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Bishop Jefferts Schori rebuffs Dr. Williams’ call for restraint: The Church of England Newspaper, June 18, 2010 p 1. June 18, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.

Dr Williams and Bishop Jefferts Schori in New Orleans

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has offered a scriptural defence for her church’s embrace of gay bishops and blessings.  Writing in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost letter, on June 2 Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori asked the Anglican Communion to engage in dialogue with the leaders of the Episcopal Church as “we believe that the Spirit is always calling us to greater understanding.”

The June 2 public letter follows upon private communications between Bishop Jefferts Schori and Dr. Rowan Williams about her continuing role in the councils of the Anglican Communion.

The press officer to the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council has confirmed to The Church of England Newspaper that Canon Kenneth Kearon hand delivered a letter from Dr. Williams to Bishop Jefferts Schori at the April 17 consecration ceremony of Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut.

The chancellor to the Presiding Bishop, David Booth Beers, told bishops attending the May 24 to 28 Living Our Vows bishops’ training programme at the Lake Logan Episcopal Center in North Carolina that in this letter Dr. Williams had asked the Presiding Bishop to consider absenting herself from meetings of the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee and the Primates Meeting in light of the Episcopal Church’s violation of the moratoria on gay bishops and blessings, those present tell CEN.

Speaking to a group of bishops during an informal after dinner session, Mr. Beers stated the Presiding Bishop had rejected the Archbishop of Canterbury’s suggestion, observing that he had no authority to remove her from the Primates Standing Committee as she had been elected by the North and South American primates.  She also objected to Dr. Williams’ claim to have the authority to ban her from the councils of the church.

One of the bishops at the evening encounter told CEN that speculation on the future structures of the Communion was also shared by Mr. Beers with the bishops.  The Archbishop of Canterbury’s press office did not respond to requests for clarification on Mr. Beers’ comments, while a spokesman for the Presiding Bishop declined to comment on “speculation and conjecture.”

The Presiding Bishop’s press officer Neva Rae Fox stated she was “not confirming the existence of a letter,” but “if there was a letter, then it was a private correspondence and I will not address anything that is private, because that is what it is – private.”

In her public response to the archbishop’s Pentecost letter, Bishop Jefferts Schori said Dr. Williams’ understanding of Acts 2 and Pentecost was insufficient.  “Pentecost is most fundamentally a continuing gift of the Spirit, rather than a limitation or quenching of that Spirit.”

“The recent statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury about the struggles within the Anglican Communion seems to equate Pentecost with a single understanding of gospel realities. Those who received the gift of the Spirit on that day all heard good news. The crowd reported, ‘in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power’ (Acts 2:11),” she said.

Bishop Jefferts Schori stated “the Spirit does seem to be saying to many within the Episcopal Church that gay and lesbian persons are God’s good creation, that an aspect of good creation is the possibility of lifelong, faithful partnership, and that such persons may indeed be good and healthy exemplars of gifted leadership within the Church, as baptized leaders and ordained ones.”

She conceded that this “growing awareness does not deny the reality that many Anglicans and not a few Episcopalians still fervently hold traditional views about human sexuality. This Episcopal Church is a broad and inclusive enough tent to hold that variety.”

For the past “50 years” the Episcopal Church has been “listening to and for the Spirit” to guide it on issues of human sexuality.  Not all were agreed on what the Spirit was saying, but the “willingness to live in tension is a hallmark of Anglicanism” she said and “diversity in community” was a hallmark of the Anglican ethos.

American Anglicanism “recognizes that the Spirit may be speaking to all of us, in ways that do not at present seem to cohere or agree. It also recognizes what Jesus says about the Spirit to his followers, ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come’ (John 16:12-13).”

Dr. Williams’ efforts to dictate uniformity of belief was un-Anglican, Bishop Jefferts Schori said.  “We live in great concern that colonial attitudes continue, particularly in attempts to impose a single understanding across widely varying contexts and cultures.”

She also noted the “troubling push toward centralized authority” by Dr. Williams, adding that the Church of England and the Episcopal Church had both arisen from “concerns over self-determination in the face of colonial control.”

The presiding bishop objected to the sanctions proposed by Dr. Williams and accused him of a “failure of nerve” and “double-mindedness” by holding private opinions at variance with his public stance.  She also gave an oblique criticism to the Church of England’s tolerance of unofficial gay blessings saying “we are further distressed that such sanctions do not, apparently, apply to those parts of the Communion that continue to hold one view in public and exhibit other behaviors in private. Why is there no sanction on those who continue with a double standard?”

The Episcopal Church believed that “with sufficient humility that we can affirm the image of God in the person who disagrees with us. We believe that the Body of Christ is only found when such diversity is welcomed with abundant and radical hospitality,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said.

Conservatives in the United States have welcomed the presiding bishop’s robust defence of her views, but are un-persuaded by her arguments. In a 3100-word response, Prof. Christopher Seitz of the Anglican Communion Institute stated Bishop Jeffert Schori’s “account of the Spirit as bringing a truth without prior testimony or dominical warrant, which at the same time gives rise to diversity as a pentecostal gift, diverges in extreme ways from the Gospel of John and the Acts of the Apostles.”

“It is a teaching lacking continuity and agreement with the witness of Christians in our present day, in the worldwide body, and because without biblical warrant, it is also nowhere attested in the history of the church’s teaching,” he said, adding that this “teaching comes from a conviction already held, independently of what is customarily sought in respect of a warrant of God the Holy Spirit because of cultural assumptions about the intentions of sexual activity in our age and because [the Episcopal Church] has already acted on these.”

While applauding the presiding bishop’s decision to “to defend her views by recourse to Christian Scripture” and to clarify “what she understands to be the biblical warrant for her view of the Holy Spirit as an agent of new truth,” such a view is “not consistent” with the witness of Scripture and the “church would be in error should it follow her novel reading,” Prof. Seitz said.



1. Bishop Jefferts Schori rebuffs Dr. Williams' call for restraint … - Christian IBD - June 18, 2010

[…] The press officer to the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council has confirmed to The Church of England Newspaper that Canon Kenneth Kearon hand delivered a letter from Dr. Williams to Bishop Jefferts Schori at the April … View full post on anglican – Google Blog Search […]

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[…] Katharine Jefferts Schori to skip an upcoming meeting of Anglican Communion primates, Geo. Conger writes in today’s Church of England […]

4. Fr. Charlie Carlberg - June 19, 2010

You just can’t make this stuff up

5. Warren Huber - June 19, 2010

Part of me wants the Bishops’ Theological Committee (of TEC) to write a book containing the theological arguments, the enlightening information from science, and the personal stories from individuals. It should take a format similar to the existing “Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church” by Dr. Jack Rogers, and like it be written for the laity as much as for the international episcopate.

All we see in the public eye, the media, and public church documents is sound bites and proclamations after the fact. Episcopal opinions and official resolutions are not logical arguments, nor spiritual discernments that should bear the rank of prophecy. I think that if learned theologians sat down over months or a year or two and fully investigated these issues instead of yelling at each other in letters about politics, we could actually make some real progress here, and actually change some hearts and minds, instead of hardening them.

6. Peter ClarkI - June 19, 2010

Doesn’t Saint Paul have quite a lot to say about creating stumbling blocks for those who, like me, may not have a faith strong enough to be able to cope with the idea of ordained ministers and overseers (Priests and bishops, in other words), whose lifestyle is directly contrary to the Word of God, as expressed in Leviticus 20:13 and elsewhere?

Bill Myers - July 23, 2010

Perhaps we should all try reading Leviticus in its entirety and see whether or not our “lifestyle is directly contrary” to its prescriptions. Surely many of those strictures were intended for a time and a place quite unlike our own; one can’t proceed very far into that particular book of the Bible and come to any other conclusion.

7. Warren Huber - June 19, 2010

@ Peter Clarkl:
Are you going to loose your faith in God because of a gay minister? Because countless young lgbt Christians loose their faith in God because of the self-hatred the church’s rejection of them causes. Most of the anti-christian lgbt people out there began in the church and have such beliefs now because of the disconnect between the hypocritical “doctrine” of forced celibacy or the completely discredited and deeply harmful “ex-gay” theology and their self-knowledge and the very plain revelations of science.
More still are kept from ever hearing the Word because of the hate and pain that stands between them and it.

Where then is the stumbling block?

I for one have never heard of someone loosing their faith in God over gay ministers et al., because (at the very least) if it were to make them loose their faith, they would no longer have reason to have a problem with homosexuality.

8. Rob+ - June 20, 2010

Warren I susptect Peter Clark was being a bit sarcastic.

And sorry to disagree but the ex-gay ministries do amazing godly work. They practice the ministry of transformation far better than many other areas of the church.

9. Grace and Moral Authority - Ed's Blog - June 21, 2010

[…] of the Episcopal Church’s violation of the moratoria on gay bishops and blessings,” (From George Conger) That is how Moral Authority is exercised in the Anglican Communion.  Regrettably, The Archbishop […]

10. Mary M. - June 23, 2010

quote from anonymous poem posted June 22, 2010:

John Henry Newman, Pray for me
(with thanks to Jon Sweeney for title style)
I don’t have a church, John Henry. May I call you that?
You’re the nicest person I’ve ever met along the inky trail
as my friend Edith would say….

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12. Mary Ellen Hoodin - June 30, 2010

Dialogue! Dialogue! Please look up the meaning of the word. The church cannot be effective at Jesus’ call if it cannot effectively “dialogue” and you can’t dialogue unless you are aware of this New Age which will not be stagnant and go backwards. We must be forward seeing and thinking-we don’t know God’s plan for we wee little humans. Hooray for our Presiding Bishop!!!!

13. Mary M. - July 6, 2010

There is value in dialogue if one has a point to talk from. I am not attracted to any of the view points put forth by the leadership.
Conservative myself, I understand the ferocity coming down on the presiding bishop. The frightening element to me, however, is more the acceptance of “cute” moves by the other side.

14. Mary M. - July 13, 2010

Thought I should drop a line to say I was impressed by the calm and measured tones of the Archbishop’s impromptu address (a touch of humor there) that work was to go forward at York . Steady as she goes.

15. Mark - July 20, 2010

“The church cannot be effective at Jesus’ call if it cannot effectively “dialogue” and you can’t dialogue unless you are aware of this New Age which will not be stagnant and go backwards”

We are called to come out of this world and not be part of it. Being a part of this “new age” is being part of this world. This is unacceptable to Jesus.

16. tom b - June 17, 2011

Many here in the U.S. feal sure that Katharine Jefferts Schori is apostate. Some think she has a spiritual nature opposed to Christian beliefs.

Audre - November 22, 2011

And some here in the U. S. feel she’s dancing with Satan.

17. Sally E. - October 26, 2011

I am runingstraight to the Orthodox Church

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