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Malicious prosecution warnings for Episcopal clergy: Anglican Ink, January 25, 2013 January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, Canon Law, The Episcopal Church.
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Michael Rehill

A bulk email offering assistance akin to a pre-paid legal services plan has refocused the Episcopal Church’s attention on flaws within the new Title IV Ecclesiastical Discipline canons.

A 17 January 2013 email from CanonLawyer, Inc., an organization set up by long-time General Convention deputy and the former chancellor of the Diocese of Newark, Michael Rehill, elicited a wave of chatter amongst the clergy of the Episcopal Church after it warned of the risks of malicious prosecution under the new code.

In the personally addressed email, Mr. Rehill states: “I am writing to you because you are a Member of the Clergy of the Episcopal Church, and you are at risk of facing a proceeding under Title IV of the Canons of The Episcopal Church.”

He states that “as a result of recent revisions to Title IV, many more Members of the Clergy are now facing ecclesiastical discipline,” adding “You need to be prepared before it happens to you.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina quits the Episcopal Church: Anglican Ink, November 19, 2012 November 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence

The Diocese of South Carolina has withdrawn from the Episcopal Church.

On 17 Nov 2012 delegates to a special meeting of the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina endorsed resolutions affirming the withdrawal of the diocese from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church made last month by the Standing Committee and adopted resolutions amending the constitution and canons to delete reference to the national church.

“Ask yourself how long do I want to spend my time, my soul and my energy in a resistance movement that has proven so fruitless,” Bishop Mark J. Lawrence asked the convention. “We have spent far too many hours and days and years in a dubious and fruitless resistance to the relentless path of the Episcopal Church,” the bishop said, saying it was now time to “move on.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Episcopal Church will suffer no backlash over adopting gay marriage rites, bishop declares: Anglican Ink, November 17, 2012 November 17, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Communion, Anglican Ink, Missouri, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith

Authorizing provisional rites for the blessing of same-sex unions will not have any negative consequences for the Episcopal Church or the Diocese of Missouri, Bishop George Wayne Smith told his diocesan convention today.

Speaking to the delegates attending the 173rd annual convention of the Diocese of Missouri, meeting in Columbia on 16-17 November 2012, Bishop Smith said the opprobrium visited upon the Episcopal Church from the wider communion for its consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire and its adoption of gay blessings had passed.

The call for the Episcopal Church to be disciplined had not been heeded, and the American Church retained its “place at the table” of the Anglican Communion, he said.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

“No” to gay marriage, “yes” to gay blessings Bishop of Georgia rules: Anglican Ink, November 16, 2012 November 16, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, Georgia, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rt. Rev. Scott Benhase

The provisional rite for the Blessing of Same-Sex Couples adopted by the 77th General Convention in July is theologically deficient as it does not “distinguish between Holy Matrimony and a Blessing,” the Bishop of Georgia has told his diocese.

In a 16 November 2012 pastoral letter, the Rt. Rev. Scott Benhase said he would permit clergy to use a locally adapted rite for the blessing of same-sex unions, but would not permit the rite to be used for same-sex marriage.

The bishop said that his views on same-sex blessings were well known and during the search process to elect a Bishop of Georgia he had “articulated my support for the Church establishing a Blessing Rite for same sex couples. That support remains and has not wavered.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Panel of Reference report on the Fort Worth 7 finds misconduct: Anglican Ink, October 22, 2012 October 23, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Quincy.
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Bishop F Clayton Matthews

A Reference Panel has found that a prima facie case of misconduct can be made against nine serving and retired bishops of the Episcopal Church for having endorsed an amicus brief presented to the Texas Supreme Court, or for having given testimony in a trial court proceeding involving the Diocese of Quincy.

The Rt Rev. Peter H. Beckwith, the Rt Rev Maurice M. Benitez, the Rt Rev John W. Howe, the Rt Rev Paul E. Lambert, the Rt Rev William H. Love, the Rt Rev D. Bruce MacPherson, the Rt Rev Daniel H. Martins, the Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr, and the Rt Rev James M. Stanton have been informed the Reference Panel had reviewed the charges brought against them by the provisional bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy and by lay and clergy accusers.

In an 19 Oct 2012 email Bishop Matthews wrote:

“The Reference Panel unanimously decided according to IV. 6.sec.8 that the complaint will proceed with option (c), Conciliation pursuant to Canon IV.10.”

Under the Title IV disciplinary canons, if the intake officer finds that if a prima facie case can be made against the accused – if the charges if proven true would constitute an offense – the proceedings are passed on to a Reference Panel for action.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Silence from South Carolina on secession: The Church of England Newspaper, September 30, 2012 p 5 October 2, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence

The Bishop of South Carolina has written to the clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina saying the diocesan leadership has made a decision on whether it will recommend secession from the Episcopal Church, but urged his clergy to hold fast as it would not be prudent to announce what it plans to do at this time.

In his 22 Sept 2012 announcement, Bishop Mark J. Lawrence wrote the diocesan “Standing Committee and I were in agreement on a course of action regarding the future of the Diocese of South Carolina and the challenges many of us face because of decisions by the recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church.”

“However, for many reasons it was then and is now, imprudent to reveal that course of action.”

On 11 July 2012, South Carolina’s four clergy and four lay deputies to the Episcopal Church’s General Convention said that that “due to the actions of General Convention” they “cannot and will not remain on the floor of the House and act as if all is normal.”

After addressing the bishops during their private session on 11 July, Bishop Lawrence withdrew from the House of Bishops as well, saying he was acting in pastoral solidarity with his deputation. “I am not leaving the Episcopal Church, but need to differentiate myself” from the actions taken this week by the General Convention, he told Anglican Ink.

Upon his return to South Carolina, Bishop Lawrence called a meeting of the clergy to discuss the implications of the General Convention vote and the place of the diocese in the wider life of the Episcopal Church.  The bishop asked his clergy not to take any precipitous steps but wait until after his return from vacation at the end of August, when the diocesan standing committee and council would review their options.

In his latest letter, Bishop Lawrence said “Things are progressing—we have not stopped or dropped the ball. Please know that I understand the level of anxiety and concern of many in the diocese. Nevertheless I must ask you all for your continued patience and prayers as we seek to deal wisely and carefully with a fluid situation that requires great discernment and sensitivity on a regular basis. I will communicate to you the details at the very earliest moment such a communication is prudent.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

No decision from South Carolina on secession from the Episcopal Church: Anglican Ink, September 22, 2012 September 22, 2012

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Bishop Mark J. Lawrence

The Bishop of South Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence has written to the clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina urging them to hold fast, as no decision has so far been made by the diocese in response to the actions of the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 48, August 18, 2012 August 18, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, AMiA, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York, Canon Law, Church of England, Church of the Province of Uganda, Church of the Province of West Africa, South Carolina.
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Not a week goes by (even in August) when the Unscripted team can’t dig up some interesting news. Kevin and George discuss the “new thang” with AMiA and the turmoil at Pawley’s Island. They also reveal some Crown Commission secrets, Anglican Job Postings and Affinity Dioceses. Peter Ould talks about an Englishman trying to sell more books and Allan gives some interesting history about leaving and staying in TEC at the same time.

South Carolina mulls secession: The Church of England Newspaper, August 12, 2012 p 5. August 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina.
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The Diocese of South Carolina is on the brink of secession from the Episcopal Church, following the 77th General Convention’s vote to permit a local option on same-sex blessings.

At a 25 July meeting of the South Carolina clergy, Bishop Mark Lawrence said he no longer sees a place for the diocese in the General Convention and announced he would spend the next 25 days praying as to what his, and the diocese’s, next steps might be.

At last month’s General Convention in Indianapolis, the Episcopal Church voted to endorse provisional local rites for the blessing of same-sex unions. Some dioceses have interpreted the vote as permission to authorise their clergy to perform gay marriages in states that recognise such unions. Bishop Lawrence and six of the eight members of the South Carolina deputation to the Convention withdrew from its proceedings after the gay blessings vote, perturbed by what they saw as abandonment by the Episcopal Church of the universal witness of the Church on the purpose and meaning of Christian marriage.

In a letter prepared on 30 July by the canon to the ordinary of South Carolina, the Rev Jim Lewis, a summary of the clergy meeting was shared with those unable to be present.

Bishop Lawrence summarised the remarks he gave to the House of Bishops in private session when he announced his withdrawal. By voting for the “adoption of authorised provisional rites to bless same gender relationships, the doctrine, discipline and worship of this Church have been profoundly changed,” the Bishop said.

“He told the Bishops that the magnitude of these changes was such that he could no longer in good conscience continue in the business of the Convention. In fact, he was left with the grave question of whether he could continue as a bishop of an institution that had adopted such changes,” the letter said.

Canon Lewis wrote that “since that time, and in the gathering of the Diocesan Clergy, the Bishop stated that he believes the Episcopal Church has crossed a line he cannot personally cross. He also expressed to the clergy that though he might act one way if he were a priest in a diocese, as a Bishop he feels deeply his vow before God to faithfully lead and shepherd the Diocese of South Carolina. Both dimensions of this dilemma weigh upon him at this time.”

Bishop Lawrence urged the clergy not to take any precipitous actions in the coming weeks and asked “for a period of grace as he prayerfully seeks the face of the Lord, and asks for God’s direction,” the letter said.

“Upon his return at the end of August he will meet with the Standing Committee and the clergy of the Diocese to share that discernment and his sense of the path forward.”

Should Bishop Lawrence recommend the Diocese withdraw or distance itself from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church it is likely that a large majority will follow him. However a small number of congregations and clergy are self-identified supporters of the national Church and will likely instigate civil and canonical legal proceedings against the bishop and departing clergy should they secede.

Should Bishop Lawrence recommend staying, it is likely that a number of the Diocese’s parishes will unilaterally withdraw.

In the neighbouring Diocese of Georgia, one parish has already announced its decision to quit the Episcopal Church. Last week the rector and vestry of St John’s Episcopal Church in Moultrie announced they were resigning their offices and would form St Mark’s Anglican Church under the oversight of the Anglican Church of North America.

The Rev William McQueen, the former rector of St John’s, told The Church of England Newspaper that the vestry had turned over the keys of the church to the bishop and would meet for the time being in a chapel provided by a local Baptist church. He expected all of the congregation would leave St John’s.

“We have disagreed with The Episcopal Church for a long time, most notably over the issues of women’s ordination, the national Church’s stance on abortion, certainly the events of 2003 and beyond, but most importantly the erosion of the historic catholic faith surrounding who Jesus Christ is, and the authority and interpretation of Holy Scripture,” Fr McQueen said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 46, July 27, 2012 July 27, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican.TV, Church of England, Orthodox Church in America, The Episcopal Church.
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This week we talk about Forward and Faith and their resolution to the ACNA College of Bishops. Kevin and George also talk about Metropolitan Jonah and being spat out of the Holy Synod of OCA. The rest of the news includes Nigeria, Aurora, and that thing that happened in Bangkok. Peter Ould talks about guilt by association and Allan Haley lays into the chaos we call TEC. Send comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com #AU46

Anglican Unscripted Episode 45, July 18, 2012. July 27, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican.TV, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Post General Convention 77 commentary floods the frames of this episode. Kevin and George discuss TEC’s “provisional” local rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, Humankind’s desire to identified by Acronyms, Bishop Lawrences actions, and Jesus’ discussion with Peter about the Rock. Alan Haley discusses the blood stains GC77 brought by charging nine Bishops for doing their duty. And finally, this week Peter Ould is giddy about Sports and humble about Women Bishops. comments to anglicanunscripted@gmail.com

Accusers named in Fort Worth 7 case: Anglican Ink, July 27, 2012 July 27, 2012

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The Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews

The Title IV disciplinary proceedings initiated against the Fort Worth 7 has not been derailed by the intervention of the provisional bishops of Quincy and Fort Worth during the 77th General Convention, the accused have learned.

In an exchange of emails between seven bishops who endorsed an amicus brief in the Diocese of Fort Worth case pending before the Texas Supreme Court and the Rt. Rev. F. Clay Matthews, the Bishop for Pastoral Development in the Office of the Presiding Bishop, Bishop Matthews stated he would be “sending additional information to the Bishops involved after a period of reflection from the conversations at General Convention and some preliminary interviews. When a complaint has been received by the Intake Officer, the Disciplinary Canons are in effect.”

Bishop Matthews added “I trust this letter addresses the immediate concerns you raised, and you will hear more from me perhaps as late as September.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

TEC endorses temporary local option on gay blessings: The Church of England Newspaper, July 22, 2012 p 6. July 22, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Church has approved provisional local rites for the blessings of same-sex unions. By a 3 to 1 margin in its House of Deputies and a 2 to 1 margin in its House of Bishops, the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting in Indianapolis from 5-12 July 2012 endorsed the resolution entitled “Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships.”

Supporters of the resolution have hailed the vote as a victory for “justice” and “inclusion” while critics charge the church has turned its back on the undivided witness of the universal church.  However, one deputy noted the vote was more symbolic than practical.

The Archdeacon of Albany (New York) the Ven. David Collum told the convention that the “resolution would not change what is happening on the ground.”  Those who support gay blessings and gay marriage are already using these rites, while those who opposed gay blessings as un-Scriptural will never use these rites.”

“What will happen is that more will leave the Episcopal Church,” he said, adding that “this really is about the majority wielding power – saying ‘we don’t care’ to the minority,”

Crafted by the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Church Music, the resolution underwent extensive revision before it was first presented to the House of Bishops for action.  Language calling the liturgy “trial rites” was withdrawn and the texts were renamed “provisional rites.”  The change was made committee chairmen Bishop Thomas Ely of Vermont and the Assistant Bishop of Maryland Joe Burnett said, so as to avoid the provisions of Article X of the church’s constitution, which requires a supermajority of bishops to pass the resolution.  While the resolution for “provisional rites” was adopted by the bishops on a vote of 111 to 41 with 3 abstaining, a vote for “trial rites” would have required 153 yes votes.

A second change made in the resolution was the addition of a conscience clause, a conservative member of the committee, the Very Rev.  David Thurlow told CEN that stated no member of the clergy shall “be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities, as a result of his or her conscientious objection to or support” for the resolution.  Language was also introduced allowing bishops to opt out of the liturgy.

The effect is that for the next three years, same-sex blessings are lawful in dioceses where the bishop permits their use, and unlawful where the bishop has forbidden their use.

The Bishop of Washington, the Rt. Rev. Marianne Budde urged adoption of the resolution saying gays and lesbians “only want the church to honor their relationships.” she said.

Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina argued the concept of gay marriage was theologically incoherent. “I do not want to lose the symbolism of the holy marriage feast of Christ and his bride” by wrenching marriage from its traditional moorings.

The day after the bishops endorsed the resolution, the House of Deputies – consisting of four lay and four clergy deputies from each of the church’s 111 dioceses – took up the resolution.

Before debate began, President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson recognized Dean Thurlow of South Carolina who was given permission to read a minority report that “takes issue with the theology” being introduced.

For “2000 years the one holy catholic and apostolic church — the undivided church — has had clear teachings on marriage,” he said, which were now being repudiated.  This was a slap in the face to the church’s ecumenical and Anglican partners and a repudiation of the pledge not to take action on gay blessings “until the Anglican Communion had reached a consensus” on this issue.  It was also a “clear departure from the doctrine and discipline” of the church and propounded a “new theology of marriage” that was “inconsistent with Scripture, the Book of Common Prayer and the Constitution and Canons” of the church.

“Consider what is at stake,” Dean Thurlow said.

Debate proceeded for a half hour, with each side taking turns at three minute intervals.  Conservatives raised technical objections to the resolution in addition to the theological concerns voiced by Dean Thurlow.

Canon Neal Michell of Dallas asked the resolution be returned to the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Church Music as it had “not done all the work” assigned to it by the 2006 General Convention. The committee had been “asked for theology.  Preparation of the rite is only one part” of their mandate, he argued, and “theology must be addressed” before the resolution is adopted.

A deputy from Dallas, stated that “no question was more important” to the convention than the gay-blessings resolution.  “However this implies an additional obligation to follow our own procedures,” he said, adding there had been “gamesmanship all round” this resolution.

He objected to the substitution of “trial” for “provisional” rites so as to avoid the super-majority voting threshold, noting there was no such thing as a “provisional” rite according to the canons. “If we are going to do this, let’s do it right,” he said.

However the Rev. Ernesto Medina of Nebraska stated that he believed gay blessings were an appropriate “pastoral response” to the needs of same-sex couples who sought the validation for their lifestyle from the church.  “There is never anything wrong with celebrating love,” he said, and nothing wrong with “celebrating a blessing.”

Deputy Ian Hallas of Chicago also rose and spoke in favor of the resolution.  He said he “will be part of my sister’s civil ceremony.”  As emotion welled in his throat, he said his sister’s same-sex relationship “speaks to the ideal relationship that all of us ought to have.”

“I want to return home from this convention with this gift for my sister,” and ensure that she has “the same rights, the same privileges as myself.”

After further debate and a number of amendments proffered by conservatives to delay a vote, a vote by deputations, with the four deputies from each diocese voting amongst themselves to set the diocese’s vote.

The vote in the lay order was 86 yes, 19 no, 5 divided, with 78 per cent in favor.  In the clergy order the vote was 85 yes, 22 no, 4 divided, with 76 per cent in favor.  The resolution takes legal effect on the first day of Advent.

The day after the vote, the Diocese of South Carolina deputation announced that six of its eight deputies and its bishop, Mark Lawrence, would be withdrawing from the convention. While they were not leaving the Episcopal Church, their disquiet over the outcome of the vote necessitated their withdrawal to think through the consequences of the vote.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Good TV — WFAA on the Episcopal Wars: Get Religion, July 19, 2012 July 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Fort Worth, Get Religion, Press criticism, The Episcopal Church.
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While GetReligion is on the topic of local television news religion reporting, let me draw your attention to a thoughtful, intelligent broadcast from Dallas/Fort Worth station WFAA. Quality local TV news reporting on religion? And on the convoluted Episcopal wars too? Is such a thing possible?

Yes — Tune into this broadcast from the ABC affiliate Channel 8 entitled: “Episcopal blessings create theological divide over same-sex unions” to view an example of solid religion reporting. The uneven quality and quantity of reports on the Episcopal Church’s recent decision to authorize local rites for same-sex blessings also makes this story stand.

The recently concluded General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Indianapolis (5-12 July 2012)  did not draw reporters outside of the church press. The local Indianapolis newspaper was present and I saw someone from Reuters at one point, and GetReligion’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey filed a great report for Christianity Today. But unlike the last few Episcopal shows there were no satellite trucks from CNNFox or the networks and the national newspapers and religion reporters from the wire services were absent.

However, there has been a great deal of high-powered commentary from Time, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Power Line — I even was pulled in by ABC (the other one, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) to add local color to their commentary on the fun under the Indiana sun. The WFAA report I would like to single out because it gives local context and meaning to the story. As TMatt has pointed out, as a medium local television news has its limitations and one should not expect a New Yorker-style 5000 word report — but let’s take a look.

FORT WORTH — St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church is at the center of another theological divide.

When the General Convention of the Episcopal Church authorized the blessing of same-sex unions last week in Indianapolis, the local church took out a series of half-page advertisements.

Sunday’s ad encouraged Episcopalians to “stand firm on the word of God in faith and morals.” Wednesday’s ad calls the blessings “false inclusivity and pluralism.”

Church rector Dr. William Dickson could not meet with News 8 because of scheduling conflicts. Instead, church member Rob Sell spoke on behalf of St. Andrew’s. He was not part of the decision to place the ad, but said it speaks to Episcopalians who have reservations about the direction of the national church.

“We’re not looking down our nose at anybody,” Sell said. “We simply want to adhere to classical, historic, Christian doctrine.”

The report then presents the voice of a supporter of the changes.

Across town, one of the churches that remained with the national group cheered the decision to bless same-sex unions.

Katie Sherrod was at the Episcopal General Convention last week. She and her bishop at St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church voted to authorize the blessing of same-sex unions.

“We are as Christian as they are,” Sherrod said. “We simply have interpreted scripture differently than they have.”

There were eight days of discussions before the vote was taken, and there were emotional arguments made by gay and lesbian church members who sought the church’s blessing. The Fort Worth Diocese deputies unanimously voted to authorize the blessing.

“We’re moving forward toward a church that buys into the fact that God loves you — all of you. No exceptions,” Sherrod said, adding the bishop would consider the blessings on a case-by-case basis.

The story closes with further background information on the convention and ties the story together at the close by noting:

St. Andrew’s and several other local Episcopal churches left the general convention four years ago when they sensed a change in theology. There is an ongoing legal battle over church property that has yet to be decided. There are two, independent Fort Worth Dioceses operating with separate bishops.

This story works on several levels. The reporter demonstrates his skills and a command of his craft by placing what could be an arcane dispute into a recognizable local context — how a conservative Episcopal congregation has responded to this news. After tethering the story to a local landmark, he then allows the actors in the drama to speak for themselves. But in selecting which quotes to use in his story, he eschewed quick and easy soundbites about homosexuality for thoughtful quotes that express theology. Now this is my assumption, of course, and it may be that he happened on just the right people to speak to these issues — but I remain impressed nonetheless that the subtly and nuance of the theological arguments were preserved in the story.

Again let me say that this report is far from an exhaustive of definitive treatment of the issue — but judged by the standards and limitations of the medium in which it was presented, this is a gem of a story.

Well done, indeed!

First printed in GetReligion.

ABC Radio National – Religion & Ethics Report: July 18, 2012 July 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Interviews/Citations, The Episcopal Church.
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It was the church of George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, George Bush Sr and seven other United States presidents. The Episcopal Church is the US branch of the Anglican Church and it was once very influential. More than a third of Supreme Court justices have been Episcopalians. It was one of the first mainstream churches to ordain women; the first to consecrate an openly gay bishop. But over the past 20 years, the church has lost more than a third of its members, falling from 3.4 million in 1992 to 2.3 million in 2012. Now, following its convention in Indianapolis, the Episcopal Church appears on the brink of collapse. Beliefnet.com reports 46 members of the synod have spoken out in support of seceding from the Episcopal Church; six bishops have petitioned the Archbishop of Canterbury for permission to leave the Church but remain part of the worldwide Anglican communion. Not all the tension is over liberal policies on sexuality. There’s also deep disagreement on fundamental matters of Christian doctrine. Author, journalist, and Episcopal minister from Florida, George Conger, explains the developments at the convention that sparked the latest crisis.

Listen to the broadcast here. Or download the file.

Lawrence writes to South Carolina: Anglican Ink, July 15, 2012. July 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The 77th General Convention has endorsed sexual, liturgical and doctrinal anarchy, the Bishop of South Carolina declared in a letter to the diocese dated 15 July 2012.

The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence stated the 77th General Convention that met from 5-12 July in Indianapolis had been an exercise in “incoherency”, and urged members of the Episcopal Church in his diocese to pray for discernment as to God’s will for the church in the coming days.

Some good had come from the church’s triennial meeting of General Convention, the bishop said, and he had taken “encouragement from the resolutions that were passed regarding needed structural reform, and for the intentional work in the House of Bishops on matters of collegiality and honesty.”

Yet this may have been too little, too late, and was “akin to a long overdue rearranging of the furniture when the house is on fire.”

The bishops cited four actions taken by the convention that he believed stood “in direct conflict with the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them.

While the convention had turned aside the call for an “Open Table” – removing the requirement that those receiving the Eucharist be baptized, it was nonetheless an ill portent and “moves the Church further down the road toward encouraging the communion of the unbaptized which departs from two thousand years of Christian practice. It also puts the undiscerning person in spiritual jeopardy.”

He also voiced objection to the adoption of Resolution A049 which authorized provisional local rites for the blessing of same-sex relationships.  “I will not authorize the use of such rites in the Diocese of South Carolina. Such rites are not only contrary to the canons of this diocese and to the judgment of your bishop, but more importantly I believe they are contrary to the teaching of Holy Scripture; to two thousand years of Christian practice; as well as to our created nature,” Bishop Lawrence said.

The Episcopal Church “had no authority” to change the “sacramental understanding of marriage as established by God in creation and blessed through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. It has no authority to do this either by revising the marriage rite to include same-sexpartners or by devising some parallel quasi-marital sacramental service,” he said.

Nor had the General Convention thought through two resolutions, D002 and D019, which “mark an even further step into incoherency.”

These two “open the door to innumerable self-understandings of gender identity and gender expression within the Church; normalizing ‘transgender,’ ‘bi-sexual,’ ‘questioning,’ and still yet to be named – self-understandings of individualized eros.”

The consequences of adopting this resolution for the local church were such that “I fail to see how a rector or parish leader who embraces such a canonical change has any authority to discipline a youth minister, Sunday school teacher, or chalice bearer who chooses to dress as a man one Sunday and as a woman another.”

The convention’s vote to allow the question of gender to be “self-defined, self-chosen” led to “sheer sexual anarchy” and would not be countenanced in South Carolina.

Over the coming month the bishop said he would meet with clergy and church leaders to discuss the questions: “How are we called to live and be and act? In this present context, how do we make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age?”

“I ask that you keep me and the councils of our diocese in your prayers as you shall be in mine,” Bishop Lawrence said, adding that “we have many God-size challenges and, I trust, many God-given opportunities ahead.”

First printed in Anglican Ink.

No censure for 9 US ‘disloyal’ bishops: The Church of England Newspaper, July 15, 2012 p 7. July 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has rejected a call to censure nine bishops for disloyalty.  Meeting at the General Convention in Indianapolis, on 8 July 2012 the bishops adopted a resolution affirming the loyalty and perseverance of Episcopalians in dioceses divided by secession.

The push by the provisional bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy to censure the nine has likely sunk any attempt to discipline the accused through the church’s legal system also. By pursuing the nine in the House of Bishops and through the church court system, they will have forced all bishops serving on the disciplinary board to recuse themselves from future deliberations.

On 28 June 2012, seven bishops received an email from Bishop Clayton Matthews in the office of the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori stating that “as the Intake Officer for the Church, I am obliged to inform you that a complaint has been received against you for your action in filing of Amicus Curiae Brief in the pending appeal in the Supreme Court of Texas in opposition to The Episcopal Diocese of Texas and The Episcopal Church. In the next few weeks, I will initiate a disciplinary process according to Title IV Canon 6 Sec. 3 & 4 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.”

A second email was sent the same day charging three bishops with misconduct for “signing affidavits in opposition to a motion for Summary Judgment made by representatives of The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy and The Episcopal Church in the Fall of 2011 to secure the Diocesan financial assets from a breakaway group.”

The nine bishops were not notified as to what violation of the canons they had nor were they told the names of their accusers. However, on 5 July the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Jr., Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, and the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan, Provisional Bishop of Quincy wrote to the presiding bishop asking the House of Bishops to “set the record straight regarding recent statements by certain bishops in our Church.”

The two bishops accused the Rt. Rev. Maurice Benitez, retired Bishop of Texas, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, retired Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. Paul Lambert, suffragan Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. William Love, Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, the Rt. Rev. Daniel Martins, Bishop of Springfield, the Rt. Rev. James Stanton, Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, retired Bishop of Springfield, and the Rt. Rev. Edward L Salmon, retired Bishop of South Carolina and Dean of Nashotah House of misconduct and called for their censure by the House of Bishops.

Bishops Ohl and Buchanan charged their colleagues with having “falsely claimed” that “dioceses can unilaterally leave” the Episcopal Church. They “denied the Dennis Canon and failed to safeguard Church property”; the “recognize the wrong bishops” thereby injecting “chaos into core ecclesiastical functions” of the Episcopal Church; and they “violated the ecclesiastical jurisdictions” of Fort Worth and Quincy by having endorsed legal documents pertaining to questions outside their dioceses.

The nine had given “aid and comfort to breakaway factions who would take title and control of substantially all of the real and personal property of this Church and cripple its mission and ministry,” the two bishops said.

The charges drew sharp criticism from church scholars.  Canon lawyer, Allan Haley – an attorney for the Diocese of San Joaquin – stated that the Ohl/Buchanan letter was “despicable” and “completely unworthy of the calling of a bishop. It is filled with lies and untruths.”

Professor Christopher Seitz, who also signed the friend of the court brief in Fort Worth, dismissed the charges as unfounded.  “This is a lot of grasping at straws,” he said.

One bishop told The Church of England Newspaper the letter was “ill-timed” and an “end-run” around the church’s disciplinary canons.

The nine rejected the charges of disloyalty.  In a 6 July letter to the House of Bishops they conceded their actions had been “controversial. We took these actions, however, precisely because we thought it our duty to do so in order to uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church as we all have pledged to do.”

The charges brought were untrue, they said as they had never defended the actions of Bishop Iker and the Diocese of Forth Worth in seceding from the Episcopal Church nor had addressed the question of diocesan secession.  They had not discussed the Dennis Canon nor challenged the church’s right to “recognize its own bishops.” They fourth charged that by exercising their civic duties they had violated their ecclesiastical responsibilities was false.  “To our knowledge, no one has ever before suggested that petitioning the legislatures or courts in Washington or state capitols—our brief was filed in Austin, not Fort Worth—requires the consent of the local bishop.”

In two and a half hours of private discussion, the bishops heard representations from the accusers and accused.  One bishop told CEN that while the discussions had been “warm” and at times “emotional” and “tearful”, the animus and partisan bickering present at past meetings was absent in Indianapolis.

By the end of the third session it was clear that the push to punish the nine “had no legs” one bishop said.  Writing in his blog on 8 July Bishop Dan Martins said he had put forward the Mind of the House resolution that affirmed the Episcopal bishops ministering in the divided dioceses.

“This motion carried on a unanimous roll call vote. And it is in no way inconsistent with the amicus curiae brief that seven of us recently signed. My sense is that this has significantly lowered the thermostat in relations between the bishops. What effect it might have on the Title IV complaints remains to be seen. But I am hopeful.”

Speaking to Episcopal Café Bishop Buchanan said: “Bishop Ohl and I triggered this resolution by writing our letter. The House of Bishops spent nearly two and a half hours discussing this matter in productive and collegial conversation that worked toward reconciliation. The matter will continue to be discussed at future meetings of the House of Bishops.”

However, the Bishop of Chicago, the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Lee told an 8 July press conference the resolution adopted was “virtually” identical to one adopted in 2009 and broke no new ground.

While the conversations will continue, the push to punish with the House of Bishops has effectively ended, CEN has learned.  With the church’s intake officer assigned to review the charges, the members of the review panel that will first see the charges, the disciplinary board that will try the charges and the appeals board that will review the findings present at the meeting, along with the presiding bishop’s chancellor — one of the key witnesses for the prosecution — the impartiality of any future proceedings has been compromised, one of the nine observed.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

New Zealand rejects Anglican Covenant — U.S. likely to follow: The Church of England Newspaper, July 15, 2012 July 15, 2012

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The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has declined to endorse the Anglican Covenant.  Delegates to the synod meeting in Fiji on 9 July voiced objections to the disciplinary provisions in the proposed pan-Anglican agreement and disquiet with the centralization of authority in London, but resolved to remain a part of the wider Anglican Communion.

The 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting in Indianapolis from 5-12 July is also expected to reject the Anglican Covenant.  Testimony at committee hearings as well as sentiment amongst the deputies has been in favor of rejecting the covenant.

On 9 July the ANZP synod voted to amend a motion that stated the church “Declines to adopt the proposed Anglican Covenant” with a broader statement explaining its rejection.

In language supported by Archbishop David Moxon, the church said it was “unable to adopt the proposed Anglican Covenant due to concerns about aspects of Section 4, but subscribes to Sections 1, 2, and 3 as currently drafted as a useful starting point for consideration of our Anglican understanding of the church.

A second clause was amended to state the church “affirms the commitment of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia to the life of the Anglican Communion, including the roles and responsibilities of the four Instruments of Communion as they currently operate.

The Anglican Taonga described the amendments as “subtle” and characterized the debate over the meaning of the phrase as nuanced.  The proposer of the original amendment, former ACC representative Antony Fitchett told the synod the “stated purpose of the Covenant is to enable ‘fuller ecclesial communion’.”

It was an “interesting concept that one achieves communion by ex-communication” of those who do not share the views of the majority he argued.

Dr. Fitchett’s views were akin to those voiced by those opposed to the adoption of the Anglican Covenant.  At hearings held on 6 July 2012 at the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis, a majority of speakers urged rejection of the Covenant.

The Rev. Malcolm French of the Anglican Church of Canada, and moderator of the No-Anglican Covenant coalition stated “Anglicanism was born out of the rejection of foreign prelates.”  He urged the Episcopal Church to preserve its autonomy and not surrender it to an unaccountable overseas body.

Mrs. Lelanda Lee, Deputy from Colorado, urged the committee to follow the course taken by the Church of England and “just say no,” while Mrs. Mary Roehrich, Deputy from Pittsburgh stated she believed that the current draft of the covenant “would serve to divide the church, not unite it.”

Prof. Ben King of the University of the South urged the committee not to reject the covenant out right, but to find a way to continue the discussion without acceding to the agreement.

The Episcopal Church “needs to support the covenant” so as to support “our liberal friends in Africa,” he said. Archbishops Thabo Makgoba of Southern Africa and Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean would be left in an “awkward position” of endorsing the covenant in the face of its rejection by the “conservative African churches.”

We must “stand with them” in this fight, he said.

The committee is expected to release its recommendations on the Covenant to the Convention for vote this week.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

New Zealand and US churches to vote on gay marriage: The Church of England Newspaper, July 15, 2012. July 15, 2012

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The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the USA are set to debate resolutions authorizing rites for the blessing of gay marriages at their respective meetings this week.

Meeting in Fiji the 160 bishops and delegates to the ANZP synod will review three motions on gay marriage, gay liturgies and diocesan autonomy.  Motion 20 brought by members of the Diocese of Waiapu entitled “Episcopal autonomy in discernment for ordination” asks the church to permit local dioceses to set their own standards for ordination.

The diocese was concerned that there had been pressure to “withhold discernment for ordination because of a person’s sexual orientation and the living out of their orientation.”  The motion asked that dioceses be permitted to decide the worthiness of potential ministers, allowing a local option for gay clergy.

Delegates from Waiapu also put forward Motion 21 asking the synod to “move forward with the provision of an authorized rite for the blessing of same-gender relationship” as well.  Passage of the two motions is uncertain, observers of the proceedings tell The Church of England Newspaper.

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church is reviewing a series of resolutions on gay marriage.  While the debate in committee has been spirited, the weight of opinion within the convention appears to favor authorization of trial rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

On 6 July the House of Bishops rejected a proposal brought by the Diocese of Maryland to begin the six year process for revising the Book of Common Prayer to create gender neutral marriage rites.  While Bishop Mary Glasspool of Los Angeles urged the church to move ahead, the bishops gave their backing to a resolution that calls for a task force to study the theology of marriage and report back in 2015.

However, the principle vehicle to introduce same-sex unions for the Episcopal Church at the 77th General Convention meeting 5-12 July in Indianapolis is Resolution A049 “Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships.”

A vote on the resolution is scheduled for later this week.  While A049 is likely to garner a majority of votes in the two Houses of General Convention – bishops and deputies – it is not likely to be approved.  While a revision to the marriage liturgy in the Prayer Book requires support by two successive meetings of General Convention by both bishops and deputies, a trial rite can be passed at one meeting.  However, the rules governing resolutions proposing the adoption of trial rites have special terms.  In the House of Bishops a majority of all bishops entitled to vote – both serving and retired – must endorse the measure.  Those bishops not present at the meeting must still be counted in calculating what constitutes a majority.

With approximately 305 members, A049 must secure 153 votes in the House of Bishops to be adopted.  As of 7 July 2012, 167 bishops were present at the 77th General Convention, meaning 15 bishops voting against the measure can block implementation of trial rites for the blessing of same-sex marriage.

Rum, sodomy and the cash – The Episcopal Church: Get Religion, July 13, 2012 July 14, 2012

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The Wall Street Journal’s “Houses of Worship” column has printed a spirited review of the recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church held 5-12 July 2012 in Indianapolis. The reporter’s style in “What Ails the Episcopalians” is engaging as is the ebullient energy found in his report on the church’s follies.

Yet, there is a problem — the author’s insights are largely superficial and the reader cannot rely on him as a guide to the deeper meaning of the things he describes. Silly things take place at Episcopal Church General Conventions — I have covered the last six — yet, the Episcopal Church and its presiding bishop are not guilty of the crimes leveled against them in this article.

Let me concede up front that this article is written as a commentary or news analysis piece, and as such, normally not subject to critique by Get Religion. However, the narrative offered to substantiate the opinions presented here “ain’t necessarily so.” This is an egregiously bad article, and that is unfortunate as the leaders of the Episcopal Church, along with those of many other mainline denominations, need to be shaken out of their complacency.

Follow me through this article and I will show you were the problems lie.

The author begins his report stating the church had just concluded the triennial meeting of its General Convention, notes the large number of participants in the gathering and then states:

General Convention is also notable for its sheer ostentation and carnival atmosphere. For seven straight nights, lavish cocktail parties spilled into pricey steakhouses, where bishops could use their diocesan funds to order bottles of the finest wines.

Alas if this were only true — I was present at the General Convention from start to finish and somehow missed the bacchanalia he describes. Among the nearly 5000 deputies, bishops, guests, exhibitors and members of the press corps some may have had the wherewithal to host “lavish” cocktail parties that moved on to “pricey steakhouses” – but they were not bishops. The era of privately monied bishops ended some time ago.

It continues:

During the day, legislators in the lower chamber, the House of Deputies, and the upper chamber, the House of Bishops, discussed such weighty topics as whether to develop funeral rites for dogs and cats, and whether to ratify resolutions condemning genetically modified foods. Both were approved by a vote, along with a resolution to “dismantle the effects of the doctrine of discovery,” in effect an apology to Native Americans for exposing them to Christianity.

Yes, among the 600 resolutions brought to the convention there were some odd items that were fatuous politically correct drivel — no question about that. However, the church did decline to endorse requiem masses for pets. But his next argument about the polity of the church — the way it orders its life — is false.

But the party may be over for the Episcopal Church, and so, probably, its experiment with democratic governance. Among the pieces of legislation that came before their convention was a resolution calling for a task force to study transforming the event into a unicameral—that is, a one-house—body. On Wednesday, a resolution to “re-imagine” the church’s governing body passed unanimously.

Formally changing the structure of General Convention will most likely formalize the reality that many Episcopalians already know: a church in the grip of executive committees under the direct supervision of the church’s secretive and authoritarian presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. They now set the agenda and decide well in advance what kind of legislation comes before the two houses.

The first assertion, that the church’s tradition of democratic governance is in jeopardy, and the second, that a cabal controlled by the “secretive and authoritarian presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori” controls the convention are incorrect. While she has enormous influence, the presiding bishop and her staff at the national church offices in New York City have no control over “what kind of legislation” comes before the two houses (as an aside it is the House of Deputies, what the WSJ calls the “lower house” that is the senior of the two, not the House of Bishops.)

Legislation in the form of resolutions can be proposed by the church’s national committees, bishops, any one of its 111 dioceses grouped in nine geographic provinces or by deputies to the convention. To say the presiding bishop controls “what kind of legislation comes before the two houses” speaks to a lack of knowledge about the church’s legislative process.

There is also a “dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t” tone in this article — the church is ridiculed for some of the silly things that are brought to the convention and  Bishop Jefferts Schori is accused of controlling the legislative process which brings forth these silly things. Which is it? Is she responsible for packing the legislative calendar to achieve her nefarious ends, or is she responsible for the froth and frippery that takes up so much of the convention’s time?

The article takes a turn away from the convention to pursue Bishop Jefferts Schori.

Bishop Schori is known for brazenly carrying a metropolitan cross during church processions. With its double horizontal bars, the metropolitan cross is a liturgical accouterment that’s typically reserved for Old World bishops. And her reign as presiding bishop has been characterized by actions more akin to a potentate than a clergywoman watching over a flock.

I’ve witnessed two of her predecessors as presiding bishop carry a metropolitan cross, and the one she is carrying in the photo appended to the article was given to her by former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold at her installation — bit of an unfair dig. The article also takes up the church’s property battles and money woes — pressing the conservative line with some vigor, and then takes a bizarre turn — one that is a dead giveaway that this author does not know what he is talking about.

And yet there are important issues at stake if laymen are further squeezed out of what was once a transparent legislative process. A long-standing quest by laymen to celebrate the Eucharist—even taking on functions of ordained ministers to consecrate bread and wine for Holy Communion, which is a favorite cause of the church’s left wing—would likely be snuffed out in a unicameral convention in which senior clergy held sway.

The assertion that lay celebration of the Eucharist is a “favorite cause of the church’s left wing” is preposterous. It is not the left but the right who has pushed for lay presidency. The chief proponents of this change to the church’s teachings are found in the Diocese of Sydney, Australia and among low churchmen — the most vocal opponents of Bishop Jefferts Schori  within the wider Anglican world.

The article moves from mistake to misstatement to mistake.  The “entire delegation” from the Diocese of South Carolina did not “storm out” — six of the eight members quietly withdrew. South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence explained to his colleagues why he felt called to leave early — his sadness at the adoption of rites for the blessing of same-sex couples — but made it clear that he, and the diocese, had not left the Episcopal Church.

And it is here that I have my greatest difficulty with this article. There were a number of highly contentious issues before the General Convention — the authorization of local rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, changing the requirement that a person be baptised before they receive Holy Communion, opening the ordination process to trans-gendered persons. Yet the controversy over gay blessings and the compromise reached within the church — a local option whereby it is lawful in those parts of the church that support the idea and unlawful in those areas that do not, and no priest may be compelled to perform such a ceremony — is not mentioned at all.

The first mistake the author makes in this story is in not defining his terms. What is a General Convention? What are its powers? This question currently is the subject of litigation before the Texas Supreme Court and lower courts in California and Illinois. Grounding the article by stating the powers exercised by this gathering are in dispute amongst Episcopalians would have been a better start.

However, the problem with the Episcopal Church is not cocktail swilling bishops or a power-mad gargoyles peering down at the church from a penthouse in Manhattan. Problems with alcohol and homosexuality, money and power are derivative issues that arise from the divide over the interpretation of Scripture and an understanding of the person of Jesus Christ. The fight may take the form over secondary issues such as morality of homosexual behavior or the role of women in the leadership of the church, but it is based upon a division over who Jesus Christ is and how Christians read, interpret and live out the teachings of the Bible.

While I am sympathetic to much that has been said, the article was a wasted opportunity to explain what really is going on. Reading “What Ails the Episcopalians” will not leave you any the wiser — and that is a shame. Just think what could have been done with this story, and was not.

First printed in GetReligion.

Indianapolis Statement given to the House of Deputies: Anglican Ink, July 12, 2012. July 12, 2012

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The Indianapolis Statement dissenting from the authorization of gay blessings has been delivered to the House of Deputies of the 77th General Convention meeting in Indianapolis.

Shortly after the start of the final legislative session on 12 July 2012 the Rev. Canon Neal Michell, Deputy from Dallas, rose on a point of personal privilege and read the Indianapolis Statement – the document presented to the House of Bishops on 11 July by Bishop Michael D. Smith of North Dakota, and gave voice to his dismay.

As other deputies stood in silent solidarity, Dr. Michell read portions of the document, stating the sorrow felt by traditionally minded Episcopalians with the actions taken this week.o the House of Bishops on 11 July by Bishop Michael D. Smith of North Dakota, and gave voice to his dismay.

As other deputies stood in silent solidarity, Dr. Michell read portions of the document, stating the sorrow felt by traditionally minded Episcopalians with the actions taken this week.

Episcopal Church agnostic on the resurrection of animals: Anglican Ink, July 12, 2012 July 12, 2012

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The doctrine that all dogs go to heaven has been placed in limbo by the 77th General Convention.  On 11 July 2012 the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church adopted a revised version of Resolution A054 “Authorize Rites and Prayers for the Care of Beloved Animals.”

The question of prayers for the souls of animals was brought to the convention by the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Church Music which submitted the text, “Various Rites and Prayers for Animals” for approval of the convention.  However, the Convention’s Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music rejected “Various Rites” as a whole, and offered selected prayers for approval by the church.

The Bishop of Missouri, the Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith said the prayers provided by the Prayer Book committee “no longer express the desire for our animals to be part of the resurrection.”

The committee removed language from the proposed “Burial Office for a Beloved Animal”, that has the officiant say: “Give us faith to commit this beloved creature to your care, and hear our hope that we all may one day be reunited with our animals in the heavenly places, where you live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.”

The new language for the office states: “Give us faith to commit this beloved creature of your own making to your care, for you live and reign for ever and ever. Amen”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Bishops close ‘Open Table': Anglican Ink, July 12, 2012 July 12, 2012

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Bishops Lee, Gray and Love ponder the “Open Table”

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church as returned Resolution C029 “Access to Holy Baptism and Holy Communion” to the House of Deputies, removing language from the resolution that would permit clergy to omit out of pastoral considerations the requirement that those who partake of the Body and Blood of Christ at the Eucharist be baptized.
Two resolutions seeking to remove the canonical requirement of baptism being a precondition for receiving Holy Communion and a call to study the question of Baptism and Eucharistic hospitality were presented to the 77th General Convention meeting in Indianapolis from 5-12 July 2012.

Resolution C029 was substantially re-written by the Evangelism Committee in an attempt to satisfy doctrinal concerns, while at the same time being open to the pastoral concerns voiced by supporters of an “Open Table” (no-preconditions for receiving the Eucharist.” The text of the resolution presented to the Deputies of 11 July 2012 stated:

“Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that The Episcopal Church reaffirms that baptism is the ancient and normative entry point to receiving Holy Communion and that our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to go into the world and baptize all peoples. We also acknowledge that in various local contexts there is the exercise of pastoral sensitivity with those who are not yet baptized.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

TEC endorses gay blessings: Anglican Ink, July 11, 2012 July 12, 2012

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By a 3 to 1 margin, the House of Deputies of the 77th General Convention has endorsed “provisional” local rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, concurring with the resolution adopted the previous day by the church’s House of Bishops.

While opponents of the measure objected to the gay-marriage-like blessings as being contrary to Scripture, the church’s prayer book and canons, as well as the undivided witness of the universal church for the past 2000 years, supporters believed that blessing gay relationships was a matter of simple justice and fairness.

The provisional rites were not intended to change to the Book of Common Prayer’s liturgy on marriage, the Rev. Dr. Ruth Myers, Deputy from Chicago and chairman of the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Church Music told Anglican Ink, but to permit local trial usage for the next three years.  “The church has not authorized prayer book change,” she explained.  The historical practice had been an “overall” update to the prayer book rather than “rather than revising one liturgy at a time.”

However, the Rev. Charles Holt, Deputy from Central Florida, noted the nuance of a “provisional” local rite that did not change the doctrine of the church would not be appreciated outside of the convention hall.  “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck … it is a duck,” he observed.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina not seceding from the Episcopal Church: Anglican Ink, July 11, 2012 July 11, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Bishop of South Carolina is not leaving the Episcopal Church, but has withdrawn from the 77th General Convention meeting in Indianapolis out of pastoral concern and respect for the members of his diocesan deputation and over his personal disquiet over the church’s authorization of gay blessings.

On 11 July 2012 the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence said, “I am not leaving the Episcopal Church, but need to differentiate myself” from the actions taken this week by the General Convention, he told Anglican Ink.

At the start of the afternoon private session of the House of Bishops, the South Carolina church leader said he “spoke at some length” to his colleagues about “why his deputation left the floor” of General Convention.

On 11 July 2012, the South Carolina’s four clergy and four lay deputies released a statement saying that “due to the actions of General Convention” the deputation had concluded “that we cannot and will not remain on the floor of the House and act as if all is normal.”

At the start of the debate the previous afternoon on Resolution A049 “Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships”, the Very Rev. David Thurlow of South Carolina present a minority report from the traditionally minded members of the convention’s liturgy committee who objected to the authorization of gay blessings.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina walks out of General Convention: Anglican Ink, July 11, 2012 July 11, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, South Carolina.
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The Rev. John Burwell and Mr. Lonnie Hamilton monitoring General Convention on behalf of the absent deputation from South Carolina

The  Bishop and Deputation of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has withdrawn from the 77th General Convention.

On 11 July 2012 the lay and clergy deputies released a statement confirming their withdrawal.

“Due to the actions of General Convention, the South Carolina Deputation has concluded that we cannot continue with business as usual. We all agree that we cannot and will not remain on the floor of the House and act as if all is normal.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

12 Bishops say no to gay blessings — Indianapolis Statement released: Anglican Ink, July 11, 2012 July 11, 2012

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A coalition of conservative and moderate bishops attending the 77th General Convention have released a statement denouncing the passage of Resolution A059: “Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships”.

The “Indianapolis Statement” joins declarations by the bishops and deputations of South Carolina and Central Florida in rejecting the authorization of provisional local rites for gay blessings as being contrary to Scripture, the Prayer Book, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and the undivided theological, pastoral and moral witness of the universal church for the past 2000 years.

The Rt. Rev. Michael Smith, Bishop of North Dakota, rose at the start of the morning session of the House of Bishops today and said:

“Presiding Bishop, thank you for allowing me to rise to speak on behalf of at least twelve members of this House. Those of us known as the Communion Partners have expended a great deal of energy for at least the past six years working to persuade theological conservatives to remain in the Episcopal Church and theological liberals to remain in the Anglican Communion. Two actions of this General Convention have made this task more difficult: the authorization of same-sex blessings through the passage of Resolution 049, and our decision to ‘decline to take a position on the Anglican Covenant’ by the passage of Resolution D008.”

“We find ourselves between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place’. We struggle to hold together the evangelical faith of the Church, from which we see this Convention as departing, and the catholic order of the Church, which causes us, for the sake of the unity for which Jesus prayed, to resist the temptation to leave this fellowship.”

“Therefore, we submit to this House the following Minority Report:”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

More butter less guns in TEC’s new budget: Anglican Ink, July 11, 2012 July 11, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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An austerity budget focusing that its proponents say will foster growth and renewal for the Episcopal Church will be taken up for debate today at the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting from 5-12 July in Indianapolis.

The “Five Marks of Mission” budget represents a compromise between the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.  Spending priorities and cuts advocated in both proposals have found their way into the final $113,709,150 three-year budget.

The budget sees significant cuts in staffing, legal and communications expenses, while also boosting the discretionary spending of the presiding bishop.  Over two million dollars have also been allocated from the church’s investments to create a development office to raise funds.

In the preamble to the budget, the Committee on Program, Budget and Finance stated they had used the “Five Marks of Mission” – a formulary adopted by the 2009 General Convention to describe the work of the church – in allocating spending.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Episcopal House of Bishops endorses ‘provisional’ rites for same-sex blessings: Anglican Ink, July 9, 2012 July 10, 2012

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The House of Bishops has authorized the use and study of provisional rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.  By a vote of 111 in favor, 41 no, and 3 abstaining Resolution A049 was passed by the bishops during the afternoon session of the 5th legislative day of the 77th General Convention on 9 July 2012.

The text of the resolution at this stage of the legislative process states the bishops “authorize for provisional use I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing for study and use in congregations and dioceses of The Episcopal Church.”

The language of the original resolution asked the church to “authorize for trial use” the gay-blessing liturgy.  However, the committee removed the language designating the liturgy as a trial rite, renaming it a “provisional” rite.  One conservative bishop told Anglican Ink that he and other like minded bishops had lobbied the Standing Committee on Liturgy to remove the designation “trial rite” in the committee stage of the proceedings.  He said he believed that calling it a “trial rite” would indicate that gay marriage rites would be “inevitable”.

The resolution was further amended by the committee to permit bishops to adapt the materials to suit local needs and introduced a conscience clause to permit clergy to decline to preside at gay blessings.

South Carolina deputy, the Very Rev. David Thurlow told AI the committee had also honored conservative concerns by introducing a conscience clause. The convention honors “the theological diversity of this church in regards to matters of human sexuality, and that no bishop, priest, deacon or lay person should be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities, as a result of his or her conscientious objection to or support for the 77th General Convention’s action with regard to the Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Show’s over – No censure for Fort Worth 9: Anglican Ink, July 9, 2012 July 9, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The push by the provisional bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy to censure nine bishops for disloyalty to the Episcopal Church has failed in the House of Bishops and has likely sunk any attempt to discipline the accused through the church’s legal system.

After two and a half hours of discussion over three private sessions at the 77th General Convention meeting in Indianapolis, on 8 July 2012 the House of Bishops responded to claims of misconduct leveled against the nine by the provisional bishops of Quincy and Fort Worth.  The House of Bishops responded with a “Mind of the House” resolution proposed by one of the accused, the Rt. Rev. Daniel Martins, Bishop of Springfield, affirming the loyalty of Episcopalians in the dioceses of Fort Worth, Quincy, San Joaquin and Pittsburgh.

The House of Bishops had “no stomach” to discipline Bishop Martins, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, retired Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. Maurice Benitez, retired Bishop of Texas, the Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, the retired Bishop of Springfield, the Rt. Rev. Paul E. Lambert, suffragan Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, the Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, retired Bishop of South Carolina and Dean of Nashotah House, and the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas, a participant in the 6-8 July meetings told Anglican Ink.

The “Mind of the House” resolution does not end the Title IV investigations into misconduct made against the nine, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the bishops.  However, by seeking an immediate resolution to the dispute the Title IV process has effectively been shut down as those bishops present in the discussions who serve on the disciplinary board will have to recuse themselves from adjudicating the case.  All of the episcopal judges that will hear the case are now disqualified from participation in a decision on grounds of personal involvement.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Article X rule may block gay marriage for Episcopalians: Anglican Ink, July 7, 2012 July 7, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, The Episcopal Church.
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Questions over Prayer Book revision and parliamentary procedure were raised by members of the House of Bishops on the morning of the 3rd legislative day at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting 5-12 July 2012 in Indianapolis.

On 7 July 2012 the Bishop of Arkansas raised the question of special voting procedures under Article X of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church in response to a resolution dealing with lectionary reform.  However, his query as to what constitutes a majority in the House of Bishops under Article X of the Constitution has a direct bearing on the Resolution A049: “Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships”.  The inability to muster a majority under the Article X voting rules, makes it likely that the trial rites for the blessing of same sex unions will fail to pass this General Convention.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Bishop Howe responds to charges: Anglican Ink, July 7, 2012 July 7, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, Central Florida, Property Litigation.
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The Rt Rev John W. Howe

The retired Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, reports that his name was omitted from the list of signatories to the 6 July 2012 in error.  He tells Anglican Ink that he has endorsed the statement given to the Presiding Bishop and stands with his colleagues in their defense — though physically absent from the convention hall in Indianapolis.

Anglican Ink has updated its detailed report on the letter to correct this mistake.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Gay marriage rites in trouble at General Convention: Anglican Ink, July 7, 2012 July 7, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, Marriage.
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The House of Bishops has punted on the issue of gay marriage rites in the Book of Common Prayer, pushing the potential inclusion of gender-neutral marriage liturgies in the church’s authorized liturgy off until 2021.

The 6 July 2012 vote in the House of Bishops does not derail the issue of gay marriage liturgies, however, as other legislation remains pending before the 77th General Convention meeting 5-12 July 2012 that seeks to authorize “trial rites” for gay marriage.  However, the special rules governing passage of trial liturgies makes passage of gay marriage rites uncertain.

In its afternoon session on the second legislative day, the Bishops received Resolution C105 entitled “Marriage Equality” from the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music Committee.  The resolution asked the General Convention to “revise the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church with regard to marriage, to reflect the fact that some jurisdictions provide by law, or will provide by law, civil marriage or civil unions for same-gender couples.”

In its explanation for the resolution, C105’s sponsor – the Diocese of Maryland – stated that “since the state of Maryland, other states, and the District of Columbia have made civil marriage available to same sex couples and the 75th General Convention Resolution C056 called for generous pastoral oversight and liturgies to bless these unions, it is time for the Episcopal Church to revise its Constitution and Canons.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Accused bishops protest loyalty to TEC and Truth: Anglican Ink, July 7, 2012 July 7, 2012

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Six bishops have written an open letter to the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops repudiating charges of disloyalty brought against them by the provisional bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy.

On 6 July 2012, six of nine bishops accused of misconduct by Bishops C. Wallis Ohl Jr., and James C. Buchanan stated there was no truth in the accusations leveled against them.

The Rt. Rev. Paul E. Lambert, suffragan Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, the Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins, Bishop of Springfield, the Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, retired Bishop of South Carolina and Dean of Nashotah House, and the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas stated they had been forced to act in order to protect the Episcopal Church – not to harm it.

“No charge is more serious to us than the one that we have acted against our own Church—in other words, that we have been disloyal. We assure each of you that we have acted out of a profound loyalty to this Church we love,” they wrote.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

No decision on Fort Worth 9: Anglican Ink, July 6, 2012 July 7, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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Bishop Clifton Daniel of East Carolina

No decision was reached on a letter accusing nine bishops of disloyalty to the Episcopal Church and violation of its canons.  However, the matter will be taken up for further discussion in closed session on 7 July 2012, Anglican Ink has learned.

Meeting in closed session on 6 July 2012 the House of Bishops discussed the 5 July 2012 letter of the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Jr., Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, and the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan, Provisional Bishop of Quincy accusing nine bishops of misconduct.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Episcopal Church deputies vote to sell Church HQ at 815 Second Avenue: Anglican Ink, July 6, 2012. July 7, 2012

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Friction over shares of a shrinking financial pie has animated the opening days of the 77th General Convention meeting 5-12 July 2012 in Indianapolis. The House of Deputies has called for the sale of the church’s national headquarters at 815 Second Avenue in New York, while deputies have protested proposed cuts in funding for favored projects.

While the Church’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) has yet to submit a final budget to convention for approval, competing interest groups have sought to preserve their share of the church pie.

Friction over shares of a shrinking financial pie has animated the opening days of the 77th General Convention meeting 5-12 July 2012 in Indianapolis. The Standing Committee on Structure has called for the sale of the church’s national headquarters at 815 Second Avenue in New York, while deputies have protested proposed cuts in funding for favored projects.

While the Church’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) has yet to submit a final budget to convention for approval, competing interest groups have sought to preserve their share of the church pie.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Show trial set for 9 bishops: Anglican Ink, July 6, 2012 July 6, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
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A letter accusing nine bishops of disloyalty to the Episcopal Church and violation of its canons is scheduled for discussion on 6 July 2012 during a closed session of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops meeting at the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis.

The letter has been described as “end run” around the Title IV canons, one bishop told Anglican Ink, that seeks a political solution to a judicial process.

On 5 July the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Jr., Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, and the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan, Provisional Bishop of Quincy wrote to the presiding bishop asking the House of Bishops to “set the record straight regarding recent statements by certain bishops in our Church.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Baptism under review at General Convention: Anglican Ink, July 6, 2012. July 6, 2012

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The Rt. Rev. Nedi Rivera of Eastern Oregon

The circle of believers is expanding by the power of the Holy Spirit, the provisional Bishop of Eastern Oregon told member of the 77th General Convention’s Commission on Evangelism, and must not be hindered by man-made rules that forbid welcoming the non-baptized to receive Holy Communion.

On 6 July 2012 members of the commission chaired by Bishop Duncan Gray of Mississippi heard sharply conflicting testimony from supporters and opponents of resolution C04 “Open Table” proposed by the Diocese of Eastern Oregon. The resolution asks the General Convention to interpret the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer “to invite all, regardless of age, denomination, or baptism to the altar for Holy Communion.”

The resolution also asks Convention to delete Canon 1.17.7 which reads: “No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Transgender motion up for debate at the 77th General Convention: Anglican Ink, July 5, 2012 July 5, 2012

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A sign around the corner from the House of Bishops meeting room at the 77th General Convention.

The Committee on National and International Concerns has recommended the 77th General Convention adopt a resolution urging the church to lobby the government to support immigration privileges for same-gender spouses and will review a proposal to open the ordination process to transsexuals.

On 4 July 2012, the committee recommended adoption of the resolution brought by lay deputy Sara Lawton of California which urges: “enactment of legislation to permit same-gender legal domestic partners and spouses of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to seek lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as different-gender spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Shock budget proposed for TEC: The Church of England Newspaper, July 1, 2012 p 5. July 3, 2012

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Citing canons that authorize her to take a leadership role in the affairs of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has presented an alternate budget to the church less than two weeks before the start of its General Convention on 5 July 12.

The rival proposal seeks to supplant the budget produced by the Executive Council over the past year and re-order the church’s spending priorities according to categories derived from the “five marks of mission” adopted by the Anglican Consultative Council [ACC]. However, the ACC is one of biggest losers in Bishop Jeffert Schori’s budget with funding for the pan-Anglican body to be cut in half.

The new budget came as a surprise to the President of the House of Deputies – the co-equal leader of the church’s General Convention.  President Bonnie Anderson declined to comment on the budget and told the Episcopal News Service said she would “study what she has come up with when I get home.”

Under the current rules, the church’s executive council is required to give the Program, Budget and Finance Committee a proposed budget four months before the opening day of the triennial meeting of General Convention.  After publication the proposed budget is offered to the wider church for review. It is amended by the committee at the start of the meeting and then given to the convention for adoption.

In an eight page covering letter the presiding bishop stated her budget sought to create a “a more theologically based and strategic process” that was “spiritually enriching rather than depleting.”

While the present canons require the budget to be organized under the categories of canonical, corporate, and program expenses, these constructs “no longer adequately [serve] the Church in responding to a world very much in need of our partnership,” she said.

Her budget was organized along the “spiritual” priorities of mission, governance and administration.  However, critics of the presiding bishop’s budget note that the theological budgeting constructs created by the presiding bishop strained good faith and was an exercise in “flim-flammery.”

Canon lawyer Allan Haley said the presiding bishop’s budget invited skepticism as “it allocates so many millions of dollars for show-window causes, without specifying how and by whom—other than by the [presiding bishop] herself—the money will be spent.”

The budget was fundamentally unsound he said and had been “calculated to appeal to the leftist ideology (think: social justice and world betterment) and twisted theology of both those at 815 and who will form the great majority at Indianapolis” attending the General Convention.

One loser in the new budget was the ACC.  “Although the Executive Council had proposed a reduction in the Church’s support for the Anglican Communion Office from the past triennium’s $1,160,000 to $850,000, the PB now proposes to give the ACO just $500,000. At the same time, she proposes to use the savings in what would have been given to the ACO to enlarge the budget of the Church’s own Anglican Communion office by some $500,000 over what the EC had proposed for it,” Mr. Haley said.

“This will be touted as ‘a greater commitment’ to the Anglican Communion, but it is all in moneys to be spent by the PB in adding new staff and in entertaining visiting primates and other Communion dignitaries,” he said.

The chairman of the budget committee, Mrs. Diane Pollard welcomed the Presiding Bishop’s input.  “The budget submitted today by the Presiding Bishop is yet another form of information for the Program Budget and Finance Committee.  The process for shaping the final draft document will begin with the hearings held at our upcoming General Convention,” she said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 44 (One Year Anniversary) : Anglican TV, June 29, 2012 June 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican.TV, Church of England, Church of the Province of Uganda, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, The Episcopal Church.
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In this week’s Anglican Unscripted Kevin and George discuss the Arab Apocalypse and the effects on the Anglican Church in Egypt. Also, the two June Birthday boys discuss General Convention and the illogical musings of Rowan Williams. Alan Haley delves into the mess we call the Supreme Court and special guest Bishop Dan Martins gives us a sneak peak on GC2012. #AU44

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