Saturday, July 25, 2009
As a bishop friend said to me in a personal email from Anaheim a day or two ago, the trend seems to be for TEC to become a stand-alone American denomination rather than part of the worldwide church. Clearly, the presence and advice of the Archbishop of Canterbury for a few days meant little or nothing to the majority of the House of Deputies. As the same episcopal friend also said, those who are for inclusion do not seem to realize that for a large chunk of us that means exclusion -- although we certainly have no desire to be excluded from catholic Christianity through the Communion.
This whole exercise is not about sexuality or sexual behavior, but is fundamentally about what we believe the Christian faith to mean and be about. When it comes down to it, it is about our attitude toward Jesus as God's Son, the nature of the Trinity, divine revelation, Christian obedience, and holiness of life. The cavalier attitude of the Presiding Bishop to the creeds and their recitation is evidence that she considers the likes of me as pedantic has-beens rather than those who are on the cutting edge -- but the cutting edge of what?
Yet the truth really is, as you look around the world, that those who are pushing this worn out postmodern melange and calling it Christian are increasingly the has-beens. They seem to have tied themselves to the coat tails of the last dribblings of the least attractive side of the Enlightenment, and it is entirely likely that they will disappear down the drain with them. I say this as an Episcopalian who lives in England and now functions as part of the church under great pressure.
The church in England is wrestling to adapt to an altogether more secular and hostile climate than exists in most of the USA, and what is interesting, I don't see postmodern Christianity standing up very well in such an environment. It is a limp and aging rag. The creative scholarship, for example, is coming from a far more theologically orthodox direction (as can be seen from the recent awarding of the Michael Ramsey Prize for theological writing to Richard Bauckham for his extraordinary challenge to scholarship in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses). Healthy progressive liberal and theologically to-the-left congregations are few and far between, while it the theologically more conservative who are creatively evangelistic that have become the majority of stronger centers of the faith.
This isn't to say that the English church doesn't have a belly-load of problems and challenges, some of which it is refusing to address; but it is illustrative that so-called progressive faith is not flourishing well in an environment which affirms and celebrates many of the values and attitudes it endorses. Picking over concrete evidence from Britain and asking what this might mean for the Episcopal Church of the USA, one can only confess that it does not auger well on this side of the ocean. Looking at the hard statistics about the health of the Episcopal Church that have been coming out of Anaheim, the best interpretation of them is that the church is in serious decline -- if not free fall, and those who say otherwise are clearly in denial with their ostrich necks firmly stuck down holes.
All this is happening in the midst of the deepest recession in living memory, and one that promises to impact us for a very long time to come. Looking at the dire financial state of the Episcopal Church after the Great Depression might be a valuable exercise to help us grasp what the circumstances of denomination, dioceses, and congregations could well be like when the world eventually pulls out of this dive. Money is the mother's milk of ministry, and there are huge problems if there is none, or little or none.
The churches in England that are healthiest are those who approach their Christian witness in a missional manner: which means trying to ask and answer how we take the gospel message and enable it to speak in an environment where the church a bit of a joke -- or worse. Some of them are making whopping mistakes, but at least they are trying! The intelligensia in Britain will generally take every opportunity to denigrate religious people of all flavors, the Church of England in particular. There is little or no social or intellectual kudos to be gained from being a believer in England, and the bulk of the general population doesn't have the vaguest notion of what the Christian faith is all about. There are too many uncanny parallels to the 1st Century.
Yet, there are Anglican churches (and varieties of others) that are packed to the doors. There are some fascinatingly creative experiments being undertaken. The theologically orthodox seminaries are the ones enrolling the majority of new students. The House of Bishops is becoming increasingly orthodox (although they may not want to label themselves that way), and so on, and so on. The end product will ultimately be a church that looks very different from the one we have now, and it is likely to be one that the older folks (like myself) will have our struggles with. But what is more important: our understanding of the right way to express the faith and decline, or a whole new generation being renewed and revived by God to take the message to their lost and floundering contemporaries?
As a priest of the Episcopal Church I honor my ordination vows and I stand with those who stand with the historic, catholic, and evangelical formularies of the faith. I recite the creeds with conviction, I believe Scripture is God's Word written, and I cannot and will not walk away from what is happening.
At the beginning of this decade I was part of the 2020 Task Force that posited ideas and plans for the doubling of the Episcopal Church in the first two decades of the 21st Century. The reverse has happened because that agenda was dumped by 2003 in favor of what Paul might describe as 'another gospel.' I suspect that if the Episcopal Church is half the size it was in 2000 by 2020 it will be a miracle if the present course continues to be followed.
This is a tragedy of monumental proportions, but it does not prevent us from standing firm alongside Augustine, Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, Hooker, Janani Luwum, Festo Kivengere and many other selfless women and men who have gone before us in the faith. Error disrupts and does damage, but in the economy of a God who is truth it does not ultimately win the day.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
‘The crisis of this moment has several parts… The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy – that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It’s caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of all being.’
‘because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.’
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Okay, let’s take a deep breath. Inhale deeply. . . exhale deeply. . . Here’s my take. First, the positives, and then the negatives.
1. Missions. First, on a positive note, it was evident that The Episcopal Church as a whole and as a sum of its parts is involved in lots of missionary endeavors throughout the world. All the resolutions concerning World Mission were considered with deep respect and generally found easy passage. This church has come a long way from the 1980’s and 1990’s when the World Mission Department of the Presiding Bishop’s office was in such disarray and serious attempts were made to cease sending missionaries from TEC to other parts of the world. Similarly, it is clear that those present at this General Convention value TEC’s membership and participation in the life of the Anglican Communion.
2. Diversity is a Value. The decisions of General Convention also evidence that TEC wants to be a church of more than the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant of the last two centuries in which men dominated the leadership ranks of the church. Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, homosexual persons, and women obviously played prominent roles at various levels of the church. On the positive side, it is a good thing to be in a church that attracts gay and lesbian persons. TEC is attempting to be more inclusive of people who formerly felt alienated from the church. (The downside of this is that as a whole, TEC churches offer acceptance only and not any sense of healing or deeper wholeness. A further downside of this desire to include in positions of leadership people from these formerly marginalized groups is that in several elections, candidates who were more experienced and had a more proven record of service to the church were cast aside in favor of these formerly marginalized people with less experience.)
3. Strategic Plan for Hispanic and Latino Ministries. One glance at the Strategic plan put forward by the Hispanic and Latino Ministries shows that they get it.
Well, that’s about it for the positives. The rest looks pretty grim—and, by the way, it’s not all about sex. Let’s get sex out of the way first, because TEC has more problems than just the conflict over sexuality.
1. Widening Gap Between TEC and the Anglican Communion. The most commented on actions coming out of the Anaheim General Convention has to do with the declarations that discernment for all levels of ordained ministry is open to gay and lesbian persons. Although many have and will argue—specifically, the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies—that the moratorium on consenting to the election of a bishop in a same sex union has not been repealed, both the rationale given for the proposed legislation, and the floor debate accompanying said legislation (“D025”) reveals that the intent of the General Convention legislation was to hold the self-restraint as called for in 2006 (“B033”) as no longer binding on the bishops. It must be added that the abrogation of B033 was stated gently, respectfully, and graciously, but the intent of both houses of Deputies and Bishops was to abrogate B033. To interpret D025 otherwise stretches the bounds of credulity. The result at the Communion level will be that the rift between TEC and the vast majority of the Anglican Communion (save for Canada and a number of individual dioceses) has now widened even more considerably, and the likelihood of some form of Communion discipline of TEC is increased.
The Episcopal Church through General Convention also authorized the development of liturgical resources for the blessing of same sex unions to be presented to the 2012 General Convention (C061). Those who want TEC to remain a “constituent member of the Anglican Communion” will argue that no official rites were thereby authorized; it is equally clear through the floor debate on C061 as well as the statement in C056 that “bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church.” Again, signal that TEC would move forward on the blessing of same sex unions wase given gently, respectfully, and graciously, but the intent was to move TEC beyond the constraints of the second moratorium requested by the primates in the Windsor Report family of requests. (There is one other problem facing TEC that comes from the sexuality decisions of General Convention in Anaheim. We will deal with that issue later in section 5 below.
However, the problems in TEC expressed through the decisions of General Convention in Anaheim run deeper than the sexuality issues.
2. Financial Shortfall. It was obvious to all those in attendance at the General Convention in Anaheim that The Episcopal Church as an organization is facing tremendous financial difficulties. Although the economy in general was publicly cited as the reason for the financial problems, it was clear through a review of the contributing dioceses the printed materials that the departure of four dioceses and the disaffection of a number of dioceses also contributed significantly to the shortfall. According to notes distributed to the Bishops and deputies, at least 68 out of 109 dioceses failed in 2008 to pay to TEC the amount requested for the support of the program and structure of TEC. Many good and positive ministries are being given less support or provided no support at all. When the budget was passed, it was also announced that some thirty jobs at “815” would be eliminated within the year.
3. Fair Cuts versus Strategic Cuts. The cuts proposed in the budget for TEC were intended to be “fair” and “across the board.” Sounds fair and reasonable, right? Ah, but that’s the problem. They were not strategic. Any organization experiencing decline should be strategic in its budget allocation. There was no talk of strategy—except a proposal to take money from the strategic planning line item and use it to provide a second part-time assistant for the President of the House of Deputies.
4. Lack of Overall Strategic Direction. Even apart from the lack of strategic allocation of resources in the triennial budget, it is clear that TEC also lacks strategic direction at the highest levels of leadership in TEC. Cuts in Communications were made without consultation of either the Standing Commission on Communications or the Board of Episcopal Life. In addition, the staff and organization of the Presiding Bishop has been in disarray for the past three years and continues to this day. Positions have been eliminated, some staff members have been reassigned, with the result that areas of responsibility have fallen through the cracks in a seemingly disorganized reorganization. Seemingly strategic staff positions of three years ago and even one year ago were eliminated with little dissent.
Clearly, a denominational structure that served 3.6 million members that now serves 2.2 million members has to be reorganized. However, the decisions made at General Convention fails to show whether the leadership is really acknowledging that changed reality.
5. Impact of Liberal vs. Conservative Balance of Power. Most votes concerning issues of sexuality generally passed by similar margins: 70% to 30% in favor of what would be labeled the liberal position. (The one exception was the resolution calling on people in The Episcopal Church to work for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act: it passed by only 55% to 45% in the House of Deputies and was defeated in the House of Bishops). TEC has lost 10% of its average Sunday attendance since 2003 (the year when the bishop of New Hampshire was consecrated). At a time when TEC is in significant decline due to conservatives leaving the denomination, the decisions to allow partnered gays to serve as bishops and to bless same sex unions—while it may bring some people into Episcopal churches—the overall effect will be to cause more theologically and culturally conservative people to leave TEC and will make TEC an even less attractive church for other theologically and culturally conservative people to consider joining.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Thoughts About the General Convention:
The recently completed General Convention provided neither shock nor surprise to those who have been following developments in recent years. However, after this convention, the die has been cast. The restraints that were acknowledged and practiced (not by all) in the Episcopal Church in the selection of bishops (no partnered same-sex bishops) and the blessing of same-sex unions (not permitted) after GC 2006, have been effectively removed. All baptized of whatever sexual orientation or practice (so long, of course, as their relationships are faithful and monogamous), have access to ordination in all orders of the church.
Further, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music was charged with collecting and developing “theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships…”
This all flies in the face of the teaching of the Bible, 2000 years of catholic understanding and practice, the pleas of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the present and acknowledged teaching of the Anglican Communion on the nature of marriage between one man and one woman.
Amazingly, the teaching of the now forgotten Resolution 1.10 of Lambeth 1998 which states, (The Lambeth Conference) “in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage” is not mentioned at all!
As one friend commented to his congregation, the Episcopal Church is no longer “limping with two different opinions.” (see 1 Kings 18.21)
Since 2003 All Saints' has distanced itself from the
I think it is important that while we have rightly protested the approval of immoral behavior in our church, that we also make it known that all are welcome to our church. “Come unto me all who labor and are heaven laden,” are words we need to be reminded of. And as people hear of Christ, and learn of the salvation he has purchased through his death on the cross, turn to him as their Savior and Lord, and receive pardon and power to live as Christ’s servants, lives will change, and the standards that God has set will become the very way we will want to live our lives.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Written by: The Anglican Communion Institute, Inc.
Friday, July 17th, 2009
In a joint letter sent today to the Archbishop of Canterbury by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and the President of its House of Deputies, the presiding officers of General Convention acknowledged that that body cannot speak for the whole church in crucial matters affecting the life of the Anglican Communion:
Some are concerned that the adoption of Resolution D025 has effectively repealed Resolution B033. That is not the case. This General Convention has not repealed Resolution B033. It remains to be seen how Resolution B033 will be understood and interpreted in light of Resolution D025. Some within our Church may understand Resolution D025 to give Standing Committees (made up of elected clergy and laity) and Bishops with jurisdiction more latitude in consenting to Episcopal elections. Others, in light of Resolution B033, will not. (Emphasis added.)
This letter thus makes it clear that Resolution D025 releases bishops and standing committees from any commitment and assurances previously given to observe the moratorium on episcopal elections that has been endorsed by all four of the Communion’s Instruments and now implemented in the Communion by vote of the Anglican Consultative Council. Indeed, the official “Explanation” to the final text of D025, which states that it “provides clarification in light of the Windsor Report,” removes any doubt concerning this fact:
Our relationships in the Anglican Communion have been tested by the question of the ordination to the episcopate of individuals living in a same-sex partnership. Resolution D-039 of the 73rd General Convention, in 2000, acknowledged that the membership of the Episcopal Church includes persons living in same-sex relationships; established an expectation that “such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God”; and further denounced “promiscuity, exploitation, and abusiveness in the relationships of any of our members.” Three years later, the 74th General Convention reaffirmed this expectation. These standards thus provide guidance for access to the discernment process for ordination to the episcopate. (Emphasis added.)
This is a categorical repudiation of the communion-wide moratorium on the election to the episcopate of anyone living in a same sex partnership. Bishops and dioceses are neither asked nor expected to observe such a moratorium. They are encouraged instead to observe “standards” recognizing same-sex partnerships as reflecting “holy love.” As conceded by today’s letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, some bishops and dioceses will respect the moratorium; others will not. And those that do respect the Communion teaching will do so only because they reject the “guidance” provided by General Convention “standards.”
This explicit recognition that some bishops and dioceses will conform to Communion teaching while others will not requires that the Communion now look to individual dioceses and parishes for communion commitments. The General Convention has decided it cannot speak with one voice in committing to the Communion’s moratoria. The Communion has no choice but to acknowledge those who are ready, willing and able to make these commitments.
Friday, July 17, 2009
We appreciate your enthusiasm, your hard work and your reports while at the GC.
However, this comment stood out.
"There will, of course, be those at the extremes who cannot abide by any compromise or comprehension that permits legitimacy for those viewpoints they disagree with ...and we hold them in our love and prayers as well, as they seek a different path to be faithful to the Lord as they understand his will and Word."
It seems that those who continue to hold the faith 'once for all delivered to the saints' are now relegated to the status of 'extreme.' Further, while I do not deny the "legitimacy" of other view points, such points of view can be very wrong, both theologically and pastorally - which I judge to be the case.
The PB's opening address concerning the 'heresy' of individual salvation was uninformed and frankly embarrassing, and this wasn't lost on even some sympathetic observers.
I can only speak for myself; however, I find myself more alienated from TEC than ever before.
from BabyBlueOnline by BabyBlue
So Bonnie Anderson and Katharine Jefferts Schori have written a letter explaining things to Rowan Williams, which is quite contrary to what was actually said in debates on the floor of both the House of Deputies and House of Bishops.
Let's just recall what D025 actually says:
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 76th General Convention reaffirm the continued participation of The Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion; give thanks for the work of the bishops at the Lambeth Conference of 2008; reaffirm the abiding commitment of The Episcopal Church to the fellowship of churches that constitute the Anglican Communion and seek to live into the highest degree of communion possible; and be it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention encourage dioceses, congregations, and members of The Episcopal Church to participate to the fullest extent possible in the many instruments, networks and relationships of the Anglican Communion; and be it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention reaffirm its financial commitment to the Anglican Communion and pledge to participate fully in the Inter-Anglican Budget; and be it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm the value of "listening to the experience of homosexual persons," as called for by the Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, and 1998, and acknowledge that through our own listening the General Convention has come to recognize that the baptized membership of The Episcopal Church includes same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships "characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God" (2000-D039); and be it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst; and be it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church, and that God's call to the ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church is a mystery which the Church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church; and be it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge that members of The Episcopal Church as of the Anglican Communion, based on careful study of the Holy Scriptures, and in light of tradition and reason, are not of one mind, and Christians of good conscience disagree about some of these matters.
What Schori and Anderson attempt to maintain - despite the rejoicing going on in the progressive quarters of this church here at General Convention - that they are just acknowledging "certain realities of our common life." Then they assert "Nothing in the Resolution goes beyond what has already been provided under our Constitution and Canons for many years." Well, that's a stretch because the Constitution and Canons call for affirmation of the following by all ordained persons:
I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church. Declaration." (Article III)
Earlier, the Constitution declares that the Episcopal Church is committed to "upholding
and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer. " (Preamble of the Constitution of The Episcopal Church).
Resolution D025 (as does C056) do not conform with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church which recognize the authority and teaching on scripture which is quite clear about what is considered holy living. The Faith and Order set forth in the Book of Common Prayer only recognizes matrimony between a man and woman as being holy living.
The Windsor Report recognized that and those facts on the ground have not changed. That The Episcopal Church is now not only admitting that this type of behavior has been welcomed, it has promoted it as a tool for bringing new members into the church (with disastrous results). The Spirit is doing a new thing, they say - either that is true or it is not. The Episcopal Church is rejoicing that it is true and they are no longer to pretend otherwise.
The word-smithing in this letter reflects the duplicity of the doublethink of the leadership of this General Convention. On one hand they want to explain to Rowan Williams the "complex and deliberative nature of our legislative process" and then on the other hand wants to explain that B033 is not repealed, it's just now read in light of D025 (and D056 which is on its way) - which in fact, repeals B033 as deputy after deputy after deputy after bishop after bishop after bishop said! Who do they think they are fooling? The Archbishop of Canterbury? Do they think he's that stupid?
They write this letter even before the passage of C056 which makes it abundantly clear that B033 is done, finished - as deputy after deputy after deputy attested. Nice timing, there, ladies.
Did Bonnie Anderson ever say anything to the House of Deputies to clarify their thinking - no, a thousand times no. She sat in silence as deputy after deputy after deputy repudiated B033.
Did the Presiding Bishop ever say anything in the public sessions to clarify the resolutions from what bishop after bishop after bishop said it was, both B025 and D056, did she ever say anything that even hints at what she attempts to say in this letter to Rowan? No. No, no, no.
The letter is sanctimonious and self-congratulatory and never quotes the Windsor Report or Lambeth 1.10 or the Dar es Salaam Communique or even B033 not even once. They attempt to pull the wool over Canterbury's eyes by saying, well, it's not what it really looks like because, well, we just hope (wink wink) that the Episcopal leadership will "continue to exercise prayerful discernment in making such decisions, mindful and appreciative of our relationships in the Anglican Communion." No, no, no, no - a thousand times no. Bishop after bishop after bishop after deputy after deputy after deputy saw this resolution and the one that follows it as liberation from B033 and the Windsor Report and Lambeth 1.10 (except for the bits they like and quote). They changed the wording in Title IV so that the word "Communion" now means "the Episcopal Church" - not the Communion, not the Anglican Communion.
Make no mistake about it - the intent here is to dare the Rowan Williams to say anything - for if he does, if he dares, the Episcopal Church stands ready to declare itself a victim, even as it slashes $24 million from its budget and sends staffers packing. There's nothing wrong, no, really.
If that's no enough, we have Bishop Schori writing to the "Anglican Primates" attaching a copy of the letter to Rowan Williams, writing:
TO THE PRIMATES OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION:
15 July 2009
Dear Brothers in Christ,
My heart was filled with joy at seeing so many of you here last week at the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church meeting in Anaheim, California. It is important to me that we continue to find ways to communicate with one another directly about our different cultural and ecclesial contexts, and thereby prevent any misunderstandings.
For this reason, I am sending you a copy of a letter addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and co-signed by myself and the President of our House of Deputies. It outlines in some detail Resolution D025, which was adopted at this Convention, explaining both what this resolution means and what it does not mean. With so much misinformation circulating through the press and other sources, it is crucial to me that I provide the Archbishop and all of you with accurate information. To this end, I am also attaching a copy of Resolution D025, so that you may read it in its entirety for yourself.
As the attached letter notes, some people have been concerned that the adoption of D025 has effectively repealed the 2006 General Convention Resolution B033. Let me stress that this is not the case. Rather, we understand D025 to be more descriptive than prescriptive in nature, acknowledging the realities we face in various parts of our own Church while reaffirming our ongoing commitment on all levels to our relationships within the Anglican Communion.
I would welcome any questions or feedback you might have, and reiterate yet again my profound appreciation and joy at having so many of you with us as we gathered as a Church to worship, fellowship, and deliberate together. May God continue to bless your ministries and strengthen our bonds of affection.
Your servant in Christ,
One again, she attempts to take the victim platform - stating "With so much misinformation circulating through the press and other sources, it is crucial to me that I provide the Archbishop and all of you with accurate information." She and Bonnie Anderson did not dare to say what's written in these letters publicly here at General Convention for they must have anticipated the (understandable) outrage from the Integrity-aligned folks that would have been deafening. This is a bald face lie and she couldn't say it publicly, writing these letters to the leadership as though they will believe her. In fact, during the key points of debating D025, not one Anglican leader was sitting at the three tables set aside for them in the House of Bishop. Not one. They were gone, gone, gone.
They are now playing showtunes on the floor of the House of Deputies as we await the announcement followed by "Slip Sliding Away."
Slip sliding away, slip sliding away
You know the nearer your destination,
the more you slip sliding away
Oh God only knows, God makes his plan
The information's unavailable to the mortal man
Were workin' our jobs, collect our pay
Believe were gliding down the highway,
when in fact were slip sliding away
Slip sliding away, slip sliding away
You know the nearer your destination,
the more you slip sliding away
Rowan Williams said he didn't speak on coded language when he was here. But these resolutions are filled with coded language and it's clear that if Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson are writing three-page-letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury they are severely worried. That they couldn't say their own worries to their own houses says more about the duplicity of their actions - and clarifies to all that The Episcopal Church has set its sights on slip sliding away into the sunset.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Their decision to support, with a minor amendment, the resolution previously passed by the House of Deputies:
Ignored the repeated requests by all the Instruments of Communion, most recently the Anglican Consultative Council, to uphold the Windsor moratoria
Disregarded the explicit request of the Archbishop of Canterbury during his visit to General Convention when he stated “Along with many in the Communion, I hope and pray that there won't be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart”.
Failed to heed the Archbishop of Canterbury's warning at General Synod that “it remains to be seen I think whether the vote of the House of Deputies will be endorsed by the House of Bishops.
If the House of Bishops chooses to block then the moratorium remains. I regret the fact that there is not the will to observe the moratorium in such a significant part of the Church in North America but I can’t say more about that as I have no details”.
Overturned the recommendation of the bishops serving on the World Mission committee who asked the House not to support the resolution, explicitly citing such reasons as that passing the resolution amounted to a rejection of the process commended by Windsor and jeopardizes the covenant, would not reflect hearing the concerns of the Communion and disregards Lambeth I.10
Withdrew the assurances given by the House of Bishops to the wider Communion in September 2007 in response to the Dar Primates' Meeting.
1 It is important to recognise the multiple levels at which the resolution disregards the mind of the Communion both in relation to human sexuality and the nature of life together in Communion as expressed in the Windsor Report and the Anglican Covenant.
selectively quotes from Lambeth I.10 and affirms only the Listening Process but not the teaching and practice of the Communion consistently reaffirmed by the Instruments since 1998 which is the framework within which the Listening Process should occur.
contradicts the teaching of Scripture and the Communion by reaffirming that same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect and careful, honest communication display “holy love”.
recognizes that “gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst” despite the clear statement of Lambeth I.10 rejecting ordination of those in same-sex unions.
reaffirms they were right to consent to the election of Gene Robinson and proceed to his consecration by affirming “that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church” despite Windsor's request for a statement of regret for that action.
asserts their right autonomously to determine the suitability of candidates for ordination “through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church” without reference to the discernment of the wider church or the requested moratorium.
In relation to the Anglican Communion and the Windsor and Covenant Processes, the Windsor Continuation Group stated that “A deliberate decision to act in a way which damages Communion of necessity carries consequences. This is quite distinct from the language of sanction or punishment, but acknowledges that the expression and experience of our Communion in Christ cannot be sustained so fully in such circumstances. A formal expression of the distance experienced would therefore seem to be appropriate” (Para 45). General Convention's actions clearly reject the Windsor Process and are incompatible with the affirmations and commitments agreed by ACC in the proposed covenant. A formal expression of distance, with consequent limiting of involvement in Communion counsels, must now follow if the Windsor and covenant processes are to retain credibility in the wider Communion.
In relation to the Church of England, it has recently been reaffirmed, with regard to the Church of Sweden, that “the teaching and discipline of the Church of England, like that of the Anglican Communion as a whole as expressed in the Lambeth Conference of 1998, is that it is not right either to bless same-sex sexual relationships or to ordain those who are involved in them” and that “changes in the understanding of human sexuality and marriage” will lead to impairment of relationships and limit the inter-changeability of ordained ministry.
2 These consequences must now logically follow in relation to those bishops within TEC who have voted to support D025. They could be expressed by such means as actions under the Overseas Clergy Measure and a decision that the Church of England not be represented at future TEC consecrations.
Over coming weeks, in discerning a proportionate response to this latest development it is important that
a clear differentiation is made between the majority in TEC who voted for the resolution and those – centred on the Communion Partners – who upheld the mind of the Communion within TEC. We hope that many Church of England bishops will clearly reaffirm their continued full communion with those TEC bishops who voted against the resolution.
similar disregard for the moratoria in a significant number of dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada are not ignored
critical attention also be given to the relationship of both the Communion and the Church of England with the Anglican Church in North America.
As that discernment occurs and General Convention continues to meet and discuss other resolutions that would represent a further tearing of the fabric of the Communion we pray the words of this week's collect
Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church
is governed and sanctified:
hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,
that in their vocation and ministry
they may serve you in holiness and truth
to the glory of your name;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.