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Clean sweep in Ecuador: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 30, 2011 p 7. October 5, 2011

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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Bishop Ruiz, his wife and Bishop Ramos

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Central Ecuador and all of the diocese’s elected and appointed leaders have resigned.

On Sept 20 US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori convened a meeting of the diocesan leaders in Quito, where the US House of Bishops had gathered for its Fall meeting, to ask the bishop and the diocesan leaders to step down.  The Episcopal News Service reported that Bishop Luis Ruiz, the diocesan bishop, had been in “exile” in Colombia since June after a dispute arose with the diocesan standing committee.

Bishop Jefferts Schori’s assistant for pastoral development, Bishop Clayton Matthews, said the request that all parties resign sought to “bring clarity and normalcy into a very fractured diocese and bring a period of stability before they can hold a diocesan convention to elect new leadership.”

In June the presiding bishop appointed Bishop Matthews and the former Assistant Bishop of Chicago and Bishop of Panama Victor Scantlebury to referee the dispute.   Bishop Ruiz told ENS the committee had been “advising me to think about my resignation.”

“This is something that really hurts me … but as I have been saying, if this will contribute to calm in the diocese, and I can get my life back in order” he would accede to the presiding bishop’s request.

The former Bishop of Central Ecuador, the Rt. Rev. Neptali Larrea, had been deposed unanimously by the House of Bishops in 2005 for misconduct.  Bishop Ruiz was elected Bishop of Central Ecuador on March 17, 2009 by the US House of Deputies after the diocesan convention deadlocked 18 to 18.  When his election was brought to the General Convention in Anaheim for approval, however, the Central Ecuador delegation asked the church to reject it.

During the July 10 afternoon session of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Lourdes Inapanta from Central Ecuador called for the rejection of Bishop Ruiz’s election.  During a simultaneous session of the House of Bishops, the former suffragan Bishop of Connecticut, the Rt. Rev. Wilfrido Ramos-Orench, who had been appointed the acting bishop of the diocese, said Ms. Inapanta was “making lies.”

Bishop Ramos said Bishop Ruiz was a “man of integrity” and if “we don’t move forward it could be disastrous for the future of the diocese.”

The General Convention subsequently endorsed Bishop Ruiz’s election. However, the dispute that saw 3 out of Central Ecuador’s 4 deputies call for his rejection was not resolved, leading to the mass resignation last week.

Bishop Scantlebury has been appointed acting bishop of the diocese.  He told ENS “my approach will be one of a pastoral ministry of reconciliation and restructuring of the diocese.”  A job, Bishop Jefferts Schori said, that will be “extremely difficult.”

More bishops back Anaheim statement: CEN 8.28.09 p 7. September 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper.
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Two more American bishops have endorsed the Anaheim Statement of dissent from the actions of the 76th General Convention, which voted to walk apart from the Anglican Communion by ending the ban on gay bishops and blessings.

The Rt. Rev. Charles Jenkins, Bishop of Louisiana, and the Rt. Rev. Harry Shipps, retired Bishop of Georgia have raised the total number of bishops who have pledged their loyalty to both the Anglican Communion and to the Episcopal Church to 36.

The Communion Partners group, the “loyal opposition” of parishes within the Episcopal Church has also grown in recent weeks and as of Aug 11 represents nearly 60,000 at worship on Sunday. The Rev. Russell Levenson, Jr., rector of St Martin’s Episcopal Church told The Church of England Newspaper the group’s members now number 66 parish rectors, whose congregations range in size from his Houston parish of 8500 members to the Church of the Incarnation in Lafayette, Louisiana with 20 members.

The Rev. R. Leigh Spruill, rector of St George’s, Nashville, Tennessee, and the group’s new administrator told CEN the Communion Partners were not a protest group, but a “missional fellowship committed to reviving classical Christianity” within the Episcopal Church.

The weeks following the Anaheim General Convention had produced a “heightened anxiety” among many clergy, Mr. Spruill said. The Communion Partners provided a refuge for those “committed to remaining within the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church,” while also offering “theological and spiritual support.”

“We are not just another group poised to split off,” Mr. Spruill said. “Because of our ecclesiology” as clergy committed to the Anglican way, we believe that working towards the Archbishop of Canterbury’s goal of building an Anglican Covenant is a “reasonable” and “solid theological place to stand.”

The “Anglican Communion is not an idol for us, but a gift from God,” he said. The Communion Partners “offers us a way forward for us” to be faithful to “our vows” as priests, and to our faith, Mr. Spruill said.

Presiding Bishop castigates critics of her heresy comments : CEN 9.04.09 p 7. September 3, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has castigated critiques of her July 7 heresy sermon, saying her claim that it was heretical to believe that individual believers can find salvation through Jesus Christ, had been misconstrued. Salvation “depends on love of God and our relationship with Jesus,” and is made manifest by right conduct, the presiding bishop said last week in defense of her views.

However, evangelical critics of the presiding bishop note her explanations fall short, as “we are not justified by love, but rather justified by faith,” the Rev Mark Thompson, Head of Theology at Moore College in Sydney tells Religious Intelligence.

Presiding Bishop castigates critics of her heresy comments

In her opening remarks to the Episcopal Church’s triennial synod, the Presiding Bishop stated the “crises” facing the church arose from the “great Western heresy that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God.”

This belief was “caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said. This “individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of all being.”

Critics dismissed the Presiding Bishop’s remarks as theologically ill-informed and as a mean spirited attack on conservative evangelicals. On Aug 27 the presiding bishop responded to these charges in an essay published by the church’s in-house media arm, Episcopal Life.

Bishop Jefferts Schori stated there had been “varied reactions from people who weren’t there, who heard or read an isolated comment without the context. Apparently I wasn’t clear!”

Individualism, she argued, was “basically unbiblical and unchristian” as the “spiritual journey” according to “the Judeo-Christian tradition” was about “holy living in community.”

“If salvation is understood only as ‘getting right with God’ without considering ‘getting right with (all) our neighbors,’ then we’ve got a heresy (an unorthodox belief) on our hands,” she argued, adding that “salvation depends on love of God and our relationship with Jesus, and we give evidence of our relationship with God in how we treat our neighbors.”

“Salvation cannot be complete, in an eternal and eschatological sense, until the whole of creation is restored to right relationship,” Bishop Jefferts Schori concluded.

While the Presiding Bishop’s explanation of her July remarks “does properly emphasize some fundamental truths that Christians affirm,” her argument was incomplete, the Rev Ephraim Radner, Professor of Historical Theology at Wycliffe College in Toronto told Religious Intelligence.

Dr Radner noted that presiding bishop did not address her claim that it was “heresy” to claim “we can be saved as individuals”.

“God does save us as ‘individuals’, as particular beings; and he creates us as such. We are created with and resurrected with particular bodies and beings and souls. This is a bedrock Christian conviction,” he said.

Bishop Jefferts Schori’s claim that salvation “depends” on our doing certain things, such as loving God or treating others justly are “clearly false according to Christian teaching, Dr Radner added, for “salvation ‘depends’ on only one thing, the grace of God in Christ Jesus.”

While Dr Radner noted the presiding bishop does concede this point in the close of her letter, that salvation is “ultimately the gift of a good and gracious God, not the product of our incessant striving,” her demonization of evangelicals was unwise. “It would have been helpful in her “clarification” if she had tried a little harder to exhibit some appreciation of the theological traditions that have in fact sought to maintain a clear sense of divine grace, having earlier and unjustly vilified them,” he said.

Dr. Thompson told us the presiding bishop “still does not seem to get the point that the Bible is concerned about both personal salvation and the relationships in which we operate as Christians, with each other and with the world. It is always wrong to pit one against the other, from either direction.”

Bishop Jefferts Schori “continues to caricature evangelical teaching. There is no one that I know of or have read who claims that reciting a simple formula about Jesus guarantees one’s salvation,” Dr Thompson said. Faith was not a mantra of repeated words, but the “wholehearted trust in the person of the Son of God who gave himself for our sins and this trust binds us in relationship with others God has called to himself.

He added that the presiding bishop’s “continued theological confusion is evident when she says that ‘salvation depends on love of God and our relationship with Jesus’. More care with the Bible and more intimate knowledge of the theological tradition would have enabled her to see this as a seriously flawed statement.”

“Our salvation depends on what Jesus had done in his death and resurrection,” Dr Thompson said, as “our appropriate response is to trust him and that trust flows out into our relationships with one another as love.”

It was “perfectly reasonable to complain when others deliberately twist what you are saying,” he said. However, in the presiding bishop’s case “the confusion has been caused by her own failure to confess the teaching of Scripture with clarity and her own ignorance of Christian theology.”

South Carolina splits from TEC leadership: CEN 8.21.09 p 5. August 31, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina.
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The Bishop of South Carolina has asked his diocese to begin a process of disengagement with the governing organs of the Episcopal Church, but will not pull the diocese out of the church.

At a special meeting of the diocesan clergy held Aug 13, Bishop Mark Lawrence said that in the wake of the Episcopal Church’s decision taken at its General Convention in Anaheim to walk apart from the wider Anglican Communion some “would counsel us that it is past time to cut our moorings from the Episcopal Church and take refuge in a harbor without the pluralism and false teachings” within “our Church.”

Others counseled “patience, to ‘let the Instruments of Unity do their work’,” while some appeared “paralyzed,” adopting a “posture of insular denial of what is inexorably coming upon us all.”

South Carolina would take the middle course, conforming to the teachings of the wider Anglican Communion, while maintaining its place as the Episcopal Church in the lower half of the state of South Carolina.

Bishop Lawrence asked the diocese to consider linking with fellow traditionalists to form “Dioceses in Missional Relationships” with “conservative parishes and missions in dioceses where there is isolation or worse.”

He proposed a statement of clarification made at all new ordinations in the diocese whereby the oath of conformity to the “doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church” would be clarified as an oath in support of what the Church had historically meant by such an oath, “as this Church has received them.”

The diocese would also “establish appropriate boundaries and differentiation” from the national church, Bishop Lawrence said, adding that a resolution will be brought to the next diocesan convention “withdrawing from all bodies of governance” of the Episcopal Church “that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture,” traditional church doctrine, the resolutions of the Lambeth Conferences, the Prayer Book and the church’s constitution and canons “until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions.”

This is “not a flight into isolation; nor is it an abandonment of duty, but the protest of conscience,” he said as the actions of the July General Convention in Anaheim were a “blatant disregard and violation of Holy Scripture, the bonds of affection, and our own Constitution & Canons that one is led by reasoned conviction to undertake an intrepid resistance to the tyranny of the majority over judicious authority; therein erring both in Faith and Order.”

By taking an activist stance now, South Carolina had the “opportunity to help shape the emergence of a truly global Anglicanism,” Bishop Lawrence said. He urged the diocese to begin consideration of the Ridley Draft of the Anglican Covenant, and “weave and braid missional relationships which strengthen far flung dioceses and provinces in the work of the Gospel.”

The problems within the Episcopal Church were the result of “false teachings” promulgated by the liberal hierarchy and a generation of poor clergy formation. This had created a “Gospel of Indiscriminate Inclusivity” that had led to a deconstruction of classical Christian doctrine.

The doctrine of the Trinity was under assault, he said, noting the passion for inclusive language that removed masculine names for the Father and the Son, had resulted in a corrupted view of the nature of God.

This was coupled by “irresponsible” comments that appeared to deny the “Uniqueness and Universality of Christ” by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. As a bishop of the church, it was her “responsibility” to “proclaim the saving work of Jesus Christ and to teach what it is the Scriptures and the Church teach. Anything less from us who are bishops is an abdication of our teaching office.”

The power and place of Holy Scripture was also under assault, Bishop Lawrence said, as “in my experience all too many of our bishops and priests seem to mine the scriptures for minerals to use in vain idolatries. There is too little confidence expressed in its trustworthiness; the authority and uniqueness of revelation.”

He stated that “ridiculous arguments such as shellfish and mixed fabrics are dragged out” which has long ago been reconciled by the Church Fathers “to confuse the ill-taught or the untutored in theology” to support the progressive agenda.

The revisions to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer’s Baptismal liturgy had further created a new theology whose mantra had become “all the sacraments for all the Baptized,” substituting God’s grace for a belief in civil rights, while the Episcopal Church’s wholesale revision of traditional teachings on human sexuality had now posited the “moral equivalency of GLBT sexual unions with the Christian understanding of marriage between a man and a woman.”

The path of “indiscriminate inclusivity” began with the “denigration of the Holy Scriptures, then, step by step has brought the very core teachings of the Christian faith under its distorting and destructive sway.” The Episcopal Church had now reached the point whereby that which contradicted the new doctrines, such as traditional church moral teachings, where considered to be the problem—not the new teachings.

Anaheim Statement Continues to Gain Supporters: TLC 8.24.09 August 24, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church.

The Anaheim Statement endorsed by 34 bishops at the close of the 76th General Convention in Anaheim, Calif., has added two more bishops to its list of supporters.

The Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins, III, Bishop of Louisiana, and the Rt. Rev. Harry W. Shipps, retired Bishop of Georgia, have endorsed the letter affirming their loyalty to the Anglican Communion in the wake of the adoption of resolutions C056 and D025 ending the moratoria forbidding the consecration of partnered gay clergy as bishops and the authorization of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

However, Bishop Jenkins also was one of the bishops who voted against D025 but in favor of C056. He later said he voted for C056 because his colleagues had responded well to his plea for graciousness. “I felt I was honor-bound to vote for it because these bishops had done what I had asked them to do,” he said. ” I felt that the process was a ray of hope for The Episcopal Church.”

In a series of letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury and primates of the Anglican Communion written at the close of General Convention, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson have disputed the characterization of the adoption of the two resolutions as having ended the moratoria or a “walking apart” by the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion.

Speaking to the media on July 18 Bishop Jefferts Schori stated the votes were a “truthful attempt to deepen relationships” with the wider Anglican Communion. She added that “in 2009” there are “more and deeper relationships with parts of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion than five or 10 years ago.”

Overseas Anglicans, however, have so far not been persuaded by the Presiding Bishop’s explanation. On July 27, Archbishop of Canterbury released his reflections on the General Convention, voicing a sharply critical view of the votes. Archbishop Williams also took note of the Anaheim Statement, noting that a “significant minority of bishops” had “clearly expressed its intention to remain with the consensus of the Communion” on the issues of human sexuality and the moratoria.

Aides to the archbishop have also been noting the progress of the Communion Partners group of rectors in “loyal opposition” to the “current trajectory” of the Episcopal Church. The Rev. Russell Levenson, Jr., rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, stated the fellowship as of Aug. 11 now includes 66 parish rectors whose congregations number nearly 60,000, ranging in size from his Houston parish of 8,500 members to the Church of the Incarnation in Lafayette, Louisiana with 20 members.

On Aug 17, the Rev. R. Leigh Spruill, rector of St George’s, Nashville, Tenn., and the group’s administrator, explained that the Communion Partners were not a protest group but rather a “missional fellowship committed to reviving classical Christianity” within the Episcopal Church. The group seeks to provide a place for those “committed to remaining within the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church,” while also offering “theological and spiritual support” in the anxious days following General Convention, Fr. Spruill said.

“We are not just another group poised to split off,” he noted. “Because of our ecclesiology” as clergy committed to the Anglican way, the group believes that working towards the Archbishop of Canterbury’s goal of building an Anglican Covenant is a “reasonable” and “solid theological place to stand.”

The Anglican Communion is not an idol for us, but a gift from God,” Fr. Spruill said. The Communion Partners “offers us a way forward for us” to be faithful as priests to their faith and to the church, he said.

Battle over homosexuality is over says Bishop Spong: CEN 8.21.09 p 6. August 24, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is on the wrong side of history and ignorant of the scientific and social realities of homosexuality, retired Bishop Jack Spong has declared.

Writing in the Aug 8 on-line issue of Newsweek’s “On Faith” section the controversial former Bishop of Newark has also rejected US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s contention that nothing had changed as a result of the 76th General Convention’s votes on gay bishops and blessings.

“The battle over homosexuality in the Episcopal Church is over,” Bishop Spong wrote.

Bishop Spong says Archbishop of Canterbury is wrong

“The vote at the last General Convention was overwhelming. The sacred unions of gay and lesbian people are to be blessed and enfolded into liturgical patterns in the same way that the sacred unions of heterosexual people have been honoured for centuries. The ministry of this church is to be open to gay and lesbian people who are qualified and chosen in the process by which this church makes such decisions,” he said.

Bishop Spong rejected Dr Williams’ contention that acting upon same-sex attractions was a free-will decision, saying “homosexuality is not a choice” but a component of “human individual identity” akin to race or gender. The condemnation of homosexual behaviour was “discrimination” built upon “prejudice based on ignorance,” he said.

General Convention’s vote last month to permit gay bishops and blessings brought “honesty to this church,” as Episcopal clergy have been blessing same-sex unions “for decades, but only secretly.”

The church also had “countless gay clergy and gay bishops, but pretended that this was not so,” citing an unnamed “gay bishop” elected to serve as vice president of the church’s House of Bishops.

Some of the church’s hostility towards homosexuality came from self-hating gay clergy, Bishop Spong said. “Some of our bishops who were most hostile to homosexuality have themselves been gay and when they were discovered in “improper” relationships or with an HIV infection, it was hushed up.”

Those unable to accept this “reality, including the present Archbishop of Canterbury, will just have to become more and more irrelevant,” Bishop Spong said. Unless Dr Williams changed his views, he would find himself “on the backside of the tide of history and will be constantly compromised and embarrassed.”

The Episcopal Church’s decision to end the moratoria on gay bishops and blessings was prophetic, he said. Dr Williams’ argument that “this step is improper because the whole communion is not ready to move as a whole, is a tragic misreading of history,” he said, citing the support of some church leaders for slavery, apartheid or segregation.

Bishop Spong called upon Anglicans not to “postpone justice for homosexual persons until all of the homophobic and prejudiced-based ignorance is finally gone.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury has clashed with Bishop Spong over his controversial theological views before. Following the publication in 1998 of Bishop Spong’s 12 theses denying traditional theism, Dr Williams responded that they “represent a level of confusion and misinterpretation that I find astonishing.

“The implication of the theses is that the sort of questions that might be asked by a bright 20th century sixth-former would have been unintelligible or devastating for Augustine, Rahner or Teresa of Avila,” Dr Williams noted. “The fact is that significant numbers of those who turn to Christian faith as educated adults find the doctrinal and spiritual tradition which Bishop Spong treats so dismissively a remarkably large room to live in.”

Few agree that US Moratorium holds: CEN 8.07.09 p 7. August 8, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Episcopal Church’s protestation that it has not ended the ban on gay bishops or blessings has not found support outside its borders.

After strong international reaction against the decisions of the recent General Convention, US Church leaders moved quickly to claim that the Church had not changed its position.

Episcopal Church convinces few that it is not breaking moratoria

But critics said that this was the inevitable outcome when the Episcopal Church opened the discernment process for new bishops to gay clergy and permitted dioceses to compile and develop rites for the blessings of same-sex unions None of the American church’s allies among the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion have publicly spoken up in support of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s claims that nothing has changed, while several sharp statements have been released by overseas provinces and dioceses charging that the Episcopal Church had walked away from the Anglican Communion.

On July 18 Bishop Jefferts Schori stated that “in 2009” there are “more and deeper relationships with parts of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion than five or 10 years ago.”

The votes taken at General Convention were a “truthful attempt to deepen relationships,” she said.

However, on July 30 the Standing Committee of the Anglican Church in Southeast Asia stated the adoption of resolutions D025 and CO56 by the US General Convention, “when on a plain and ordinary reading, constitutes an abrogation by [the Episcopal Church] of the agreed-to moratorium on the consecration of practising homosexual clergy as bishops and rites of blessing for same-sex unions.”

This “effectively moves” the US church “away from the orthodox position” of the wider communion and is a “repudiation of the listening and consultation processes put in place in an attempt to resolve these issues.”

The Rt Rev Bethlehem Nopece, Bishop of the South African diocese of Port Elizabeth, called the adoption of the two resolutions by the US church a “deliberate defiance of the wider Body of the Anglican Communion.”

“The blessings of the same-sex unions and the ordination of practicing gay clergy is inconsistent with the Word of God written; it is theologically uninformed, incoherent with the wider church, endorsing schism in the Anglican Communion and threatens ecumenical fellowship and relations,” he charged on July 31.

The Episcopal Church had chosen to “journey alone,” he said. The South African church will “still uplift the Biblical standard of guidance in moral behaviour. We do not seek any political correctness, but call upon all people to repentance and change of life and patterns of behaviour for a new character in line with the demands of the Word of God,” Bishop Nopece said.

Archbishop Denies Schism: CEN 7.31.09 p 1. August 5, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has delivered a sounding rebuke to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, stating its decision to ignore the wishes of the wider Anglican Communion and proceed with the development of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of gay clergy was theologically uninformed, ecclesiologically incoherent and risked dividing the Anglican Communion.

In his strongest and least ambiguous statement on homosexuality since his address to the 2005 Global South Anglican meeting in Egypt, Dr. Rowan Williams dismissed arguments that appeals to justice or civil liberties should influence the question of gay bishops and blessings, while also reaffirming traditionalist stance on human sexuality. The adoption of resolutions D025 and C056 by the Anaheim meeting of General Convention had not created a de facto schism, he said, but made it increasingly likely that the future of Anglicanism was a two-tier communion of covenanting and non-covenanting provinces.

A spokesman for Lambeth Palace told The Church of England Newspaper Dr. Williams’ July 27 statement entitled “Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future” was a “reflection” on the actions of the 76th General Convention.

Dr. Williams opened his reflection with a word of thanks for the Episcopal Church’s hospitality and affirmed there was no place in the church of any kind of bigotry towards homosexuals. He also acknowledged that he had heard Presiding Bishop Katharine Jeffert Schori’s assurances the votes did not have the “automatic effect of overturning the requested moratoria” on gay bishops and blessings, “if the wording is studied carefully.”

It was unlikely, however, the wider communion would find Bishop Jeffert Schori’s protestations convincing and would be “unlikely to allay anxieties” the Episcopal Church had chosen to walk apart.

Assuming a didactic tone, Dr. Williams said there were “two points which I believe need to be reiterated and thought through further” by the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church had not done its homework by providing a convincing theological rationale for the adoption of same-sex blessings. Nor had it engaged in the “painstaking biblical exegesis” necessary to justify such an change and had failed to seek a “wide acceptance of the results within the Communion” of its work so far, he said.

Changing liturgies changes doctrine, he argued, and such fundamental changes in Christian anthropology “naturally needs a strong level of consensus and solid theological grounding,” Dr. Williams said—and that had not occurred.

Gay blessings were outside the bounds, he said, as a “blessing for a same-sex union cannot have the authority of the Church Catholic, or even of the Communion as a whole.”

Dr. Williams upped the stakes by noting that it was improper for any member of the clergy—bishop or priest—to be “living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond,” Archbishop Williams said. The homosexual or unchaste heterosexual “chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church’s teaching sanctions, and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires,” he said.

By permitting gay clergy and same-sex blessings without first “including in its discernment the judgment of the wider Church” the Episcopal Church risked “becoming unrecognizable to other local churches,” and the decision to repeal the moratoria led to an Anglican Communion based upon a “loose federation of local bodies with a cultural history in common, rather than a theologically coherent ‘community of Christian communities’,” he said.

An Anglican Covenant that provided structures of “mutual recognizability, mutual consultation and some shared processes of decision-making,” was a way forward, Dr. Williams said, but acknowledged that some within the Episcopal Church would “not choose this way of intensifying relationships.”

He welcomed dioceses to sign on to the Anglican Covenant in the event their national provinces declined, but said it was too soon to say that a schism had occurred. “It would be a mistake to act or speak now as if those decisions had already been made,” he noted.

The Anglican way historically had been able to juggle “diverse convictions more or less within a unified structure,” he said. While he was not yet willing to say that this period in the life of the church had ended, it may “turn out to need serious rethinking” of what it means to be a catholic church, Dr. Williams said.

Episcopal Church wants Royal apology: CEN 7.31.09 p 5. August 3, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Politics.
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The Queen must apologize for the wrongs committed by Henry VII and repudiate the “Christian Doctrine of Discovery,” the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church has declared.

On July 17, the triennial meeting of the Episcopal Church’s synod endorsed resolution D035: Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. The doctrine, “which originated with Henry VII in 1496, held that Christian sovereigns and their representative explorers could assert dominion and title over non-Christian lands with the full blessing and sanction of the Church,” the resolution explained.

The principle of the “Doctrine of Discovery” arose in 1493 when Pope Alexander VI gave Spain and Portugal the right to claim non-Christian lands in the new world and Africa, while Henry VII authorized John Cabot to take possession of all lands discovered for the Crown. Beginning in 1823 the US Supreme Court held that Henry’s charter provided the legal basis for the American government’s ownership of Indian lands as Indian tribes were not independent nations, but “domestic dependent nations”.

This doctrine, the resolution argued, had led to the “dispossession of the lands of indigenous peoples and the disruption of their way of life,” and as such, was a bad thing.

The General Convention directed its presiding officers to “write to Queen Elizabeth II, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, requesting that her Majesty disavow, and repudiate publicly, the claimed validity of the Christian Doctrine of Discovery,” as made by the Tudors.

Rising to speak in support of the resolution, the Bishop of Maine endorsed the proposal, saying it would be a symbolic righting of wrongs. There was no debate, and the resolution was adopted on a unanimous voice vote.

Hundreds of special interest non-Church related resolutions are brought to General Convention at each session. Those that make it out of committee to the floor are usually adopted with little or no debate on voice votes. Resolutions of General Convention have no legal force under US canon law.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

 Queen Elizabeth II must apologize, says the Episcopal Church

‘A choice between two religions’: CEN 7.31.09 p 7. July 31, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Anglican Church of North America, Church of England Newspaper.
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US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has decried the press coverage of the 76th General Convention, writing to the Episcopal Church the media has misinterpreted the key votes of the Convention in search of scintillating headlines.

However, the ACNA’s Archbishop Robert Duncan has claimed the votes to repudiate the communion’s moratoria on gay bishops and blessings and Bishop Jeffert Schori’s statement that it was heretical to believe “that we can be saved as individuals,” was further evidence of the Episcopal Church’s moral collapse.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

‘A choice between two religions’

Anglican relationships with other religions are ‘damaged’: CEN 7.29.09 July 29, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

A “disruption of fellowship” will likely result from the actions of the 76th General Convention, predicted the Bishop of Rochester in an American newspaper this week.

Writing in the Washington Times on July 27, the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir Ali said the General Convention’s actions “will have caused a schism despite repeated entreaties by the rest of the communion not to take unilateral action that contravenes the teaching of the Bible, the unanimous teaching of the church down the ages and the understanding of the vast majority of Christians today. “

Bishop Nazir Ali declined to speculate on what actions would be taken on a communion wide level, but noted “there can be little doubt” that the votes to junk the moratoria on gay bishops and blessings will “further damage” fellowship among Anglicans and will spur “more talk of the rupture, impairment of communion and the like.”

The American decision to “walk apart” from the communion will “further damage ecumenical relations with other churches, such as the Roman Catholic, the Orthodox and various evangelical and Pentecostal bodies. Interfaith dialogue, especially with Muslims, also has been adversely affected, with dialogue partners asking how what they have hitherto regarded as a ‘heavenly religion’ can sanction a practice that most religions do not permit,” Bishop Nazir Ali added.

However, “those who remain orthodox in faith and morals” should understand that “any disruption of fellowship” within the Anglican Communion arising from the events of recent weeks, will be taken “for the sake of discipline and the eventual restoration of those who have chosen to go their own way to the common faith and life of the church,” he said.

Assurances on Convention Actions ‘Unpersuasive,’ Archbishop Says: Living Church 7.27.09 July 28, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church.

The adoption of resolutions D025 and C056 by the 76th General Convention speaks to an unhealthy degree of theological ignorance and ecclesiastical incoherence at work within the higher councils of The Episcopal Church [TEC], Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said in a statement released July 27.

While the adoption of resolutions on rites for the blessing of same-sex unions and the consecration of gay clergy to the episcopate have not created a de facto schism, they do signal TEC’s likely removal to the periphery of the life and witness of the Anglican Communion through the creation of a two-tier communion of covenanting and non-covenanting provinces, Archbishop Rowan Williams wrote.

A spokesman for the archbishop said the statement titled “Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future” had been released via the Lambeth Palace website as a “reflection” on the actions of the General Convention.

Archbishop Williams offered thanks to the convention for the “generous welcome” extended to him, and acknowledged the concerns of many bishops and deputies for the wider Anglican Communion and for the “crushing” social and economic problems faced by the developing world. He also affirmed that he had received Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s and president of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson’s assurances that the passage of D025 and C056 did not “have the automatic effect of overturning the requested moratoria, if the wording is studied carefully” on gay bishops and blessings.

However, he said these assurances would not be found persuasive by some and would be “unlikely to allay anxieties” within the Communion that TEC was going its own way. There were “two points which I believe need to be reiterated and thought through further” by TEC, Archbishop Williams said.

By moving forward on same-sex blessings and gay clergy, TEC erred by not engaging in a “painstaking biblical exegesis” and seeking a “wide acceptance of the results within the Communion” as “a major change naturally needs a strong level of consensus and solid theological grounding.”

This work has not been done, Archbishop Williams wrote. He emphasized that “a blessing for a same-sex union cannot have the authority of the Church Catholic, or even of the Communion as a whole.”

Nor should any member of the clergy—bishop or priest—be “living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond,” Archbishop Williams said. The homosexual or unchaste heterosexual “chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church’s teaching sanctions, and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires.”

By permitting gay clergy and same-sex blessings without first “including in its discernment the judgment of the wider Church,” TEC risked “becoming unrecognizable to other local churches,” the archbishop wrote. The actions of General Convention necessarily reconceived “the Anglican Communion as essentially a loose federation of local bodies with a cultural history in common, rather than a theologically coherent ‘community of Christian communities’,” he said.

The way forward, Archbishop Williams said, was through an Anglican Covenant that provided structures of “mutual recognizability, mutual consultation, and some shared processes of decision-making.”

He acknowledged that within TEC “some will not choose this way of intensifying relationships,” but he believed that “it would be a mistake to act or speak now as if those decisions had already been made.”

The Anglican tradition had “thus far” been able to contain “diverse convictions more or less within a unified structure,” Archbishop Williams wrote. If the present structures “turn out to need serious rethinking,” this was not a statement of the “end of the Anglican way,” but an opportunity for a “new era of mission and spiritual growth for all who value the Anglican name and heritage.”

Episcopal Church tightens its belt: CEN 7.24.09 p 1. July 28, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Episcopal Church’s General Convention has adopted a $141 million austerity budget for the coming three years—an amount $12 million less than its last three year budget and $20 million below that authorized by the Church’s Executive Council in January.

Staffers at the national church offices in New York were the first to feel the effects of the reduced budget, with 37 employees, including the church’s national evangelism and women’s ministries officers made redundant in the closing days of the July 7-17 General Convention. The church’s overseas partners will see a reduction in support as well, with the proposed $600,000 per year contribution of the ACC cut by one third, while the line item “Anglican Communion” has been reduced from $5.6 to $3.4 million.

The austerity budget “reflects the scarcity that we are experiencing across the church,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said on July 15. Approximately 60 percent of the church’s income comes from contributions from the dioceses, who are asked to give 21 percent of their income to New York.

Diocesan contributions are expected to decline from $90 to $79 million over the coming three years. Of the church’s 110 dioceses, only 27 contribute the requested 21 percent of income. To assist dioceses meet their target support levels, General Convention agreed to reduce the asking to 20 percent in fiscal 2011 and 19 percent in fiscal 2012.

Cuts were made in almost all categories, save for the office of the Presiding Bishop, whose overall budget increased by 15 percent. Included in the Presiding Bishop’s budget is a nine fold increase in anticipated legal fees to $3 million, and a 122 percent increase in Legal Assistance to Dioceses and Title IV—clergy disciplinary proceedings, to $4 million for the coming three years..

The inclusion of “$3 million during the next triennium for legal assistance to dioceses is an amount less than was spent during the current triennium to support Episcopal dioceses in reorganization that need to protect themselves against the loss of their property,” the notes to the budget stated.

American dioceses allowed to create same-sex blessing rites: CEN 7.21.09 July 22, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Episcopal Church has given carte blanche to its liberal dioceses to create and celebrate rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

On July 15 the House of Bishops meeting at the 76th General Convention in Anaheim, Calif., endorsed resolution C056, which called for an “open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships.”

The resolution, which was adopted by the Convention’s House of Deputies on July 17 permits dioceses and congregations to “collect and develop theological, and liturgical resources” for gay blessings and directs them to report on their work to the next meeting of General Convention in 2012.

The resolution also permits Bishops in states where gay marriage or same-sex civil unions are lawful to authorize same-sex rites by providing “generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church.”

The resolution has the effect of maintaining the legal status quo on gay marriage in the Episcopal Church, as it does not add same-sex blessings to the Book of Common Prayer or alter its rubrics by changing the language of man and women in the marriage ceremony to man/man or woman/woman. However, it does remove any impediment or disciplinary sanction for violating Prayer Book rubrics by authorising the introduction of supplemental rites authorised on the diocesan level for trial use, giving progressive dioceses the de facto authority to introduce gay marriage.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

American dioceses allowed to create same-sex blessing rites

34 US Bishops ‘will observe moratoria’: CEN 7.21.09 July 22, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper.
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Thirty-four American bishops have announced they will honour the calls for restraint made by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion, and have issued a letter of dissent from the actions of the 76th General Convention.

The 34: including 27 diocesan bishops, five suffragans and assistants, and two retired bishops, affirmed their desire to conform the discipline of the Episcopal Church while also complying with the requests made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meetings and ACC-14 to observe a moratoria on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

34 US Bishops ‘will observe moratoria’

US Church—we have not breached moratoria: CEN 7.21.09 July 22, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper.
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The US Episcopal Church’s General Convention did not breach its self-imposed moratoria on gay bishops and blessings, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the President of the House of Deputies, Mrs Bonnie Anderson have claimed.

In letters dated July 16 and 17 written to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, Bishop Jefferts Schori defended the actions of General Convention.

Resolution C056, which authorized dioceses to “collect and develop” same-sex blessings rites, and encouraged a “generous pastoral provision” of support for gays and lesbians, including offering gay blessings rites “does not authorize public liturgical rites for the blessing of same-gender unions,” said Bishop Jefferts Schori and Mrs Anderson on July 17.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

US Church: we have not breached moratoria

US Bishops vote to abandon Anglican moratoria: CEN 7.17.09 July 21, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops has voted to end the Church’s compliance with the Windsor Report and the Anglican Covenant process by relaxing the ban on the consecration of gay and lesbian clergy to the episcopate.

On a roll call vote held on July 13, the bishops voted 99 to 45 with two abstentions to adopt resolution D025.On July 8 and 13 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams urged the bishops to reject the pleas of the American church left to dump the ban imposed in 2006 by Resolution B033. The House also ignored the pleas of former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, who brokered the compromise resolution.

On July 10, Bishop Griswold addressed the House, drawing upon memories of his first Convention in 1976 and the controversies then raging over the ordination of women and prayer book revision. When we “arrive with fixed and passionate points of view” to Convention, we sometimes find our “fixity becomes more malleable,” he said, adding that he had “seen that process occur by the work of the Holy Spirit,” and expected the “mystery of intervention will occur once again.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

US Bishops vote to abandon Anglican moratoria

Evangelicals attack General Convention vote: CEN 7.17.09 p 7. July 21, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper.
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Evangelical leaders in Britain and the US have denounced the Episcopal Church’s vote to end the ban on gay clergy, saying it represents a break with the Anglican Communion, a repudiation of the Windsor process and the proposed Anglican Covenant, and a snub of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

On July 13, the House of Bishops meeting at the 76th General Convention adopted resolution D025 its 2006 pledge banning the consecration to the episcopate of clergy in active same-sex relationships. On July 14 the House of Deputies ratified the bishops’ vote by a 72 to 28 per cent margin, formally adopting the resolution.

In a July 8 sermon to the General Convention, Dr Rowan Williams pleaded with the US church for restraint. He thanked them for their invitation to California and for the opportunity “to share something of my mind with you; and so thank you too for your continuing willingness to engage with the wider life of our Communion.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Evangelicals attack General Convention vote

US Bishops set to authorize same-sex rites: CEN 7.17.09 p 6. July 21, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Bishops of the Episcopal Church are expected to authorize gay blessings this week at the 76th General Convention, placing the church on a collision course with the Anglican Communion.

Meeting in Anaheim, Calif. for the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, on July 12 the bishops agreed to end the church’s self-imposed ban on consecrating gay clergy as bishops, and on July 13 began debate on proposals to preparing formal rites for the blessing of gay civil unions.

The gay blessings bill, resolution C056 would allow dioceses in states that have adopted gay marriage laws: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, Massachusetts and Connecticut to offer “a generous pastoral response,” including blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples.

Speaking on behalf of the legislative drafting committee Bishop Jeffrey Lee of Chicago said the resolution “calls for the development of rites for blessing and a theological rationale” for same-sex unions and “helps to define ourselves in relation to the Anglican Communion.”

A conservative amendment was offered by the Suffragan Bishop of Maryland John Rabb, restricting the language of the bill to dioceses located in states that had same-sex marriage laws.

However, Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire objected saying the “reality of marriage of same gender couples is that it coming to you soon.”

Bishop Robinson then questioned the conditional language of the resolution, objecting to the use of the word ‘may’ as opposed to the word ‘shall’ in directing bishops to authorize the same-sex rites. It “implies a bishop might not” offer pastoral blessings. “I would argue that all of us are about providing generous pastoral responses.”

Pastoral “generosity for a few is not generosity,” Bishop Eugene Sutton of Maryland argued. “How can you apply this to one group?”

The amendment was defeated as was a second conservative amendment that sought to forestall the creation of trial rites will a study process was underway. Bishop Pierre Whalon of Europe said he did not want to hold the church’s doctrine hostage to liturgists. “A lot of theology has been done by liturgists without recourse to wider theological considerations,” in recent years, he said. I do “not want to continue that practice.”

Former liturgy professor Bishop J. Neil Alexander of Atlanta said that he “saw no evidence that Eucharist or baptism” waited “upon a committee” before it was celebrated by the early church. “Collecting and analyzing rites is part of the theological work,” he said.

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel of East Carolina rose to ask the conservative bishops in the House to speak. Your “silence is ominous,” he said.

The Bishop of Springfield rose to Bishop Daniel’s challenge. “Why waste time? Why waste my time. Why waste your time?” with these debates. “I believe this is another clear instance of the Church being shaped by the secular culture rather than the secular culture being shaped by the Church.”

This “takes is farther away from the Windsor Report,” he said.

Lexington Bishop Stacy Sauls then rose and offered what he said was his “most important thing I have ever said” to the House. “Thirty-six years ago our church responded to secular culture by allowing divorced persons,” adding that “remarriage after divorce was the moral equivalence of adultery.”

This was a greater change to the nature of marriage than same-sex blessings, he argued, and urged the House to support those gays and lesbians who “seek to live in a morally equivalent way.”

The Bishop of Iowa rose to offer an amendment, and the Presiding Bishop prorogued the session, forming an ad hoc committee to report back to the bishops on July 15 for final consideration of the resolution.

US vote ‘not a snub to Archbishop of Canterbury: CEN 7.17.09 July 21, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper.
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The US General Convention’s endorsement of gay bishops and blessings and the sharp cut in funding for the Anglican Consultative Council was not a calculated snub of the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Anglican Communion, but an honest statement of the Episcopal Church’s economic and theological realities, bishops and deputies tell Religious Intelligence.

On July 15, the Church endorsed a new three-year budget that included a one-third cut in its contribution to the ACC — from $600,000 to $400,000 per year, while the House of Bishops gave their approval to the “local option” for same-sex blessings.

Deputy Sally Johnson of Minnesota said the votes on gay bishops and blessings were an “honest” statement of the church’s views on these questions. “It is difficult to have deep meaningful conversation” within the Anglican Communion “without honesty,” she said.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams “told us to be truthful” on July 8. “We were,” Ms Johnson said.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

US vote ‘not a snub to Archbishop of Canterbury

Arkansan holds Episcopal purse strings: Arkansas Democrat Gazette 7.18.09 p 14 July 19, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Anglican Album (Photos), Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
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Special to the Democrat-Gazette/GEORGE CONGER Pan Adams-McCaslin of West Memphis served as chairman of the Episcopal Churchs Program, Budget and Finance Committee, helping to craft a $150 million budget that will control spending from 2010-2012. She was a key figure at the denominations 76th General Convention, which ended Friday in Anaheim, Calif.

Special to the Democrat-Gazette/GEORGE CONGER Pan Adams-McCaslin of West Memphis served as chairman of the Episcopal Church's Program, Budget and Finance Committee, helping to craft a $150 million budget that will control spending from 2010-2012. She was a key figure at the denomination's 76th General Convention, which ended Friday in Anaheim, Calif.

See the story for this article written by the Democrat Gazette‘s Frank Lockwood.

‘Defense of Marriage’ Concern Will Get Further Review: TLC 7.17.09 July 19, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church.

During the final business session of General Convention on July 17, the House of Bishops turned back Resolution C023: Same-Sex Unions—Defense of Marriage Statutes, voting to refer the resolution to a standing committee of The Episcopal Church in the final legislative act at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The Rt. Rev. John B. Chane, Bishop of Washington, presented the resolution on behalf of the National and International Concerns Committee, urging concurrence with the House of Deputies in endorsing the resolution.

However, during the bishops’ private table groups, concerns were raised over the entanglement of the church in the political arena. The resolution calls upon “all Episcopalians to work against the passage of so-called ‘Defense of Marriage’ state statutes and state constitutional amendments, and, in states where such statutes or constitutional amendments already exist, to work for their repeal.”

The Bishop of Oklahoma, the Rt. Rev. Edward J. Konieczny, told the house he was concerned by the call for “all Episcopalians” to agitate for the repeal of the laws. He questioned the wisdom of having the church direct its members on such a divisive political issue.

Bishop Porter Taylor of Western North Carolina asked that the resolution be sent to a committee for review over the next triennium. No debate was held and it passed on a voice vote with minimum opposition.

The House of Deputies then received the resolution, and in the last legislative act of the convention, concurred with the bishops’ request, prompting the president of the house, Bonnie Anderson, to note this was the first convention in her memory that ended early with all outstanding legislative matters addressed.

Bishops Defeat Resolution on Mideast Violence: TLC 7.17.09 July 19, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church magazine

The House of Bishops of General Convention has rejected a resolution that condemns violence in the Middle East after opponents criticized its language for being unbalanced, anti-Israel and un-Anglican

Offered by the Committee on National and International Concerns, the House of Deputies endorsed a substitute Resolution B027: Peace between Israel and Palestine. The 12-part resolution called for peace in the Middle East and supported the two-state solution in resolving the crisis in Israel and Palestine.

However, the Rt. Rev. Edward S. Little II, Bishop of Northern Indiana, protested language in the legislation, which singled out Israel as the aggressor and the Palestinians as the victims in the conflict. Bishop Little said he stood not in support of the separation barrier — the wall built by Israel to protect itself from attack — but “to take a stand against terrorism”

The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California, disagreed. “The wall does not contribute to the lessening of suicide bombing,” he said, but a “tool” that “supports the illegal settlements” built by Israel on the West Bank.

The Bishop of New York, the Rt. Rev. Mark Sisk, stated that ascribing all the blame to Israel “is incorrect.”

The resolution eventually failed on a show of hands, 43 to 53.

The Bishop of Missouri July 18, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Anglican Album (Photos), Living Church.
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he Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith, Bishop of Missouri, checks a message during General Convention while on an escalator in the Anaheim Convention Center

he Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith, Bishop of Missouri, checks a message during General Convention while on an escalator in the Anaheim Convention Center

Ouster of Honduran President Supported: TLC 7.17.09 July 18, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Honduras, Living Church.
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In a late session of General Convention on Friday, the House of Bishops beat back a push to gut a resolution calling for The Episcopal Church to back the people of Honduras in the face of sanctions leveled by the Organization of American States (OAS) in the wake of the ouster of President Mel Zelaya.

Resolution B031 — Hope for Reconciliation in Honduras — was adopted after passionate pleas of support from the current and former Bishops of Honduras, the Rt. Rev. Lloyd Allen and the Rt. Rev. Leo Frade. Bishop Frade denounced assertions the removal of President Zelaya last month was a coup. He said the former leader had been lawfully removed from office after being arrested on a charge of treason. He also denounced as racist and colonialist the mindset that Americans could better determine the course of Honduran democracy than the people of that Central American country.

Adopted with amendment by the House of Deputies on July 16 following a floor fight between deputies from Honduras who prepared the resolution and deputy Sarah Lawton of California who sought to remove language critical of the OAS, the resolution was presented to the bishops.

Bishop Allen described the grinding poverty of the country. He said members of the Episcopal Church of Honduras were found primarily in the country’s scattered villages and amongst the urban poor. The witness of The Episcopal Church had always been to serve the “poor and needy,” he added.

Bishop Allen said he was a member of no political party, but was concerned “solely for my 156 congregations.” Endorsing the resolution would place The Episcopal Church squarely on the side of the people and of justice, he argued, urging support for the resolution.

“We cannot apply U.S. laws to Honduras,” Bishop Frade said.

The resolution was adopted by the house unanimously.

Roll call votes on key issues: TLC 7.17.09 July 17, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church.

Resolutions D025 and C056 sparked three roll call votes during the House of Bishops’ sessions of the 76th General Convention in Anaheim, Calif.

The Rt. Rev. Kenneth Price, Bishop Suffragan of Southern Ohio, told the house on July 15 that the official tallies from the votes on D025 that rescinded the moratorium on gay bishops, on a motion offered by the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania to discharge C056, and the final vote on C056 which authorized the collection and development of rites for the blessing of same-sex liturgies, would not be complete until the end of convention. The hand tallies taken by the six tellers at the meetings needed to be reconciled, he said.

Bishop Price reported that Resolution D025 was adopted by a vote of 99 yes, 45 no, 2 abstained.

The Rowe amendment was defeated on a vote of 94 no, 42 yes, 1 abstentions. Resolution D058 was passed on a vote of 104 yes, 30 no, 2 abstentions, Bishop Price said. .

Roll call votes are taken in the House of Bishops in order of seniority taken in order of consecration. The senior bishop present for the votes, the Rt. Rev. David Reed, retired Bishop of Kentucky, is Bishop 603 — the 603rd bishop consecrated to serve The Episcopal Church since its creation. The junior bishop is the Rt. Rev. J. Scott Mayer, Bishop of Northwest Texas — Bishop 1035 in order of consecration.

Bishops are listed in order of consecration. The votes are in this order: D025,  Rowe, and  C056.

David B. Reed, Retired Bishop of Kentucky (y y y)

William Frey, Acting Bishop of the Rio Grande( n _ _ )

Otis Charles. Retired Bishop of Utah (y n y)

Gerald McAllister. Retired Bishop of Oklahoma (n_ _ )

Rustin Kimsey. Assisting Bishop for Alaska (y_ _ )

Herbert A. Donovan. Assisting Bishop of New York (y_ _ )

James H. Ottley. Assisting Bishop of Long Island (y n y)

Leopold Frade. Bishop of Southeast Florida (y n y)

Peter Lee. Bishop of Virginia (y y n)

Don Wimberly, Retired Bishop of Texas (_ _ n)

Robert Ladehoff, Retired Bishop of Oregon (y n _ )

Douglas Theuner, Retired Bishop of New Hampshire. (y n y)

Arthur Williams, Jr., Retired Bishop Suffragan of Ohio ( y y _ )

E. Don Taylor, Assistant Bishop of New York ( _ y y)

Jeffery Rowthorn. Retired (American Churches in Europe) (n y n)

Orris G. Walker, Bishop of Long Island (y _ _ )

Frederick Borsch. Retired Bishop of Los Angeles  (y_ _ )

Christopher Epting. Bishop for Ecumenical Relations (y _ _ )

Barbara Harris. Assisting Bishop of Washington (y n y)

John Buchanan, Provisional Bishop of Quincy (y n y)

Robert H. Johnson, Assisting Bishop of Pittsburgh (y y y)

Sanford Hampton, Assisting Bishop of Oregon (y n y)

John W. Howe. Bishop of Central Florida (n y n)

Sergio Carranza-Gomez, Assistant Bishop of Los Angeles (y n y)

Edward L. Salmon. Retired Bishop of South Carolina (n y n)

Charles Keyser. Assisting Bishop of Florida (y y y)

Huntington Williams, Retired Suffragan, North Carolina  (y _ y)

Chester L. Talton. Bishop Suffragan of Los Angeles (y n y)

Victor Scantlebury, Assisting Bishop of Chicago (a n a)

Steven Charleston, Assistant Bishop of California (y n y)

Jerry A. Lamb, Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin (y n y)

Alfred C. Marble. Assisting Bishop of North Carolina (y n y)

Peter Beckwith. Bishop of Springfield (n y n)

James Stanton. Bishop of Dallas (n y n)

Jean Duracin. Bishop of Haiti (n y n)

F. Clayton Matthews, Office of Pastoral Development (y n _ )

James Jelinek, Bishop of Minnesota (y n y)

Edwin Gulick, Bishop of Kentucky and Provisional, Fort Worth (y n y)

Russell E. Jacobus. Bishop of Fond du Lac (n y n)

M. Thomas Shaw SSJE, Bishop of Massachusetts (y n y)

Alfredo Morante, Bishop of Litoral Ecuador (n n y)

Kenneth Price, Bishop Suffragan of Southern Ohio. (y n y)

Henry I. Louttit. Bishop of Georgia. (n n n)

Dorsey F. Henderson. Bishop of Upper South Carolina. (y n y)

Rev. David Jones. Bishop Suffragan of Virginia (y n y)

Catherine S. Roskam. Bishop Suffragan of New York (y n y)

Geralyn Wolf. Bishop of Rhode Island (n y n)

William Skilton. Assistant Bishop of the Dominican Republic (n y n)

Andrew Smith, Bishop of Connecticut (y _ _ )

Carolyn Irish. Bishop of Utah (y n y)

Paul V. Marshall. Bishop of Bethlehem (y n y)

Clifton Daniel. Bishop of East Carolina (y n y)

Henry Parsley. Bishop of Alabama (n y y)

Gordon Scruton. Bishop of Western Massachusetts (a n y)

F. Neff Powell. Bishop of Southwestern Virginia (y _ y)

Richard Chang. Retired Bishop of Hawai’i (y n y)

Rodney Michel. Assisting Bishop of Pennsylvania (y n y)

Catherine Waynick. Bishop of Indianapolis (y n y)

Bruce Caldwell. Bishop of Wyoming (y n y)

Charles Jenkins. Bishop of Louisiana (n n y)

Barry Howe. Bishop of West Missouri (y n y)

Chilton Knudsen. Retired Bishop of Maine (y n y)

Mark S. Sisk. Bishop of New York (y n y)

Wayne Wright. Bishop of Delaware (y n y)

John Rabb. Bishop Suffragan of Maryland (n n y)

John Croneberger, Assistant Bishop of Bethlehem (_ n y)

Charles von Rosenberg Bishop of East Tennessee (y y n)

William Persell. Retired Bishop of Chicago (y n y)

Keith Whitmore. Assistant Bishop of Atlanta (n n y)

The Rt. Rev. J. Michael Garrison. Bishop of Western New York (y n y)

D. Bruce MacPherson. Bishop of Western Louisiana (n y n)

Wendell N. Gibbs, Bishop of Michigan (y n y)

George Packard, Suffragan, Armed Services (n n y)

Edward Little, Bishop of Northern Indiana (n y n)

J. Jon Bruno.,Bishop of Los Angeles (y n y)

Michael B. Curry. Bishop of North Carolina (y n y)

Duncan Gray III. Bishop of Mississippi (n y n)

William O. Gregg. Assistant Bishop of North Carolina (y n y)

Stacy Sauls. Bishop of Lexington (y n y)

James Curry. Bishop Suffragan of Connecticut (y n y)

Wilfrido Ramos-Orench. Bishop of Central Ecuador (y _ _ )

James Waggoner, Bishop of Spokane ( _ n y)

David Jung-Hsin Lai. Bishop of Taiwan (n y n)

Katharine Jefferts Schori. Presiding Bishop (y n y)

Roy F. Cederholm Jr., Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts (y n y)

Thomas C. Ely, Bishop of Vermont (y n y)

Philip Duncan. Bishop of Central Gulf Coast (n n n)

Don E. Johnson. Bishop of West Tennessee (y n y)

Neil Alexander. Bishop of Atlanta (y n y)

Francisco Duque. Bishop of Colombia (n y _ )

Michie Klusmeyer, Bishop of West Virginia (n y y)

The Rt. Rev. Lloyd Allen. Bishop of Honduras (n y n)

Gladstone B. Adams, Bishop of Central New York (y n y)

Pierre Whalon, Convocation of American Churches in Europe (y n y)

Marc Andrus, Bishop of California (y n y)

G.W. Smith, Bishop of Missouri (y n y)

James M. Adams, Bishop of Western Kansas (n y n)

John Chane. Bishop of Washington (y n y)

Gayle Harris. Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts (y n y)

J.J. “Bud” Shand, Bishop of Easton (n n y)

Alan Scarfe. Bishop of Iowa (y n y)

David Alvarez, Bishop of Puerto Rico (y _ _ )

Joe Burnett, Bishop of Nebraska (y n y)

C. Franklin Brookhart, Jr., Bishop of Montana (y y y)

Rayford High, Bishop Suffragan of Texas (n n y)

Robert O’Neill, Bishop of Colorado (y n y)

George Councell, Bishop of New Jersey (y n y)

Steven A. Miller, Bishop of Milwaukee (n n y)

S. Johnson Howard, Bishop of Florida (n y n)

V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire (y n y)

Dean Wolfe, Bishop of Kansas (y n y)

Gary Lillibridge, Bishop of West Texas (n y n)

Kirk S. Smith, Bishop of Arizona (y y y)

Mark Hollingsworth, Jr., Bishop of Ohio (y n y)

Michael Smith, Bishop of North Dakota (n y n)

G. Porter Taylor, Bishop of Western North Carolina (y n y)

Bavi Rivera, Bishop Suffragan of Olympia (y n y)

James Mathes, Bishop of San Diego (y n y)

Edward Ambrose Gumbs, Bishop of Virgin Islands (n y n)

David Reed, Bishop Suffragan of West Texas (n y n)

S. Todd Ousley, Bishop of Eastern Michigan (y n y)

William Love, Bishop of Albany (n y n)

Barry Beisner, Bishop of Northern California (y n y)

Dena Harrison, Bishop Suffragan of Texas (n y n)

Nathan Baxter, Bishop of Central Pennsylvania (y n y)

Larry R. Benfield, Bishop of Arkansas (y n y)

Mark Beckwith, Bishop of Newark (y n y)

John C. Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee (n y n)

Dabney Smith, Bishop of Southwest Florida (n y y)

Robert Fitzpatrick, Bishop of Hawaii (y y y)

Thomas Breidenthal, Bishop of Southern Ohio (y n y)

Shannon Johnston , Bishop Coadjutor of Virginia (n n y)

Laura Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan of Connecticut (y n y)

Sean Rowe, Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania (n y y)

Edward J. Konieczny, Bishop of Oklahoma (n y n)

Gregory Rickel, Bishop of Olympia (y n y)

Mary Gray-Reeves, Bishop of El Camino Real (y n y)

Dan Edwards, Bishop of Nevada (y n y)

John Sloan, Bishop Suffragan of Alabama (y y y)

Mark J. Lawrence, Bishop of South Carolina (n y n)

Jeffrey Lee, Bishop of Chicago (y n y)

Sylveste Romero, Assistant Bishop of New Jersey (y _ _ )

Stephen Lane, Bishop of Maine (y n y)

Prince Singh, Bishop of Rochester (y n y)

Eugene Sutton, Bishop of Maryland (y n y)

Paul Lambert, Bishop Suffragan of Dallas (n y n)

Brian Thom, Bishop of Idaho (y n y)

Andrew Doyle, Bishop of Texas (n y n)

Herman Hollerith, Bishop of Southern Virginia (y n y)

J. Scott Mayer, Bishop of Northwest Texas (_ y y)

Bishops Say No to Adding List of Matriarchs: TLC 7.16.09 July 17, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Hymnody/Liturgy, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church.

The House of Bishops has rejected a resolution calling for the inclusion of a list of matriarchs of Israel for use in a trial revision of Eucharist Prayer C of Rite II of the Book of Common Prayer. The action took place at the General Convention July 17 in Anaheim, Calif.

Offered as a trial rite by its backers for use by the church until the publication of the next Book of Common Prayer, Resolution C077 sought to replace “patriarchal” language with an inclusive lineage, substituting “Lord God of our Fathers; God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” with “Lord God of our ancestors; God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel and Leah, [God of _____.]”

On behalf of the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music Committee the Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith of Missouri recommended the house reject the changes.

The Rt. Rev. Barry Beisner of Northern California supported the change, and sought to preserve the bill by referring it to a committee for further study. He said in his diocese Prayer C was a “popular prayer,” yet it was also “problematic.” The “tinkering that goes on with it” in parish use was evidence the language needed to be reformed.

The Bishop of Milwaukee, the Rt. Rev. Steven Miller, said the addition of names to the prayers could be overdone. “I rise in honor of Bilhah and Zilpah,” he quipped. Bilhah was Rachel’s handmaid and bore Jacob two sons, Dan and Naphtali, while Zilpah was Leah’s handmaid and mother of Gad and Asher.

“All art reflects its time and place,” Bishop Miller said. He added that Eucharist Prayer C was now seen as a relic of the 1970s and the “most dated” of the liturgies. He urged retention of the traditional phrasing of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, noting that it was “code language” in “our liturgical life.”

However, the Bishop of Central Pennsylvania, the Rt. Rev. Nathan Baxter, urged further study of Prayer C. “Some in our diocese refer to this as the Star Wars liturgy,” — a reference to the passage “At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.”

Yet others “honor creation and diversity” through its language, he said. Adding the matriarchs to the patriarchs adds to the “richness” of our worshiping life, he argued, reminding the bishops that its language had value for portions of the church.

Following further brief discussion, the resolution was put to a vote and rejected.

Dissenting Bishops Issue ‘Anaheim Statement’: TLC 7.17.09 July 17, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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Twenty-nine bishops have endorsed a letter affirming their desire to remain part of the Anglican Communion and Episcopal Church while being faithful to the calls for restraint made by the wider church.

Styled as the “Anaheim Statement,” the letter of dissent to the actions of the 76th General Convention pledged the bishops’ fealty to the requests made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the primates’ meetings and ACC-14 to observe a moratoria on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate.

In the hours after its release, the statement drew support from 23 diocesan bishops, four suffragan and assistant bishops, and two retired bishops and included bishops who voted on both sides of D025 and C056 — resolutions that rescinded the ban on two of the three Windsor Report moratoria.

Rising to speak on a point of personal privilege during the House of Bishops afternoon session July 16, the Rt. Rev. Gary W. Lillibridge of West Texas read a statement prepared by an ad hoc committee of concerned bishops.

“At this convention,” Bishop Lillibridge said, the house had “heard repeated calls for honesty and clarity” on The Episcopal Church’s stance on the contested issues surrounding sexual ethics. The attempts to “modify wording which would have been preferable to the minority in the vote were respectfully heard and discussed, but in the end most of these amendments were found unacceptable to the majority in the House.”

The votes on Resolution D025 and C056 had made it clear that a majority of bishops believed it was time to “move forward on matters of human sexuality.” While grateful for the “clarity” these votes had brought, Bishop Lillibridge asked his fellow bishops to join him seeking “to find a place in the Church we continue to serve” and endorse a five-point statement of loyalty to the Communion.

The statement:

* reaffirmed the bishops’ “constituent membership in the Anglican Communion, our communion with the See of Canterbury, and our commitment to preserving these relationships”;

* reaffirmed their “commitment to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them”;

* reaffirmed their “commitment to the three moratoria requested of us by the Instruments of Communion”;

* reaffirmed their “commitment to the Anglican Communion Covenant process currently underway, with the hope of working toward its implementation across the Communion once a Covenant is completed”;

* reaffirmed their “commitment to ‘continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship’ which is foundational to our baptismal covenant, and to be one with the apostles in ‘interpreting the Gospel’ which is essential to our work as bishops of the Church of God.”

At the close of the afternoon session, 20 bishops endorsed the letter, with nine morre adding their names during the evening.

“This was not a statement of division,” the Rt. Rev. Edward J. Konieczny, Bishop of Oklahoma — a conservative leaning bishops who had not signed the statemen —said at a news briefing after the session. It was a “statement of unity” that acknowledged “we have listened to one another intently.”

The House of Bishops’ second media spokesman, the Rt. Rev. James Mathes of San Diego and a supporter of the actions taken this week in the House of Bishops, said he believed the statement offered “clarity of where they are.”

A copy of the letter has been forwarded to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Its initial signatories include:

The Rt. Rev James Adams, Western Kansas

The Rt. Rev Lloyd Allen, Honduras

The Rt. Rev David Alvarez, Puerto Rico

The Rt. Rev John Bauerschmidt, Tennessee

The Rt. Rev Peter Beckwith, Springfield

The Rt. Rev Franklin Brookhart, Montana

The Rt. Rev William Frey, Rio Grande

The Rt. Rev Dorsey Henderson, Upper South Carolina

The Rt. Rev John Howe, Central Florida

The Rt. Rev Russell Jacobus, Fond du Lac

The Rt. Rev Don Johnson, West Tennessee

The Rt. Rev Mark Lawrence, South Carolina

The Rt. Rev Gary Lillibridge, West Texas

The Rt. Rev Edward Little, Northern Indiana

The Rt. Rev William Love, Albany

The Rt. Rev Bruce MacPherson, Western Louisiana

The Rt. Rev Alfredo Morante, Litoral Ecuador

The Rt. Rev Henry Parsley, Alabama

The Rt. Rev Michael Smith, North Dakota

The Rt. Rev James Stanton, Dallas

The Rt. Rev Pierre Whalon, Convocation of American Churches in Europe

The Rt. Rev Paul Lambert, Suffragan-Dallas

The Rt. Rev David Reed, Suffragan-West Texas

The Rt. Rev Sylestre Romero, Assistant– New Jersey

The Rt. Rev John Sloan, Suffragan–Alabama

The Rt. Rev Jeffrey Rowthorn, Retired-Convocation of American Churches in Europe

The Rt. Rev Don Wimberly, Retired-Texas

Bishops Agree on Mary’s Virginity: TLC 7.16.09 July 17, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church magazine.

The House of Bishops affirmed the virginity of Mary the Mother of God during its July 16 morning legislative session at the 76th General Convention.

In a jocular debate that spoke to the exhaustion many of the bishops are feeling on the ninth business day of the convention, the bishops amended resolution A099 Lesser Feasts and Fasts: Additional Commons, adding the word “virgin” before the name of the Mother of God in collects offered for the use by the church.

The Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith, Bishop of Missouri, presented the resolution, noting that there had been some concerns expressed in committee hearings about the commons used for the Mother of God. There were “three ways to refer to her: Mary the God-bearer, the theotokos; Mary of Nazareth; and the Blessed Virgin Mary,” he said. Bishop Smith said using these varied terms underscores the theological diversity of views held within the Episcopal Church on the person and charism of Mary.

Bishop Michael Smith of North Dakota stood and said “I rise in defense of our Lady,” eliciting guffaws from the house. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori noted, “I don’t think she needs it,” to more laughter from the bishops. Bishop Michael Smith then offered an amendment inserting the word “virgin” before Mary’s name where used in the new collects, stating that the church’s teaching on the virginity of the Mother of God should be underscored in the new rites.

The Rt. Rev. Otis Charles, retired Bishop of Utah, spoke in opposition, stating “the term theotokos stands by itself.” Mary the god-bearer was a term of “long tradition and honorable to Our Lady.”

Bishop Wayne Smith accepted the amendment, suggesting that Mary be styled, “the Blessed Virgin Mary, the god-bearer.” The Charles amendment was accepted by voice vote, with limited opposition.

The Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. William Love, rose to support the amended resolution saying he could “imagine all the spin that would come out of this convention” if the resolution was rejected. He said the headline “Episcopal Church Denies the Virginity of Mary” was one he did not wish to read, eliciting cries of ‘shame’ from the bishops present.

Bishop C. Franklin Brookhart of Montana reminded the house of the words of the Chalcedonian Creed: “Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer, the theotokos,” and urged adoption of the resolution. It passed unanimously.

Retired bishops keep their vote: TLC 7.16.09 July 17, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church magazine.

The House of Bishops has rejected the second reading of a constitutional amendment that would have stripped retired bishops of their vote in meetings of the house.

During Thursday morning’s business session of the House of Bishops at General Convention in Anaheim, Calif., the bishops voted 72-39 to refer resolution A052: Amending Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution, to committee. Moves to strip retired bishops of their vote in the House of Bishops began in the 1940s, and failed at the 1979, 1988 and 1997 General Conventions.

The present amendment had its first reading at the 2003 General Convention and was adopted. The House of Bishops amended and adopted the resolution at its second reading in 2006 with the House of Deputies concurring.

The resolution was presented by the Committee on the Constitution with a recommendation to concur. The Rt. Rev. Charles Keyser, assisting bishop in the Diocese of Florida, objected.

“This convention has been about inclusion and enfranchisement,” he said. “Now one of our first orders of business has been disenfranchisement.”

Bishop Keyser urged the house to address the concerns over retired bishops’ voting practices by judicious amendment of the canons, “fixing this not with a shotgun, but a surgical approach.”

The Rt. Rev. Geoffrey Rowthorn, retired Bishop of the American Convocation of Churches in Europe, urged the house to reject the constitutional amendment. Some of the members of the house seemed to be in dread of the “retired bishops’ gang,” who “rode into town” to “vote on the wrong side” of contentious issues.

Bishop Rowthorn said fears of a political manipulation by conservatives of the bishops’ proceedings were misplaced. Of the retired bishops present for the vote on Resolution D025, which ended the church’s ban on gay bishops, “22 had voted yes, and 4 no,” he said.

The Bishop of New Jersey, the Rt. Rev. George Counsell, noted he had voted in favor of the amendment in 2006 but would now vote against, as he believed the issue was “not jurisdictional but theological.”

The Rt. Rev. Dabney Smith, Bishop of Southwest Florida moved the matter be referred to a standing committee for review. The motion passed on a show of hands, 72-39, effectively killing the amendment for the fourth time in 30 years.

Bishops Call for Development of Liturgies for Same-Sex Blessings: TLC 7.15.09 July 16, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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The House of Bishops on Wednesday adopted a substitute version of Resolution C056, calling for the church to collect and develop “theological resources and liturgies for the blessing of same gender relationships.”

The resolution permits bishops in states where same-sex marriage or civil unions are legal to “provide a generous pastoral response” to same-sex couples, which could include pastoral rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, effectively compounding the repudiation of the Windsor Report process and the proposed Anglican Covenant by repudiating Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention.

After two postponed sessions, debate resumed on C056 during the bishops’ Wednesday afternoon session. An ad hoc working group of 26 bishops presented a substitute for C056. It was led by Bishop Pierre Whalon of the American Convocation of Churches in Europe and Bishop Thomas Ely of Vermont, and included a cross section of the house, from Bishop Edward Little of Northern Indiana to Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The substitute sought to assuage fears from conservatives by substituting language calling for the “design” of liturgies with that of “collecting and developing” them. Bishop Robinson contended that “to design liturgies was different” from studying them. “If at some point we were to have liturgies,” he said, this resolution would help the church see “what they would look like.”

Bishop Stephen Charleston, Assistant Bishop of California, spoke of his discomfort with the language of collecting, arguing that “to collect implies no movement.” However, he understood the resolution sought to walk the “fine line between pushing toward doing something and standing still.”

Bishop Steven Miller of Milwaukee said that the working group believed the language put forward meant to say “see, here is what it might look like.”

Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania rose and moved an amendment to discharge the resolution. “I believe this is exactly what we don’t want to do, he said. “It continues to legislate matters that require discernment.”

The church should “allow people the personal generosity” to engage in study in this area, he said, “without legislation.” The Rt. Rev. Kirk Smith of Arizona concurred, saying the House of Bishops needed to “find a way out of the box” of finding a legislative solution to a theological problem. “I would prefer a pastoral letter” to the church on this question, he noted.

Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick of Hawaii suggested perhaps “it is better to be silent” on these things and “allow the conversation to continue.” And Bishop Andrew Rowe of Texas observed that “discharge is a legislative act,” and would be useful way forward in the circumstances.

But Bishop Robinson objected, saying “we don’t need to demonize the legislative process.” Bishop John Chane of Washington added that “we are a legislative body. To discharge this dishonors the process of calling us together.” Bishop M Thomas Shaw of Massachusetts agreed that it was a “misunderstanding to say discernment doesn’t happen through the legislative process.”

A roll call vote on Bishop Rowe’s motion to discharge was taken and it failed 94 to 42, with 1 abstention. The resolution as a whole was put to a vote and it was adopted 104 to 30, with 2 abstentions.

Episcopal bishops approve same-sex blessing: Washington Times 7.16.09 p A5 July 16, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Washington Times.
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ANAHEIM, Calif. | U.S. Episcopal Church bishops authorized the church to draft a proposed blessing for same-sex couples Wednesday here at the Episcopal General Convention, although the measure still needs approval of the priest and lay delegates.

On Tuesday, the church decided to permit gay bishops, which passed 99-45 among the bishops and by a 72 percent to 28 percent margin among the church’s deputies.

Read it all in The Washington Times.

News Analysis—Pushback in HOB on Gay Blessings: TLC 7.15.09 July 15, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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Read it all in The Living Church

Resistance has grown within the House of Bishops to adopting Resolution C056: Liturgies for Blessings which would authorize local pastoral rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

The hesitation over endorsing gay blessings comes not from a lack of votes for passage, or from fears of an international backlash from the Anglican Communion or the Archbishop of Canterbury. Rather, there is a sense that the progressive agenda can only go so far before a second conservative exodus takes place.

From the tenor of the debates this week, and the evidence of the house’s 99-45 vote on Monday to overturn the ban on gay bishops, support for gay blessings has a solid base of political support. This marks a political shift of the house over the past five conventions, such that when he spoke on July 10, former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold found himself on the conservative wing of the house.

Gay blessings were raised during the 2003 General Convention, Bishop John Chane of Washington told The Living Church, but the vote to confirm the election of V. Gene Robinson as bishop, coupled with the press of other business, made it clear “the time was not right.”

However, “now is the time to proceed with these rites,” Bishop Chane told the house on July 14. The debate that followed indicated a majority of the bishops were ready to go.

The first sign that all was not well arose when Bishop Dean Wolfe of Kansas rose at the start of the C056 debate and cautioned the house against offering aggressive amendments. “Sometimes it takes very little” to “move us from agreement to division,” he observed. He asked the bishops to practice a “generous orthodoxy” to the conservative minority who might be troubled by same-sex blessings.

After twenty five minutes of debate, with only the acting Bishop of the Rio Grande, the Rt. Rev. William Frey, rising to speak in opposition, Bishop Clifton Daniel of East Carolina told the house the lack of input from the conservative side made him uneasy. The “silence is ominous,” he observed, adding “I need your voice to inform my conversation.” Bishop Peter Beckwith of Springfield responded by asking “Why waste time? Why waste my time? Why waste your time?”

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori prorogued debate to the afternoon, and the afternoon’s debate was then postponed to Wednesday. Suggestions that delay could be postponed such that the convention would not be able to take up the resolution sparked outrage from Bishop Marc Andrus of California.

In an afternoon closed session, the bishops organized a self-selected ad hoc group to discuss how best to go forward with the resolution. Bishop Andrus told The Living Church at a July 15 press briefing he could not say who took part in the deliberations, but did stress the pastoral importance of C056 to his diocese. Whether C056 passes General Convention or not, California will keep its “focus on pastoral care and marriage equality,” Bishop Andrus said, and we “will continue to do blessings.”

While scheduled for discussion today, the matter has not yet been set down for business by the Dispatch Committee of the House of Bishops.

Episcopal Church ends gay bishops ban: Washington Times 7.15.09 p A1 July 15, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Washington Times.
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ANAHEIM, Calif. | The U.S. Episcopal Church put itself on a collision course with the rest of the Anglican Communion by formally approving Tuesday the ordination of gay bishops, defying warnings that the Church of England may respond by recognizing a rival Anglican church.

The 2.1-million-member U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion also was preparing Wednesday to approve blessing ceremonies for same-sex unions, a further slap at the Archbishop of Canterbury, who warned the U.S. church last week not to act in ways that deepen the splits in the 77-million-member worldwide communion.

In Tuesday’s actions, the U.S. church reversed a promise made to the rest of the communion by agreeing to end the church’s gay-bishop ban, which the church imposed in 2006 at its last triennial convention after the worldwide furor over the 2003 consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The House of Bishops voted here at the Episcopal Church’s triennial General Convention on Monday night to pass a resolution opening all levels of ordained ministry to gay clergy. The move formally took effect Tuesday when the House of Deputies, which already had passed a similar resolution on gay bishops, affirmed the bishops’ measure by 72 percent to 28 percent.

Read it all in The Washington Times.

The Bishop of Southern Ohio: TLC 7.14.09 July 15, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Anglican Album (Photos), Living Church, Southern Ohio.
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Bishop Thomas Breidenthal of Southern Ohio waits to speak during the House of Bishops' July 13 debate on Resolution D025.

Bishop Thomas Breidenthal of Southern Ohio waits to speak during the House of Bishops' July 13 debate on Resolution D025.

Bishops Weigh Authorizing Local Same-Sex Blessing Rites: TLC 7.14.09 July 15, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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The House of Bishops moved one step closer towards authorizing local pastoral rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, debating Resolution C056: Liturgies for Blessings.

Set down for action on the Supplemental Calendar 3 for the sixth business day on July 13, the resolution was the first order of legislative business in the morning session of July 14.

The Bishop of Missouri, the Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith, offered C056 to the house on behalf of the Committee on the Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music. He said the committee had a number of resolutions to consider and consolidated them into C056 as an “omnibus resolution.”

Speaking for the Committee, Bishop Jeffrey Lee of Chicago said the resolution “calls for the development of rites for blessing and a theological rationale” for same-sex unions.

The resolution “helps to define ourselves in relation to the Anglican Communion.”

The Rt. Rev. Dean Wolfe of Kansas cautioned the house against offering aggressive amendments. “Sometimes it takes very little,” he said, to “move us from agreement to division.” He asked the bishops to practice a “generous orthodoxy” to the conservative minority who might be troubled by same-sex blessings.

The Suffragan Bishop of Maryland, the Rt. Rev. John Rabb offered an amendment that was originally offered as a minority committee report by the Bishop of Alabama, the Rt. Rev. Henry Parsley. The Parsley amendment sought to alter language that offered blanket permission for a “generous pastoral response” to same-sex couples, to one confining it to states that had adopted same-sex marriage or civil union laws.

The Rt. Rev. Otis Charles, retired Bishop of Utah, objected to the amendment, saying it was an “attempt to narrow and limit” pastoral care along state boundaries. The Bishop of San Diego concurred, noting that the amendment would relate pastoral generosity to geography.

Bishop James Adams of Western Kansas asked Bishop Smith of Missouri if pastoral generosity included liturgical blessings. Bishop Smith replied that the committee had considered adding a specific provision for liturgies, but believed it best not to enumerate the forms pastoral generosity might take so that “liturgies could be included” without being named.

The “reality of marriage of same-gender couples is coming to you soon,” Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire told the house, objecting to the conditional language of the resolution. The word ‘may’, “implies a bishop might not do so,” he said, adding that “I would argue that all of us are about providing generous pastoral responses.”

However, the Rt. Rev. S. Johnson Howard, Bishop of Florida, told the House “what we don’t need is a resolution instructing us to be pastorally generous.”

The Bishop of Lexington, the Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls, opposed the Parsley amendment, saying it “relies implicitly” on the bishop for implementation. Bishop Marc Andrus of California said he too was opposed, as “pastoral responses are occasioned by pastoral needs.” The Bishop of Maryland, the Rt. Rev. Eugene Sutton, asserted that “generosity for a few is not generosity.” Following further debate, the amendment was put to a vote and failed.

The Bishop to the American Convocation of Churches in Europe also offered an amendment, one that would soften the language of the resolution by deleting the request for formal study and development. “A lot of theology has been done by liturgists without recourse to wider theological considerations,” Bishop Pierre Whalon said, adding that he “did not want to continue that practice.”

Bishop J. Neil Alexander of Atlanta said he “saw no evidence that Eucharist or baptism” waited “upon a committee” before it was celebrated by the Church. “Collecting and analyzing rites is part of the theological work,” he said. Bishop John Chane of Washington also objected, saying “now is the time to have this formal discussion” on rites for same-sex blessings.

The Acting Bishop of the Rio Grande, the Rt. Rev. William Frey, questioned whether it was permissible to permit gay blessings when it was not authorized by the Book of Common Prayer. “How can we give permission to violate the Constitution,” he asked.

Bishop Clifton Daniel of East Carolina rose to ask the conservative bishops in the house to speak, noting that none save Bishop Frey had to that point risen to speak. The “silence is ominous,” he observed, adding “I need your voice to inform my conversation.”

Bishop Peter Beckwith of Springfield rose to Bishop Daniel’s challenge, saying he opposed the resolution. “Why waste time? Why waste my time. Why waste your time?” with these debates, he asked. “I believe this is another clear instance of the church being shaped by the secular culture rather than the secular culture being shaped by the church.” He said this “takes us farther away from the Windsor Report,” and asked the chairman for a roll call vote upon the conclusion of debate.

Bishop Stacy Sauls then offered what he called his “most important thing I have ever said” to the house. “Thirty-six years ago, our church responded to secular culture by allowing divorced persons to remarry,” adding that “remarriage after divorce was the moral equivalence of adultery.” He argued that this was a greater change to the nature of marriage than same-sex blessings, and urged the House to support those gays and lesbians who “seek to live in a morally equivalent way.”

The Presiding Bishop prorogued the session until July 15 for further debate and a final vote.

Convention Criticized for ‘Choosing to Walk Apart’: TLC 7.14.09 July 15, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev. N.T. Wright has issued a sharp rebuke to the 76th General Convention for approving Resolution D025, saying it “marks a clear break” with the Anglican Communion.

On July 13, the House of Bishops adopted an amended version of D025, effectively overturning the pledge made in Resolution B033 at the 75th General Convention in 2006 not to affirm the election of clergy in active same-sex relationships. The House of Deputies concurred with the Bishops on July 14.

In a letter to the Times of London to be published on July15, Bishop Wright likened the state of international Anglicanism to a “slow-moving train crash.” With passage of D025, the Episcopal Church had “finally brought a large coach off the rails altogether,” marking a “clear break with the rest of the Anglican Communion.”

General Convention was “ignoring” the pleas of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates and the Lambeth Conference for a “moratorium on consecrating practicing homosexuals as bishops.”

General Convention had rejected the Windsor Report and the proposed Anglican Covenant, Bishop Wright said, and was “formalizing the schism they initiated six years ago when they consecrated as bishop a divorced man in an active same-sex relationship,” the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire.

The Episcopal Church by its vote, he argued, had “chosen to ‘walk apart’.”

He rejected the “appeal to justice as a way of cutting the ethical knot in favor of including active homosexuals in Christian ministry,” saying it “simply begs the question.”

Justice did not mean “treating everybody the same way,” but “treating people appropriately”, he argued, “which involves making distinctions between different people and situations. Justice has never meant ‘the right to give active expression to any and every sexual desire’.”

The Episcopal Church was now distancing itself from the fellowship of the Anglican Communion, he argued, and raised the specter of recognizing the Anglican Communion in North America, writing that he hoped that ways could be found “for all in America who want to be loyal to [the Anglican Communion], and to scripture, tradition and Jesus, [and] to have that loyalty recognized and affirmed at the highest level.

The Rev. Ian Douglas, a member of the Anglican Consultative Council, and clergy deputy from Massachusetts, told The Living Church that there had been communications between the highest levels of the Episcopal Church and the Church of England over D025 over the past few days, noting that claims that the Episcopal Church was walking away from the Anglican Communion were untrue, as D025 was not crafted as a repeal of B033.

The Committee on World Missions received 13 resolutions concerning B033: six that “called for a full repeal” of the 2006 resolution, six that called for “a strengthening of the non-discriminations canons” and one resolution that stated “where we are as a church.” Fr. Douglas said D025 was an “invitation to dialogue, not a rebuke of the Anglican Communion’s instruments of communion.”

Passage of D025 May Place TEC Outside Communion: TLC 7.13.09 July 14, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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The House of Bishops’ adoption of Resolution D025 on July 13 was an honest act that fairly stated the mind of the majority of the House of Bishops, progressive bishops argued. But members of the minority stated the vote ends the Episcopal Church’s compliance with the pledge made by the 2006 General Convention in Resolution B033 to abstain from consecrating more gay bishops, ends the Windsor Process, snubs the Archbishop of Canterbury, and places the Episcopal Church outside the Anglican Communion.

The Bishop of Rhode Island introduced D025 to the house as chair of the World Missions Committee, noting the bishops on the committee had recommended by a vote of 3-2 to reject adoption. Bishop Geralyn Wolf then enumerated the committee’s reasons for urging its rejection, saying “some” of the Episcopal Church’s overseas dioceses, while privately welcoming of the ministry of gays and lesbians, were “not theologically or culturally ready” for the innovation.

Adopting D025 “rejects” the Windsor process and jeopardizes the Anglican Covenant, and “doesn’t reflect the voices” of the wider Anglican Communion, Bishop Wolf said. It presumes a “theological understanding” of the question that has not, however, been reached, and while it may describe the “mind of the House,” the resolution “lacks clarity” and is open to a “variety of interpretations that will not be helpful in the Anglican Communion.”

The resolution “should be seen through the lens of world ministry,” Bishop Wolf continued, and sometimes it is necessary to “sacrifice for this ministry,” she said in urging its rejection.

Bishop Jeffrey Lee of Chicago asked for twenty minutes table time for the bishops to discuss the resolution, which was extended for a further ten minutes. Once the bishops reconvened, the Bishop of Upper South Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Dorsey Henderson, offered an amendment to the sixth resolved, asking substitution for the phrase that stated God “has called and may call” gays and lesbians to the ordained ministry with the statement that this call to ordained ministry was a “mystery” that was discerned by the church “for all people” in accordance with its constitution and canons.

“This is family talk,” Bishop Henderson declared, adding that “what we do affects a larger family.” He said that by being circumspect, we “can both pledge our commitment to the Anglican Communion” and continue to “debate the issues before the Anglican Communion” in the spirit of the Windsor Report.

Debate began on the amended resolution, with the bishops quickly dividing on their interpretation of what it meant. The Suffragan Bishop of Maryland, the Rt. Rev. John Rabb endorsed the Henderson amendment, urging the church to “continue the process of discernment.”

Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina felt the amendment was helpful as it affirmed that “God’s call is God’s call; for us it is a mystery.” The language of the amendment presumes that “gay and lesbian people may be called” to the ordained ministry. Bishop John Bauerschmidt of Tennessee also supported the amendment, noting that its language was “descriptive” rather than “prescriptive” and “moves the resolution further along.”

But Bishop Nathan Baxter of Central Pennsylvania said he had “mixed emotions” about the Henderson amendment as he was seeking a way “to rescind or override B033.”

Bishop Baxter said he “really would like to see us honoring sacramentally same-sex unions,” and “honor what we see as holy in our experience.” While the Episcopal Church should be “concerned with its covenant with the Anglican Communion,” it should also be “concerned about our commitment to gays and lesbians.”

Bishop J. Neil Alexander of Atlanta rose in opposition, saying the amendment “renders things muddier.” Bishop Stephen Lane of Maine also urged rejection, saying the bishops should speak honestly about what they believed.

Bishop Thomas Ely of Vermont argued that “God has affirmed and will continue to call gays and lesbian people into the ordained ministry. That is not a mystery to me.

“The mystery is the person,” Bishop Thomas Ely said. If the amendment means the church will be open to the ordination of gays and lesbians, he said it had its support. “If it in any way questions that call to God, I would find that a great disappointment.”

Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles said that if “we baptize people of all sexualities” we should be able to ordain them. “We don’t need any more study on this issue,” he said, and urged the Episcopal Church to be clear on this point. “Gays and lesbians have a right to the ordination process under our canons.”

“It is God who calls” an individual to the priesthood, Bishop George Counsell of New Jersey said, stating he preferred not to use the “language of rights” in describing ordination. He contended the amendment served to “put God at the center of all this.”

When a division was called, the Hollingsworth amendment was adopted 78 to 60 on a show of hands.

The Bishop of Arkansas, the Rt. Rev. Larry Benfield then rose to read a prepared statement in support of the original resolution saying that as the Trinity was a mystery, so was sexual love. It was fearful to say “we will restrict love because of a chromosomal make-up,” he contended, and argued that the theology was already in place by a reinterpretation of the creeds to permit honoring same-sex attractions as being holy.

But Bishop Michael Smith of North Dakota warned that endorsing the resolution would be a “negative response to the Windsor report,” and asked for a roll call vote. Five other bishops rose to endorse his motion, and it carried.

Bishop Gary Lillibridge rose in opposition to the resolution, but turned to the last resolve that stated “Christians of good conscience” may “disagree about some of these matters.” He told the house he did “not want to lose” that promise of forbearance of toleration of the minority.

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel of East Carolina endorsed the resolution, saying it affirmed that the Episcopal Church was a member of the Anglican Communion. He disputed the statement that Lambeth 1.10 “represents the mind of the Anglican Communion on human sexuality,” saying it was the mind merely of the bishops at Lambeth in 1998. He proposed an amendment to the opening paragraph of the resolution that stated the Episcopal Church remained a “constituent” member of the Anglican Communion. There was no debate on the motion and it was adopted unopposed.

On the resolution as a whole, and the Bishop of Massachusetts, the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, urged adoption. “I don’t know how much more we can ask of people,” he said. “It is time now to act.” Bishop Mark Beckwith of Newark concurred, saying this resolution removed the taint of B033 and “offers a statement as to who we are.”

The Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls of Lexington, speaking in favor, said the resolution made no canonical changes and “does nothing other than to state what is true.” The Constitution and Canons “govern the discernment process,” he said, adding that “what this does is correct any misconception that B033 changed our canons.”

The Bishop coadjutor of Virginia, the Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston, said he “personally agrees with every word of the resolution,” but would vote against it as it “breaks faith” with the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Consultative Council “gave us a great gift” in postponing consideration of Section 4 of the Anglican Covenant draft. “Now we are shooting the gap” created by the delay, and changing the debate by rejecting the Windsor process.

“We can affirm all we want,” that we are constituent members of the Anglican Communion, but that does not make it so, Bishop Johnston argued. The “Communion is too much to lose,” he said, urging its defeat.

“If the resolution passes, the Episcopal Church will cease to be part of the Communion,” said Bishop William Love of Albany. He read out to the house the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement to the July 13 session of General Synod, which urged the bishops to defeat D025. Adopting the resolution would not simply “stress or tear the fabric” of the Communion, he said, “it would totally shred it.”

But Bishop Edwin Gulick of Kentucky disagreed, telling the house that the “passing of the resolution will not end the moratorium.” Distinguishing between intentions and actions, Bishop Gulick said the moratorium would be broken when the Episcopal Church consecrated a new gay bishop. He then turned to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and asked if this was not so. Bishop Jefferts Schori said that was “my understanding of it. We have been asked to exercise restraint, and we have done so.”

Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina turned to natural law and church teaching in support of rejecting the resolution.

Bishop William Gregg, Assistant Bishop of North Carolina, noted that “God was not calling us to consensus.” He stated that “when synod has made a decision, the decision becomes real when the whole body receives the decision.”

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori noted the lateness of the hour, and called the question. A roll call vote was taken and the house adopted the amended resolution 99 to 45 with two abstentions.

Unlike the scenes surrounding the affirmation of the election of Bishop Robinson at the 2003 General Convention, the bishops filed out of the House in somber mood, and no applause came from the gallery. While some bishops left the Robinson vote in 2003 in tears or singing the doxology, the July 13 vote ended with most exhausted.

Resolution D025 now goes back to the House of Deputies for concurrence.

Bishops Endorse Mandatory Health Plan: TLC 7.13.09 July 13, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church.

The House of Bishops has endorsed resolution A177 calling for a denomination-wide health insurance plan.

During the afternoon business session on July 12, the Rt. Rev. Gayle Harris, Suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts, introduced the resolution on behalf of the Church Pension Fund Committee. The “mandatory” plan offers health insurance coverage for all “clergy and lay employees who are scheduled to work a minimum of 1,500 hours annually.”

Bishop Harris told the house the proposal had been under review for several years and would result in extensive cost savings for the church as a whole. Approximately “95 percent of dioceses will see savings,” she said, as a denomination-wide plan would “spread the liability or risk” across the church. The plan provides a $5 million lifetime cap, compared to a private sector average of $2 million, and provides a “superior insurance product.”

It would be “portable within the Episcopal Church”, but would be subject to “local control” and dioceses “may allow some to opt out” of the plan if they have comparable or superior coverage from the private sector.

She added that “pension payments will not be used to subsidize health care.” For every dollar collected by the Medical Trust, “92 cents would be used to pay claims, 7 cents for administration, and 1 cent for reserves,”—a ratio not matched in the private sector insurance market.

The Bishop of Albany rose to question the mandatory nature of the policy, however Bishop Harris stated that dioceses “will always have the option for those who have equal or better insurance to opt out—but dioceses may not opt out.”

The Bishop of Western Louisiana noted that “we have congregations where the only way we have full-time clergy has been to allow them to go into another program for coverage.” The Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson said the proposed rates “will force some congregations to move to part-time clergy with no benefits.”

The Bishop of Alabama queried the plans “agility,” noting his diocese had moved from the Medical Trust, to a self-insured plan to a Health Savings Account high-deductable plan offered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield—each time seeking better coverage for a better cost. He asked whether a denominational program would be competitive without private sector pressure.

Bishop Harris responded that the program would be responsive to changing market conditions, but was also client friendly. The Medical Trust was a not for profit, she argued, and its primary goal is service to the customer.

Bishop James Adams of Western Kansas affirmed his colleague’s statement, saying his experience with the Medical Trust had been very good. “There are few people whom I trust apart from our Lord. One is the Medical Trust, the other is the Pension Fund,” he said.

Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina concurred, saying he had “utter confidence in the Church Pension Fund” and endorsed the program. The Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen, retired Bishop of Maine, urged the bishops to “capture this opportunity now.”

After a number of other bishops rose in support of the resolution, the matter was put to the vote and was endorsed by the House, with only two voices raised in opposition. If endorsed by the House of Deputies, the denomination plan will take effect in 2012.

Bishop Sauls–Archbishop Williams Misinformed: TLC 7.13.09 July 13, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been misinformed about the purpose and import of Resolution D025, the Bishop of Lexington told The Living Church at a July 13 press conference at the 76th General Convention in Anaheim, Calif.

On July 12, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams urged the House of Bishops to reject Resolution D025, saying “I regret the fact that there is not the will to observe the moratorium in such a significant part of the Church in North America but I can’t say more about that as I have no details.”

Bishop Sauls said Archbishop Williams was “laboring under a misconception,” about D025 and had been misled by the “sensational headlines” surrounding the resolution, which circumvents B033’s ban on consecrating gay clergy by affirming that “God has called and may call such individuals to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.”

He said he could “not get into Archbishop of Canterbury’s head” but if Archbishop Williams believed D025 offered anything new, he was mistaken. It simply “states the reality of this church.”

Minnesota Deputy Sally Johnson noted that D025 “does not repeal B033,” as it contained no language expressly overturning the 2006 resolution. General Convention was engaged “in a conversation on this controversial issue.”

The Rt. Rev. Michael Smith, Bishop of North Dakota, however stated that D025 was a “very serious issue in the life of the church,” and the bishops were “very sensitive” to the concerns of the wider church.

“We are aware of the gravity of the situation,” he said.

No date has been set for debate on D025 in the House of Bishops.

Archbishop urges bishops defeat D025:TLC 7.13.09 July 13, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England, Living Church.
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First printed in The Living Church.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has urged the House of Bishops to reject Resolution D025.

Responding to a question from a member of General Synod on July 12 about General Convention Resolution D025, Archbishop Williams said he regretted the direction taken by the House of Deputies in repealing Resolution B033 from the 2006 General Convention.

Resolution B033 had asked bishops and standing committees to refrain from affirming the election to the episcopate of gay and lesbian clergy, while D025 “affirms that God has called and may call such individuals to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.”

“As for General Convention, it remains to be seen I think whether the vote of the House of Deputies will be endorsed by the House of Bishops,” Archbishop Williams said. “If the House of Bishops chooses to block, then the moratorium remains. I regret the fact that there is not the will to observe the moratorium in such a significant part of the Church in North America, but I can’t say more about that as I have no details.”

The Rev Gay Jennings, co-chair of the committee on World Missions that crafted D025 told a July 12 press conference that the new resolution did nothing new. It offered no canonical changes, but was merely “saying who we are as a church.”

It is a misconception to say that it “was the Episcopal Church against the world wide Anglican Communion,” on this issue, Ms. Jennings said. “Many other churches were trying to respond to this question.”

She added that General Convention did not “wish to walk apart” from the communion, and hoped overseas Anglicans would hear the “struggle to do and to be what we are,” she said.

The Rt. Rev. Leo Frade, Bishop of Southeast Florida concurred, stating D025 “expresses who we are.”

However, te Rev. Charles Osberger, clergy deputy from Easton and another of the World Missions Commission, stated he had been one of the two “no” votes cast by the deputies in committee on D025. He said the Episcopal Church “will have to be accountable” for its actions, but the resolution did fairly “express how this church is grappling deeply” with these issues.

Presiding Bishop to English Synod: Don’t Foster Schism: TLC 7.13.09 July 13, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has told the Church of England to keep its hands off the Episcopal Church and not foster schism by entertaining ideas of endorsing the Anglican Church in North America.

“Schism is not a Christian act,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said on July 12 in response to questions from a reporter representing The Living Church concerning the private member’s motion that began circulating Friday among members of the General Synod meeting in York.

The motion has received the necessary 100 signatures from members of Synod to be laid before the committee for inclusion on the agenda in an upcoming session of the biannual meeting of the Church of England’s governing body. It asks “that this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America.”

Six bishops supported the amendment, including Beverly, Blackburn, Burnley, Europe, Rochester and Winchester.

The Rt. Rev. N.T. Wright also told Synod that the ACNA constitution and canons had been tabled before the House of Bishops Theology Committee for review in its coming meetings.

Bishop Jefferts Schori stated she was unaware of the contemporaneous developments at General Synod. “I’m afraid I’ve been tied up with things here,” she noted.

However, she stated he hoped the “Archbishop of Canterbury and other visitors from around the Communion” who had been guests of General Convention would have had the opportunity to hear from the Deputies and Bishops and “go home and talk about the pain of departures in church.”

The secessions of the ACNA had been a cause of pain, she said, pain for “many Episcopalians in several places of being shut out of their traditional worship spaces, and the broken relationships, the damaged relationships between people who have gone and people who have stayed.”

Were the Church of England to recognize the ACNA, it would “unfortunately only encourage more of that kind of behavior,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said.

Episcopal Bishop warns of further schism: Washington Times 7.13.09 p A3 July 13, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Washington Times.
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The presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church warned the Church of England not to foment schism in America, responding to a threat made over the possibility that the U.S. church will start ordaining actively gay bishops.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said Sunday, in response to questions from The Washington Times, that calls by conservatives in the Church of England for recognition of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) over gay-related issues would wound her church, already split by the secession of conservative dioceses and congregations to form the ACNA.

Read it all in The Washington Times.

Bishops Eye Cost of Swedes’ Same-Sex Blessings: TLC 7.13.09 July 13, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Church of England, Church of Sweden, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church

The Church of England has condemned the Church of Sweden’s authorization of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, saying the decision will impair relations between the two churches and threatens the “fragile unity” of the Anglican Communion.

Copies of the June 26 letter, written by the Church of England’s Archbishops’ Council to the Archbishop of Uppsala, began circulating among members of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops on July 12, and may factor into the bishops’ debate on same-sex blessings at General Convention.

Adopting same-sex blessings, one bishop told The Living Church, would put the Episcopal Church in the same place as the Church of Sweden and could lead to a breach with the Church of England and wider Anglican Communion.

Written by the Rt. Rev. Christopher Hill on behalf of the Council for Christian Unity and the Rt. Rev. John Hind on behalf of the Faith and Order Advisory Group, the letter said the adoption of same-sex blessings by the Church of Sweden was “problematic.”

“Although there is continuing debate among Anglican about human sexuality, the teaching and discipline of the Church of England, like that of the Anglican Communion as a whole as expressed in the Lambeth Conference of 1998, is that it is not right either to bless same-sex sexual relationships or to ordain those who are involved in them.

Last month the Central Board of the Church of Sweden voted to ask its Church Assembly to alter its prayer book, permitting same-sex couples to marry. On May 1, gender-neutral language for civil marriages went into effect in Sweden.

The Central Board wrote that marriage “is a social institution regulated by public authorities. From a perspective of theology of creation, the marriage has the purpose to support the internal relation between spouses and give a safe setting for the children growing up.”

“When the Church of Sweden sides on the issue of same-sex marriage, the most relevant question is if this hurt or helps people. The Church of Sweden wants to support faithful relationships,” Archbishop Anders Wejryd said. News of the revisions were forwarded to the Church of England—a church in full communion with the Church of Sweden under the Porvoo Agreements—for comment.

The Archbishops’ Council responded that “as we understand the situation” what was now being proposed was a “fundamental re-definition of marriage and of basic Christian anthropology.” Making marriage gender-neutral was “at odds with the Biblical teaching about the significance of God’s creation of human beings as male and female as this has been received by the Church of England and by the Catholic tradition in general.”

The adoption of gay marriage by the Swedish Church would have “immediate and negative ecumenical consequences” and would “lead to the impairment of the relationships” with “particular limitations of the inter-changeability of ordained ministry.”

Because of the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Anglican Communion, the Swedish decision “could also further undermine the fragile unity of the Anglican Communion.”

Motion in English Synod to Recognize ACNA: TLC 7.11.09 July 12, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church

A private member’s motion asking the Church of England to recognize the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has been submitted to the General Synod of the Church of England. While the motion will not come up for debate at the current meeting of Synod, it serves to sharpen the focus of the 76th General Convention on the consequences of backing away from the 2006 pledge made with Resolution B033.

Synod is meeting in York from the July 10-13. On July 10, a private member’s motion was submitted asking for a debate on the Church of England’s formal relationship with the ACNA. To be considered for debate, a private members motion must receive the support of 100 members of synod. Approximately 75 members have so far endorsed the motion.

Traditionally only one or two such motions are considered at each session of Synod, and in creating the agenda for forthcoming session, the Synod’s Business Committee generally looks to the number of signatures received in order to set the priority for debate.

Questions were also put to the Chairman of the House of Bishops and Chairman of the Ministry Division from members on the attitude of the House of Bishops to the ACNA. The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt. Rev. Michael Hill, told synod the House of Bishops there was no “representation” by the House of Bishops at the installation of the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan as Archbishop of the ACNA, and so far the bishops had not considered the question of the Church of England’s relationship with the ACNA.

But the Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev. N.T. Wright, told Synod the House of Bishops’ Theology Committee had agreed on July 10 to study the ACNA’s constitution and canons at their fall meeting.

Who had the authority to recognize the ACNA was not clear, Bishop Hill said, but would likely first be considered by the bishops.

The press by conservative members of General Synod for recognition of the ACNA as a formal part of the Anglican Communion comes the day after Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams urged General Convention not to back away from B033. At the July 9 Eucharist, Archbishop Williams thanked the Episcopal Church for its invitation to Anaheim, and “to share something of my mind with you; and so thank you too for your continuing willingness to engage with the wider life of our Communion.

“I do realize that this engagement has been, and still is, costly for different people in different ways,” he said. “Some feel impatient, some feel compromised, some feel harassed or undervalued, or that their good faith has been ungraciously received.”

The archbishop said he had come to California with “hopes and anxieties,” stating “I hope and pray that there won’t be decisions in the coming days that could push us further apart.”

However, he refrained from saying what the consequences might be of repudiating B033. The move to recognize the ACNA put forward by conservative members of General Synod appears to answer that question.

Bishops Approve Lay Pension Benefits: TLC 7.11.09 July 12, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church

Providing pension benefits to the lay church employees was a matter of justice that has been too long delayed, the Bishop of New Hampshire told members of the House of Bishops on the fourth legislative day of the 76th General Convention in Anaheim, Calif.

Rising to address the house following the introduction of Resolution A138: Establishing a mandatory lay employee pension system, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson said that as a member of the board of trustees of the Church Pension Fund (CPF) he could report that it had done due diligence in investigating the fiduciary implications of providing pensions to lay church employees who worked more than 20 hours a week.

“I can attest to you that the best resources and best people” at the CPF had been working on this plan, Bishop Robinson told the House.

However, the need to pay was independent of the ability to pay, Bishop Robinson said.

The lay pension program requires the church, its congregations and affiliated institutions to provide pension benefits to lay employees working more than 1,000 hours per year.

The employees could chose a defined benefit plan, which would vest after five years and would be portable within the Episcopal Church, or a defined contribution plan which would, according to the plan chosen by the diocese, vest immediately, or up to five years after the start of employment, and would be fully portable

The plan would be mandatory, the Rt. Rev Gayle Harris, Suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts and chairman of the Church Pension Fund committee at General Convention, told the house. Parishes would not be unduly burdened by the costs of the new benefit, which she said would be $20.80 per pledge unit per year.

The Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen, retired Bishop of Maine, urged adoption of the resolution. This was a “matter of justice and a matter of the health of the soul of the church,” she said.

However, the Bishop of Springfield, the Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, questioned the mandatory provisions of the resolution, stating the “feedback” he had had from his diocese was that there were “a number of people who don’t want or don’t need” this plan.

“If enacted,” he said, this “will cause heartburn and difficulties” for small parishes, and would serve to drive down lay wages. The additional costs would lead some churches to reduce the hours worked of their employees below the threshold of 1,000 hours, or lead to layoffs.

“The concept is great,” Bishop Beckwith said, “but to make it mandatory will cause injustice.”

The Rt. Rev. Claude Payne, retired Bishop of Texas and member of trustee of the CPF said “this was the best we could come up with,” and spoke of his own secretary, now in her 90s, who had no pension benefits from the church following a lifetime of service.

Denying pension benefits to lay employees was racist, the Rt. Rev. Nathan Baxter of Central Pennsylvania observed, noting that many sextons and church workers were African-Americans and often left a life time of service to a church or school with “a handshake or a purse.”

The Assistant Bishop of California, the Rt. Rev. Stephen Charleston, reminded the House that his own service to the Episcopal Church began as a lay assistant to former President Bishop John Hines. Those years were not credited to his clergy pension and as retirement approached, he was conscious of their loss to his finances.

The Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, retired Bishop of Virginia, told the house that offering pension benefits to the church’s lay employees was a natural “consequence of the Baptismal theology adopted by the Episcopal Church in the 1979 Prayer Book.”

However, the Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. William Love pressed the committee on the point of portability, saying it not all church secretaries spent their entire careers within the Episcopal Church. Without portability of benefits, church workers would be “short changed,” with the CPF keeping funds set aside, but not yet vested. The Bishop of the American Convocation of Churches in Europe, the Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon rose also to voice concerns about portability.

The Bishop of Oklahoma, the Rt. Rev. Edward J. Konieczny, a member of the CPF trustees, sought to reassure the House on this point, and the resolution was adopted on a voice vote with five voices in opposition.

Bishops Debate Proposed Additions to Church Calendar: TLC 7.11.09 July 11, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church.

The question, “Who are the saints and how are they known?”, animated discussions of resolutions proposing revisions of the church calendar and the Book of Occasional Service on Friday, the third legislative day of the House of Bishops, at the 76th General Convention in Anaheim, Calif.

The philosophical and theological debate arose during discussions of Resolutions A096: Church Calendar, Additional Calendar Commemorations; A097 Lesser Feasts and Fasts: Authorize Trial Use of Commemorations; A098: Lesser Feasts and Fasts: Holy Women, Holy Men Revision Principles; and A089: Liturgy Daily Prayer.

Rising on behalf of the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music, the retired Suffragan Bishop of Connecticut, the Rt. Rev. Jeffery Rowthorn, said eight years of “hard work” had gone into producing a calendar of “holy women, holy men,” and was being offered for “optional observance and for trial use.”

The new calendar was “more representative across time of space of Christian witness than any other calendar” in the Christian world and offered an “extraordinary array of men and women empowered by the Spirit for the work of ministry,” Bishop Rowthorn said.

The Bishop Arizona, the Rt. Rev. Kirk S. Smith, rose, however, to protest the way the new saints had been chosen, arguing the new book turned on its head the traditional customs of how Christians came to venerate worthy saints. It was “an attempt to impose an educational agenda” by imposing worthy but “p.c. people” onto the church.

He added that he had “some real questions” about the “orthodoxy of some of the people” selected, and called for the church to return to the custom of “local veneration”– selecting the saints through a “bottom up rather than a top down” process.

The Suffragan Bishop of New York, the Rt. Rev. Catherine S. Roskam, rose and asked the chairman whether the new book conflated actions and individuals. While she favored adding more women to the calendar, the new book had conflated “women’s ministries with honoring women.”

The Bishop of Missouri, the Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith, noted the resolution offered the book for trial use and the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Church Music welcomed comments in the coming triennium.

Turning to Resolution A097, Lesser Feasts and Fasts, the Bishop of Minnesota, the Rt. Rev. James Jelinek, urged a revision of the new book by removing the English language texts of the Rite 1 collect, and replacing them with a Spanish language version.

“Rite 1 is the language of the past … it is evangelism for English teachers,” while “Spanish is the language of the future of the church,” Bishop Jelinek said.

Several bishops rose in opposition to Bishop Jelinek’s motion, including the Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon of the American Convocation of Churches in Europe, who noted that all documents produced by the church already must be translated into Spanish and French.

The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold III welcomed the spirit of the Jelinek motion, but noted that “usually there is a biographical sketch, lessons” and other materials linked to the collect, asking whether it would be unwise, unwieldy, and aesthetically challenging to substitute a Spanish for English language prayer.

The Rt. Rev. David Reed, Suffragan Bishop of West Texas, stated he had a “great love for the language of Rite 1” and was “uneasy” with attempts to remove it from the worshipping life of the church.

“I have always defended the right of people to speak Spanish in the church,” the Rt. Rev. Leo Frade, Bishop of Southeast Florida, said. “I must defend the right of people to speak English,” he said, urging rejection of the Jelinek resolution, which was defeated on a voice vote from the house.

The retired Bishop of Chicago, the Rt. Rev. William Purcell, then rose to speak of his unease with the gender-neutral language of some of the collects, which showed a “desire to omit the word, ‘Father’.”

It was “confusing to remove the ‘Father’ when we also say ‘Son’ and ‘Holy Spirit’,” the bishop said, noting that such language confused the Trinitarian language of the rites. The resolution was put to the house and passed on a divided voice vote.

At the start of the afternoon session, Bishop Smith of Missouri said the “principles of inclusion” in the new edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts were not to select only the “heroes of the faith,” but also to add the “humdrum workers of the faith” by whose actions the faith was strengthened and propagated.

The Rt. Rev. William O. Gregg, Assistant Bishop of North Carolina, rose to speak in opposition to Resolution A098. He said he was “concerned that saints are about honoring people and their lives, not their works.”

The Bishop of Kansas, the Rt. Rev. Dean Wolfe concurred, saying that while he believed that one of the new additions to the calendar, James Muir, was “a great photographer,” his words were not always “edifying to the people.”

Personal holiness was not always a criteria for recognition, the Bishop of Bethlehem, the Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall said, noting that we know little of the state of Handel’s soul, but many were able to experience the divine though the gift of his music.

Bishop Smith of Missouri added that some of those included in the calendar were modern versions of the “Doctors of the Church,” such as Thomas Aquinas. “Aquinas did not live a life of heroic effort, and we nothing of him apart from his work,” he said, yet he has been honored by the Western Church for his theological works.

Bishop Smith of Arizona asked the House to amend A098, instructing the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Church Music to review the names of those selected for inclusion in the calendar. The amendment was accepted by the house by a show of hands, and the resolution adopted on a voice vote.

Resolution A089 was an omnibus bill that covered “all funding aspects of SCLM,” Bishop Smith of Missouri told the House.

The Rt. Rev. Charles Keyser, retired Suffragan Bishop for the Armed Forces and Assistant Bishop of Florida, urged adoption of the resolution, saying its provisions for prayers for the adoption of children would be most welcome.

Bishop Whalon concurred, telling the house he had used with great profit similar Roman Catholic prayers when he and his wife adopted their daughter.

A question was put to the chairman, what was meant by the term “Christian anti-Judaism”? — a term condemned by the resolution, which directed the SCLM to “collect, develop and disseminate materials that assist members of the Church to address Christian anti-Judaism expressed in and stirred by portions of Christian scriptures and liturgical texts.”

Bishop Smith of Missouri explained that “anti-Judaism” moved beyond anti-Semitism. It was not a “racial category but refers to the religious practices of our forbearers and referred to the Good Friday liturgy” from the church’s history.

The retired Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt. Rev. Douglas Theuner, warned the house that it needed to be “prepared to explain” what it meant by “Christian anti-Judaism,” as the explanations offered so far were unclear.

After the session closed, the Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls, Bishop of Lexington, conceded that we “were all confused” by distinctions being drawn between anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism, but said he understood the resolution to be asking the church to step back from some its historical liturgies and statements, such as the 1662 Book of Common Prayers Good Friday Solemn Collects that were “prejudiced” against the Jews.

The press briefing officer for the House of Bishops, the Rt. Rev. James Mathes of San Diego, directed those with questions to the Convention Journal report where “all was explained.”

The Rt. Rev. Dabney Smith of Southwest Florida asked the house why the Book of Occasional Services was being revised at this time. Bishop Smith of Missouri responded the current book was a result of over 20 years of additions and it was now “time to step back” and review the book as a whole, as it now lacked editorial “coherence.”

The House passed the resolution on a voice vote, with only a handful of objections.

GC Anaheim: Superbowl bets settled July 11, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Anglican Album (Photos), Living Church.
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Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona (left) and Bishop Wendell Gibbs of Michigan (right) sport Pittsburgh-themed team apparel after losing friendly football and hockey bets respectively with the Rt. Rev. Robert C. Johnson, interim Bishop of Pittsburgh. The vanquished bishops had to wear Pittsburgh team colors during Friday's session.

Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona (left) and Bishop Wendell Gibbs of Michigan (right) sport Pittsburgh-themed team apparel after losing friendly football and hockey bets respectively with the Rt. Rev. Robert C. Johnson, interim Bishop of Pittsburgh. The vanquished bishops had to wear Pittsburgh team colors during Friday's session.

Bishops Join Central Ecuador Consent Controversy: TLC 7.10.09 July 11, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church

A tissue of lies was all that supported claims made by three of the four deputies from the Diocese of Central Ecuador that the episcopal election process in their diocese was corrupt, the Rt. Rev. Wilfrido Ramos-Orench told the House of Bishops at the close of their afternoon session on July 10.

The Rev. Luis Fernando Ruiz was elected Bishop of Central Ecuador by the House of Bishops March 17 after the diocesan convention deadlocked 18-18. Bishop Ramos, the Provisional Bishop of Central Ecuador, broke the tie by sending it to the House of Bishops for resolution.

However, during the July 10 afternoon session of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Lourdes Inapanta, clergy deputy from Central Ecuador asked the deputies to reject Resolution B023 affirming his election. A clerical error prevented Fr. Ruiz’s elections materials from being distributed to the deputies, and the vote was postponed.

At the close of the simultaneous session of the House of Bishops, the Rt. Rev. Francisco Duque, Bishop of Colombia, rose on a point of personal privilege and told the bishops he had been approached by Spanish-speaking deputies, concerned by what they had been told about the election by the Central Ecuador delegation.

Included among the papers distributed to the bishops for that session, was Resolution D050 submitted by Ms. Inapanta, which asked for new elections in the diocese, citing 13 flaws in Fr. Ruiz election.

Bishop Duque told the bishops that certain “unjust remarks” had been uttered against Fr. Ruiz and Bishop Ramos, and he asked Bishop Ramos to clear the air over the allegations.

Bishop Ramos told the bishops the “last 48 hours have been very painful. The integrity of the process has been challenged. My integrity, my reputation is at stake.

“One of our delegates is making lies,” he said, and “I feel betrayed.”

Bishop Ramos said the bishop-elect was a “man of integrity” and if “we don’t move forward it could be disastrous for the future of the diocese.”

The Presiding Bishop’s Deputy for Pastoral Development, the Rt. Rev. Clayton Matthews, told the house that the former Bishop of Central Ecuador, the Rt. Rev. Neptali Larrea, had been deposed unanimously in 2005. An investigation subsequently found that no elections had been held since 1979 for the Standing Committee.

The Episcopal Church has been helping Central Ecuador “become an Episcopal diocese” once again, he said, and had engaged the Rev. Gay Jennings to serve as a consultant to the diocese. Fr. Riuz’s election had been conducted according to “best practices,” Bishop Matthews said.

Bishop Ramos stated the Committee on Consecration of Bishops had given Fr. Ruiz its unanimous consent, and urged the bishops to support their choice. Central Ecuador verged on falling back into the “dysfunctional system” and could regress to “where we were before,” unless the bishops stood firm.

Outreach Not Sheep Stealing, Bishop Frade Contends: TLC 7.10.09 July 11, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church, Roman Catholic Church.
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First published in The Living Church

Sheep stealing is not the motive for the Episcopal Church’s outreach to Hispanics the Bishop of Southeast Florida told a July 9 press conference at General Convention in Anaheim, but a response to the pastoral and spiritual needs of the fastest growing segment of the American population.

The Rt. Rev. Leo Frade lauded proposed Resolution B038, which he said would “provide for the full inclusion of Hispanics into the life of the church,” by allocating funds for printing Spanish language materials. “We are not going to steal sheep,” by printing prayer books and catechetical materials in Spanish, he said, but will give the church the “tools we need” to reach the un-churched.

The bishop’s comments were made against the backdrop of the visit to General Convention by former Roman Catholic radio priest Fr. Alberto Cutié and his wife, Ruhama Buni Canellis. Fr. and Mrs. Cutié attended the lecture on the world economic crisis given on July 8 by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and socialized with Hispanic bishops and deputies the next day.

Bishop Frade rejected allegations made by Roman Catholic commentators that his reception Fr. Cutié was an act of opportunity, calculated to recruit South Florida Hispanics into the Episcopal Church. Fr. Cutié was “a person like many others” who was engaged on a spiritual journey, the bishop said.

Bishop Frade said that Fr. Cutié had been praying about the move for two years, and had come to the belief that he preferred the Episcopal Church’s stance “not only on gays, but on divorced people and on birth control” to that of the Roman Catholic Church.

Taking his concerns over priestly celibacy to the Roman Catholic hierarchy would have led to his being “put in the funny farm” to be retrained, Bishop Frade said.

On May 5, TVnotas published photos of Fr. Cutié—the host of the Archdiocese of Miami’s Spanish language Catholic Radio program which is broadcast across Latin and Central America, drawing over 22 million viewers—in an amorous embrace with a woman identified as Ms. Canellis. Roman Catholic Archbishop John Favalora of Miami suspended Fr. Cutié from his parochial duties pending an investigation, but on May 28 Ms. Canellis and Fr. Cutié were received into the Episcopal Church, and announced that after a two year relationship, they were to be married.

Archbishop Favalora complained that Fr. Cutié had not been released from his vows as a Roman Catholic priest and had not submitted to the discipline of the Church.

“Bishop Frade has never spoken to me about his position on this delicate matter, or what actions he was contemplating,” Archbishop Favalora said. “I have only heard from him through the local media. This truly is a serious setback for ecumenical relations and cooperation between us.”

The Archbishop’s claims were overblown, Bishop Frade said. The “Archdiocese of Miami is not necessarily an ecumenically minded diocese,” he noted, adding he had not spoken with the Archbishop for four years.

Fr. Cutié “fell in love. Now he kisses [Ms. Canellis] and nobody pays attention,” the bishop said.

Bishop Frade added that he would not stand in the any of those whose spiritual journey had led them to the Episcopal Church. The “road to and from Rome and Canterbury,” has been so busy “that we will need to put in a traffic light,” the bishop said.