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Archbishop Beach urges caution on taking the marriage pledge: The Church of England Newspaper, November 28, 2014 November 28, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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Two leading American clergy, the Rev. Prof. Ephraim Radner and the Rev. Prof. Christopher Seitz have released a manifesto published on the website of First Things magazine, urging clergy to refuse to perform civil marriages in light of the changing definitions of marriage made by the federal and state government. The Marriage Pledge states: “The new definition of marriage no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage between a man and woman. Our biblical faith is committed to upholding, celebrating, and furthering this understanding, which is stated many times within the Scriptures and has been repeatedly restated in our wedding ceremonies, church laws, and doctrinal standards for centuries. To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.” It encourages clergy to sign the pledge and “commit ourselves to disengaging civil and Christian marriage in the performance of our pastoral duties. We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. We will no longer sign government-provided marriage certificates. We will ask couples to seek civil marriage separately from their church-related vows and blessings. We will preside only at those weddings that seek to establish a Christian marriage in accord with the principles ­articulated and lived out from the beginning of the Church’s life.” The call for clergy to stand aside as agents of the state has not received universal support from conservatives. The Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Foley Beach, urged restraint, writing: “It would be best for us to take counsel together before taking further action. Therefore I ask that you do not sign this pledge until as bishops, clergy, and lay leaders we have had more opportunities to pray about and discuss the legal, theological, and sociological ramifications of signing such a statement.”

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TEC loyalty oaths denounced: The Church of England Newspaper, June 9, 2013, p 7. June 15, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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A proposal by the US Episcopal Church’s Standing Committee on Pastoral Development that new bishops be scrutinized for their loyalty to the current leadership of the national church has drawn sharp criticism from Anglican scholars.

On 29 April 2013 the committee sent a list of 10 supplemental questions bishops and dioceses might consider when voting to confirm the election of a new bishop. The Rt. Rev. James Waggoner, Jr., Bishop of Spokane stated the committee had noticed “two extremes” — “intense scrutiny” and “uninformed consent” in the confirmation process and offered the 10 questions as “an additional resource in your decision-making process.”

However some of the questions were “so egregious” and so “thin in its substance as to be silly”, said the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, Professor of Historical Theology at Wycliffe College in Toronto and a member of the Anglican Communion Institute.

Among the questions put forward by the committee were: Would the new bishop “uphold the Oath of Conformity as found in the Book of Common Prayer”,  “recognize and respect the office of the Presiding Bishop and the authority of General Convention,” and “participate fully in the councils of the Church and to adhere to the norms of behavior as adopted by the House of Bishops.”

Dr. Radner noted these questions were “clearly designed to emphasize certain elements that are viewed has problematic in recent years.  And they do so from the side of those who would like to limit the kinds of minority witness” made by moderate and conservative bishops at the last few general Conventions,

Was it necessary to emphasize political conformity over against a bishop’s pledge to guard “the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church”, he asked.

Respecting the authority of the Presiding Bishop and General Convention was “particularly tendentious, since it has no particular content offered for the words ‘respect’, ‘office’, and ‘authority’,” Dr. Radner said, adding that these were “precisely the issues that are being contested by some bishops.”

Bishop Waggoner responded that these questions “were never intended to be exhaustive but as a starting point for discernment”, adding that “consents mean something.  The consent process is an acknowledgment that bishops and their dioceses belong to one another and that we are all connected in the Body of Christ.”

“It is not helpful to the Church to consent to the election of bishops who have no intention of fully participating in the councils of the Church, including the House of Bishops,” he said.

“Accountability doesn’t have to be political. We simply need to know that if you are elected you will show up and be committed to the relationships, the conversations, and the processes which make up the Episcopal Church.” The bishop stated on behalf of the committee.

However the former Dean of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, the Rev Dr. Philip Turner stated the committee’s “point would seem to that ordination vows are not enough. Our understanding of their meaning must be narrowed so as to exclude those with a different understanding.”

“This is a confessionalism of the left every bit as pernicious as that on the right,” he said.

Political test for new bishops proposed: Anglican Ink, May 28, 2013. May 29, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, The Episcopal Church.
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New bishops in the Episcopal Church should be vetted for their political orthodoxy, a paper released by the House of Bishops’ Standing Committee on Pastoral Development has proposed. The call for conformity came in a 29 April 2013 letter released under the signature of the Rt. Rev. James Waggoner, Jr., Bishop of Spokane and was sent to the church’s bishops and standing committees.

However some of the questions were “so egregious” and so “thin in its substance as to be silly”. Dr. Ephraim Radner of the Anglican Communion Institute told Anglican Ink.

In his covering letter Bishop Waggoner wrote the committee had noticed “two extremes” in recent years of “intense scrutiny” and “uninformed consent” in the consent process for newly elected bishops.  The ten questions offered by the committee were designed “to be an additional resource in your decision-making process.”

While the first seven questions elicited little comment, the final three appeared to inject the divisive politics of recent years into a process already regulated by canon law, critics have charged. The asked:

 

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

ACI leader under investigation: Anglican Ink, July 5, 2012 July 5, 2012

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Allegations of disloyalty have been leveled against one of the leaders of the Anglican Communion Institute and may lead to his being charged with misconduct.

In an email published on the website Titusonenine, the Very Rev. Philip Turner, the former Dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale reports that he is being investigated for having executed an affidavit in the Diocese of Quincy lawsuit and had endorsed the Anglican Communion Institute’s amicus brief in the Diocese of Fort Worth case before the Texas Supreme Court.  On 29 June 2012 nine bishops received emails from the Rt. Rev. Clayton Matthews informing them they were being investigated for their views on the issues under dispute in the two lawsuits.

Dean Turner wrote that “I enquired as to whether a complaint against me had been lodged with my diocese. I was told by an unimpeachable source that in fact a complaint against me had been received. I have not seen the complaint. I do not know what the complaints are or who the complainants are.”

First published in Anglican Ink.

Episcopal Church polity under scrutinty by the courts: The Church of England Newspaper, May 13, 2012 p 7. May 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation.
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Seven bishops of the Episcopal Church have filed a legal brief with the Texas Supreme Court urging it to reject the theory that the General Convention or the presiding bishop holds metropolitan authority over the church’s dioceses.

In an amicus brief filed on 23 April 2012 prepared by the Anglican Communion Institute in the case of the breakaway Diocese of Fort Worth, seven bishops and three leading Episcopal scholars argued the trial court misconstrued the church’s constitutions and canons by holding that the Episcopal Church was a hierarchical body with ultimate power vested in the General Convention.

The 29-page brief stated that attorneys for that national Episcopal Church sought “to establish an alternative authority to that of the diocesan bishop” in their pleadings, which they said was contrary to the church’s Constitution and Canons.  Attorneys for the national church have argued the Episcopal Church possesses a unitary polity, where dioceses are creatures of the General Convention.

The ACI disagrees, citing the church’s history and constitution and canons.  Its friend of the court pleading follows upon their 22 April 2009 paper endorsed by 15 Bishops entitled Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church that stated the “fundamental structure of the Episcopal Church from the outset has been that of a voluntary association of dioceses meeting together in a General Convention as equals.”

Signing the document were the Bishops of Albany, Springfield, Western Louisiana, Dallas, the Suffragan Bishop of Dallas and the retired Bishops of Central Florida and Texas, along with the Rev. Christopher R. Seitz, the Rev. Philip W. Turner, and the Rev. Ephraim Radner from the ACI.

Canon lawyer Allan Haley observed the amicus brief filed in the Fort Worth case “must be both an embarrassment, and also no small irritant. After all, if the “Church” is at the top of the ‘three-tiered hierarchy,’ why can’t the “Church” keeps its bishops and clergy in line?”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.