have offered the church a way forward that affirms both its commitment to the Anglican Communion and its commitment to the gay and lesbian baptized,” said Integrity President Susan Russell. “It is a sign of both health and hope for all Episcopalians that the bishops have refused to be blackmailed into abandoning the historic polity of the Episcopal Church by threats of institutional exclusion from the Anglican Communion. For gay and lesbian people, the bishops’ actions bring us closer to turning the church’s 1976 commitment to a ‘full and equal claim’ from a resolution to a reality.”

By rejecting the proposed “Pastoral Scheme” and urging the Archbishop of Canterbury to meet directly with them, the House of Bishops has proactively claimed their leadership as bishops in the Church of God—and Integrity applauds them for it. At the same time, by including the Executive Council in their process, they have resisted the temptation to speak “for” the church—we believe that action deserves even greater applause.

Finally, we concur with the bishops’ statement that “…the number of those who seek to divide our Church is small, and our Church is marked by encouraging signs of life and hope.” Integrity is committed to the growth, strength, and vitality of this Episcopal Church—which we claim as our church. We believe the increasing participation of gay and lesbian people in all orders of ministry and the blessing and celebration of our relationships are among those signs of life and hope. We look forward to opportunities in the days ahead to continue to bear witness to signs of life and hope. We will continue to challenge our church to live into its high calling to fully include all of the baptized into the Body of Christ. There are miles to go before we rest, but today Integrity celebrates with our bishops and with our church in making a giant step forward on that journey.


The Rev. Susan Russell, President

Archbishop of Canterbury: Brief Statement on HOB Response

Source: Via email from the Anglican Communion Office

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said,

"This initial response of the House of Bishops is discouraging and indicates the need for further discussion and clarification. Some important questions have still to be addressed; no-one is underestimating the challenges ahead."

Canon James M Rosenthal
Anglican Communion Office

AAC Statement on the Episcopal House of Bishops’ March 2007 Meeting

From the AAC blog

The American Anglican Council (AAC) commends The Episcopal Church (TEC) House of Bishops for clearly responding to the Anglican primates’ February 2007 Communiqué at its Camp Allen, Texas, meeting this week. However, the AAC is strongly opposed to the three “Mind of the House” resolutions adopted yesterday that expressly reject the pastoral scheme outlined by the primates’ recent Dar es Salaam Communiqué – a plan laid out to protect those in the church unable to accept the direct ministry of their Episcopal bishop or the presiding bishop due to theological differences.

The bishops did not address the key issues on which the primates have requested a response—namely, whether TEC will abide by the Communion’s standard of teaching on human sexuality (as expressed in Lambeth Resolution 1.10) by giving its assurance that it will not permit rites for same-sex blessings or consent to bishops living in same-sex unions.

“Without even addressing the deeper issues of belief and practice, the House of Bishops has answered the primates with a resounding ‘no’ to the question of whether or not the church is willing to abide by the mind of the Anglican Communion,” said the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, AAC president and CEO. “If they cannot accommodate on the structural points of the primates’ requests – which left TEC with considerable power – I do not see how they will ever turn back on the theological points. The church’s desire for complete power and autonomy goes hand in hand with its rebellion against Scriptural authority.”

The primates’ pastoral scheme, the bishops declared, would be “injurious to The Episcopal Church” and a violation of the church’s laws. However, at the same time, the bishops expressed their “passionate desire to remain in full constituent membership in both the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church” and urged for a face-to-face meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates’ Standing Committee, a committee to which Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori herself was recently elected.

“The church’s arrogance is at its height; they still think they can dictate the relationship on their own terms, but the primates and Archbishop of Canterbury have clearly said that that is impossible,” Anderson said.

The primates’ recent communiqué said that TEC must accept and implement the primates’ recommendations as an expression of their desire to remain in the Communion; otherwise, their rejection of the document’s requests will be received as a decision to walk apart from the Anglican Communion.

“TEC wants to reject the requests but maintain the relationship, so it is a clear instance of denial of the consequences of one’s decisions,” Anderson said. “It would be more honorable for them to admit and accept the consequences of their actions than to try to continue this fraudulent relationship.”

Earlier this week, the bishop of the Diocese of Florida also thumbed his nose at Communion authority, rejecting the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference Florida report recommendations. Other statements by TEC bishops, including declarations by some that they will defy the primates’ communiqué and continue lawsuits against local parishes and individual clergy and vestry members, also point toward the church’s total disregard for the Anglican primates’ authority and for Communion relationships. Furthermore, last week’s rejection of South Carolina Bishop-elect Mark Lawrence based on procedural technicalities points toward TEC’s absolute submission to its own canons at whatever cost.

“The bishops’ rejection of the primates’ pastoral scheme is in fact further proof that such a plan is now needed more than ever to intervene on behalf of the orthodox in America,” Anderson concluded. “A default on the part of the TEC House of Bishops and her presiding bishop should not delay the implementation of the relief effort. The AAC urges the Archbishop of Canterbury to proceed along with the primates in setting up the pastoral council, filling any defaulted positions. If they do not move forward with the plan, the situation in the U.S. church will remain intolerable for those Episcopalians who desire to remain faithful to the biblical Anglican faith.”

Jenny Abel
Assistant to the Director of Communications
American Anglican Council

Retired Bishop William Cox to be Tried by Ecclesiastical Court

A panel of bishops will proceed with an ecclesiastical trial of the Rt. Rev. William J. Cox, retired Bishop Suffragan of Maryland, on charges that he illegally performed sacramental acts without the permission of the local Episcopal bishop. News of the trial was announced during the March 16-21 meeting of the House of Bishops.

In June 2005, Bishop Cox, 86, ordained two priests and a deacon at Christ Church in Overland Park, Kan., after he was asked by the Primate of Uganda. The following month, Bishop Cox returned to Christ Church and led a service of confirmation.

In April 2005, Christ Church agreed to pay the Diocese of Kansas $1 million over the next 10 years as part of a separation agreement which allowed the congregation to retain its property, and for the clergy to be relieved of their canonical obligations to The Episcopal Church. Christ Church and its clergy subsequently affiliated with the Province of Uganda.

Bishop Cox served as Bishop Suffragan of Maryland from 1972 to 1980 and Assistant Bishop of Oklahoma, 1980-1988. He and his wife, Betty, now live in Tulsa.

Two bishops - the Rt. Rev. Dean Wolfe, Bishop of Kansas and the Rt. Rev. Robert Moody, Bishop of Oklahoma – presented Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold with documentation of the alleged canonical violations last summer. Bishop Griswold forwarded the charges to the Title IV [disciplinary] Review Committee, which recently completed its investigation, determining that there were sufficient grounds to proceed to trial.

Read it all.

From the AP: Episcopal Bishops Reject Ultimatum

March 21st, 2007 posted by kendall at 1:05 pm

In the strongest and most direct language yet defending their support for gay relationships, the bishops said that accepting a second leader for traditionalists would violate Episcopal church law and the founding principles of the church.

“We cannot accept what would be injurious to the church and could well lead to its permanent division,” the bishops said in the resolution.

Last month, Anglican leaders emerged from a meeting in Tanzania with an ultimatum for the U.S. denomination. They gave Episcopalians until Sept. 30 to unequivocally pledge not to consecrate another partnered gay bishop or authorize official prayers for same-sex couples. Otherwise, they said, the church risked a much-reduced role in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion.

As part of the plan, the Episcopalians were told to accept a “primatial vicar” for conservatives who said they could not accept U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori because of her acceptance of gay relationships and liberal theology.

While the bishops addressed that issue in their resolution, they did not directly stake out a position on the Anglican demand about other gay bishops.

However, Episcopal leaders noted that they had previously met requests not to approve another bishop in a same-sex relationship “at great cost to many, not the least of whom are our gay and lesbian members,” only to have Anglican leaders say the pledges weren’t sufficient.

Read it all.

Gene Robinson on the House of Bishops Decisions

Gene Robinson on the House of Bishops Decisions

From here:

I write to you on the last day of the week-long meeting of the House of Bishops, in Navasota, Texas. While an official “word to the church” will come from the House as a whole, at the conclusion of our meeting, news of actions taken yesterday at our business session will be appearing today. I want you to have my own reactions to go along with what you will read.

This has been an extraordinary meeting of the Bishops, characterized by respect, thoughtfulness and careful discernment, always done in the context of fervent prayer. There is a calm and peace about our meeting I have not experienced before, due in no small part to the non-anxious, but strong, leadership of our new Presiding Bishop.

As you no doubt know, the primates of the Anglican Communion, at their recent meeting in Tanzania, issued a number of ultimatums to The Episcopal Church, with the demand that they be responded to by September 30. The primates have made these demands of the Bishops of The Episcopal Church out of what seems to me to be either an ignorance of our polity (the structural ways by which we govern ourselves) or an unwillingness to accept that polity, which says that the governance of our Church is not undertaken by Bishops alone, but rather by a joint governance by bishops, clergy AND laity.

Part of those demands had to do with asking for an unequivocal moratorium on the consecration of partnered gay or lesbian people as bishops, and a moratorium on the blessing of same sex unions. Dire, although not articulated, consequences are threatened if such action is not taken. A process is being set in motion by our Presiding Bishop for us to talk with all the people of our church over the next several months in preparation for responding to these specific demands.

However, one action taken by the primates has consumed much (but by no means all) of our time. This action was not asked of us, but rather was already set in motion to be imposed upon us by the Archbishop of Canterbury and primates. That action, described as a “Pastoral/Primatial Scheme,” would create a Primatial Vicar, who would oversee those dioceses who feel they cannot function under the authority of our Presiding Bishop, either because they believe her to be “unorthodox” in her views (consenting to my election in 2003, and allowing same sex unions in her former diocese), or in the case of three of those dioceses, because she is a woman, and therefore unfit matter for ordination in the first place.

Our Presiding Bishop would, according to the plan, be “helped” in the appointment of this “Primatial Vicar” and the supervision of his/her work by a “Pastoral Council,” made up of people appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the primates, plus two appointed by our Presiding Bishop. This would be a Council in which our own Presiding Bishop and those appointed by her would not even constitute a majority. This process was already under way before we arrived at our meeting in Texas, with the Archbishop of Canterbury closing the nomination process for this Council prior to our arrival.

I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of our bishops – progressive and conservative alike – see this as an unfair, illegal and wholly unprecedented assault on the polity and internal integrity of The Episcopal Church. Never before has any constituent member of the Anglican Communion been subjected to the authority of such an external body. Fears were expressed by most bishops that this would move us closer to a centralized authority in the Communion, and constituted an unwarranted and un-Anglican arrogation of authority to the primates, unprecedented in the 500 years of our Anglican tradition and practice. It seemed to most of us that it was important to put a stop to this assault on our polity now, before it went any further.

Three resolutions were passed yesterday (you may find the full texts of these resolutions at, with considerable, and sometimes overwhelming, majorities:

The first resolution called upon the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church (the elected body of laity-clergy-bishops who act for our General Convention, between General Conventions) to decline to participate in such a Pastoral Scheme, and to seek OTHER ways of meeting the pastoral needs of those dioceses who are not happy with the actions of The Episcopal Church. (The Presiding Bishop and Executive Council have numerous options for doing so, without the interference of groups of Bishops/Archbishops external to our Church, and our Presiding Bishop has signaled that she is ready and willing to do so.)

Second, the Bishops in a unanimous vote expressed their common desire to find a way to live together in the Episcopal Church during these contentious times, and called upon the Archbishop of Canterbury to meet with our House of Bishops face to face – a request he has steadfastly refused as recently as the primates meeting in Tanzania, claiming his calendar is too full to meet with us this year. We have asked him to reconsider, believing that this is not too much to ask of the Archbishop of Canterbury, given the seriousness of the issues which face the Communion, and given his having NEVER met with us since assuming his office.

Third, we offered a message to the Church for study and education, outlining our attempts to meet, in good faith, the requests made of us by the larger Communion, and the consistent rebuffs we have received in response. We re-articulate our profound desire to remain a part of the Communion – a desire that is shared by us all. We go on to enumerate the reasons we cannot and will not participate in the proposed Pastoral Scheme. And finally, we state as clearly as we can, the nature of who we are as a Church and our belief that the Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to a union in which ALL the children of God – including women and gay and lesbian people – are called to full participation in the life and ministry of our Church.

While we cannot know what the reaction will be to these statements throughout the Communion, we must be who we are – the Church struggling to live out faithfully the ministry God has given us in this place and time. Like many great reformers before us, “Here we must stand. We can do no other.”

I believe these actions are true to our polity and to our identity as a Church. No matter how the media might portray this as a “slap in the face” to the Communion/Primates, it was not! We calmly and thoughtfully have said “no” to this encroachment on our polity and authority as a Church. We have also pledged ourselves to meeting the pastoral needs of the minority within our Church who are upset by the directions we have taken and by the leadership we have elected. We will also take seriously the demands made of us by the primates – in consultation with the lay and clerical leadership of this Church, as demanded by our polity. That is not a slap in the face, but rather a responsible and respectful response to the inappropriate demands made of us.

I think you would have been proud of us as your Bishops. The manner and tenor of our decision-making was kind, respectful and prayerful. This was not about politics, but about this part of the Body of Christ attempting to exercise its leadership in appropriate and lawful ways. It was about respecting ALL the orders of ministry in our Church. It was about protecting our Church from inappropriate encroachment on internal matters. It was in the best tradition of the Anglican Communion.

Thank you for your prayers during this time. I have felt your support and love throughout. I have appreciated your attention to these Church issues, WITHOUT losing sight of our real mission as a Church – to proclaim the Good News of Christ in our words and in our actions to a world which so desperately needs to hear it. We will continue as a Diocese to commit ourselves to the Millennium Development Goals as a way of expressing our desire to do our part to meet the needs of a hurting world. We will NOT let these issues distract us from God’s mission – to preach Good News to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to release those in captivity, to bring sight to the blind, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. May God bless us richly in that ministry.

Your bishop and brother,


Posted in ANGLICAN, TEC/ECUSA Bishops, Primates, TEC/ECUSA, Dar es Salaam 2007, Responses to Dar Mtg | Edit | 5 Comments »

Bishop Chane: A Pastoral Letter to the People and Clergy of the Diocese of Washington

Bishop Chane: A Pastoral Letter to the People and Clergy of the Diocese of Washington

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus,

I write to you as we begin to close the Spring Session of the House of Bishops, meeting in Navasota, Texas, March 16-21. I am pleased that the House of Bishops was finally able to craft resolutions that seem to best describe how we see the state of the Episcopal Church at this time in its life. The resolutions that were passed did not please everyone, yet there was clearly a shift in the way we have worked together.

This meeting of the House was prayer-centered, with almost two hours each day spent in prayer and in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Bible study at our small table groups took place each morning and was a wonderful way to re-connect with one another and to prepare for the work that was before us.

Discussions and debate on the floor as we crafted the resolutions (available here) were respectful, thoughtful. There was none of the mean-spiritedness or “hostage taking” that has occurred on occasion at previous House meetings. We were deliberate in our actions and we spent over three hours in debate to craft what you now have before you.

The first resolution, “Mind of the House of Bishops Resolution Addressed to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church” passed in the House by a simple voice vote after several hours of debate. The second resolution, “To the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Primates’ Steering Committee” passed unanimously. The third resolution, which puts forth “A Statement from the House of Bishops-March 20, 2007” passed by a standing vote after some modifications in language.

These resolutions make clear that in spite of our differences on human sexuality and other issues, a solid majority of the House viewed the recommendations contained in the Primates’ communiqué from Tanzania as offensive to our Church and disrespectful of the way that we discern and respond to God’s will. Our democratic polity is not universally admired within the Communion, but I was encouraged to see so many bishops resist the Primates’ call for our House to act unilaterally. We are a hierarchical church to be sure, but in our governance, the voice of bishops is balanced by the voices of the clergy and laity.

It was the hope of the bishops that the statement we have released will be a helpful teaching tool for the Church as we continue to discuss how best to respond to the Primates’ ultimatum by their September 30th deadline. As always I ask your prayers for the Episcopal Church, our Presiding Bishop Katharine, and all of our brothers and sisters throughout the Anglican Communion as we seek ways to walk together during these times of great challenge and change.

In Christ’s Peace, Power and Love,
The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane

Posted in ANGLICAN, TEC/ECUSA Bishops, TEC/ECUSA | Edit | 2 Comments »

Ruth Gleddhill on the Episcopal Church Bishops Response to the Primates Communique

Ruth Gleddhill on the Episcopal Church Bishops Response to the Primates Communique

So, in effect, TEC are subverting Dr Williams’ wider unity plans by playing their own unity card with ruthless clarity. We already know who is holding the queens in this high-stakes ecclesiastical poker game. And I know of at least two pretty major aces that have still to be shown. I just hope Dr Williams has some good cards still close to his chest. Because neither TEC nor Akinola are bluffing.

Read it all.

Posted in ANGLICAN, TEC/ECUSA Bishops, Primates, TEC/ECUSA, Dar es Salaam 2007, Responses to Dar Mtg | Edit | 3 Comments »

Schism looms over Episcopal Church

Schism looms over Episcopal Church

Fighting isn’t in their nature.

But now, as members of the Episcopal Church in the United States gird for a possible schism with the international Anglican Church, they’re wondering how to move forward.

“The Episcopal Church has a very long history of agreeing not to agree with itself but still staying together,” said the Rev. Debra Bullock, of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Palos Park.

“Once they leave, it really shuts the door on a conversation.”

Across the United States and here in the Southland, religious and lay leaders are struggling to reconcile with the worldwide Anglican Communion, most of which opposes the acceptance of gay religious leadership.

Addressing the conflict, the Rev. Gary Hall, president of Seabury Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, and the Rev. Kathryn White, rector of St. Edward and Christ Episcopal Church in Joliet, will speak at 7 p.m. tonight at the Church of the Transfiguration.

The debate about whether to accept homosexual religious leaders is hitting close to home. Two churches in the Chicago region, including one in Wheaton and one in West Chicago, are contemplating leaving the northern Illinois diocese, Bullock said.

They would become part of the dioceses of Uganda or Nigeria, regions that oppose the ordination of gays.

The controversy began in 2002 when the Episcopal Church consecrated the Rev. Gene Robinson, who is openly gay, as bishop of New Hampshire.

Read it all.

Posted in ANGLICAN, TEC/ECUSA Conflicts, TEC/ECUSA | Edit | 2 Comments »

Bishops' MInd of the House Resolutions

Bishops’ ‘Mind of the House’ resolutions


The following resolutions were passed by the House of Bishops March 20 during its annual Spring retreat meeting in Navasota, Texas.

Mind of the House of Bishops Resolution Addressed to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church

Resolved, the House of Bishops affirms its desire that The Episcopal Church remain a part of the councils of the Anglican Communion; and

Resolved, the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church; and

Resolved, the House of Bishops believes the proposed Pastoral Scheme of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué of February 19, 2007 would be injurious to The Episcopal Church and urges that the Executive Council decline to participate in it; and

Resolved, the House of Bishops pledges itself to continue to work to find ways of meeting the pastoral concerns of the Primates that are compatible with our own polity and canons.

Adopted March 20, 2007
The House of Bishops
The Episcopal Church
Spring Meeting 2007
Camp Allen Conference Center
Navasota, Texas


To the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Primates’ Standing Committee:

We, the Bishops of The Episcopal Church, meeting in Camp Allen, Navasota, Texas, March 16-21, 2007, have considered the requests directed to us by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in the Communiqué dated February 19, 2007.

Although we are unable to accept the proposed Pastoral Scheme, we declare our passionate desire to remain in full constituent membership in both the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church.

We believe that there is an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Primates’ Standing Committee, and we hereby request and urge that such a meeting be negotiated by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the earliest possible opportunity.

We invite the Archbishop and members of the Primates’ Standing Committee to join us at our expense for three days of prayer and conversation regarding these important matters.

Adopted March 20, 2007
The House of Bishops
The Episcopal Church
Spring Meeting 2007
Camp Allen Conference Center
Navasota, Texas


A Statement from the House of Bishops – March 20, 2007

We, the Bishops of The Episcopal Church, meeting at Camp Allen, Navasota, Texas, for our regular Spring Meeting, March 16-21, 2007, have received the Communiqué of February 19, 2007 from the Primates of the Anglican Communion meeting at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We have met together for prayer, reflection, conversation, and listening during these days and have had the Communiqué much on our minds and hearts, just as we know many in our Church and in other parts of the world have had us on their minds and hearts as we have taken counsel together. We are grateful for the prayers that have surrounded us.

We affirm once again the deep longing of our hearts for The Episcopal Church to continue as a part of the Anglican Communion. We have gone so far as to articulate our self-understanding and unceasing desire for relationships with other Anglicans by memorializing the principle in the Preamble of our Constitution. What is important to us is that The Episcopal Church is a constituent member of a family of Churches, all of whom share a common mother in the Church of England. That membership gives us the great privilege and unique opportunity of sharing in the family’s work of alleviating human suffering in all parts of the world. For those of us who are members of The Episcopal Church, we are aware as never before that our Anglican Communion partners are vital to our very integrity as Christians and our wholeness. The witness of their faith, their generosity, their bravery, and their devotion teach us essential elements of gospel-based living that contribute to our conversion.

We would therefore meet any decision to exclude us from gatherings of all Anglican Churches with great sorrow, but our commitment to our membership in the Anglican Communion as a way to participate in the alleviation of suffering and restoration of God’s creation would remain constant. We have no intention of choosing to withdraw from our commitments, our relationships, or our own recognition of our full communion with the See of Canterbury or any of the other constituent members of the Anglican Communion. Indeed, we will seek to live fully into, and deepen, our relationships with our brothers and sisters in the Communion through companion relationships, the networks of Anglican women, the Anglican Indigenous Network, the Francophone Network, our support for the Anglican Diocese of Cuba, our existing covenant commitments with other provinces and dioceses, including Liberia, Mexico, Central America, Brazil, and the Philippines, our work as The Episcopal Church in many countries around the world, especially in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Taiwan, and countless informal relationships for mission around the world.

Since our General Convention of 2003, we have responded in good faith to the requests we have received from our Anglican partners. We accepted the invitation of the Lambeth Commission to send individuals characteristic of the theological breadth of our Church to meet with it. We happily did so. Our Executive Council voluntarily acceded to the request of the Primates for our delegates not to attend the 2005 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham. We took our place as listeners rather than participants as an expression of our love and respect for the sensibilities of our brothers and sisters in the Communion even when we believed we had been misunderstood. We accepted the invitation of the Primates to explain ourselves in a presentation to the same meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. We did so with joy.

At the meeting of our House of Bishops at Camp Allen, Texas in March, 2004 we adopted a proposal called Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight as a means for meeting the pastoral needs of those within our Church who disagreed with actions of the General Convention. Our plan received a favorable response in the Windsor Report. It was not accepted by the Primates. At our meeting in March 2005, we adopted a Covenant Statement as an interim response to the Windsor Report in an attempt to assure the rest of the Communion that we were taking them seriously and, at some significant cost, refused to consecrate any additional bishops whatsoever as a way that we could be true to our own convictions without running the risk of consecrating some that would offend our brothers and sisters. Our response was not accepted by the Primates. Our General Convention in 2006 struggled mightily and at great cost to many, not the least of whom are our gay and lesbian members, to respond favorably to the requests made of us in the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Dromantine Communiqué of 2005. We received a favorable response from the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates, which found that our effort had substantially met the concerns of the Windsor Report with the need to clarify our position on the blessing of same sex relationships. Still, our efforts were not accepted by the Primates in the Dar es Salaam Communiqué.

Other Anglican bishops, indeed including some Primates, have violated our provincial boundaries and caused great suffering and contributed immeasurably to our difficulties in solving our problems and in attempting to communicate for ourselves with our Anglican brothers and sisters. We have been repeatedly assured that boundary violations are inappropriate under the most ancient authorities and should cease. The Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998 did so. The Windsor Report did so. The Dromantine Communiqué did so. None of these assurances has been heeded. The Dar es Salaam Communiqué affirms the principle that boundary violations are impermissible, but then sets conditions for ending those violations, conditions that are simply impossible for us to meet without calling a special meeting of our General Convention.

It is incumbent upon us as disciples to do our best to follow Jesus in the increasing experience of the leading of the Holy Spirit. We fully understand that others in the Communion believe the same, but we do not believe that Jesus leads us to break our relationships. We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion, and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their differences, often in the name of God. The Dar es Salaam Communiqué is distressingly silent on this subject. And, contrary to the way the Anglican Communion Network and the American Anglican Council have represented us, we proclaim a Gospel that welcomes diversity of thought and encourages free and open theological debate as a way of seeking God’s truth. If that means that others reject us and communion with us, as some have already done, we must with great regret and sorrow accept their decision.

With great hope that we will continue to be welcome in the councils of the family of Churches we know as the Anglican Communion, we believe that to participate in the Primates’ Pastoral scheme would be injurious to The Episcopal Church for many reasons.

First, it violates our church law in that it would call for a delegation of primatial authority not permissible under our Canons and a compromise of our autonomy as a Church not permissible under our Constitution.

Second, it fundamentally changes the character of the Windsor process and the covenant design process in which we thought all the Anglican Churches were participating together.

Third, it violates our founding principles as The Episcopal Church following our own liberation from colonialism and the beginning of a life independent of the Church of England.

Fourth, it is a very serious departure from our English Reformation heritage. It abandons the generous orthodoxy of our Prayer Book tradition. It sacrifices the emancipation of the laity for the exclusive leadership of high-ranking Bishops. And, for the first time since our separation from the papacy in the 16th century, it replaces the local governance of the Church by its own people with the decisions of a distant and unaccountable group of prelates.

Most important of all it is spiritually unsound. The pastoral scheme encourages one of the worst tendencies of our Western culture, which is to break relationships when we find them difficult instead of doing the hard work necessary to repair them and be instruments of reconciliation. The real cultural phenomenon that threatens the spiritual life of our people, including marriage and family life, is the ease with which we choose to break our relationships and the vows that established them rather than seek the transformative power of the Gospel in them. We cannot accept what would be injurious to this Church and could well lead to its permanent division.

At the same time, we understand that the present situation requires intentional care for those within our Church who find themselves in conscientious disagreement with the actions of our General Convention. We pledge ourselves to continue to work with them toward a workable arrangement. In truth, the number of those who seek to divide our Church is small, and our Church is marked by encouraging signs of life and hope. The fact that we have among ourselves, and indeed encourage, a diversity of opinion on issues of sexuality should in no way be misunderstood to mean that we are divided, except among a very few, in our love for The Episcopal Church, the integrity of its identity, and the continuance of its life and ministry.

In anticipation of the traditional renewal of ordination vows in Holy Week we solemnly declare that “we do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and we do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church.” (Book of Common Prayer, page 513)

With this affirmation both of our identity as a Church and our affection and commitment to the Anglican Communion, we find new hope that we can turn our attention to the essence of Christ’s own mission in the world, to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19). It is to that mission that we now determinedly turn.

Adopted March 20, 2007
The House of Bishops
The Episcopal Church
Spring Meeting 2007
Camp Allen Conference Center
Navasota, Texas

Update: A Living Church article is there.

Posted in TEC/ECUSA Bishops, Primates, TEC/ECUSA, Dar es Salaam 2007, Responses to Dar Mtg | Edit | 131 Comments

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday March 16th: 4 p.m. backup

AAC Statement on the Denial of Consent for South Carolina Bishop-elect Mark Lawrence

March 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 3:54 pm

The American Anglican Council (AAC) received yesterday’s news that the Rev. Mark Lawrence has been denied consent to become the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina with grave disappointment and renewed concern for the U.S. Episcopal Church. According to a diocesan press release, Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC), declared the election “null and void” due to “canonical deficiencies” – namely, that some of the written permissions by standing committees were offered electronically – even though the number of standing committees giving consent would otherwise have been sufficient.

The AAC joins the president of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina, the Rev. J. Haden McCormick, in praying that “this tragic outcome will be a wake up call to both clergy and lay through out TEC as to the conditions in our church.”

Following an unprecedented attempt by liberal revisionist Episcopal leaders to block the consent process for Lawrence, the consent has been finally blocked not by too few consents, but because of technicalities in how the consents were provided.

“This is outrageous that a duly-elected priest, who clearly meets the Scriptural standards for church leadership, not to mention has gone out of his way to assure the rest of TEC that he will keep his vows and will not take the diocese out of the church, has been blocked from serving for no other reason than his orthodox views,” said the Rev. Canon David Anderson, AAC president and CEO. “This demonstrates that, more than ever, many in TEC are not only unfriendly toward the faithful, but outright hostile, and desire to punish the orthodox in any way possible in order to push and keep them out of the church.”

The AAC noted the irony of the situation: While a man living in a same-sex union – which is in clear contradiction to biblical guidelines for church leaders – can be elected, confirmed and consecrated a bishop in one state, a man of high integrity who meets the strict demands of leaders as laid out in Scripture is denied consent in another. Furthermore, the action calls into question TEC’s explanation for Gene Robinson’s 2003 confirmation, which TEC leaders have consistently defended by stating their belief that each diocese in the Anglican Communion has a right to elect the leader appropriate for its own “local context.” If true, why did more standing committees not vote to consent to Lawrence’s election?

“The discrepancy is obvious even to the casual observer,” Canon Anderson said. “TEC says ‘all are welcome,’ but that is simply not true based on their actions toward those with whom they disagree. This particular situation exemplifies the fact that the Episcopal Church has really got things backward; they have basically, if you will, turned Scripture upside down on its head.”

The AAC offers its full support to the Diocese of South Carolina as it discerns its next step. We are reminded that Isaiah prophesied this day would come, when people will “call evil good and good evil” and “substitute darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20). The AAC takes heart that the Anglican leaders around the world stand with us in defense of the Gospel, and that God Himself is faithful to guide and provide for those who trust in Him.

A Statement by the Standing Committee and Diocesan Board of the Diocese of Central Florida

March 16th, 2007 posted by admin at 3:25 pm

[via e-mail]

March 15, 2007

To the Bishops of the Episcopal Church

Grace and Peace in our Lord Jesus Christ. Be encouraged in the faith that has once been handed down to us by the apostles.

The matters before your House in its meetings leading up to the September 30th deadline have risen to a critical level for our common life. For this reason we feel compelled to share our deepest convictions regarding these matters as the Diocesan Board and Standing Committee of the Diocese of Central Florida.

With the Primates’ Communiqué from Dar es Salaam the issues of permitting same-sex unions and consecrations of non-celibate homosexual clergy have become matters which could permanently alter the nature and structure of the Anglican Communion. This is no longer about continued dialogue and nuance. The questions before the House are clear and concrete and call for your “unequivocal” submission to our common life in the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church. There is no room for equivocating and parsing.

The Primates have now definitively clarified the received teaching of this Church regarding these matters to be Lambeth 1:10. They have also provided the Bishops of the Episcopal Church with a minimum threshold commitment for continued membership in the Communion. Because of the Episcopal Church’s constitutional commitments of constituent membership in the Anglican Communion, conformity to that received teaching is no longer optional. Failure to agree with the demands of the Communiqué will have lasting and dire consequences regarding our continued constituent membership in the Anglican Communion.

A failure to provide an unequivocal answer on the part of the House of Bishops will signal your intention to “walk apart” from the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church.

As a Network Diocese, we will not separate ourselves from the faithful and orthodox expression of Anglicanism in America. We will continue to stand firmly with those in the Communion who have not revised the faith on such important matters. In the end, a failure on your part to agree to the demands of the Communiqué may well lead to formal division within The Episcopal Church, a situation which would deeply sadden all concerned.

Please know that we do not make such statements lightly and without prayerful consideration. We are deeply concerned about our beloved Episcopal Church and its future health in terms of its ability to faithfully spread the Gospel of God’s redeeming love and forgiveness.

In the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury, “It isn’t a question of throwing people into outer darkness, but of recognizing that actions have consequences – and that actions believed in good faith to be ‘prophetic’ in their radicalism are likely to have costly consequences.”

In the end, each of you, as bishops of the Church, are individually accountable to what has been given to you. You are called to be good stewards of the treasure which is the Body of Christ, and not to squander it on unscriptural notions and interpretations of what does and does not constitute justice.

The stakes have never been higher. You will never be engaged in a more crucial deliberation than the one before you now. Your choices will have consequences which will echo through time and potentially change the face of The Episcopal Church forever. We therefore urge you, in the strongest possible terms to honor the Communiqué and accede to its clear call for an unequivocal statement of obedience to its demands.

Individually and corporately we pledge our fervent daily prayers for you as you hold these important meetings.

The Standing Committee and Diocesan Board of the Diocese of Central Florida.

Christianity Today: Global Ultimatum

March 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 1:25 pm

For Henry Luke Orombi, Anglican archbishop of Uganda, the topic for his chapel sermon on Friday, February 16, was an obvious choice. That is the day when Anglicans worldwide remember Janani Luwum, honored as a modern martyr.

But this time, the commemoration of the Ugandan archbishop who confronted Idi Amin became the prelude to a fateful turning point for global Anglicanism.

Once every three years, the top leaders of the world’s 78 million Anglicans, called primates, gather for consultation and study. In mid-February, 35 of the 38 primates assembled for the first time on African soil amid threat of Anglican schism over homosexuality. In 2003, an openly gay priest, V. Gene Robinson, became the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, throwing Anglicans into a historic struggle between left-leaning revisionists and conservatives.

In their Windsor report (issued October 2004), Anglican leaders demanded that the Episcopal Church (the American branch of Anglicanism) repent of the Robinson consecration, forbid any new gay bishops from taking office, and stop the blessing of same-sex unions. On the first of their five days of meetings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, primates received a report from a panel that said the Episcopal Church had met two of the three Windsor demands. Yet there was “more work to be done” to end same-sex blessings. To conservatives, it seemed that the Episcopal Church had once again outmaneuvered them.

The next day, Orombi, a tall, charismatic figure, preached at the noonday chapel service. He described the importance of martyrdom in Uganda—doing what it takes to stay true to the gospel. In February 1977, Janani Luwum, the Anglican archbishop of Uganda and Rwanda, was arrested along with leading Christians by Idi Amin, a dictator with the blood of thousands on his hands. The leaders were all accused of treason.

Days earlier, Luwum and the others had publicly called Amin to repent for the brutal slaughter of political opponents. Luwum had also demanded that co-opted church leaders separate themselves from political “powers of darkness.”

The archbishop was executed almost immediately after a violent interrogation. Luwum’s murder brought a stagnating church back to life as tens of thousands joined in revivals after his murder.

“His death … changed the political climate of Uganda,” concluded Orombi.

Read it all.

Alabama Episcopal diocese to elect suffragan bishop

March 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 1:22 pm

Read it all.

6 Muslim leaders sue US Airways

March 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 1:21 pm

A group of six Muslim religious leaders, five of them from Arizona, filed suit on Tuesday, arguing that US Airways and other defendants violated their civil rights by removing them from a Phoenix-bound flight in November.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, where the imams had attended the North American Conference of Imams. Their lawsuit did not specify monetary compensation, and US Airways maintains that it stands by its crew’s decision to have the men removed from the flight.

“This is not about prayer but rather about behavior on the airplane that led to a decision by our crew members that was backed by local law enforcement to remove these customers from the airplane for further questioning,” the airline said in a statement.

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Dow Sanderson: The Arrogant and Ignorant Rejection of Mark Lawrence

March 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 12:09 pm

If you are a southerner as I am, you will know the indignation that we feel nearly every time that southern people are portrayed by the national media and “entertainment” industry. Stereotypes abound. Accents and phrases that have never been uttered by any human being since time began are foisted upon the unsuspecting. We are depicted as ignorant barefoot fools, slapping our children, each of whom is supposed to be infected with lice and pinworms. Amos and Andy could never have been more of a tortured caricature.

And so we do well to be indignant, because the picture painted of us is a lie. We are indignant because the people who manufacture such images are arrogant and ignorant, a most unattractive combination. And we are indignant because the perpetrator has formed his smug opinion, and nothing, least of all the truth, will change his rigid mind.

And so, it seems like the same-old story. Anglicanism in South Carolina dates to 1680. We have had a gracious and blessed heritage. Our leaders, both lay and clerical, have served this church with distinction for generations. They have shown themselves time and again to be reasonable, articulate, well-educated and faithful. The first four or five bishops of the diocese were known as Carolina Catholics, for while they were not ritualists, they held a doctrine of the church that was both catholic and evangelical in the best Anglican sense of those words.

In the conflicts that have beset our Church since the General Convention willfully ignored the rest of the communion, we have set our course with very simple and well-stated parameters:

1) We are Biblical, Creedal, and Apostolic. The Scriptures have authority. The Scriptures are interpreted in light of Sacred Tradition. The Tradition has been received from the Apostolic Church. No Christian has the right to alter this deposit of Faith and still call himself a catholic Christian. When bishops, conventions or seminaries attempt to change the received doctrine, we will protest and resist.

2) We are both evangelical and catholic. Our Evangelical hearts require us never to cease in our quest to take the Gospel to all people. Our Catholic sense of order reminds us that the church is never merely the local community, but the whole people of God connected through a common Faith and the Apostolic Succession to Jesus himself. Therefore, we understand that “independent” Anglicanism is impossible. Our request for Alternative Primatial Oversight had nothing to do with schism. On the contrary, it was clear to us that the American Church, by its unilateral actions, had in fact created a de facto schism with the rest of the church. It was our very catholic ecclesiology that would not allow us to stand for such a breach in communion. But even as we registered our strong protest against American unilateralism, we never once took a single uncanonical action, nor have we threatened to do so.

This is what we have consistently said, and we have been called schismatic.

This is what our bishop-elect has consistently said, and he has enjoyed the same abuse.

South Carolina votes to leave the Episcopal Church, the newspapers declare. That is a lie.

Disloyal. Rebellious. Fanatical spouteth the Via Media and Episcopal Forum.

But that is but slander and hypocrisy.

Your bishop-elect will not take his oath of allegiance! complain the Standing Committees in spite of his own clear words to the contrary.

And in Tanzania, the unanimous communiqué signed by our own Presiding Bishop has validated and vindicated every single point we have tried to make.

So what could possibly cause a Standing Committee to vote no? Arrogance and ignorance. No two ways about it.

Mark Lawrence is one of the finest priests this church has produced. He is humble, scholarly, wise and spiritually mature. What a tragedy if he is denied the office to which God and South Carolina have so clearly called him.

All because some people would rather believe in their prejudices, than the truth so plainly available to them.

Arrogance. Ignorance. And Shame.

–The Rev. Dow Sanderson is rector, Church of the Holy Communion, Charleston, South Carolina

From the Anglican Communion Institute: TEC and the Anglican Communion – On the Eve of the Upcoming House of Bishops Meeting

March 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 10:22 am

We are grateful for the general direction and careful recommendations offered by the Primates in their Dar es Salaam Communiqué. With them, we share the “belief that it would be a tragedy if the Episcopal Church was to fracture”, and with them “we are committed to doing what we can to preserve and uphold its life”. But the Primates are right in noting that, whatever their particular recommendations may be for The Episcopal Church, they are only recommendations: “such change and development which is required must be generated within [TEC’s] own life” (28).

The House of Bishops is about to meet, and much of their meeting will be given over to Communion-related matters emerging from the Primates’ Meeting. What kind of “change and development” are they capable of “generating” in the face of the threat of their church’s fracture and demise?

At present three groups are emerging in the Episcopal Church. The Dar es Salaam Communiqué has focused the way in which lines are now being drawn.

1. ‘Windsor Bishops’ – With two Camp Allen meetings now past, and especially with the ‘Camp Allen Principles’ identified as relevant at Dar es Salaam, this group is relatively stable and capable of clear definition. No fewer than twenty-five or so Bishops have signed statements identifying with the Windsor Report in specific terms. Other Bishops may view the ‘Camp Allen Principles’ as requiring subscription given other options only now becoming clearer. The number could rise to as high as 35, depending on the evolution of the other two groups.

2. ‘TEC alone Bishops’ – After Dar es Salaam, public statements have been issued by a high number of Bishops, and standing committees, firmly rejecting the Communiqué and its recommendations. The grounds are various: (1) the Primates have no standing, or ought not to have any; (2) there is a special polity in TEC that has not been understood or has been ignored; (3) TEC has a special mission of advocacy for human rights, etc. The number of Bishops and Standing Committees espousing this view can be calculated easily enough, but it is about the same or slightly higher than the Windsor Bishops group.

What demands further clarification is just what holding this position means in practical fact. Does this position require an amended Constitution or new canons, stating the irrelevance of the Anglican Communion and claims of Anglican catholicity? If in addition, invitations are not issued for this group to the upcoming Lambeth Conference, or Bishops in this group choose not to attend, it will become manifest that two groups of Bishops at least within the Episcopal Church are separated empirically. Will this constitute a final “fracture” such as the Primates described? It would be helpful if the Bishops holding this view spelled out what the new denomination is meant to look like and how it is to relate to other Anglican Communion bodies.

3. ‘All Other Bishops’ – This category is simply an acknowledgement that some Bishops have made more cautious statements about the Dar es Salaam Communiqué; have said nothing; have not chosen to be Windsor Bishops according to Camp Allen Principles, or have abstained from deciding; have said various things about B033 and human sexuality and the affairs of TEC from 2003 until now.

This group may decide to wait to see what happens with the umbrage and commitments of the ‘TEC alone’ Bishops. It is possible to conjecture that many in this group wish to remain in the Anglican Communion, wish to attend Lambeth Conference, and wish they had some way to do that without having to identify with ‘Windsor Bishops’ in terms of Camp Allen Principles. Others have simply decided to wait and see what the larger Communion voices would say. Dar es Salaam will have provided new and vital information, impossible to ignore or temporize.

Finally, it should also be noted that ‘Network Bishops’ face their own specific challenge, independent of involvement in group 1 above. The ‘Common Cause’ movement includes among others both AMiA and CANA, and these groups rely on a primatial oversight scheme that has been asked by the Primates to “negotiate” with the Pastoral Council in order to “find a place within these [recommended pastoral] provisions”,. Initially, AMiA indicated that they were still ‘under’ Rwanda and had no intention of being included in a Primatial Vicar scheme. At issue here are matters of substance and timing, but as with many matters now facing Anglicanism in the USA, it will require the passing of time and fresh judgments about realities that are only slowly becoming clear.

We realize that this is a crucial week for the Episcopal Church, with the House of Bishops meeting at Camp Allen over several days. How the various groups mentioned above will conduct themselves, as they meet and discuss what has happened at Dar es Salaam, will say a lot about what kind of options must now be faced. The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked the Primates to provide the names of the representatives and chair of the Pastoral Council by 16 March. Things are clearly in motion.

We commit ourselves to pray for the House of Bishops meeting and especially for clarity and charitable decisions. We look forward to the meeting of Windsor Bishops later in April and pledge our support and our own prayers. We hope to provide suggestions soon about how the Windsor Bishops in accordance with the ‘Camp Allen Principles’ might think about their future in the light of the proposed Pastoral Council.

Anglican Communion Institute

15 March 2007

Top Episcopal bishop tosses S.C. election

March 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 10:17 am

To become bishop, [Mark] Lawrence had to sesecure a majority of “consents” from members of the church’s House of Bishops and from Episcopal standing committees nationwide. Votes had to be signed by a majority of standing committee members and postmarked by Monday.

Lawrence said his visits and consultations with Episcopalians in the Lowcountry left a deep mark.

“My heart has been knit with the good people there,” he said.

And the election process may not be finished, he added.

“I’m not sure it’s over,” he said. “The ball is in the court of the diocese. If they desire that I stand for election once again, then we would look at that.”

In four months of often acrimonious debate and “mud flinging,” many people have learned a great deal, Lawrence said, and perhaps it would make sense to “play the second half.”

“That will have to be prayed through,” he said. “With God there’s always hope. I live by that.”

The election of Lawrence has been steeped in controversy from the beginning. He was one of three finalists chosen because of their orthodox views of Scripture, the Rev. M. Dow Sanderson, former president of the standing committee, said last year.

Since 2003, when the openly gay Gene Robinson was elected bishop of New Hampshire, the church has struggled to reconcile a “broad tent” view held by the majority of adherents with a view held by a small faction of dissenters who oppose what they call the liberalization of the church in the U.S. The dissenters have sought to align with other parts of the global Anglican Communion, especially churches in Nigeria and Rwanda, which have been actively courting unhappy parishes and dioceses in the U.S. and Canada.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon of the South Carolina diocese called the razor-thin vote “very disturbing.” For someone as well-qualified as Lawrence to encounter such resistance bodes ill for the future of the church, he said.

“This is about trust. What you have is a community where trust has broken down,” Harmon said. “It’s a real tragedy, because good people are being badly hurt.”

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Priest’s life guided by ‘divine coherence’

March 16th, 2007 posted by kendall at 9:12 am

The Rev. Sue Kruger always followed her gut.

That’s not the way she puts it. She says it’s divine intervention, and she follows a path God has put in front of her. And that path shows up in a deep, intuitive feeling that’s hard to express in words. Sometimes it leads to places that surprise even her. Click here to listen

It led her to the Episcopal Church when she was a young woman, even though she grew up in a family that never went to church or even discussed spiritual matters.

It led her to Yale Divinity School before she even was baptized.

“Talk about putting the cart before the horse,” Kruger said, just before throwing her head back and letting out a great bark of a laugh.

Eventually, as a young woman, after spending weeks in prayer at an Anglican Benedictine abbey in England, she became an Episcopal priest, only about a decade after the first female Episcopal priest was ordained.

Today that feeling is leading her to Washington, D.C., to participate in a rally for peace that will include an ecumenical service at the Washington National Cathedral tonight and a march to the Pentagon on Saturday.

“It’s a familiar feeling,” Kruger said. “I’ve never doubted it. It’s always led to a more abundant life.”

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