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Dr. Williams speaks of his “regrets”: The Church of England Newspaper, October 21, 2012 p 7 October 26, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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The decision to ban Gene Robinson and the breakaway bishops of what is now the Anglican Church in North America from the 2008 Lambeth Conference and the Jeffrey John affair were among the toughest decisions he had to make as Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams told Vatican Radio.

In an interview broadcast on 11 Oct 2012 while on a visit to Rome to address the Synod on the New Evangelisation, Dr. Williams spoke of the tensions facing the General Synod over the consecration of women bishops and the wider disputes in the Anglican world.

Asked about the impact of women bishops on ecumenical relations with Rome and within the Church of England, the archbishop conceded there will not be a “solution acceptable to everybody in the Church of England. That would be a real miracle of the last days, I think. But what the bishops have been working at, with a good deal of blood, sweat and tears in the last few months, is trying to find that point of balance which is just generous enough to the minority, and just clear enough about the principle, not to alienate more than we’re bound to.”

He noted that at their last meeting the bishops were “almost unanimous” in their recommendation to the synod. A “great deal of work and prayer’s gone into this; I’m certainly hopeful still that all that work won’t be wasted, all that prayer won’t be wasted; that we’ll find something which allows us to go forward honouring everybody within our fellowship.”

“We’ll see,” he said.

In response to a question about the challenges he faced as archbishop, Dr. Williams said that “with almost every significant decision in the Church of England and in the Communion, you are going to alienate certain people; you are going to lose friends, literally lose friends.”

“There are things that have to be done which may be right or inevitable, but don’t feel particularly good at the time. It’s watching the cost to others of decisions that have to be made.”

He added that “we were discussing just this week the Lambeth Conference of 2008, and the decisions made not to issue invitations to certain bishops whose consecration had been against the direct counsel of the wider communion.  That felt like both an inevitable thing, to honour commitments we had declared together, and also a very, very hard and un-kingdom-like thing to be doing. It’s those things that are the tough memories.”

The future for the Communion was unclear, he said, and he doubted that “what lies ahead will be conflict free or straightforward,” but he had no regrets about stepping down as “I do look forward to the chance of doing a little bit more joined-up thinking and writing, and seeing what service to the Church I can give in this new environment.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop’s apologia for gay marriage released this week: The Church of England Newspaper, September 23, 2012, p 6. September 24, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, New Hampshire, The Episcopal Church.
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Scriptural condemnations of homosexuality are cultural constructs that are products of their time, not eternal truths the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire argues in a new book set for release on 18 Sept 2012.

Bishop Robinson made headlines in 2003 when he became the first openly non-celibate gay clergyman consecrated as a bishop in the Anglican Communion. At his diocesan convention last year, he announced he would step down from office at the end of January, 2013.

In his book God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage (Alfred A. Knopf, $24) Bishop Robinson discussed his views on same-sex marriage and cited his own domestic arrangements in support of changing church teachings on marriage.  When he met his partner, Mark, “for the first time, I was able to express my love for someone through my body. … I experienced a wholeness and integration between body and spirit I had only dreamed about. I remember thinking, ‘So this is what all the fuss is about! No wonder people like — and hallow — this!’” he wrote.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Has Time printed the worst Anglican article ever?: Get Religion, May 18, 2012. May 18, 2012

Posted by geoconger in GAFCON, Get Religion, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, New Hampshire.
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How Will Anglicans React if New Hampshire Episcopalians Elect Another Gay Bishop?” Time Magazine asks in a 17 May 2012 article printed on its website.

To which this Anglican responds, “Why don’t you ask them?”

Question headlines are often a flag of trouble ahead for an article — a signal that the article will be weak. The question is usually a rhetorical one — the answer is given by the editorial voice of the article. Or it is some sort of “come on” — an exaggerated statement to attract the reader’s attention.

No, this is not the worst Anglican article ever printed. There have been silly Anglican articles, wrong Anglican articles, dumb Anglican articles, partisan/hack job Anglican articles, and egregiously cruel and ignorant Anglican news articles printed over the past few decades, so it is false and unkind of me to say this is the worst Anglican article ever. Nor can the author be blamed for the silly headline, as reporters seldom write their own headlines.

But this article on the forthcoming episcopal election in the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire is a wreck. While the editorial voice of this ill-informed story supports the progressive agenda in the Episcopal Church, it does so by treating the actors in this drama as one dimensional creatures — cartoons who represent issues rather than people whose lives are not exclusively driven by issues in human sexuality.

The lede of this story begins:

In the summer of 1992, an Episcopalian priest in Baltimore officiated at the wedding of two female congregants. Though he had been “careful to obtain all the necessary permissions,” it wasn’t long before the Rev. William Rich found himself on the front page of the Baltimore Sun and at the center of a religious controversy. Rich was criticized by many in the community and church for performing a gay wedding ceremony, but he’s never regretted the move. …

First problem — the claim that Fr. Rich performed a wedding for two women is false. The 1992

Baltimore Sun article reported that a blessing ceremony took place — but also stated this ceremony was not a marriage and should not be construed as being a marriage.

Father Rich, who is a chaplain at Goucher College, says the ceremony he devised at the request of the women involved was not a wedding but “the blessing of two people committed to each other.”

The Bishop of Maryland told the Sun:

Bishop Eastman said he was assured by the priest “that the liturgy in question was not in any sense intended to be a marriage as Christians understand that sacrament.”

“It was meant to be a private event addressing personal, pastoral needs,” the bishop added. “Neither the two women involved nor Father Rich desired to advance a cause or make a public statement of any kind.”

There is a difference between marriage in a church and the blessing of two people in a same-gender relationship. It is a gross error to conflate the two.

The article then transitions into the story that Fr. Rich is one of three candidates standing for election as Bishop of New Hampshire. It reports that he is an “openly gay man” and and notes that delegates to the diocesan electoral convention:

… will cast their vote by secret ballot to choose a replacement for the current bishop, the retiring Gene Robinson, who is also gay. If a second gay man is elected to the post, the selection will likely reverberate through the staunchly conservative arms of the Anglican Communion, a global network of churches to which the Episcopalians belong. It could also widen a fissure in the network that’s been forming for quite some time.

Second problem — the analysis offered here is just plain dumb. Gay and lesbian clergy have stood for election in several dioceses of the Episcopal Church since Gene Robinson was elected in 2003, and one was elected suffragan or assistant bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles in 2009. The news that a gay clergyman is standing for election as bishop of New Hampshire is hardly shocking to anyone who has any knowledge of the Episcopal Church or the wider Anglican Communion.

The assertion that the election of Fr. Rich would widen a “fissure in the network” is an equally silly statement. The Anglican Communion is not a network of churches but a communion of churches — this is a theological term. The Lutheran World Federation is a network of churches. The Roman Catholic Church is a single church — it would say it is the church. Anglicans like the Orthodox are in between. They see themselves as part of a single catholic church whose members reside in autonomous national churches — one of the battles being waged within the Anglican world is on the nature of this autonomy. Is it absolute or conditional?

To call Anglicans a network of churches implies Time has decided that it backs one side in the dispute — or is an indication of ignorance.

I suspect it is ignorance on Times’ part, as the impending fissure has already happened. Approximately 22 of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion are in some form of impaired communion with the Episcopal Church. This rupture has taken many forms, but the break has already occurred.

(Last October the Episcopal Church’s national office released talking points disputing the figure of 22 of 38 cited by GetReligion’s Mollie Ziegler Hemingway in an article she wrote for the Wall Street Journal. However, a little checking showed the Episcopal Church’s claim to be false.)

The current state of play is of a broken communion. One where some bishops will not attend meetings if other bishops, whom they regard as apostate, are present. A communion where its leaders can no longer worship together as they cannot all receive the Eucharist, Holy Communion, in the same service. As the former primate, (the archbishop or presiding bishop of a province) of the Province of the Southern Cone (the southern half of South America) told me in 2009, the traditionalists do not believe the leaders of the Episcopal Church are “Christians as we understand it.”

The article attempts to place what it thinks might be the impending split in historical context, stating the:

… crack in the Anglican community began to appear about nine years ago when Robinson became the first openly gay (and not celibate) man to be ordained as bishop.

Problem three — The crack has been around for almost 40 years and has been steadily widening. The consecration of Gene Robinson was a significant event, but hardly the first event in the splintering of the Anglican Communion. GetReligion’s tmatt has written extensively on this point and I need not restate the accurate Anglican timeline here.

The language used by this article is biased and ill-informed and full of questionable assumptions and conclusions. The story of Gene Robinson wearing a bullet-proof vest to his consecration is shared. And yes, it is true he wore such a vest. Yet the article does not go further in developing this point and the claims repeated over the years of physical danger. The only clergyman whose murder so far can be laid at the feet of the Anglican wars is Canon Rodney Hunter of Malawi. Popping in the death threat business without context speaks to the lack of knowledge of the subject under review.

Ignorance continues to drive this story to its end. It notes:

It doesn’t look like the issue is dying down, either. Last month, an ultra-conservative Anglican offshoot group, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, held a conference in London to address the gay bishop question.

Problem four — The FCA conference was not held to address the gay bishop question. The FCA seeks to reform and renew the Anglican Communion from within and by doing so, win souls for Christ. It is also laughable to call the FCA an “ultra-conservative Anglican offshoot group” as it leaders represents the majority of members of the Anglican Communion. One might was well say the Diocese of New Hampshire is an “ultra-liberal Anglican offshoot group”.

The article continues with silly statements and assertions about the structure of the Anglican Communion, why Archbishop Rowan Williams announced his retirement, but returns to New Hampshire for its close.

When asked about the potential for controversy if the diocese were to elect another gay bishop, Reverend Adrian Robbins-Cole, the president of the Standing Committee, insisted that the committee only felt excitement about Rich, as well as the other two candidates, Rev. Penelope Maud Bridges, and Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld. “What we really focus on is trying to be guided by God to elect the bishop who we need in New Hampshire and whom we think is going to thrive and grow,” Robbins-Cole says. “That’s our real focus.”

A grammar point here. It should be “the Rev.”, never  “Rev.”

I do feel sorry for Fr. Rich, Time is touting his candidacy in such a vulgar way that it might well trigger a backlash among New Hampshire voters. It also does a disservice to Fr. Rich’s candidacy as it turns him into a one dimensional figure whose only merit is that he is gay. Being classified as a novelty candidate, or a one issue priest, treats him as a token and implies the Diocese of New Hampshire sees only that aspect of his  life and work.

What then can one say about this wreck? It is factually incorrect, ill-informed about the issue, dismissive and disparaging of one side, and condescending towards the other. It asks a question of Anglican conservatives, but goes for answer to a white Australian conservative — when the majority of voices arrayed against the liberal wing of the church are African, Asian and Indian.

This may  not be the worst Anglican article ever written, but it comes close.

First printed in GetReligion.

Sudan breaks with the Episcopal Church: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2011 p 6. December 26, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, The Episcopal Church.
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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The American Episcopal Church’s support for gay bishops and blessings has led the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) to ban Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori from visiting the church.  The dis-invitation to Bishop Jefferts Schori follows a vote by the ECS House of Bishops last month to swap its recognition of the Episcopal Church for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as the legitimate expression of Anglicanism in the United States.

In a letter dated 15 December 2011, Archbishop Daniel Deng, writing on behalf of the House of Bishops stated that while the ECS acknowledged Bishop Jefferts Schori’s “personal efforts” to support the ECS, “it remains difficult for us to invite you when elements of your church continue to flagrantly disregard biblical teaching on human sexuality.”

At the 14-16 November 2011 meeting of the ECS General Synod, the church’s House of Bishops adopted a statement reaffirming the stance taken at the 2008 Lambeth Conference which rejected “homosexual practice as contrary to Biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within ECS.”

The bishops said they were “deeply disappointed” by the Episcopal Church’s rejection of the counsel of the wider Anglican Communion on these issues, and for its consecration of a second “gay” bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool, Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles.

“We are not happy” with the Episcopal Church’s “acts of continuing ordaining homosexuals and lesbians as priests and bishops as well as blessing same sex relations in the church by some dioceses in TEC; it has pushed itself away from God’s Word and from Anglican Communion. TEC is not concerned for the unity of the Communion.”

As such, the ECS had no choice but to recognize the ACNA as a “true faithful orthodox Church.”  While breaking with the Episcopal Church as a national institution, the ECS said it would continue to “work with those parishes and dioceses in TEC who are Evangelical orthodox churches and faithful to God.”

The break with the Episcopal Church over its stance on human sexuality by the Sudanese church follows the 2009 expulsion of an American missionary, a lecturer at a theological college in Renk, who had claimed the ECS was not opposed to the innovations of doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church.  The Sudanese House of Bishops has consistently rejected gay bishops and blessings, and at the 2008 Lambeth Conference Archbishop Deng called upon New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson to resign.

Bishops canvas support for action against the USA: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 4, 2003. October 17, 2011

Posted by geoconger in 74th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2003.
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The American Episcopal Church could find itself reduced to observer status, without voice or vote, when Anglican Primates meet in October to decide their response to the unprecedented decision to ratify the election of a practising gay bishop.

An estimated 22 to 25 Primates of the Anglican Communion, representing the vast majority of the world’s Anglicans, are likely to oppose the American decision in the strongest possible terms. Last Friday, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, recognising the gravity of the situation, called an emergency meeting of the Primates in October. It is the first time that an extraordinary meeting has been called to deal with just one issue, and points to the growing strength of the Primates as a body to deal with discipline in the Anglican Communion.

According to sources close to Primates of the global south, there are already plans to hold a number of meetings in the run-up to the extraordinary Primates’ Meeting to discuss a strategy.

The strategy is likely to be based on proposals in a document entitled, ‘To Mend the Net’, commissioned by the former Primate of the Southern Cone, Maurice Sinclair, and the Archbishop of the West Indies, Drexel Gomez.

Although early reports suggested that a parallel province in north America could result from Dr Rowan Williams’s meeting of the Primates, which would enable conservative Episcopalians to disassociate themselves from the General Convention, this is likely to be rejected by conservative primates.

Instead they are increasingly setting their minds against creating the ghetto of a third province for mainstream Anglicans in America and want to press for discipline.

The first step would be stripping ECUSA of its right to vote and voice at Lambeth Conferences, Primates’ Meetings and the Anglican Consultative Council. Secondly, the Primates’ Meeting could recommend to the Archbishop of Canterbury that he “authorises and supports appropriate means of evangelisation, pastoral care and Episcopal oversight” in ECUSA. Finally, if the American Church persisted in its defiance of the views of the majority it could be expelled from the Anglican Communion and a new jurisdiction would then be recognised as a representative part of the Anglican Communion.

The ‘To Mend the Net’ proposals are currently in the hands of the Anglican doctrinal body set up in 2001 to look at the limits of diversity in the Communion. But this body has not reported and was recently criticised by one of its members, Dr Paul Zahl, for failing in its purpose of responding to crises such as those created by the election of Canon Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire.

The Anglican Church of Kenya has already broken communion with the Diocese of New Hampshire. Condemnations of the General Convention decision came from as far a field as New Zealand, Nigeria, South America and the West Indies.

The Bishop of Egypt, Mouneer Anis, stated: “We cannot comprehend a decision to elect as bishop a man who has forsaken his wife and the vows he made to her in order to live in a sexual relationship with another man outside the bonds of his marriage.”

He added, “We had not expected this to be done to us by brothers and sisters who are in communion with us. We had expected that they would think of us before taking such a grave step. It showed great disrespect to the majority of the members of the Anglican Communion and the church worldwide. In fact, the decision shows disregard for the value of being in communion and part of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It also places in doubt the future of the Lambeth Conference. When its resolutions are no longer respected by members of the conference what purpose does it have?”

The day after the election, the American Anglican Council, the coalition of evangelical and traditionalist organisations in the Episcopal Church announced a meeting to be held in Texas in early October to coordinate strategies among dioceses and parishes. A number of conservative dioceses have scheduled special conventions in September and October to discuss the actions taken at Convention and to debate what steps to take in response.

In addition to the formal meeting of Primates called by Rowan Williams, small groups of Primates will be gathering in a number of meetings around the world in the coming weeks to coordinate strategy and develop a common front in response to the election of Gene Robinson.

The varieties of responses proposed by individual Primates range from suspension of ECUSA from the Communion to the creation of an alternate “orthodox” province for North America. What is certain in all of this is that the status quo of Anglicanism, before Gene Robinson and Minneapolis, cannot be regained.

African Provinces Cut Financial Ties with U.S.: TLC 4.27.04 April 27, 2004

Posted by geoconger in CAPA, Living Church, The Episcopal Church.
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First printed in The Living Church.

The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) has called upon the Lambeth Commission to discipline the Episcopal Church for unilateral changes to church teaching on sexuality, and as a mark of its resolve, stated it would no longer accept financial assistance from American dioceses and organizations which seek to normalize homosexual behavior.

Meeting in closed-door session outside Nairobi, Kenya, April 13-14, representatives from 11 of Africa’s 12 provinces, with observers from six other provinces, debated the Global South’s continuing role in the Anglican Communion.

While making room in the agenda for a discussion of the humanitarian crisis in the Sudan, unrest in the Middle East, reconstruction in Rwanda, and a constitutional stalemate over the election of a new primate for West Africa, the bulk of the meeting sought to articulate a common African response to the American branch of the Communion.

While rejecting calls to break with the Anglican Communion at this time, CAPA did reaffirm its support for the Church’s traditional teachings on sexual ethics and morals. CAPA further asked the primates’ theological commission “to call ECUSA to repentance, giving it a three-month period to show signs of such repentance.”

If the Episcopal Church does not respond appropriately after the Lambeth Commission task force issues its report next year, “discipline should be applied.”

The president of CAPA, the Most Rev. Peter Akinola of Nigeria, noted that breaking the financial tether binding the African provinces to the Episcopal Church would sting as the bulk of CAPA’s support came from the U.S., but was essential to the Church’s health.

Archbishop Akinola noted that U.S. parishes which continue to uphold historic Church teaching on sexuality would not be affected, even if they were geographically resident in revisionist dioceses. “We are not against every church in the America. We are not against everyone in the West,” he said.

Swift Movement Against Dissenters in New Hampshire: TLC 11.15.03 November 15, 2003

Posted by geoconger in Living Church, New Hampshire.
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First printed in The Living Church magazine.

Supporters of two dissenting congregations in the Diocese of New Hampshire point to two recent incidents as evidence that differing theological views may not be tolerated in practice locally.

Two-thirds of the congregation of the Church of the Redeemer in Rochester walked out of a Sunday service Nov. 9 in protest over the firing of their 72-year-old priest-in-charge, the Rev. Don Wilson, earlier that week. Right before the sermon, Jacqueline Ellwood and Ginger Carbaugh stood up, read a statement of protest to the bishop’s representative, the Rev. Canon Marthe Dyner, and walked out of the building, but not before a brief tussle with Canon Dyner, who snatched the letter from one of the protestors. They were followed in their departure by about 40 members of the congregation.


Fr. Wilson told The Living Church he had been summoned to the diocesan office Oct. 25 to discuss parish business. The agenda quickly changed, he said, and the Rt. Rev. Douglas Theuner, Bishop of New Hampshire, began to berate him for his previous opposition to the consecration of the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson as bishop coadjutor. Fr. Wilson stated he was not leaving the Episcopal Church nor would he oppose visitations by Bishop Robinson, but he would not affirm the consecration to suit the bishop. The priest said Bishop Theuner chastised Fr. Wilson, reminding him that he was not a rector but a priest-in-charge. The bishop instructed Fr. Wilson to have the wardens lead a special parish meeting Oct. 26, called to discuss the Robinson consecration.

After Fr. Wilson said he would rather stay home and not attend the parish meeting, if he could not conduct it as priest-in-charge, Bishop Theuner instructed him to attend and be silent, adding that representatives from the diocese would monitor the proceedings. At the meeting members of the congregation voted 18-5 in protest to the Robinson consecration. Observers from the diocese, led by Canon Dyner, voided 18 absentee ballots. All 18 absentee ballots were cast in opposition to Bishop Robinson. The following week Bishop Theuner’s secretary telephoned Fr. Wilson to schedule a second meeting.

“I said I didn’t want to go to Concord and asked to meet in Rochester instead,” Fr. Wilson said. For refusing to agree to a second meeting in Concord, Fr. Wilson said he was summarily charged with “insubordination” and removed from his cure.

The confrontation between Canon Dyner and the parishioners at Redeemer follows a similar contretemps between Canon Dyner and members of St Mark’s, Ashland, over the American Anglican Council. Meredith Harwood, of Orford, N.H., said she attended a gathering of 30 New Hampshire Episcopalians and five clergy on Oct. 16 in a private home to discuss forming an AAC chapter. Canon Dyner insisted on joining the gathering and began to take notes of the conversation.

“We asked her to leave for a half hour, telling her it was a private meeting,” Mrs. Harwood said. “She refused, saying she wouldn’t leave unless the owner of the property asked her to leave. Canon Dyner told us, ‘It was not appropriate for a private organization to ask me to leave’.”

Canon Dyner said she attended the meeting in “a private capacity” and was there “to listen and learn.”

Accounts differ as to what words were exchanged. Canon Dyner said she could not remember any specific comments, but denied Mrs. Harwood’s charge that she told the gathering “You have no place to go” as she left the meeting.

“Bishop Theuner’s actions represent an act of war against a small church of 100,” commented AAC president the Rev. Canon David Anderson, who called upon Bishop Theuner to restore Fr. Wilson’s license. Bishop Robinson did not respond to a request for comments.

Historic day in New Hampshire: TLC 11.10.03 November 10, 2003

Posted by geoconger in Living Church, New Hampshire.
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First printed in The Living Church magazine.

Months of suspense, speculation and widely divergent predictions about the future of the Christianity reached a climax in Durham, N.H. Nov. 2 with the consecration and ordination of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire.

Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold was the chief consecrator in a three-hour ceremony at the Whittemore Hockey Center on the campus of the University of New Hampshire before a congregation estimated at about 3,000. Almost immediately following the consecration primates from 20 of the 37 international provinces of the Anglican Communion said they would not recognize the ordination of a non-celibate homosexual person to the episcopacy and therefore a state of impaired communion existed between their provinces and the Episcopal Church.

In a fiery sermon that highlighted the current divisions, the Rt. Rev Douglas Theuner, soon to retire as Bishop of New Hampshire, compared the current discord over the morality of homosexual conduct to past arguments over slavery, divorce and remarriage. These arguments then were “about control, about power, about who is in and who is out, about who is right and who is wrong,” as were the current arguments that seek to deny a place in the Church to the outcast and marginalized, he said. The consecration of Gene Robinson, Bishop Theuner argued, was not a hindrance toward unity, but a mark of its fullness. Addressing his words to Bishop-elect Robinson, Bishop Theuner said, “Because of your presence, the episcopate will be more a symbol of unity than it ever has been.”

Numerous heavily armed police and additional security personnel were an unmistakable presence throughout the campus, and consecration planners took numerous precautions, which included restricting most protesters from campus property. Three formal objections did occur during the presentation of testimonials: the Rev. Earle Fox of Alexandria, Va., Meredith Harwood, of Orford, N.H., and the Rt. Rev David Bena, Bishop Suffragan of Albany. Bishop Bena, who spoke last, read a prepared statement endorsed by 36 other bishops from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada asking Bishop Griswold not to “put the future of the Communion in jeopardy.”

Bishop Griswold, who momentarily appeared flustered when Fr. Fox began with a graphic description of sex between men, interrupted during the reading of the first objection and asked the reader to make his point. After the last objection was read, Bishop Griswold thanked “our brothers and sisters in Christ for bringing their concerns before us” but noted the stated concerns already had been addressed.

The primates, Bishop Griswold said, believe that unity of doctrine is subsidiary to the desire for unity. The primates, he said, “register the deep sense upon them that the highest level of communion be maintained.” He added that the primates recognize that truth is not universal. It is specific to time, place and culture. “As Anglicans we are learning to live with the mystery of union at a much deeper level, below the level of civility; understanding one another’s contexts, one’s struggles to articulate the gospel in different places. I think that is precisely what we are doing here and therefore we shall proceed,” he concluded.

Addressing the congregation before the exchange of the Peace, Bishop Robinson sounded an optimistic note, thanking those present for their support while acknowledging the discord his consecration would cause. “There are people, faithful, wonderful Christian people, for whom this is a moment of great pain and confusion and anger,” he said. “Our God will be served if we are hospitable and loving and caring toward them in every way we possibly can muster.”

Primates – ‘A crucial and critical point’: TLC 10.13.03 October 13, 2003

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Living Church, New Hampshire, Primates Meeting 2003, The Episcopal Church.
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First printed in The Living Church magazine.

Following two days of highly anticipated and lengthy sessions at Lambeth Palace in London, the primates of the Anglican Communion emerged from the tightly secured venue to announce that the Episcopal Church will not face immediate discipline for its controversial General Convention votes on human sexuality last summer. That possibility remains, according to a final unanimous statement released after the meeting which indicated that if the consecration of a non-celibate homosexual person as Bishop of New Hampshire proceeded as scheduled Nov. 2 “we recognize that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy.”

Cloistered behind the medieval battlements of Lambeth Palace, the primates met Oct. 15-16 in the most important pan-Anglican gathering since the first Lambeth Conference of 1867. And like that first Lambeth Conference, called by the Archbishop of Canterbury in response to a crisis of faith and order occasioned by a bishop, John Colenso of Natal, South Africa, the Primates came to London to decide what to do about a bishop whose election has unleashed theological and doctrinal divisions that may destroy the Anglican Communion.

The affirmation of the election of the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire by the 74th General Convention on Aug. 5 and the formal acknowledgement that same-sex blessings are occurring, without disciplinary consequences, in some dioceses has brought the Anglican Communion to the brink of collapse. Prior to the meeting a majority of primates, comprised of most of the Southern Hemisphere, appeared to favor a firm line against the Episcopal Church, with some calling for discipline and even expulsion. Other primates, particularly among those from industrialized countries, have stressed the importance of respecting geographical boundaries and questioned whether the Communion is empowered with disciplinary authority.

The meeting reportedly did not begin well for the Global South coalition when the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, suggested opening with the Holy Eucharist. The Most Rev. Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria and the primatial spokesperson for the Global South coalition, said he and the others were not in communion with the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, and would not participate if the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church did. Archbishop Williams suggested that if all did not take part in the Eucharist, there would be no meeting. The Eucharist proceeded. Weaknesses in the coalition became further evident when the meeting opened officially and each primate was separately given about 10 minutes to expound on the theological and practical reasons why communion had been jeopardized between the Episcopal Church and his province.

When the expositions were mostly completed, the Primate of Ireland, the Most Rev. Robert Robin Eames, was made available around 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon for a brief, unplanned press conference at which he announced that there was unanimous consensus that the Communion was worth preserving and that he had never attended or been involved in a meeting at which “such openness, frankness and honesty” had been expressed. The primates continued to meet while Archbishop Eames conducted the press conference and the meeting on Wednesday did not conclude until after 9 p.m. The meeting ran longer than anticipated the following day as well.

If the theological argument in favor of discipline was weakened by participation in the Eucharist and the individual testimonies, the legal argument that the Anglican Communion was organizationally capable of administering discipline to an errant province was terminated by the Archbishop of Canterbury before it got started when he said he lacked the canonical and ecclesiastical tools to apply discipline at present.

That issue will be addressed thoughtfully based on the primates’ final statement which unanimously called on Archbishop Williams to establish a commission “to consider his [the Archbishop of Canterbury’s] own role in maintaining communion within and between provinces when grave difficulties arise.” The statement goes on to specify that the commission include “urgent and deep theological and legal reflection on the way in which the dangers we have identified at this meeting will have to be addressed.” That part of the commission’s work is requested within 12 months.

“It is clear that recent controversies have opened debates within the life of our Communion which will not be resolved until there has been a lengthy process of prayer, reflection and substantial work in and alongside the commission which we have recommended.”

Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh was “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome of the meeting prior to its start and expressed gratitude for the primates’ work at the conclusion. Bishop Duncan, along with Bishops John W. Howe of Central Florida, Jack Iker of Fort Worth, and Daniel Herzog of Albany presented the case for intervention by the primates in the “pastoral emergency” in the American Church to a group of primates, led by Archbishop Akinola, at a private meeting held at St. Paul’s Church, Robert Adam Street, London, on Oct. 14. The Rev. David Roseberry, rector of Christ Church, Plano, Texas, and host of the AAC-sponsored conference in Dallas the previous week, delivered to the gathering of 17 primates the signed declarations from the “A Place to Stand” conference.

Hastily moved to St. Paul’s from All Souls’, Langham Place, after The Times revealed the location of the meeting the previous day, the American delegation of four bishops, and AAC president, the Rev. Canon David Anderson, board member the Rev. Canon Martyn Minns, rector of Truro parish, Fairfax, Va., and advisor Professor Christopher Seitz of St Andrew’s University, Scotland, along with representatives of the Anglican Mainstream, a group of English evangelicals formed during the Jeffrey John affair, discussed the consequences of inaction by the primates. Should the primates fail to admonish or discipline the American Church, the AAC said, traditionalist dioceses and parishes would see tremendous losses in membership and financial support as people abandoned the Episcopal Church over the “apostasy” and “heresy” espoused by General Convention.

The primates gathered at St Paul’s told the AAC that they supported the call for reform and renewal of the Episcopal Church. The Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, the AAC was told, had met privately with Archbishop Williams that morning, and had shared with him the five-point plan prepared at a meeting of primates Sept. 26 in Nairobi. Archbishop Gomez reported, in the words of one of the participants, that Archbishop Williams “has given signals that he is on our side.” A second participant in the meeting told The Living Church that Archbishop Williams had agreed to at least “75 percent of what we wanted, and there may be a further 20 percent that is do-able.”

‘Godly Admonition’ Sought

Based upon two studies, “To Mend the Net” and “True Union,” the five-point plan would first call for the affirmation of the 1998 Lambeth Conference statement on human sexuality. It would also seek a formal declaration that the Episcopal Church and the Canadian Diocese of New Westminster had violated Church teaching as summarized in the Lambeth declaration. The primates would issue a “godly admonition” coupled with a call to repentance given to the American Church and Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster. If they did not recant their errors and persisted in following a course of conduct and teaching contrary to the mind of the wider Church, disciplinary measures would be taken. The American Church and New Westminster would be expelled from the Anglican Communion and a new reformed ecclesial body would be reconstituted in North America in communion with Canterbury and the Anglican Communion.

Following the meeting, Bishop Herzog said the primates unequivocally supported four of their five points, with the fifth — discipline — still a possibility in the future.

The Rev. Michael Hopkins, rector of St. George’s, Glenn Dale, Md., and past president of Integrity, said the primates’ final statement was one with which gay and lesbian Episcopalians could live, particularly given some of the statements prior to its start.

Divisions Made Evident at Closed-door meeting with the Presiding Bishop: TLC 9.22.2003 September 22, 2003

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First printed in the Living Church magazine.

The Episcopal Church is in crisis, according to 10 bishops representing the moderate elements from both the liberal and conservative wings of the Church. Beyond that assessment, accounts differ somewhat as to the substance of the conversation at a closed-door meeting with Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, Sept. 10-11 at the Episcopal Church Center.

Attempts at forging a joint statement expressing reconciliation or optimism collapsed as the two sides could only agree to a four-line statement confirming that they had met, that their “dialogue was candid, honest and respectful.”

In a separate letter written on Sept. 12 to the bishops of the Episcopal Church following the private meeting, Bishop Griswold acknowledged the “polarization” within the Church, bewailing “our having to make an either/or decision with no possibility of any other mode of response.”

The meeting occurred approximately one month before Bishop Griswold meets with the primates of the Anglican Communion at a special gathering called by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams.

The 10 bishops included five who voted for the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson’s affirmation as Bishop of New Hampshire: the Rt. Rev. Robert Ilhoff of Maryland, the Rt. Rev. Mark Sisk of New York, the Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island, the Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls of Lexington, and the Rt. Rev. Edwin Gulick of Kentucky; and five conservatives who opposed the election: the Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman of Quincy, the Rt. Rev. Don Johnson of West Tennessee, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. John Lipscomb of Southwest Florida and the Rt. Rev. Edward Little of Northern Indiana.

The liberal bishops were “shocked” by the fall-out following the Robinson election, said one conservative bishop. “Several said they could ‘not fathom’ why [Canon Robinson’s election was] the ‘deal breaking issue’.” He added, “I told them it was irrelevant whether they could understand it, or whether or not they wished it so — it is the ‘deal breaker’ and we have to cope with that.”

Bishop Griswold’s characterization of the meeting was much more upbeat. In his letter he stated that he “left the meeting extremely grateful for the candor and grace of the participants, their deep care and affection for one another, and their commitment to the well-being of their dioceses, and our church.”

US church fractures over vote: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 4, 2003 September 4, 2003

Posted by geoconger in 74th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America fractured last week when its House of Bishops affirmed the election of a practising homosexual as Bishop of New Hampshire. Whether called “schism” or “impaired communion”, the American Church also formally altered its relationship to the wider Anglican Communion when its House of Bishops affirmed the election of a non-celibate homosexual as Bishop of New Hampshire.

Immediately following the vote of 63 to 45 in favour of the affirmation of Gene Robinson as Bishop, Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh and 22 other bishops rose and stood before the House announcing their disassociation with the vote.

Bishop Duncan stated: “You cannot imagine my grief, or the grief of many, many people. … Those who rejoice at this moment will, I pray, at least understand what has been stolen from us: unity with the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church ecumenically; unity with our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion across the globe; unity with the faith once delivered to the Saints.”

Bishop Duncan stated that he and his colleagues were appealing to the Primates of the Anglican Communion to intervene in the affairs of the American Church and rescue it from apostasy and heresy.

Following Bishop Duncan’s statement, Bishop Griswold dismissed the House. Bishop Duncan that evening told The Church of England Newspaper that the Robinson vote rendered all actions of the Minneapolis Convention were “null and void” as “the ancient rule of the Church” was that one error of doctrine made by a Synod rendered all its actions void.

When asked whether he was concerned about the reaction of the rest of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Griswold dismissed concerns of schism or ruptured communion. He conceded he valued his relationship with the other Primates, but his relationship was with Canterbury, and then only through Canterbury to the other Primates. Calls for a Primates’ Meeting to discuss this issue could not be called by anyone but the Archbishop of Canterbury, he observed.

During the Bishop Griswold’s news conference Lambeth Palace announced a special meeting of the Primates to be held on October 15-16 “in London to discuss recent developments in ECUSA.”

Archbishop Williams’s letter asked for calm in the wake of the Convention, stating: “I hope also we will take quite seriously the intervening period to reflect carefully on our life together as a Communion and to consider how we might best bring our faith, experience and wisdom to bear constructively on these discussions.”

The calm that followed the next day in the House of Bishops was not one fostered by spiritual reflection but by physical absence. At 11am as the House of Bishops was gaveled into session, 47 chairs were empty. Approximately one-third of the bishops were absent. Of the 23 bishops who stood to voice their opposition to the election the previous evening, 20 had left the House. The reaction from the wider Anglican Communion and the Church’s ecumenical partners was quick. Questioned by The Church of England Newspaper whether the election of Robinson would damage Anglican relations with the Roman Catholic Church, Griswold stated that “there would be some ramifications” but he declined to speculate what they might be.

Archbishop Stephen Blaire, Chairman of the US Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs, stated on August 11 the election of Robinson would “have serious implications in the search for Christian unity and for the work of our bilateral Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue in the United States.”

“These decisions” noted Mgr Blair, “reflect a departure from the common understanding of the meaning and purpose of human sexuality, and the morality of homosexual activity as found in Sacred Scripture and the Christian tradition. As such they have serious implications in the search for Christian unity and for the work of our bilateral Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue in the United States.

The day after the election, the American Anglican Council, the coalition of evangelical and traditionalist organisations in the Episcopal Church announced a meeting to be held in Texas in early October to coordinate strategies among dioceses and parishes. A number of conservative dioceses have scheduled special conventions in September and October to discuss the actions taken at Convention and to debate what steps to take in response.