jump to navigation

Pastoral Visitors Hold Inaugural Meeting: TLC 3.02.09 March 2, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Living Church, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

First printed in The Living Church magazine.

A team of pastoral visitors appointed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams held its first meeting last week at Virginia Theological Seminary.

Created in response to the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group’s report to the primates’ meeting in Egypt last month, Archbishop Williams said the pastoral visitors will “act as consultants in situations of stress and conflict” across the Anglican Communion.

The pastoral visitors met at Virginia Theological Seminary Feb. 25-28 for an initial briefing facilitated by the Rt. Rev. Peter Price, Bishop of Bath and Wells in the Church of England.

Participants received reports on the Anglican Covenant design process from the Very Rev. Ephraim Radner, dean of Wycliffe Theological Seminary in Toronto, and from the Rt. Rev Gary Lillibridge, Bishop of West Texas, on the work of the Windsor Continuation Group.

The Rev. Canon Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop, and the Rt. Rev. Herbert Donovan, deputy to the Presiding Bishop for Anglican Communion relations, gave the pastoral visitors an overview of the situation in The Episcopal Church, while the Ven. Paul Fehely, principal secretary to the primate, summed up the situation in the Anglican Church of Canada.

Appointed by Archbishop Williams to the pastoral visitor team were:

* The Rt. Rev. Santosh Marray, who retired in 2008 as Bishop of the Seychelles in the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean. Bishop Marray served in the Diocese of Florida at the time of his election in 2005, and is presently a member of the Anglican Covenant Design Group.

* The Rt. Rev. Colin Bennetts, retired Bishop of Coventry in the Church of England. He also serves as chairman of the International Centre for Reconciliation (ICR) based at Coventry Cathedral.

* The Very Rev. Justin Welby, dean of Liverpool Cathedral (England). Dean Welby was formerly sub dean and canon for reconciliation ministry at Coventry Cathedral.

* The Rt. Rev. Simon Chiwanga, retired Bishop of Mwapwa in the Anglican Church of Tanzania. For 18 years he served on the Anglican Consultative Council.

* The Rev. Canon Chad Gandiya, former dean of Bishop Gaul Theological College in Harare, Zimbabwe, and now serves as the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel’s regional desk officer for Africa.

* Maj. General Tim Cross, former chief logistics officer in the British Army. Gen. Cross was deputy head of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in Iraq. He is also a visiting professor at Nottingham and Cranfield universities.

Advertisements

Primates Welcome New Patriarch: CEN 2.20.09 p 8. February 22, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2009, Russian Orthodox.
comments closed
The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Cyril I

The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Cyril I

The Primates of the Anglican Communion have written to Cyril I (Kyrill) congratulating him upon his election as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

In a letter dated Feb 2 sent from the 2009 Primates Meeting in Alexandria, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams conveyed the primates “warm and fraternal greetings to you, our brother in Christ, on your election to the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia. This is an ancient and noble office, and one to which all the Christian world looks for an exemplary Christian witness.”

The churches of the Anglican Communion, Dr. Williams said, had “always valued and respected their links to the Orthodox Churches, and not least their warm relations with the Patriarchate of Moscow, and we trust that these fraternal bonds may be upheld and sustained in the years ahead as you embark on your ministry.”

Pope Benedict XVI earlier welcomed Cyril’s election writing, “May the Almighty also bless your efforts to seek that fullness of communion which is the goal of Catholic-Orthodox collaboration and dialogue.”

Metropolitan Cyril of Smolensk and Kaliningrad was elected Patriarch in a secret ballot Jan. 27 at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. The son and grandson of priests, Cyril led the church’s department for external relations since 1989. He received 508 of the 700 votes cast by delegates to the church’s Senior Council, defeating conservative rival, Metropolitan Clement of Kaluga and Borovsk, who received 169 votes. The third candidate nominated by bishops, Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, withdrew before the vote and urged his supporters to back Metropolitan Cyril.

Considered the most progressive of the three candidates, Cyril had championed closer relations with the Roman Catholic and Western Churches. However, in an interview with reporters on Dec 29, Cyril said he was strongly opposed to any church reforms.

“The Church is conservative by nature, as it maintains the apostolic belief,” he told the Inter-Fax news agency. “If we want to pass the belief from one generation to another for centuries, the belief must be intact. Any reform damaging the belief, traditions and values is called heresy,” he said.

During the 2008 Lambeth Conference the Russian Orthodox Church warned Dr. Williams that the consecration of women bishops and further liberalizations on gay clergy would end irreparably damage Anglican-Orthodox relations. Following the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 the Russian Orthodox Church ended all ecumenical contacts with the Episcopal Church.

Cyril has also been a staunch supporter of President Vladimir Putin, and like the Russian leader is alleged to have served in the KGB. An examination of the KGB’s archives by a committee of the Russian Duma, or parliament, led by dissident priest Fr. Gleb Yakunin in 1992 found that many of Russia’s bishops were agents of the KGB. The former Patriarch, Alexy II was identified as an agent codenamed “drosdov” (blackbird) while Cyril was alleged to be an agent code named Mikhailov. All three candidates for election as Patriarch on Jan 27, Cyril, Clement and Filaret were alleged to have been one time agents of the KGB.

Scenes from Alexandria: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for Anglican Affairs February 21, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Archbishop of Canterbury, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Rev Canon Joanna Udal, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Secretary for Anglican Communion Affairs.  Photo taken Feb 5, 2009 in Alexandria, Egypt

The Rev Canon Joanna Udal, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Secretary for Anglican Communion Affairs. Photo taken Feb 5, 2009 in Alexandria, Egypt

Scenes from Alexandria: Indian Ocean and Tanzania February 21, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Anglican Church of Tanzania, Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primates of the Indian Ocean and Tanzania, Archbishops Ian Ernest and Valentino Mokiwa

The Primates of the Indian Ocean and Tanzania, Archbishops Ian Ernest and Valentino Mokiwa

Scenes from Alexandria: A troop of primates February 21, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
A break in the action of the 2009 Primates meeting in Alexandria.

A break in the action of the 2009 Primates meeting in Alexandria.

Scenes from Alexandria: Hong Kong and South America February 21, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primates of Hong Kong and South America, Paul Kwong and Gregory Venables on Feb 1 at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria.

The Primates of Hong Kong and South America, Paul Kwong and Gregory Venables on Feb 1 at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria.

Scenes from Alexandria: Mexico February 21, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primate of Mexico, Archbishop Carlos Touche-Porter on Feb 1 at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria.

The Primate of Mexico, Archbishop Carlos Touche-Porter on Feb 1 at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria.

Scenes from Alexandria: The Press February 21, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
Matthew Davies of ENS interviewing some of the primates during a break in the meeting at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria.

Matthew Davies of ENS interviewing some of the primates during a break in the meeting at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria.

Scenes from Alexandria: US and York February 20, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Archbishop of York, Living Church, Primates Meeting 2009, The Episcopal Church.
comments closed
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Archbishop of York conferring at the Primates Meeting  in Alexandria. First published in The Living Church magazine.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Archbishop of York conferring at the Primates Meeting in Alexandria. First published in The Living Church magazine.

Scenes from Alexandria: West Africa February 20, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church of the Province of West Africa, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primate of West Africa, Archbishop Justice Akrofi of Accra at St Mark's Cathedral on Feb 1, 2009

The Primate of West Africa, Archbishop Justice Akrofi of Accra at St Mark's Cathedral on Feb 1, 2009

Scenes from Alexandria: The West Indies February 20, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church of the Province of the West Indies, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Rt. Rev. Errol Brooks, Bishop of Northeast Caribbean and Aruba at St Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009.

The Rt. Rev. Errol Brooks, Bishop of Northeast Caribbean and Aruba at St Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009.

Scenes from Alexandria: Burundi and Rwanda February 20, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Anglican Church of Burundi, Anglican Church of Rwanda, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primates of Burundi and Rwanda, Archbishops Bernard Ntahoturi and Emmanuel Kolini at St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009.

The Primates of Burundi and Rwanda, Archbishops Bernard Ntahoturi and Emmanuel Kolini at St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009.

Scenes from Alexandria: Southeast Asia February 20, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church of the Province of South East Asia, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primate of Southeast Asia, Archbishop John Chew of Singapore at St Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009

The Primate of Southeast Asia, Archbishop John Chew of Singapore at St Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009

Scenes from Alexandria: Egypt February 20, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The former Bishop of Egypt, the Rt. Rev Ghais Malik at St Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009.

The former Bishop of Egypt, the Rt. Rev Ghais Malik at St Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009.

Scenes from Alexandria: Ireland February 20, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church of Ireland, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Alan Harper of Armagh outside of St Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009.

The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Alan Harper of Armagh outside of St Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009.

Scenes from Alexandria: Wales & Australia February 20, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Anglican Church of Australia, Church in Wales, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primate of Wales, Archbishop Barry Morgan, and the Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Aspinall entering St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt on Feb 1, 2009

The Primate of Wales, Archbishop Barry Morgan, and the Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Aspinall entering St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt on Feb 1, 2009

Scenes from Alexandria: The Primates plus one. February 18, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primates gathered for a group photo, with the Guardian's Riazatt But.

The Primates gathered for a group photo, with the Guardian's Riazat Butt.

Scenes from Alexandria: The Archbishop of Canterbury February 18, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church of England, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams at St Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams at St Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009

Scenes from Alexandria: Wales February 18, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church in Wales, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primate of the Church in Wales, the Most Rev. Barry Morgan and hte Bishop-elect of St. Asaph, Canon Gregory Cameron outside St. Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009

The Primate of the Church in Wales, the Most Rev. Barry Morgan, Mrs. Morgan, and the Bishop-elect of St. Asaph, Canon Gregory Cameron outside St. Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009

Scenes from Alexandria: Canada February 18, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Anglican Church of Canada, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primate of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz outside St Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009.

The Primate of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz outside St Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009.

Scenes from Alexandria: Southern Africa February 18, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primate of Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town outside St Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009

The Primate of Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town outside St Mark's Cathedral, Alexandria on Feb 1, 2009

Scenes from Alexandria: Southern Cone February 18, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primate of the Southern Cone, Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina

The Primate of the Southern Cone, Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina

Scenes from Alexandria: Nigeria February 18, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church of Nigeria, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola outside St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, Feb 1, 2009

The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola outside St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, Feb 1, 2009

Mixed reactions greet Alexandria communique: CEN 2.13.09 p 7. February 14, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Liberals and conservatives have voiced mix reactions to the Alexandria letter to the church from the 2009 primates meeting. Pressure groups on the left and right have reacted with dismay to the centrist approach taken by the document, while primates on both sides of the political spectrum have endorsed the document.

On Feb 5 US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told a reporter from the Episcopal News Service that she was encouraged by the tone of the communiqué. However, the call for continued “gracious restraint” made by the primates would have to be addressed by the General Convention in July.

“We are going to have to have honest conversations about who we are as a church and the value we place on our relationships and mission opportunities with other parts of the communion and how we can be faithful with many spheres of relationship at the same time,” she said.

“That is tension-producing and will be anxiety-producing for many, but we are a people that live in hope, not in instant solutions but in faithfulness to God,” the Presiding Bishop added.

Conservative primates gave the agreement high marks. “Archbishop Peter Akinola is pleased, I’m pleased, my brother Henry [Orombi] is pleased” with the outcome of the meeting, Bishop Venables told The Church of England Newspaper on Feb 5.

Alexandria had been a cathartic moment for the primates, Bishop Venables explained. “There is the recognition that this whole thing is falling to bits.” Past statements had left him feeling “is this just pushing the ball forward down the pitch?” In Alexandria the primates agreed “this is a broken communion. Let’s start with that and see where we go,” he said.

For traditionalists two different faiths were in contention. “A liberal expression of Christianity is not Christianity” as we know it, Bishop Venables said. Addressing this gap need take place before structural or legislative solutions were imposed on the church.

There was a visible and an invisible church, they said. “Being an Anglican without knowing Jesus” conferred membership “in a club” and not in the true church, Archbishop Orombi said. Acknowledging this division, they said, was a necessary step towards resolving the disputes.

Pressure groups gave mixed responses to the Alexandria Communiqué. In an unusual convergence of views, the Church Society and Integrity—a conservative evangelical group and a gay lobbying group—criticized the communiqué and the primates for usurping its authority.

On Feb 6, the Rev. David Philips for the Church Society argued the primates were not the proper body to deal with the disputes of doctrine and disciple within the Communion. He argued that “though there is honour and respect shown to the four instruments of Communion no international body exercises judicial authority over any of the constituent parts.”

The Rev. Susan Russell of Integrity also stated the primates had not the authority to dictate terms of the Episcopal Church. The moratorium against gay bishops and blessing endorsed by the primates is a “matter for General Convention” of the Episcopal Church, she argued.

However the two strongly parted company on the implications of the communiqué. Mr. Philips observed that while the “Lambeth Conference is dysfunctional and the Primates Meeting appears to be impotent,” a number of provinces were taking action against the Episcopal Church.

“Several provinces broke fellowship with the US and Canadian provinces” and were supporting the breakaway Anglican congregations of North America. “This is how the Communion is supposed to work.”

Ms. Russell argued the gay moratorium serves to scapegoat “a percentage of the baptized by excluding them from a percentage of the sacraments of the Body of Christ is participating in the appeasement of bigotry.” She said her group would campaign to overturn the Episcopal Church’s current agreement to ban gay bishops and blessings.

Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, whose deposition by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori drew harsh comment from the primates in Alexandria, gave a cautious welcome to the document. Writing on Feb 6 he said he was “grateful for the public recognition” by Archbishop Rowan Williams and the primates that the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) desired to remain Anglican and “be Anglican and to be in relationship with the Anglican Communion.”

CANA Bishop Martyn Minns applauded the communiqué’s “consistent stand for biblical truth and the importance of reconciliation between all peoples and their Creator,” the “unanimous reaffirmation of the entirety of Lambeth 1:10 as the Church’s teaching on human sexuality,” and the call for a “period of gracious restraint.”

However, Bishop Minns noted that he was not optimistic the Episcopal Church would honor the primates’ requests as it “continues to initiate punitive litigation on a massive scale. To date, there are at least 56 lawsuits initiated by The Episcopal Church, or its dioceses, against individual churches, clergy and vestries across the country.”

‘No schism in the communion’ Dr Williams tells the primates: CEN 2.13.09 p 7. February 14, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

There is no schism in the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury declared at the close of the 2009 primates meeting in Alexandria, Egypt.

However, the 35 Anglican leaders gathered Feb 1-5 at the Helnan Palestine Hotel formally acknowledged the “deep divisions” and impasse over seemingly “irreconcilable” differences on doctrine and discipline surrounding homosexuality.

Over four days of closed door meetings, the primates received presentations on the Sudan, Zimbabwe, global warming, the international financial crisis and the coordination of the church’s independent relief and development agencies. However, the focus of the conference, Dr. Rowan Williams explained on Feb 5 had been “ecclesiology. What kind of church are we?”

The closing communiqué stated the communion was beset by “mistrust” and theological tension. The way forward, in the short term, was for Dr. Williams to “initiate a professionally mediated conversation which engages all parties at the earliest opportunity” and to appoint “pastoral visitors” to act as “consultants in situations of stress and conflict.”

The way out of the impasse would be found in an Anglican Covenant, which would set the parameters of common Anglican polity, the primates said. “Unless the Covenant is robust and accepted, the federal model is on the horizon” for the Anglican Communion, Dr. Williams told a press conference at the close of the meeting.

The communiqué reaffirmed the church’s teachings on human sexuality, as stated in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, called for a continued and broadened “Listening Process” that Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda said meant including the voices of conservatives, and affirmed the moratoria on gay bishops and blessings, and violations of ecclesial jurisdictions.

Dr. Williams conceded that the “moratoria are holding rather badly on both sides” but added that they were not “completely ignored.” Cross-border violations and gay blessings continued, but he said that the third moratorium had held as there were no new gay bishops. “We are trying to see the glass as half full and not half empty,” he explained.

He outlined three points he thought salient to the week’s discussions brought by a report given by the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG). The WCG had urged a shift in the ecclesiological relations within the Communion. Dr. Williams said these called for a “shift of focus” from a church perceiving itself to be “autonomous with accountability added on” to one where a church saw itself as “autonomous and accountable.”

The WCG also urged a rethink of the relationship between the four instruments of Communion: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council.

The breakaway groups in the US and Canada remained part of the Anglican Communion, Dr Williams reported, but their “institutional relationship” remained “unclear.” The primates also condemned the deposition of the breakaway bishops and clergy in North America. The communiqué “deplores” these “actions that deepen division or give rise to suspicion or hostility,” Dr. Williams said, citing the text of the communiqué.

The primates also backed the WCG’s recommendation for mediation between the ACNA and the US and Canadian Churches. Dr. Williams said that a mediation process had begun in Brazil between the Diocese of Recife and the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, and he hoped this would lead to an eventual reconciliation.

Outside the meeting, conservatives voiced skepticism that mediation would work. Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker noted the Panel of Reference created after the 2005 primates meeting was given a similar mandate and its recommendations had been ignored by the Episcopal Church. The Bishop of Recife, the Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti stated he was unaware of any mediation project underway between his diocese the Brazilian church.

However, Dr. Williams said the effort to reconcile the divided church was worth making.

Primates tell Mugabe to go: CEN 2.06.09 p 1. February 11, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2009, Zimbabwe.
comments closed

The primates of the Anglican Communion have issued a plea for the international community to intervene in Zimbabwe, but have stopped short of backing Archbishop of York John Sentamu’s call for armed intervention.

On Feb 2 the leaders of the Anglican Communion held a closed door session on the situation in Zimbabwe and heard presentations from the Primate of Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makogba and the Dean of Central Africa, Bishop Albert Chama. In a statement released the next day, the archbishops offered their prayers and love in a time of cholera and societal collapse to the embattled people of the Central African country, telling them that they had not been forgotten.

Yet the world must act, the archbishops said, and take steps to end the crisis “due directly to the deteriorating socio-political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.”

The regime should a “total disregard for life” and was responsible for the “systematic kidnap, torture and killing of the Zimbabwean people” they said. The primates had no faith that any power sharing agreement with President Mugabe would work and called upon him “to respect the outcome of the elections of 2008 and to step down. We call for the implementation of the rule of law and the restoration of democratic processes.”

The primates asked the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop Ian Earnest of the Indian Ocean as chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) to appoint a representative to Zimbabwe on behalf of the Communion, “to exercise a ministry of presence and to show solidarity with the Zimbabwean people.” In 1985 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie appointed the Rt. Rev. Keith Sutton, Bishop of Lichfield as his envoy to South Africa to support the anti-apartheid campaign.

They asked CAPA and the All African Council of Churches to meet with Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, the head of the African Union, and urge Africa’s political leaders to take action to end the regime.

In a press conference held following the release of the statement, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town said that on March 31, 2008 the people of Zimbabwe spoke “loud and clear,” saying that Robert Mugabe “needs to step down.”

However, Archbishop Makgoba declined to endorse Archbishop John Sentamu’s Dec 7 call for armed intervention to end the regime. “In a situation of war, of high or low intensity” it was the poor not the powerful who suffered, he said.

The international community should “explore all available avenues before you through in the towel” and use force to effect regime change in Zimbabwe, Archbishop Makgoba said.

Archbishop Makgoba called for quick action as the potential for violence was high. “We are worried about the signs we see,” he said, adding that the regime had had a history of violence. “We know in Matabeleland how many people were killed,” he said, in reference to the 1983 massacres of tens of thousands of political and tribal opponents of Robert Mugabe by units of the Zimbabwean army.

Scenes from Alexandria: The Episcopal Church February 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Primates Meeting 2009, The Episcopal Church.
comments closed
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church following her presentation on Feb 2 to the Primates Meeting in Alexandria

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church following her presentation on Feb 2 to the Primates Meeting in Alexandria

Scenes from Alexandria: Melanesia February 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Anglican Church of Melanesia, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Rt. Rev. Charles Koete, Bishop of the Central Solomon Islands and senior bishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia

The Rt. Rev. Charles Koete, Bishop of the Central Solomon Islands and senior bishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia

Anglican primates agree mediation programme: CEN 2.06.09 February 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

First published in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Anglican primates have endorsed a mediation programme to reconcile liberals and conservatives. A report backed by the heads of all the Anglican provinces around the world has put forward the innovative proposal as a way to settle the dispute between conservatives, who oppose the ordination of homosexual clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions, and liberals.

Over four days of closed-door meetings, the primates received presentations on the Sudan, Zimbabwe, global warming, the international financial crisis and co-ordination efforts amongst the church’s independent relief and development agencies. However, the focus of the conference, Dr Williams explained on Feb 5, had been “ecclesiology. What kind of church are we?”

The closing communiqué recognized the Anglican Communion was a divided church, one beset by “mistrust” and great theological tensions. The primates asked Dr Williams to engage outside mediators to bring the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) — a consortium of breakaway congregations and dioceses from the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada along with several continuing Anglican groups — together in conversation with the Episcopal Church and the Canadian church.

“We request the Archbishop of Canterbury to initiate a professionally mediated conversation which engages all parties at the earliest opportunity. We commit ourselves to support these processes and to participate as appropriate. “We earnestly desire reconciliation with these dear sisters and brothers for whom we understand membership of the Anglican Communion is profoundly important.

“We recognise that these processes cannot be rushed, but neither should they be postponed,” the primates said.

Dr Williams said the call for mediation and for “pastoral visitors” from Lambeth to act as “consultants in situations of stress and conflict” acknowledged the insufficiency of the approaches taken by the last two Primates’ Meetings to the North American problem.

The 2007 “pastoral scheme” authorized by the primates in Dar es Salaam “did depend upon the Episcopal Church taking ownership of it,” he said. Trying to “impose” a solution without it’s “cooperation would have been impossible.” However, there was no “schism,” Dr Williams said, but stated there was “deep division” within the Communion, but “what that will mean, we don’t know.” The way forward was to remain faithful to the Windsor process and form an Anglican Covenant. “Unless the Covenant is robust and accepted the federal model is on the horizon” for the Anglican Communion, Dr Williams said, adding that none of the primates wanted to change or loosen the current Communion of churches into a Federation of churches akin to the international Lutheran or Reformed church federations.

The communiqué reaffirmed the church’s teachings on human sexuality, as stated in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, called for a continued and broadened “Listening Process” that Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda said meant including the voices of conservatives, and affirmed the moratoria on gay bishops and blessings, and violations of ecclesial jurisdictions.

Dr Williams conceded that the “moratoria are holding rather badly on both sides” but added that they were not “completely ignored.” Cross-border violations and gay blessings continued, but he said that the third moratorium had held as there were no new gay bishops. “We are trying to see the glass as half full and not half empty,” he explained.

Speaking to the media at the close of the conference, Dr Williams outlined three points he thought salient to the week’s discussions brought by a report given by the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG). The WCG urged a shift in the ecclesiological relations within the Communion. Dr Williams said these called for a “shift of focus” from a church perceiving itself to be “autonomous with accountability added on” to one where a church saw itself as “autonomous and accountable.”

The WCG also urged a rethink of the relationship between the four instruments of Communion: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council.

The primates also backed the WCG’s recommendation for mediation between the ACNA and the US and Canadian Churches. Dr Williams said that a mediation process had begun in Brazil between the Diocese of Recife and the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, and he hoped this would lead to an eventual reconciliation.

The breakaway groups in the US and Canada remained part of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Williams reported, but their “institutional relationship” remained “unclear.” Asked his personal view of the deposition of Canadian theologian JI Packer and Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, Dr Williams declined to answer, but noted the communiqué “deplores actions that deepen division or give rise to suspicion or hostility.”

Both liberals and conservatives came away pleased. US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told a reporter from the Episcopal News Service on Feb 5 that she was encouraged by the tone of the communiqué, but said the “long-term impact of ‘gracious restraint’ is a matter for General Convention. “We are going to have to have honest conversations about who we are as a church and the value we place on our relationships and mission opportunities with other parts of the Communion and how we can be faithful with many spheres of relationship at the same time,” she told ENS.

“That is tension-producing and will be anxiety-producing for many, but we are a people that live in hope, not in instant solutions but in faithfulness to God.” The hand of providence was also seen by conservative leaders in the meeting. “Something like the freshness of the Holy Spirit” descended upon the meeting, Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of South American said.

There was “something different here, something special,” he said. “Without a doubt there was a lot of anger and tension” underlying the conversations, but the “orthodox had a calmness and peace” that Bishop Venables said had come from God.

“Archbishop Peter Akinola is pleased, I’m pleased, my brother Henry [Orombi] is pleased” with the outcome of the meeting, Bishop Venables told a reporter for The Church of England Newspaper on Feb 5.

The 2009 Primates’ Meeting was a spiritual as well as emotionally powerful encounter, as the primates took ownership of the brokenness of the church. “There is the recognition that this whole thing is falling to bits,” Bishop Venables explained. Past agreements had left him feeling “is this just pushing the ball forward” down the field? In Alexandria the primates agreed “this is a broken communion. Let’s start with that and see where we go,” he said.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s leadership in Alexandria also presented an opportunity to move forward. Dr Williams had grown in office conservative leaders told CEN, and had regained some of the trust lost over the last few years. Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda said Dr Williams “chaired the meeting very wisely” and was “very sensitive.”

Conservatives leaders were also impressed by the contribution of the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu who led discussions on the Christian response to the international financial crisis, as well as emerged as a strong advocate for the Anglican Covenant.

Bishop Venables and Archbishop Orombi stated that a legislative or legal solution at this phase of the debate would not resolve the splits. The question of recognizing a parallel province in North America was premature, they said, as the underlying theological differences had not been addressed. There was a visible church and an invisible church, they said. “Being an Anglican without knowing Jesus” conferred membership “in a club” and not in the true church, Archbishop Orombi said. Before a vote on a third province is taken “we have to see what happens to the Communion,” he said.

For traditionalists two different faiths were in contention. “A liberal expression of Christianity is not Christianity” as we know it, Bishop Venables said. Addressing this gap need take place before structural or legislative solutions were imposed on the church. The Anglican Covenant process would define where the parties stood and Archbishop Orombi said “it will be another way of describing we are not in Communion.”

Archbishop Orombi said he hoped that Dr Williams would call a theological council that could devote the time and expertise to engage in these issues. “My proposal is let’s have two sets of theologians and debate these things. Primates don’t have the time,” and the Primates’ Meetings are not the proper venue for these issues.

The two primates urged traditionalists in the United States to take heart from the agreement and both pledged the support of their provinces until a “safe place” had been established for them. Archbishop Orombi also urged ACNA to make its case to Dr Williams, setting forth both the factual and theological rationale for a new province.

Traditionalists must “hold together, remain together” and persevere in their fight, “for we are standing with you,” he said.

Bleak outlook for Communion as Primates gather in Alexandria: CEN 2.06.09 p 7. February 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

The future prospects of a united Anglican Communion appear bleak at the midpoint of the 2009 primates meeting, following two days of talks on the divisions over doctrine and discipline centering round human sexuality. While the 34 primates have spoken as one on the issue of Zimbabwe, they are sharply divided over the question of what the permissible limits of doctrinal and liturgical authority might be—-how far can a province go with theological innovation and local practices and still be called Anglican?

The venue for the Feb 1-5, the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria, Egypt, is best known as having been the site where the Arab League gave birth to the PLO in 1964. Should the meeting continue on its present trajectory, it may well be the site of the demise of the Anglican Communion.

However, crisis has been a constant at the Anglican primates meetings. At the mid-points of the 2005 meeting in Dromantine, Northern Ireland and the 2007 meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the communion appeared set for collapse, but the meetings were saved by the personal intervention by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. Whether Dr. Williams can pull off a third primates’ miracle is unclear.

The meeting opened for business on Feb 1 with a “meet and greet” day of prayer, conservation and welcome to the seven newly elected primates attending the meeting. In the evening the primates travelled to Central Alexandria’s St. Mark’s Anglican Church, and participated in a service consecrating the former colonial-era garrison church as a pro-Cathedral of the Diocese of Egypt.

In his sermon to the ebullient congregation of Alexandrine Anglicans, Dr. Williams spoke of the city’s place in Christian history, and offered an oblique criticism to the conservative primates. Extolling the virtues of finding Christ in one’s neighbor, he urged quietness, stillness and respect for diversity upon his peers.

While past exhortations for patience and tolerance from Dr. Williams had kept conservatives in check, after six years of meetings over the same set of issues, patience appeared to be wearing thin. Speaking informally outside St. Marks, the Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola urged his colleagues to be consistent and honour the primates past agreements.

The primates started the formal business session of the meeting on Feb 2 with five presentations from the primates of Canada, Burma, Southern Africa, Uganda and the Episcopal Church of the United States on the question: “What impact has the current situation had on your Province’s mission priorities?”

These elicited a “very interesting discussion” the primates’ spokesman Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Australia told reporters, noting there had been a “huge diversity” of responses in the small group discussions that followed.

Dr. Williams’ selection of the five churches, allowed an artful display of the various views within the Communion. The Burmese Archbishop Stephan Than Myint Oo said that from a cultural perspective the discussion of sexual ethics was distasteful in his society. While the bishops had spoken of these issues, there was no desire to unsettle the church as a whole by pursuing this question in light of the pressing issues facing Burmese Christians.

Archbishop Henry Orambi spoke to the traditional views on human sexuality, citing Scripture and the church’s unbroken traditional teachings, while Canadian Archbishop Fred Hiltz noted that in his country, the issues of human sexuality were not being driven by the church, but were a live issue with the courts and government.

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori defended her church’s actions, saying its decisions could not be limited by any outside authority, and noted that her church had been studying the issue for many years. South Africa’s Archbishop Thabo Makgoba urged tolerance and patience, reminding the primates of his own church’s struggle to hold together through the seemly intractable divisions of the apartheid era.

The afternoon session then turned to a presentation on the work of the Anglican Covenant Design Group, led by the Primate of Southeast Asia, Archbishop John Chew of Singapore. The media spokesman for the primates, Australia’s Archbishop Philip Aspinall said it was his impression that there had been a “pulling back from the language of sanctions and teeth” in the draft document.

The Covenant would be about “koinonia … fellowship .. of communion” between churches, he said and not a legal code for “hitting people over the head with sticks.”

In his briefing Archbishop Chew told the primates the Covenant was a work in process. Its drafters had taken on board the criticisms and comments offered by bishops attending the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and were also waiting upon responses due by March 9 from the 38 provinces. Once these materials had been collated, a final draft would be presented to the May meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Jamaica for ratification.

Dr. Aspinall told reporters there was an “increasing realism” within the Common on the practical limits of the Covenant’s legal reach. He believed the emphasis of the final draft would likely be on developing closer relations and “building trust.” The Covenant would request a “self-limiting” of authority on issues of doctrine and discipline from the provinces, but could not command obedience.

The primates closed their first day with an evening presentation on Zimbabwe, and issued a call for strongman Robert Mugabe to go.

On day two, the primates received a report from the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG). Dr. Williams imposed a media blackout on the document-delaying its public release until after the close of the meeting, and press spokesman declined to speak to the details of the conversations. However the intensity of the conversation led to an adjustment of the agenda, with discussions spilling over into the afternoon.

Chartered by Dr. Williams in the wake of his Advent Letter to the Primates in December 2007, the WCG was asked to advise him on the “implementation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report, how best to carry forward the Windsor Process in the life of the Communion, and to consult on the ‘unfinished business’ of the Report.”

The six member team led by the former Presiding Bishop of the Middle East and Jerusalem, Bishop Clive Handford offered three presentations to the bishops of the 2008 Lambeth Conference. It called for a moratorium on gay bishops and blessings, and a “holding bay” for disgruntled conservatives. It also rejected the “proliferation of ad hoc episcopal and archiepiscopal ministries,” asserting that such arrangements “cannot be maintained within a global Communion.”

In December the WCG met in Texas and prepared a final draft of their report to the primates, which was given to the primates at the start of the meeting. Primates contacted by CEN declined to speak to the issues raised in the meeting, though all agreed there had been a full and frank airing of views.

An evening session devoted to the perils of global warming broke the primates’ focus on the splits within the Communion, but after two days of talks, the primates appear haggard and exhausted. The positions of the various factions are clearer, but have also hardened, with little sign that a compromise can be reached. While two days remain to come to a common mind as to how the communion might go forward, Dr. Williams faces the formidable task of reconciling what one primate said appears to be “two irreconcilable positions” within one church.

Scenes from the Primates Meeting February 6, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
Archbishop Moxon of New Zealand and Bishop Sarkar of Bangladesh outside the primates' meeting room as the conference gets underway on Jan 31 at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria

Archbishop Moxon of New Zealand and Bishop Sarkar of Bangladesh outside the primates' meeting room as the conference gets underway on Feb 1 at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria

Conservative Bishops Laud Outcome of Meeting, Archbishop’s Leadership: TLC 2.05.09 February 5, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Living Church, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

First published in The Living Church magazine.

High marks have been awarded to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the 2009 primates’ meeting by conservative archbishops, who report that consensus was reached following four days of intense talks in Alexandria, Egypt.

“Archbishop Peter Akinola is pleased, I’m pleased, Henry [Orombi] is pleased” with the outcome of the meeting, the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, told The Living Church.

“Something like the freshness of the Holy Spirit” descended upon the meeting, Bishop Venables explained. There was “something different here, something special,” he said. “Without a doubt there was a lot of anger and tension,” he added, but the “orthodox had a calmness and peace” that Bishop Venables attributed to divine intervention.

While the divisions over doctrine and discipline that have led to an impairment of Eucharistic fellowship remain, Bishop Venables felt the Feb. 1-5 meeting featured honest conversation between the liberal and conservative camps that recognized a division exists.

“There is the recognition that this whole thing is falling to bits,” Bishop Venables explained. Past agreements had left him wondering “is this just pushing the ball forward” to be decided later. In Alexandria, he said, the primates agreed “this is a broken communion. Let’s start with that and see where we go.”

The closing communiqué recognized the “mistrust” within the Communion, reaffirmed Lambeth 1.10 as the agreed statement on human sexuality, continued the moratorium on rites for the blessing of same-sex unions and the consecration of same-sex bishops. It also affirmed the call for a halt to cross-province violations. The meeting agreed that the members of the breakaway groups in the United States and Canada are Anglicans, but did not define their status.

“John-David Schofield [of San Joaquin] is a bishop in the Communion,” Bishop Venables said. He and other bishops “may be been deposed by the Episcopal Church,” but the meeting agreed they remain part of the Anglican Communion.

The Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev. Henry Orombi, lauded the leadership of Archbishop Williams, saying he “chaired the meeting very wisely” and was “very sensitive.”

Both primates agreed that a legislative or legal solution would not resolve the splits as two different faiths were in contention. “A liberal expression of Christianity is not Christianity [as we know it],” Bishop Venables said. Addressing this gap needs to take place before structural or legislative solutions are imposed on the church.

ACNA Recognition Premature
The question of recognizing a parallel province in North America was premature, both primates said, because the underlying theological differences had not been addressed.

“Being an Anglican without knowing Jesus” conferred membership “in a club” and not in the true church, Archbishop Orombi said. Before a vote on a third province is taken, he said, “we have to see what happens to the Communion.”

Archbishop Orombi said he hoped that a theological council would be called by Archbishop Williams that could devote the time and expertise to engage in these issues.

“My proposal is, let’s have two sets of theologians and debate these things,” he said. “Primates don’t have the time,” and the primates’ meetings are not the proper venue for these issues.

Both primates supported the Anglican Covenant process as it would clearly define where the parties stood.

“It will be another way of describing we are not in Communion,” Archbishop Orombi said.

The two primates urged traditionalists in the United States to take heart from the agreement and both pledged the support of their provinces until a “safe place” had been established for them. Archbishop Orombi urged traditionalists to make their case to Archbishop Williams, as to why they needed a province. Traditionalists must “hold together, remain together” and persevere in their fight, “for we are standing with you,” he said.

Communion ‘Deeply Divided’ But No Schism, Archbishop Williams Says: TLC February 5, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Living Church, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

First published in The Living Church magazine.

There is no “schism” in the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams declared today at the close of the meeting of primates of the Anglican Communion in Alexandria, Egypt. The archbishop did acknowledge there was “deep division” within the Communion, but “what that will mean, we don’t know.”

Speaking as “presider of the primates’ meeting,” Archbishop Williams said the way forward for the Communion was to adhere to the Windsor process and work toward an Anglican Covenant. “Unless the covenant is robust and accepted,” he said, “the federal model is on the horizon” for the Anglican Communion.

While the Sudan, Zimbabwe, global warming, Gaza, and international finance were addressed by the primates during their four-day meeting in closed sessions, the principal topic of conversation was “ecclesiology,” Archbishop Williams said.

Speaking to the media at the close of the meeting, Archbishop Williams released two documents: “Deeper Communion: Gracious Restraint,” the communiqué from the meeting, and the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) “Report to the Archbishop of Canterbury.” The primates’ letter had received the unanimous endorsement of the primates, he said. However, the WCG was a report prepared by a committee appointed by Archbishop Williams and presented by him to the primates as a resource document and was not submitted to a vote.

In his press conference, Archbishop Williams outlined three points he thought salient to the week’s discussions. The WCG report urged a change in the ecclesiological structures of the Communion that he said called for a “shift of focus” from a church perceiving itself to be “autonomous with accountability added on” to one where a church saw itself as “autonomous and accountable” to the wider mind of the Communion.

The WCG also urged a rethink of the relationship among the four instruments of Communion: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the primates’ meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council.

Archbishop Williams said at the “very end” of the WCG report there was a discussion of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The report, he said, “recognizes the desire of people” leaving The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada for the ACNA “to be Anglican.” The WCG recommended a “professional mediation process” that included a “pastoral forum” and “pastoral visitor” for the divided churches in North America and Brazil.

Archbishop Williams said a mediation process had begun with some small success between the Diocese of Recife and the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, and he hoped this would lead to an eventual reconciliation. Archbishop Williams also declined to call out of the Communion those who had quit The Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada for the ACNA, but said the new group “is not a province.”

The ACNA’s “institutional relationship” was “unclear” at this point, he said. He added that he hoped further dialogue would address this issue. However, he declined to answer a question about his “personal thoughts on the defrocking” of Canadian theologian J.I. Packer and Pittsburgh Bishop and ACNA leader Robert Duncan.

Pressed on what he would do about infractions of past agreed statements, Archbishop Williams said his authority was limited by canon law to the Church of England. “It remains true” the Anglican Communion has no organ “for discipline,” and this could only be remedied by a “Communion executive” or a “common canon law.” Until such structural mechanisms were in place, Archbishop Williams said there was little he could do.

The primates’ communiqué reiterated the call for a moratorium on cross-border violations of provincial sovereignty, rites for the blessing of same-gender unions, and the consecration to the episcopate of non-celibate gay clergy, and reaffirmed the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 as the standard statement on human sexuality for the Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Williams conceded that the “moratoria are holding rather badly on both sides” but added that they were not “completely ignored.” Cross-border violations and rites for gay blessings continued, but he said that the third moratorium had held as there were no new gay bishops. “We are trying to see the glass as half full and not half empty,” he explained.

Primates focus on conflicts and crisis: TLC 2.05.09 February 5, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Living Church, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

First published by the Living Church magazine.

The primates of the Sudan, Bangladesh and Aotearoa/New Zealand spoke at a primates’ meeting press briefing Feb. 4, addressing the issues of global warming and conflict in the Sudan.

The bulk of the briefing was devoted to the Sudan. The Most Rev. Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Archbishop of Juba and Primate of the Sudan, spoke of the devastation wrought by the wars in Darfur and the guerrilla campaign in the south waged by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Fighting in the south and west of the country could undo the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that in 2005 ended a 21 year civil war between the Arab Muslim North and the African Christian South. Archbishop Deng gave an overview of the 4-million-member church spread across 25 dioceses, and its schools and hospitals, and urged the primates to lend their voices and the support of their churches to the call for peace in the Sudan.

Archbishop David Moxon of New Zealand and Bishop Paul Sarkar of Bangladesh gave an overview of the primates’ discussions on global warming. Bishop Sarkar spoke of the problems of arsenic pollution of ground water in Bangladesh and the difficulties caused by rising ocean levels. Archbishop Moxon briefly summarized the work Christians need do to help preserve the planet.

Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Australia said the primates also learned about coordination efforts among the Anglican Communion’s relief and development agencies. Helen Stawski, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for International Development, and John Kafwanka, Mission and Development Coordinator at the Anglican Consultative Council, briefed the primates on a meeting at Lambeth Palace in January on efforts to coordinate aid. Archbishop Aspinall said the primates discussed the need for articulating a theological rationale to support the work of the aid agencies, but said there were no plans for a “new super-Anglican” aid agency to oversee the work of the independent organizations.

On Thursday, the meeting’s final day, the primates were scheduled to discuss the Communion’s response to the global financial crisis and the forthcoming meeting of Anglican Consultative Council. Negotiations on the wording of the meeting’s final communiqué also were going down to the wire on Thursday. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was scheduled to lead a late afternoon press conference and present an agreed statement from the meeting. The report of the Windsor Continuation Group to the primates also will be released at the meeting’s conclusion.

War is looming in Sudan, warns Archbishop: CEN 2.05.09 February 5, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Sudan is on the brink of a three front war warned the Archbishop of Juba the Most Rev Daniel Deng Bul Yuk. The instability caused by the fighting in Darfur in the west, the rampage of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the south, and growing instability in the disputed areas in the center between the Khartoum government of the north and the South Sudan government in Juba, may lead to the resumption of the decades-old civil war.

In an address to the primates of the Anglican Communion on Feb 4, Archbishop Deng asked for their continued “urgent support for the work of relief, rehabilitation and resettlement.”

The Archbishop’s report on the Sudan was the highlight of the third business day of the Feb 1-5 Primates’ Meeting in Alexandria, Egypt. In their morning sessions, the archbishops received Archbishop Deng’s report, discussed plans for the coordination of the work of Anglican relief agencies and in the afternoon visited the Bibliotheca Alexandrina — Egypt’s newly built international class library built on the site of the ancient Library of Alexandria.

The heart of the three days of talks, however, has focused on the continued viability of the Anglican Communion. No official details of the discussions have emerged from behind the closed doors of the Dahabra ballroom, however, concerns over the relationships between the instruments of communion, and their authority over the wider church are at issue, as is the form of the on-going relationships between the 38-member provinces.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

War is looming in Sudan, warns Archbishop

Primates begin work on final communique: TLC 2.04.09 February 5, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Living Church, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

First published in The Living Church magazine.

The primates completed their third day of business in Alexandria, Egypt, Wednesday, with work beginning on their final communiqué. The meeting is scheduled to close Thursday with an afternoon press conference led by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

So far, the primates have issued public statements on the crises in Zimbabwe and the Sudan and on global warming. Accounts of the closed-door proceedings differ, with some primates reporting a positive environment, while others have spoken of difficulties.

In their Feb. 3 statement, the primates asked that Archbishop Williams, in conjunction with the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, appoint an envoy “to go to Zimbabwe to exercise a ministry of presence and to show solidarity with the Zimbabwean people.” They also urged President Robert Mugabe to step down, and have called upon the international community to intervene in the Zimbabwe crisis.

On Wednesday afternoon, the primates took a break by touring the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a new library built on the site of the ruins of the ancient Library of Alexandria.

The Most Rev. Philip Aspinall clarified to The Living Church today that the Anglican Covenant Design Group, not the primates, has been given the responsibility of crafting the final draft of the covenant that will be submitted to the May meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.

When he briefed the media Feb. 2 about the primates’ discussions on the most recent draft of the Anglican Covenant, Archbishop Aspinall said that in the minds of a number of primates, following upon the views of the bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, there was a desire for a “pulling back from the language of sanctions and teeth.” He added that this was the view shared by many, but not all of the primates.

The archbishop, who serves as Primate of Australia, said that his earlier description should not be construed to mean that the Anglican Covenant Design Group shared these impressions.

Primates call for action on Zimbabwe: CEN 2.04.09 February 5, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2009, Zimbabwe.
comments closed
The primates of the Anglican Communion have issued a plea for the international community to intervene in Zimbabwe, but have stopped short of backing Archbishop of York John Sentamu’s call for armed intervention.

On Feb 2 the leaders of the Anglican Communion held a closed-door session on the situation in Zimbabwe and heard presentations from the Primate of Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makogba, and the Dean of Central Africa, Bishop Albert Chama. In a statement released the next day, the archbishops offered their prayers and love in a time of cholera and societal collapse to the embattled people of the Central African country, telling them that they had not been forgotten.

Yet the world must act, the archbishops said, and take steps to end the crisis “due directly to the deteriorating socio-political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.”

Anglican Primates call for action on Zimbabwe

Primates need extra time for Windsor Group presentation: TLC 2.03.09 February 3, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Living Church, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

First printed by the Living Church magazine.

A presentation by the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) to the primates’ meeting was scheduled for two hours on Tuesday morning, but spilled over into the afternoon.

In December, the WCG met at the Diocese of West Texas’s conference center and prepared a final draft of its report to the primates. The report was given to the primates Tuesday, but placed under a media embargo until the close of the conference. The news blackout extended to the day’s press conference, where the primates’ spokesman, the Most Rev. Philip Aspinall of Australia, would say only that the archbishops discussed the report over two sessions.

Primates contacted by The Living Church declined to discuss the issues raised in the meeting, but all agreed the primates had been candid in sharing their views.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams chartered the WCG in the wake of his Advent letter to the primates in 2007. The group was asked to advise him on the “implementation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report, how best to carry forward the Windsor Process in the life of the Communion, and to consult on the ‘unfinished business’ of the report.” The six-member team offered three presentations to the bishops of the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

The Feb. 3 evening session was devoted to the issue of global warming, breaking the primates’ focus on the splits within the Communion.

Anglican Primates discuss Covenant solution to problems: CEN 2.03.09 February 3, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper

Moral suasion, not binding legislation will be the backbone for the proposed Anglican Covenant, Australian Archbishop Philip Aspinall told reporters on Feb 2.

In their second business session at the 2009 Primates’ Meeting in Alexandria, the primates were briefed by Archbishop John Chew of Singapore on the work of the Anglican Covenant Design Group — the group tasked by Archbishop Rowan Williams with crafting a document that would set the permitted boundaries of Anglican diversity.

Dr Aspinall said that it was his impression the Covenant designers were “pulling back from the language of sanctions and teeth” in the draft document. The Covenant would be about “koinonia … fellowship .. of communion” between churches. Given the legal structures of the 38 autonomous member churches of the Anglican Communion, he said it was unrealistic that the final Covenant would be a legal mechanism whose ultimate sanction would be “not inviting you to a meeting.”

“Hitting people over the head with sticks” was not the best way forward, Dr Aspinall said.

In his briefing, Archbishop Chew told the primates the Covenant was a work in process. Its drafters had taken on board the criticisms and comments offered by bishops attending the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and were also waiting upon responses due by March 9 from the 38 provinces. Once these materials had been collated, a final draft would be presented to the May meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Jamaica for ratification.

Dr Aspinall told reporters there was an “increasing realism” within the Common on the practical limits of the Covenant’s legal reach. He believed the emphasis of the final draft would likely be on developing closer relations and “building trust.” The Covenant would request a “self-limiting” of authority on issues of doctrine and discipline from the provinces, but could not command obedience. Drawing upon the Anglican Church of Australia as an example, he said it could adopt a Covenant in three ways: amending its constitution, enacting a canon or passing a resolution at General Synod. He said it was highly unlikely the church would seek to incorporate the Covenant into its Constitution, and noted that if it were passed as a canon, it still would have to be ratified by each diocese for it to take effect in the diocese. He could think of one Australian diocese “that will not yield authority” to outside bodies, and imagined that there would be several others with misgivings over the project.

Passing the Covenant as a resolution by General Synod would give it a legal status, but under Australian canon law resolutions have no legal force and could be ignored with impunity.

He reiterated that he was offering his own impressions on the Covenant process, but added that it had been the opinion of many bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference that a Covenant that was crafted as a “moral obligation” was more likely to be adopted by the Communion.

The push to pull the teeth from the Covenant did not come as a surprise to conservative primates. Many of their voices had not been heard at Lambeth due to the boycott by a majority of African bishops, one primate said. Speaking to ReligiousIntelligence.com one conservative primate was skeptical of the viability of any Covenant, absent an independent authority who could judge whether it had been broken, and enforce sanctions for non-compliance.

Citing the failed Panel of Reference and the imperfect responses by The Episcopal Church to the Dar es Salaam communiqué and the Jan 31 announcement by the US Church’s Executive Council that six more years were needed to study the Covenant, he was not sanguine that any Covenant would work.

Primates tackle human sexuality issue: CEN 2.03.09 February 3, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Human sexuality was the first order of business at the 2009 Primates’ Meeting at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria, Egypt. The primates devoted their first business session to discussions over the effects the disputes over sexual ethics had had on the life and mission of the church.

Following prayers and Bible study, the Primates began work at 11:00 with five presentations from the Primates of Canada, the United States, Uganda, South Africa and Burma. The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams had asked each to address the question “What impact has the current situation had on your Province’s mission priorities?”

This had elicited a “very interesting discussion” the primates’ spokesman Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Australia told reporters, noting there had been a “huge diversity” of responses. However, primates questioned by ReligiousIntelligence.com reported that there appeared to be little shifting of views as the discussions were predominantly restatements of opinion, rather than a conversation. While there had been “much talk” there seemed to have been “little listening,” one primate observed.

Canadian Archbishop Fred Hiltz spoke of his province’s open discussion of these issues over a number of years, adding that issues in human sexuality had been a live issue outside the church for over a decade. Changing social attitudes, the courts and civil government were behind the change in attitude towards homosexuality, not the church, he said.

Burmese Archbishop Stephan Than Myint Oo said that social taboos forbad the discussion of homosexuality. The church’s bishops had discussed the issue, but it had not percolated down to the grass roots — and it was the bishops’ desire that the issue not be raised as it would be unsettling to church life in the midst of a difficult political and social climate.

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori spoke of the unique polity of The Episcopal Church that had led to the lawful election of a partnered gay man as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. She noted that the issues had been under discussion for many years and had been given a thorough theological airing. She also noted The Episcopal Church could not be bound by decisions made by bodies other than its General Convention.

The Most Rev Henry Orombi spoke to his Province’s adherence to the ‘clear words’ of Scripture and the unbroken tradition of the Christian Church through the ages on human sexuality, saying the innovation proposed by the US and Canada on homosexuality was not a faithful witness to the world. The issue could not be tested against the vagaries of culture, he argued, but against the immutable words of Scripture.

South African Primate the Most Rev Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town, offered a plea for continued dialogue. Drawing upon the recent experience of his province, he said that the Anglican Church in South Africa had nearly been torn apart over the issue of armed struggle against the apartheid regime. White parishes prayed for the success and safety of “our boys” on the front, while black parishes prayed for “freedom fighters” of the African National Congress. The South African experience of working through what seemed an irreconcilable division, could lend itself to the current disputes over doctrine and discipline.

After the presentations the archbishops broke into small groups to discuss the issues raised. Participants tell ReligiousIntelligence.com that there was a full and frank discussion of issues, with none of the prevarication found at past meetings.

On Tuesday, the primates would hear presentations from the Windsor Continuation Group and discuss theological education and global warming. Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone is expected to address the primates, explaining his support for the Anglican Church in North America.

Primates See Covenant ‘With Teeth’ As Unrealistic: TLC 2.02.09 February 3, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Living Church, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

First published by the Living Church.

There has been a “pulling back from the language of sanctions and teeth” in the crafting of the Anglican Covenant, the Primate of Australia told reporters at the Primates’ Meeting in Alexandria on Feb 2.

The Most Rev. Philip Aspinall said that whereas earlier drafts of the covenant envisioned sanctions for violations, disciplinary mechanisms were not likely to make it into the final draft.

“Hitting people over the head with sticks” was not what the Anglican Communion wanted to do to provinces that violated the Covenant, Archbishop Aspinall said. Instead, the covenant-designed to set the parameters of Anglican life and worship-is evolving into a document about “koinonia…fellowship…of communion” between churches, and would not be a sanctions-based legal code, he explained.

Creating a document whose goal was increased fellowship, but whose ultimate sanction “is not inviting you to a meeting,” was self-defeating the Australian primate observed.

The primates’ first day of business included presentations on the covenant and papers given by five primates on the effects of the controversy over homosexuality in their provinces.

Gathering for Morning Prayer with Eucharist at 7:15 am, the primates began their day after breakfast with a Bible study at 9:15, breaking at 10:15 for tea and beginning their first business session at 11:00. Controversies over the corporate reception of Holy Communion, which had dogged the last three primates meetings, were not aired at the first two Eucharists, Archbishop Aspinall said in answer to a reporter’s question.

He said he had not been keeping watch over who did or did not receive Holy Communion, but one participant told The Living Church that no one abstained. However, no tally was kept of who was present at the service.

Mission Impact
At the opening session, the primates of The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma), and the Church of Uganda responded to a question given them by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, asking them what affect the present difficulties had on mission in their provinces.

This elicited a “very interesting discussion” Archbishop Aspinall observed, noting there was a “huge diversity” of responses. One primate told The Living Church that there had been a “full and frank” statement of views and a clear statement of where each church was.

Canadian Archbishop Fred Hiltz spoke of his province’s open discussion of these issues over a number of years, adding that issues in human sexuality had been a live issue outside the church for over a decade. Changing social attitudes, the courts, and civil government were behind the change in society’s attitude towards homosexuality, he said, not the church.

Burmese Archbishop Stephan Than Myint Oo said that social taboos in his province forbad the discussion of homosexuality. The church’s bishops had discussed the issue, but it had not percolated down to the grass roots, and it was the bishops’ desire that the issue not be raised as it would be unsettling to church life in the midst of a difficult political and social climate.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori spoke of the unique polity of The Episcopal Church that had led to the election of Bishop Gene Robinson by the Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003. She noted that the issues had been under discussion for many years and had been given a thorough theological airing. She also noted The Episcopal Church could not be bound by decisions made by bodies other than its General Convention.

The Most Rev. Henry Orombi spoke to his province’s adherence to the clear words of scripture and the unbroken tradition of the Christian Church through the ages on human sexuality, saying the innovation proposed in the United States and Canada on homosexuality was not a faithful witness to the world. The issue could not be tested against the vagaries of culture, he argued, but against the immutable words of scripture.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, the South African primate, offered a plea for continued dialogue. Drawing upon the recent experience of his province, he said that the Anglican Church in South Africa had nearly been torn apart over the issue of armed struggle against the apartheid regime. The South African experience of working through what seemed an irreconcilable division, could lend itself to the current disputes over doctrine and discipline.

‘Increasing Realism’
In the afternoon session, the Most Rev. John Chew, Primate of Southeast Asia and Archbishop of Singapore, gave a presentation on the covenant process. Members of the Covenant Design Group were receiving responses from the provinces through March 9, and then would prepare a final draft for submission to the Anglican Consultative Council at its May meeting in Jamaica.

Archbishop Aspinall told reporters that it was his impression that there was an “increasing realism” about the limits of the covenant. The emphasis was on developing closer relations, “building trust” and encouraging “self-limitation” from the provinces. He said a covenant with teeth, punishment or sanctions was unrealistic in the current environment. It was the opinion of many bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference that a covenant that was crafted as a “moral obligation” was more likely to be adopted by the Communion, he added.

The push to remove disciplinary mechanisms from the covenant does not come as a surprise to conservative primates. A number of Global South primates said they were skeptical of the viability of a covenant, absent an independent authority who could judge whether it had been broken. Citing the failed Panel of Reference and the responses by The Episcopal Church to the Dar es Salaam communiqué, many of the Global South primates were not convinced that any covenant would work given the current structures of the Communion.

Archbishop Aspinall said a communiqué drafting committee had been formed led by the Primate of Burundi, the Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi. The committee also includes the Most Rev Alan Harper of Ireland, the Most Rev. Ian Earnest of the Indian Ocean, the Most Rev. Paul Kwong of Hong Kong, and the Most Rev. Carlos Touche-Porter of Mexico, with the assistance of the Rev. Canon Gregory Cameron, the ACC’s Deputy Secretary General.

On Tuesday, the primates will hear presentations from the Windsor Continuation Group and discuss theological education and global warming. Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone is expected to address the primates, explaining his support for the Anglican Church in North America.

Meeting must honor past decisions, primates say: TLC 2.02.09 February 2, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Living Church, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
First printed in The Living Church magazine.

If the meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion in Alexandria fails to address the issues of same-gender blessings and homosexual bishops this week in Egypt, some of the archbishops of the Global South may not participate in future meetings.

Global South primates affiliated with the GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) movement told a reporter that they see little merit in continued calls for dialogue when past undertakings of the primates’ meeting are ignored. The primates must be consistent, the Most Rev. Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria, said to his colleagues in an informal conversation outside St. Mark’s pro-Cathedral on Feb. 1, and their past statements must be honored.

However, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has signaled his continued desire for conversation rather than action. In a sermon delivered Feb. 1 at St. Mark’s, the archbishop said the church must be open to a diversity of views.

The primates’ gathering opened Sunday with an informal Eucharist in a hotel conference room followed by a session of prayer and informal conversation. The primates also participated in a session devoted to introducing the seven new archbishops as well as an overview of the week’s agenda from Archbishop Williams.

Late in the afternoon, they moved to St. Mark’s, where they met the dean and students of the Alexandria School of Theology, a four-year-old theological school established by the diocese to train ordinands and provide lay theological education for Egypt’s protestant churches. A tour of the school and presentations from the dean and Archbishop Williams was followed by a service of consecration for the colonial-era British garrison church as a pro-cathedral of the Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Speaking without a script, Archbishop Williams described the city’s history in the life of the church, and touched upon some of the theological controversies of the past, alluding to the relevance of the Arian controversy in the present day. Christians should pursue stillness, quietness and diversity, he said, and not be quick to condemn those who hold opposing theological views. He urged the primates, and the congregation, to extend Christian charity to those with whom they disagree.

A question that has yet to be answered to the satisfaction of all the primates is what they hope to achieve in Alexandria. The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, general secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), said the primates have come at the invitation of Archbishop Williams to “review the work of the Lambeth Conference…explore issues of common interest, [and] prepare for the gathering of the ACC” in Jamaica in May.

The contrast in visions between an activist primates’ meeting as envisioned by the 1988 and 1998 Lambeth Conferences and supported by a majority of primates, and an indaba-oriented meeting of discussion, where all points of view hold equal weight and no decisions are taken, may make Alexandria the last united primates’ meeting. None of the primates have threatened to boycott future gatherings, but archbishops on both theological sides share similar frustration with the current environment because “no one is listening anymore,” one primate said.

Monday’s morning and afternoon sessions included discussions of the proposed Anglican Covenant and presentations from various provinces on the impact that the current difficulties have had upon mission. The Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba, Primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, was to lead an evening session on the situation in Zimbabwe.

The deputy general secretary of the ACC, the Rev. Canon Gregory Cameron, objected to characterizations that the agendas of the primates’ meetings “had sought to avoid the main issues.”

While there had been “discussions about the agendas before the meetings, agendas had been developed and followed to give opportunity for all perspectives and issues to be heard,” he said.

Primates meeting opens in a fog of confusion: CEN 2.02.09 February 2, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The 2009 Primates Meeting in Alexandria has opened in a fog of confusion with little expectation the five day meeting will resolve the Anglican crisis.

In their fourth meeting since the 2003 emergency session called by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams to respond to the consecration of V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, the primates appear exhausted and frustrated, unsure of their authority within the Anglican Communion and the purpose of the meeting.

The viability of the Primates Meeting as one of the communion’s four “instruments of unity” is also under question. Archbishop Peter Akinola has urged primates to be consistent and not abandon the undertakings and pledges made at past gatherings. Others have voiced frustration with the communion’s current ecclesial structures, suggesting that Alexandria and the May meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Jamaica may be the last pan-Anglican global gatherings.

The primates have come at the invitation of Dr. Williams to Alexandria, the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council, Canon Kenneth Kearon said, to review the work of the Lambeth Conference, explore issues of common interest, and prepare for the gathering of the ACC in Jamaica in May.

Australian Archbishop Philip Aspinall noted the primates meeting were times of “deep conversation, prayerful conversation” that allowed the primates to “get to know one another,” and for the wider church to hear what “issues were important” in their local churches.

Created as a forum for personal conversation by the primates by Archbishop Donald Coggan in 1979, the role of the Primates Meeting has expanded in response to the divisions over doctrine and discipline within the Anglican Communion. In 1988 the Lambeth Conference adopted resolution 18.2(a) encouraging a collegial role for the Primates meeting to enable it “to exercise an enhanced responsibility in offering guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters.”

The 1998 Lambeth Conference further enhanced the role of the Primates Meeting asking that it intervene “in cases of exceptional emergency which are incapable of internal resolution within provinces, and giving of guidelines on the limits of Anglican diversity in submission to the sovereign authority of Holy Scripture and in loyalty to our Anglican tradition and formularies.”

A return now to the “talking-shop” model of the early 1980’s would not work, one African archbishop told The Church of England Newspaper, while Archbishop Peter Akinola told some of his colleagues on Feb 1 that the primates must be consistent in their actions and not walk away from the undertakings made at the last three meetings.

As the primates began to arrive at the Helnan Palestine Hotel on Alexandria’s corniche, splinter groups on the left and right met to prepare strategies for the meeting. The larger conservative faction met on the afternoon of Jan 31. “Long distances” and “poor communications” in the developing world necessitated the pre-conference meeting, Presiding Bishop Maurice Sinclair, retired primate of the Southern Cone told CEN.

Bishop Sinclair, who after retirement served a term as Dean of the Anglican Cathedral in Cairo and as visiting lecturer at the Alexandria School of Theology, stated he had not been part of the strategy group for the Global South primates, but had been invited by the Bishop of Egypt, the Rt. Rev. Mouneer Anis to greet the primates on his behalf.

Not all of the Global South primates participated in the meeting, due to varying travel schedules. However, one primate said they hoped to prepare an action plan for the gathering, highlighting issues of common importance to the Global South.

The official agenda was finalized on Jan 31, changing Sunday Feb 1 to a “meet and greet” day, with the first business session pushed back to Feb 2. The meeting opened with an informal eucharist in the Palestine Hotel’s Dahabra conference room followed by prayer and conversation—-a “mini-indaba” one staffer said.

Located on the eastern edge of the city in the Montazah Palace Gardens, the 60’s vintage hotel was built on the site for King Farouk’s summer palace and played host to the Arab League summit that gave birth to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

After lunch the primates held an introductory session, with each primate introducing himself to the group, and Dr. Williams offered an overview of the meeting. No formal business was conducted, one primate told CEN, as they had merely exchanged “platitudes” all day.

The primates closed the first day of the meeting with a service at St. Mark’s Anglican Church, followed by a 4:30 service at St. Mark’s Anglican Church on Central Alexandria’s MidanTahrir (Liberation Square). The colonial era church, replete with plaques and memorials to British war dead, was re-consecrated as a pro-Cathedral of the Diocese of Egypt.

In his sermon to the ebullient congregation of Alexandrine Anglicans, Dr. Williams spoke of the city’s place in Christian history, and offered an oblique criticism to the conservative primates. Extolling the virtues of finding Christ in one’s neighbor, Dr. Williams urged quietness, stillness and respect for diversity upon his peers.

In a theme sounded at the Lambeth Conference and at past international Anglican confabs, Dr. Williams urged toleration of dissent and diversity, arguing that by excluding or denigrating those who were different, we were excluding the Christ that was within them.

Asked after the service if he took issue with Dr. Williams’ pointed words, a senior African primate smiled and declined to be drawn, saying only that he had “heard what he said.”

Following the service a group photograph was taken. At the 2007 Primates’ Meeting, a number of primates declined to receive the Eucharist with US Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and objected to appearing in a group photograph with her. Organizers of the 2009 conference finessed the issue this time round as Bishop Jefferts Schori was not scheduled to arrive in Alexandria until the second day.

Thirty-four of the Communion’s 38 provinces will be present during the course of the five-day meeting. Two primates: the Rt. Rev. Samuel Azariah, Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, and the Rt. Rev. John Gladstone, Moderator of the Church of South India, informed ACC secretary general Canon Kenneth Kearon that scheduling conflicts prevented them from attending the gathering, while the Moderator of the Church of North India, the Rt. Rev. Purley Lyndoh is understood to have a scheduling conflict.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, the Most Rev. Edward Malecdan was refused a visa by the Egyptian government and will not be able to attend, while visa difficulties have delayed the arrival of the Primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Most Rev Daniel Deng Bul Yak.

Three provinces are currently without primates and will be represented by their senior bishop: the Rt. Rev. Errol Brooks, Bishop of Northeastern Caribbean and Aruba for the Church of the Province of the West Indies, the Rt. Rev. Albert Chama, Bishop of Northern Zambia for the Church of the Province of Central Africa, and the Rt. Rev. Charles Koete, Bishop of the Central Solomon Islands for the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

The US Presiding Bishop will miss the opening day of the gathering, but will be present for the start of the business sessions on Feb 2. Departing from the Executive Council meeting in California on the evening of Jan 31, Bishop Jefferts Schori is scheduled to arrive in Egypt in the early morning hours of Feb 2.

The four primates who boycotted the Lambeth Conference: the Most Rev. Peter Akinola of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, the Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, and the Most Rev. Henry Orombi of Uganda will be present for the gathering.

Ten new primates have been elected since the 2007 meeting, and seven will be on hand: the Rt. Rev. Paul Sishkir Sarkar of Bangladesh, the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz of Canada the Most Rev. Paul Kwong of Hong Kong, the Most Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo of Myanmar, the Most Rev David Moxon of New Zealand, the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba of Southern Africa and Archbishop Deng of the Sudan.

Symbolic of the Anglican ennui is the absence of many outside lobbyists from Alexandria. Unlike past gatherings, few of the Communion’s advocacy groups are present, and at the start of the Conference only a handful of journalists have been accredited.

On Feb 2 the primates will hold their first full working day, with sessions devoted the Anglican Covenant, the crisis in Zimbabwe, and to presentations from several primates on the question: “What impact has the current situation had on your province’s Mission priorities.”

Primates Unsure What Egypt Gathering Will Achieve: TLC 2.01.09 February 2, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Living Church, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

Primates from both the liberal and conservative factions of the Anglican Communion tell The Living Church that they expect little of substance will arise from this week’s meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, and they are unsure what the gathering has been designed to achieve.

Conservative primates are expected to push for the recognition of the Anglican Church in North America as an official province of the Anglican Communion. Liberals are equally adamant in opposing the innovation. Neither side expects the issue will be settled in Alexandria. Unlike past gatherings, none of the Communion’s advocacy groups have sent representatives, and as of the start of the conference only six journalists have been accredited. Two of those are not scheduled to arrive until the meeting’s last day.

On Saturday afternoon, a number of Global South primates met in private to prepare a common strategy for the meeting. The Most Rev. Maurice Sinclair, retired Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, who is present in Alexandria, but not part of the Global South steering group, told TLC that the meeting was necessary to bring all of its members up to speed.

The primates’ meeting was one of the few opportunities the Global South had to have face-to-face discussions, he said. Following his retirement, Bishop Sinclair served as dean of the Anglican Cathedral in Cairo and is a lecturer at the St. Mark’s School of Theology in Alexandria. The Most Rev. Mouneer Anis, Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, asked Bishop Sinclair to stand in for him and welcome the Global Souther primates to Alexandria while he was in Cairo with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

The official agenda, which was finalized on Saturday, changed Sunday to a meet-and-greet day, pushing back the first business session to Monday. On Sunday, the primates gathered in a Palestine Hotel conference room for prayer and conversation—what one staffer called a “mini-indaba.” After an afternoon introductory session, the primates were scheduled to take part in a 4:30 p.m., service at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in central Alexandria’s Liberation Square.

The colonial-era church will be re-consecrated as a pro-cathedral of the Diocese of Egypt, and a formal group photograph was to be taken of the gathered primates. At the last primates’ meeting in February 2007, a number of primates declined to receive Holy Communion due to their theological differences with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. A group photograph outside the Zanzibar Cathedral also was cancelled. Bishop Jefferts Schori is not scheduled to arrive in Alexandria until early on Monday morning.

Representatives of 35 of the Communion’s 38 provinces will be present during the course of the five-day meeting. Two of the primates—the Most Rev. Samuel Azariah, Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, and the Rt. Rev. John Gladstone, Moderator of the Church of South India—will not be attending due to scheduling conflicts. The Most Rev. Edward Malecdan, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, was refused a visa by the Egyptian government and will not be able to attend.

Three provinces are currently without primates and will be represented by their senior bishop: the Rt. Rev. Errol Brooks, Bishop of Northeastern Caribbean and Aruba for the Church of the Province of the West Indies; the Rt. Rev. Albert Chama, Bishop of Northern Zambia for the Church of the Province of Central Africa; and the Rt. Rev. Charles Koete, Bishop of the Central Solomon Islands for the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

Ten new primates have been elected since the 2007 meeting, and eight of them will be present. They include the Rt. Rev. Paul Sishkir Sarkar of Bangladesh; the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz of Canada; the Most Rev. Paul Kwong of Hong Kong; the Most Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo of Myanmar; the Most Rev David Moxon of New Zealand; the Rt. Rev. Purley Lyndoh of North India; the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba of Southern Africa; and the Most Rev. Daniel Deng Bul Yak of the Sudan.

First published in The Living Church

2009 Primates Meeting: Helnan Palestine Hotel January 31, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
Helnan Palestine Hotel on Alexandria's Corniche

Helnan Palestine Hotel on Alexandria's Corniche

The site of the 2009 primates meeting.  Photo taken Jan 31, 2009.

Welsh Primate: New Province is ‘Total Nonsense’: TLC 1.28.09 January 28, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Church in Wales, Living Church, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The Primate of the Church in Wales will oppose any attempt to form a parallel Anglican jurisdiction when the primates of the Anglican Communion meet next week in Alexandria, Egypt. Leaders of the GAFCON movement, however, have pledged not to back down from their support of Bishop Robert Duncan and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), setting up the potential for a clash of views when the primates meet
.
On Jan. 24, Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales told delegates attending the annual council meeting of the Diocese of Virginia he would oppose the creation of the ACNA with “every fiber of his body.” Another North American province was “total nonsense,” he said, according to a report by Anglican blogger Mary Ailes, but the archbishop conceded that his views were in the minority among primates.

The degree of support for the ACNA among the primates is uncertain, but a core group representing a near majority have given public and private assurances of support. On Dec. 5 five primates from the steering committee of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) met with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Canterbury Cathedral telling him that Bishop Duncan and the ACNA had their full support.

The political strength of the GAFCON primates will be tested against Archbishop Morgan and supporters of The Episcopal Church. The proposed agenda, however, seeks to avoid a direct decision, calling for further dialogue on the issue of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, the consecration of non-celibate homosexual clergy to the episcopate, and the violation of traditional diocesan boundaries by overseas bishops.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams solicited the views of his fellow primates in crafting an agenda that includes business sessions on global warming, international finance, coordination of development work among church agencies, and the Communion’s theological working group. Time has been set aside for a discussion of the agenda for the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, in May, the proposed Anglican Covenant, and a presentation from the Windsor Continuation Group.

It is unlikely the agenda for the five-day gathering will go unchanged. At their meeting in 2005 in Northern Ireland and in 2007 in Tanzania, the primates insisted on confronting the issues that had split the Anglican Communion.

In an interview with the Anglican Journal of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz said that he and Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, along with the primates of Uganda, Pakistan and South Africa have been asked to prepare briefings on issues facing their churches around the issue of human sexuality. Leaders of the GAFCON movement also have been asked to present a paper on the third province movement in North America.

However, a spokesman for Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda said he was unaware of any request by Archbishop Williams for him to prepare a reflection paper. The primates of Pakistan and South India previously notified Archbishop Williams that they would be unable to attend. The deans or senior bishops of provinces currently without primates-the West Indies, Central Africa, and Melanesia-will represent those churches.

First printed in The Living Church magazine

Primates’ Meeting to avoid divisive issues: CEN 1.28.09 January 28, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed
The agenda for next week’s 2009 Primates’ Meeting will avoid taking action on the problems dividing the Anglican Communion, focusing its energies on discussion on how to discuss keeping the conflicting truth claims within the church.

The Feb 1-5 meeting at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria will open with a morning retreat led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams followed by worship at St Mark’s pro-Cathedral. Business sessions will be interspersed over the week with worship and excursions to local sites, including the Alexandria School of Theology and the newly renovated Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

However it is unlikely the agenda for the five-day gathering will survive unscathed. At their meeting in 2005 in Northern Ireland and in 2007 in Tanzania the primates rebelled, forcing the meeting to address the issues that had split the Anglican Communion.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Primates’ Meeting to avoid divisive issues

Concerns are expressed over Indaba group manipulation: CEN 11.14.08 p 7. November 14, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Lambeth 2008, Primates Meeting 2009.
comments closed

The Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East has welcomed Dr. Rowan Williams’ decision to hold the 2009 Primates Meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, telling The Church of England Newspaper the witness of Egypt’s embattled Christians in the face of persecution can serve to strengthen the Anglican Communion.

While the agenda and locale remain to be settled, the Bishop of Egypt, Dr. Mouneer Anis said he was proud to be able to host the conference. However, suggestions by the Archbishop of Canterbury that he would use the Indaba process to manage the Primates’ Meeting has prompted private scorn from the primates contacted by CEN, and public criticism from Evangelical and Anglo-Catholics unhappy with the manipulation and management of the Indaba process at Lambeth.

“I want [the primates] to see, to feel the history of the Church as they walk through Alexandria,” Dr. Anis said on Nov 11. For in Alexandria one “steps in the blood of the saints shed in obedience to the faith, a faith that has been watered by the blood of the martyrs,” he said.

At least 35 of the Communion’s 38 Primates, along with the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu are expected to be present for the Jan 31 to Feb 5 meeting. The Archbishops of the West Indies and Melanesia, the Most Rev. Drexel Gomez and the Most Rev. Ellison Pogo retire in December, and their successors have not yet been named, while a successor to Archbishop Bernard Malango of Central Africa has yet to be appointed. Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Henry Orombi of Uganda, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, and Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya who boycotted the 2008 Lambeth Conference are expected to attend the Alexandria meeting.

Dr. Anis told CEN a detailed agenda for the meeting had not been shared with the primates. However, he hoped time would be set aside for the archbishops to meet with Egyptian Christians, including the Coptic Patriarch, Pope Shenouda III. He would be “happy to meet the primates” Dr. Anis noted, as “I know [Shenouda] loves the Anglican Church.”

“He speaks to me always that we need to keep our orthodoxy” in the Anglican Communion, Dr. Anis said, noting that “a man like that deserves to be listened to as the successor of St. Mark.”

Egypt’s Christians, numbering some 8 million are the largest Christian minority in the Middle East and have been under considerable pressure from Islamic fundamentalists in recent years. Egypt’s Christians had “survived many challenges,” Dr. Anis said, yet had been “schooled to faithfulness” through persecution and oppression.

While details of the meeting have yet to be disclosed the primates, in his Aug 26 letter to the Anglican bishops after Lambeth, Dr. Williams said he might apply the Indaba process, of guided small group discussions, at the Primates Meeting.

“Many participants [at Lambeth] believed that the Indaba method, while not designed to achieve final decisions, was such a necessary aspect of understanding what the questions might be that they expressed the desire to see the method used more widely — and to continue among themselves the conversations begun in Canterbury,” Dr. Williams said.

“This is an important steer for the meetings of the Primates and the ACC which will be taking place in the first half of next year, and I shall be seeking to identify the resources we shall need in order to take forward some of the proposals about our structures and methods.”

However, traditionalist leaders have balked at Dr. Williams’ suggestion that the Indaba process be used in the more intimate surroundings of the primates’ meetings, as their experience with the Indaba process at Lambeth was not as rosy as Dr. Williams had painted it.

A number of evangelical bishops at Lambeth questioned the integrity of the Indaba process. At Lambeth the bishops were divided into groups of 8 for morning Bible studies. These groups were then reformed into mid morning Indaba groups of 40, where a set series of questions was presented to the bishops for discussion and each bishops allotted two minutes to respond. The bishops’ observations were then gathered by “listeners”—appointed by the Lambeth Conference organizing committee from among nominees submitted by the Indaba groups—who were tasked with recording the perspectives offered.

The process was open to manipulation, the Bishop of Tasmania, the Rt. Rev. John Harrower noted. Writing to his diocese after Lambeth, he stated “one of the saddest moments of the Conference for me personally occurred in our Indaba when a bishop spoke earnestly of his views on same sex issues with a brief and solemn conclusion.”

“Some minutes after I saw him surreptitiously pass a sheaf of the [Episcopal Church] briefing notes to the [Episcopal] bishop seated in front of him.” Before leaving for Lambeth, each of the American bishops had been given a set of “talking points” by the national church in New York.

Bishop Harrower’s American colleague “had parroted one of the ‘sample narratives’. I wanted to shout and to cry. Any idea of transparency and trust through Indaba had been tragically thrown in our face. Set piece parroting surreptitiously orchestrated was poisoning our communion. God have mercy on us! Although I spoke to our Indaba facilitator of this privately we, as an Indaba group and Conference, had neither the wit nor the will to address our hiddenness,” he said.

Anglo-Catholic Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth told CEN his experience of the Indaba groups was equally problematic. In his group, Bishop Iker reported that the bishops became frustrated at the regimentation of the conference and its avoidance of discussion of the presenting issues before the Communion.

Members of his Indaba group asked Bishop Iker to speak to the estrangement of his diocese from the national Episcopal Church’s leadership. After Bishop Iker spoke, the Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, rose and told the Indaba group that Bishop Iker had exaggerated the divisions within the Episcopal Church.

In reading the summary of the Indaba discussions the next day, Bishop Iker found his portion of the exchange did not appear in the conference record. Bishop Iker asked the head of his Indaba group how he could ensure that his remarks could make be included in the daily report. He was told to either put his remarks in writing or to speak during the plenary session of the conference.

Rebuffed in his first attempt to address the Conference due to the number of bishops wanting to speak, Bishop Iker was successful in his second try, and told the bishops at Lambeth of the difficulties his diocese faced. He then handed a copy of the remarks to a member of the Indaba editing team, the Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of Rhode Island, for submission into the conference record.

“The next day nothing I said from the floor” had been included in the daily report. “I waited another day,” Bishop Iker noted, and when my concerns failed to appear” he stated he approached Bishop Wolf to ask for an explanation.

Bishop Iker said he was told by Bishop Wolf “we decided that your comments should be given to the Windsor Continuation Group.” No further action was taken by the conference in reporting Bishop Iker’s Indaba remarks.

“I tried to get my concerns recorded [at Lambeth] in the three ways” dictated by the Indaba process. “I think [the Lambeth Conference organizers] controlled what went to the group” through their management of the conference bureaucracy, Bishop Iker charged—apparently stifling dissent in order to achieve a predetermined end.

Following an Indaba process where “no decisions are made” and “all viewpoints have the same merit” at the primates meeting would not serve the Communion well, he charged. Using Indaba in Alexandria would be “catastrophic” Bishop Iker said.