Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. Parliament Hill Ottawa. A Wordpress Production

ACC

Canterbury’s solution: A Lambeth Purge

ph_bishopsm-copy.jpg

Read over on Fr. Jake Stops the World 

From the Telegraph:

The Archbishop of Canterbury is preparing to target individual bishops whose pro-gay policies threaten to derail his efforts to avert schism, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

In a high-risk strategy, Dr Rowan Williams may even snub them by withdrawing their invitations to next year’s Lambeth Conference.

He has told friends he will challenge any bishop he believes is coming to the conference with an agenda “very much at odds” with his attempts to maintain unity in the worldwide Church…

…Dr Williams has been under great pressure from conservatives to punish the entire American Episcopal Church for bringing the worldwide Church to the brink of schism.

But aides to the Archbishop hope his new strategy of focusing on individuals rather than national Churches may appease conservatives who are threatening a damaging boycott of the conference.

Insiders point out, however, that Dr Williams could also target hardliners if he believes they are breaching guidelines against bishops intervening in foreign dioceses, as some Africans have done.

If he decides to take the drastic step of withdrawing the invitation to bishops on either the liberal or conservative wing, he will risk a barrage of criticism and could provoke further damaging boycotts.

But the Archbishop can remind Church leaders that he allowed for the eventuality when he issued the invitations, making clear in an accompanying letter that he was reserving the right to withdraw them in extraordinary circumstances.

I am so tempted to return to the call for a boycott. One of our bishops has already been excluded. How many more must be singled out by Canterbury as sacrifices to the extremists before the entire House of Bishops decide to stand in solidarity with them?

With B033 and the latest bishops’ statement, we have gone further than many think we should have to appease those who desire to rid the Church of those who hold different opinions from themselves. Clearly our bishops have made statements that would never have been agreed to by our senior house.

It is getting to the point that I wonder if any price is too high for us to be expected to pay in order to send our bishops to a tea party with Dr. Williams.

If one of our dioceses is not represented at Lambeth, none of them should be, it seems to me.

My Comment to Fr. Jake:

I too would want to wait and see what he will do [as to disinvitation] but if one is disinvited then none should go. We should not be paying for bishops to attend a conference that is exclusionary.

I think that the church has better things to worry about on parish level than the sexuality of a few. [well maybe more than few]

This is a sad development in the state of church affairs, but I do think that the worst is yet to come, and this schism is in the cards no matter what.

Someone is going to feel let down or placated, and some may feel vindicated in the end as well, at greater cost is the people that will be affected or displaced by the arrogance of some.

We should wait to see who is targeted then we should strategize on what we think a proper response should be.

First above all we should pray for the Archbishop that he thinks with clarity and focus of mind and in the hopes that his decisions are made out of godly counsel and not manly counsel.


Canterbury's solution: A Lambeth Purge

ph_bishopsm-copy.jpg

Read over on Fr. Jake Stops the World 

From the Telegraph:

The Archbishop of Canterbury is preparing to target individual bishops whose pro-gay policies threaten to derail his efforts to avert schism, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

In a high-risk strategy, Dr Rowan Williams may even snub them by withdrawing their invitations to next year’s Lambeth Conference.

He has told friends he will challenge any bishop he believes is coming to the conference with an agenda “very much at odds” with his attempts to maintain unity in the worldwide Church…

…Dr Williams has been under great pressure from conservatives to punish the entire American Episcopal Church for bringing the worldwide Church to the brink of schism.

But aides to the Archbishop hope his new strategy of focusing on individuals rather than national Churches may appease conservatives who are threatening a damaging boycott of the conference.

Insiders point out, however, that Dr Williams could also target hardliners if he believes they are breaching guidelines against bishops intervening in foreign dioceses, as some Africans have done.

If he decides to take the drastic step of withdrawing the invitation to bishops on either the liberal or conservative wing, he will risk a barrage of criticism and could provoke further damaging boycotts.

But the Archbishop can remind Church leaders that he allowed for the eventuality when he issued the invitations, making clear in an accompanying letter that he was reserving the right to withdraw them in extraordinary circumstances.

I am so tempted to return to the call for a boycott. One of our bishops has already been excluded. How many more must be singled out by Canterbury as sacrifices to the extremists before the entire House of Bishops decide to stand in solidarity with them?

With B033 and the latest bishops’ statement, we have gone further than many think we should have to appease those who desire to rid the Church of those who hold different opinions from themselves. Clearly our bishops have made statements that would never have been agreed to by our senior house.

It is getting to the point that I wonder if any price is too high for us to be expected to pay in order to send our bishops to a tea party with Dr. Williams.

If one of our dioceses is not represented at Lambeth, none of them should be, it seems to me.

My Comment to Fr. Jake:

I too would want to wait and see what he will do [as to disinvitation] but if one is disinvited then none should go. We should not be paying for bishops to attend a conference that is exclusionary.

I think that the church has better things to worry about on parish level than the sexuality of a few. [well maybe more than few]

This is a sad development in the state of church affairs, but I do think that the worst is yet to come, and this schism is in the cards no matter what.

Someone is going to feel let down or placated, and some may feel vindicated in the end as well, at greater cost is the people that will be affected or displaced by the arrogance of some.

We should wait to see who is targeted then we should strategize on what we think a proper response should be.

First above all we should pray for the Archbishop that he thinks with clarity and focus of mind and in the hopes that his decisions are made out of godly counsel and not manly counsel.


Tutu chides Church stance on gays

Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Tutu rebuked religious conservatives

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has criticised the Anglican Church and its leadership for its attitudes towards homosexuality. In an interview with BBC Radio 4, he said the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, had failed to demonstrate that God is “welcoming”.

He also repeated accusations that the Church was “obsessed” with the issue of gay priests.

He said it should rather be focussing on global problems such as Aids.

“Our world is facing problems – poverty, HIV and Aids – a devastating pandemic, and conflict,” said Archbishop Tutu, 76.

“God must be weeping looking at some of the atrocities that we commit against one another.

“In the face of all of that, our Church, especially the Anglican Church, at this time is almost obsessed with questions of human sexuality.”

Criticising Dr Williams, he said: “Why doesn’t he demonstrate a particular attribute of God’s which is that God is a welcoming God.”

‘Extraordinarily homophobic’

Archbishop Tutu referred to the debate about whether Gene Robinson, who is openly gay, could serve as the bishop of New Hampshire.

He said the Anglican Church had seemed “extraordinarily homophobic” in its handling of the issue, and that he had felt “saddened” and “ashamed” of his church at the time.

Asked if he still felt ashamed, he said: “If we are going to not welcome or invite people because of sexual orientation, yes.

“If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn’t worship that God.”

Dr Williams has been working to limit divisions between liberal and traditionalist Anglicans that came to the fore following Bishop Robinson’s consecration in 2003.

Following his plea for compromise, leaders of the Episcopal Church in the US agreed to halt the consecration of gay priests as bishops, to prevent a split in the Anglican Communion.

In the interview, Archbishop Tutu also rebuked religious conservatives who said homosexuality was a choice.

“It is a perversion if you say to me that a person chooses to be homosexual.

“You must be crazy to choose a way of life that exposes you to a kind of hatred.

“It’s like saying you choose to be black in a race-infected society.”


Montreal Synod asks Bishop to consider blessings of same-sex unions

At its annual synod or general meeting, held 19 October 2007, the Anglican clergy and laity of the Diocese of Montreal voted in favour of a motion requesting “that the Bishop grant permission for clergy, whose conscience permits, to bless duly solemnized and registered civil marriages, including marriages between same-sex couples, where at least one party is baptized; and that the Bishop authorize an appropriate rite and make regulations for its use in supportive parishes.” The vote taken on Friday night was passed in the order of clergy (44 – 25) and in the order of laity (59 – 32).

A statement from Bishop Barry B. Clarke

The Synod – our diocesan legislative body – has now requested that I grant permission for clergy, whose conscience permits, to bless duly solemnized and registered civil marriages, including marriages between same-sex couples, where at least one party is baptized; and that I authorize an appropriate rite and make regulations for its use in supportive parishes.

I will need some time to reflect on today’s discussions, to consult further with the other Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada when we meet later this month, and to consider the concerns of our partners in the wider Anglican Communion.

All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. As in any family, we have disagreements – sometimes serious. And as a family, it is important for us to be together; to continue to meet together to discern the mind of Christ. I was elected as Bishop of all Anglicans in this diocese, and as such, I call upon all to remain at the table, working to sustain the highest level of Communion possible.

Until a decision is made, there is no change in our current policy and practice; I expect our clergy to refrain from blessing same-sex couples.


The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada is meeting next week in London, ON and is expected to discuss not only the implications of both the Ottawa and Montreal dioceses’ vote but also conflicting interpretations of the ramifications of General Synod’s decision around same-sex blessings.


A Reading from the Book of the Alchemist

Same sex marriages, same sex couples. In most cases the universe aligns and we find the one who is “the one.” I offer you a meditation on Paulo Coelho and his book titled “The Alchemist.”  I knew the moment my eyes met my (then) boyfriend, that he was the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with…

“It was the pure language of the world. It required no explanation, just as the universe needs non as it travels through endless time. What they boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no needs for words, she recognized the same thing.

He was more certain of it than than anything in the world. He had been told by his parents and grand parents that he must fall in love and really know a person before becoming committed.

But maybe people who felt that way had never learned the universal language. Because, when you know that language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great larges city.

And when two such people encounter each other, and their eyes meet, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun  has been written by one  hand only.

It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, ones dreams have no meaning…”


Montreal Synod 2007 – Montreal Votes YES to Same Sex Blessings

synod-1.jpg

Anglican Diocese Of Montreal Site

Synod 2007 – Site

I arrived at the Church just before the break for the Opening Eucharist at 3:45 p.m. The service was to begin at 4:00 p.m. There was an understated energy about the Cathedral as people filed in and we took our seats in the pews. The Cathedral is a beautiful space, lit up with all the pomp and circumstance of a High Mass. My friends were there, Judy she was a delegate who would later argue for the motion to be passed, David was there, and Donald my Academic Adviser.

I had never attended a Synod before so I bring you testimony of what I witnessed. There were Bishops, Clergy, Arch-Deacons, and priests. Something the Catholic Church lacks is the numbers of female clergy that were present at this Synod in Montreal. It was a beautiful experience. We listened to over three hours of testimony about the motion based on Same Sex Blessings. The motion reads as follows:

“The Bishop grant permission for clergy who conscience permits, to bless duly solemnized and registered civil marriages, including marriages between same sex couples, where at least one party is baptized; and that the Bishop authorize appropriate rite and make regulations for its use in supportive parishes.”

synod-3-bishop.jpg

We heard the Bishop Barry B. Clark’s – Charge. He spoke about Money, Sex and Power.

This was the reading of Motion “L.”

At this years Synod, a motion will be brought forward asking that “the Bishop grant permission whose conscience permits, to bless duly solemnized and registered civil marriages, including marriages between same sex couples, where at least one party is baptized; and that the Bishop authorize an appropriate rite and make regulations for its use in supportive parishes.”

There have been some concerns expressed that this motion may not have met the deadline set for motions to be brought before Synod. However we need to recognize that, with General Synod meeting in late June and knowing full well that the decision taken there would have an impact on motions presented at our diocesan Synod, and without attempt at circumventing the process, the chancellor ruled that the motion could be entertained at this Synod.

“I think that it is essential that we understand what the nature of this motion is. The motion, as it stands now is asking the Synod to recommend to the Bishop that he/she grant permission. This is a “simple” yes or no question. Yes, Synod recommends, no Synod does not recommend. We, the diocese, are not asked to decide whether or not to allow the blessings. It will be my decision to take, should Synod make the recommendation; however, as a Bishop, I am also accountable to my fellow Bishops and will consult with the next week at our meeting of the House of Bishops, taking into consideration our accountability towards the wider church.

“The Challenge to our church is to maintain its unity while we seek, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to discern the way of Christ for the world today with respect to human sexuality. To do so will require sacrifice, trust, and charity towards one another, remembering that ultimately the identity of each person is defined in Christ.”

synod-2-carrier.jpg

“The Bishop grant permission for clergy who conscience permits, to bless duly solemnized and registered civil marriages, including marriages between same sex couples, where at least one party is baptized; and that the Bishop authorize appropriate rite and make regulations for its use in supportive parishes.”

The Votes fell thus:

The House of Clergy: 44 YES
25 NO

The House of Laity: 59 YES
32 NO

The Bishop Concurred… The motion passed.

I must say that both sides of the argument were eloquent and well spoken. Each person that stood at the microphones spoke from their hearts. There was much discussion about Doctrine, Scripture and Canon. But we were asked to vote our consciences. After many hours of testimony For and Against, those of us in the gallery were holding our collective breaths.

There was talk of the international implications of this vote, and the contention the Canadian Anglican Church would have with the wider Anglican Communion. It seems that the Nigerian Bishops did not negatively affect the outcome of the Montreal Anglican Communion, nor her Bishop, Barry B. Clark.

This is a win for the North American Anglican Church and a win for Anglicans world wide who want to see change within their church, for the voices spoke resoundingly. We pray for the Communion and for our Church…

There were many arguments based on Scripture, the Genesis writings of God’s creation, one man and one woman. We heard testimony from Leviticus, and Romans, and Ephesians. We listened to scholars, teachers, professors, clergy, bishops and laity.

Everyone in the room was respectful. I heard many men and women make impassioned pleas to NOT pass the motion. And I heard many impassioned pleas for understanding, teachings on “other” and “exclusion.” It was the most degrading experience listening to other human beings denigrate me and talk down to me, and demean my relationship, stating to the Synod that I was unacceptable, and that God does not bless same sex relations and that we are all damned…

I was moved at how critical people were in the negative column and how sure they were that scriptural and Doctrinal knowledge would further their causes, but the consciences of the greater Synod spoke loud, clear and humbly, through prayer…

I sensed a positive movement in the room, even though the No’s were pretty convincing, when it came time to vote – a hush fell over the proceedings. We prayed for guidance from the Spirit when we opened the discussion and in the end we prayed for the Spirit to guide us once again. Fr. Timothy was standing with me in the back of the hall when the votes were counted and he took a step towards me and said “please watch what you say now…” With that the votes were tallied,

In the EndWE WON !!!

We celebrated Victory with our Bishop and our Reverend Canon Joyce. It was true jubilation that this motion passed with such strong numbers. The No side attempted to break to vote into houses and that failed miserably. The No side attempted to amend the motion and that failed miserably as well. In the end the motion went before the synod as originally stated from the outset.

“The Bishop grant permission for clergy who conscience permits, to bless duly solemnized and registered civil marriages, including marriages between same sex couples, where at least one party is baptized; and that the Bishop authorize appropriate rite and make regulations for its use in supportive parishes.”

It takes little steps, and we moved through a great space tonight.

May God Bless us and keep us, and may God bless the members of our Synod, which continues tomorrow morning, here in Montreal.

I bid you a good night from Montreal.


Another Canadian Anglican Diocese To Vote On Gay Union Blessings

918.jpg

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

I will be at the Synod this weekend.

Montreal Anglican Diocese – Synod Information Page

(Montreal, Quebec) The Montreal diocese of the Anglican Church of Canada will vote Saturday on a proposal to allow priests to bless same-sex marriages and unions.

The vote comes a week after the diocese of Ottawa voted to allow similar blessings.

Like the Ottawa motion, the one in Montreal would give final approval to the bishop and would not permit priests to conduct actual marriages.

Delegates to the annual synod of the diocese of Ottawa, which encompasses Canada’s capital and much of Eastern Ontario, voted 177 to 97 to pass the motion.

Bishop John Chapman told a news conference that he intends to take his time before reaching a decision. “It could be one day to 10 years,” he said.

Chapman said he will confer with other Anglican bishops – both nationally and internationally.

Montreal Bishop Barry Bryan Clarke has not commented on the motion that will be presented Saturday.

The Ottawa vote already has fueled the flames of discontent among conservative Anglicans.

The American branch of the denomination already is the target of dissent by conservatives over the ordination of an openly gay man as a bishop. Divisions in the worldwide church have steadily grown since the ordination of Gene Robinson as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 and the Anglican Church of Canada diocese of New Westminster in British Columbia approved same-sex blessing ceremonies.

The diocese of New Westminster has put a hold on same-sex blessing ceremonies but anger by conservatives persists.

In June the triennial General Synod, the Canadian Church’s national governing body, agreed that same-sex blessings are “not in conflict” with core church doctrine.

The synod, however, declined by a slim margin to affirm the authority of dioceses to offer such blessings.

©365Gay.com 2007


"No Outcasts" Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori

captsgebzq29210907222408photo01photodefault-367x512.jpg

Found on: Fr. Jake Stops the World  

Yesterday, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offered a live webcast, which was co-produced by Trinity Church Wall Street and Episcopal Life Media. It is quite good. Here is part of her opening remarks:

…To those who argue from a perspective of justice that delay is immoral, I can only say that our ability to retain our connections within this church and around the Anglican Communion also continues our ability to advocate for the full dignity of gay and lesbian persons around the globe. It also means that our work toward the relief of human suffering, and to putting our gospel beliefs into action, has more possibility when we can work through the vast networks of the Communion than we can alone.

To those who argue that consideration of a change in our understanding of sexual ethics is inappropriate, I can only say that we have changed our understandings before, for example about divorce and remarriage, about contraception, and about polygamy. There is abundant reason to continue our theological exploration of this topic, and as our Anglican Communion visitors noted, it seems to be the vocation of the Episcopal Church to keep this matter before the rest of the Communion for discussion.

One of my predecessors was fond of saying, “in this church there will be no outcasts.” I concur, and I challenge each one of us to consider who it is we would most like to be rid of. That person, my friends, is the image of Christ in our midst. There will be no outcasts in this church, whether because of sexual orientation or theological perspective. God has given us to each other, to love and to learn from each other. May God bless each and every part of this body.

Do watch the entire webcast. The question and answer segment will be of particular interest.

Regarding our previous discussion of the situation in Fort Worth, Bp. Katharine’s comment can be paraphrased as:

Individuals leave the Church. If the leadership of a diocese leaves, they cease to be Episcopalians. It becomes the duty of my office and the remaining Episcopalians to reform in that place. We will tackle that issue if it shows itself.

I suspect that such a brief and vague answer was intentional. A similar short answer was given to the question of holding bishops accountable. Bp. Katharine mentioned a program now offered to new bishops called “Living Our Vows,” which is intended to help our bishops more fully understand the nature of the promises they have made.


“No Outcasts” Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori

captsgebzq29210907222408photo01photodefault-367x512.jpg

Found on: Fr. Jake Stops the World  

Yesterday, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offered a live webcast, which was co-produced by Trinity Church Wall Street and Episcopal Life Media. It is quite good. Here is part of her opening remarks:

…To those who argue from a perspective of justice that delay is immoral, I can only say that our ability to retain our connections within this church and around the Anglican Communion also continues our ability to advocate for the full dignity of gay and lesbian persons around the globe. It also means that our work toward the relief of human suffering, and to putting our gospel beliefs into action, has more possibility when we can work through the vast networks of the Communion than we can alone.

To those who argue that consideration of a change in our understanding of sexual ethics is inappropriate, I can only say that we have changed our understandings before, for example about divorce and remarriage, about contraception, and about polygamy. There is abundant reason to continue our theological exploration of this topic, and as our Anglican Communion visitors noted, it seems to be the vocation of the Episcopal Church to keep this matter before the rest of the Communion for discussion.

One of my predecessors was fond of saying, “in this church there will be no outcasts.” I concur, and I challenge each one of us to consider who it is we would most like to be rid of. That person, my friends, is the image of Christ in our midst. There will be no outcasts in this church, whether because of sexual orientation or theological perspective. God has given us to each other, to love and to learn from each other. May God bless each and every part of this body.

Do watch the entire webcast. The question and answer segment will be of particular interest.

Regarding our previous discussion of the situation in Fort Worth, Bp. Katharine’s comment can be paraphrased as:

Individuals leave the Church. If the leadership of a diocese leaves, they cease to be Episcopalians. It becomes the duty of my office and the remaining Episcopalians to reform in that place. We will tackle that issue if it shows itself.

I suspect that such a brief and vague answer was intentional. A similar short answer was given to the question of holding bishops accountable. Bp. Katharine mentioned a program now offered to new bishops called “Living Our Vows,” which is intended to help our bishops more fully understand the nature of the promises they have made.


Anglicans back same-sex blessings

 ribbon-in-church-01copyb.jpg

As seen on Fr. Jake Stops the World  

Ottawa becomes first diocese in Canada to support controversial motion; Critics predict exodus from church

Jennifer Green, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Sunday, October 14, 2007

CORNWALL – Ottawa Anglicans approved the blessing of same-sex marriages by a vote of 177 to 97 yesterday, the first diocese in Canada to support the blessings since the national church nixed them this summer.

In June, the Anglican Church of Canada made seemingly contradictory decisions when it ruled that same sex blessings do not contravene core doctrine, then refused to allow local dioceses to decide for themselves how to handle the issue of gay marriages.

Ottawa is the first diocese to broach the issue at the local level since that national meeting in Winnipeg.

The diocese of Montreal is expected to debate a similar motion at its own annual meeting, or synod, next week.

Ottawa Bishop John Chapman said he welcomed yesterday’s vote because it tells him where the diocese stands on the issue. However, he stressed that the final decision on whether to bless gay marriages still rests with him, and he expects to take his time making that decision. He wants to talk to other bishops, nationally and internationally, before going ahead with a policy.

“It’s not helpful to walk alone. We’re not afraid to walk alone, but we don’t want to walk alone.”

His stance may seem vehemently noncommittal, but he was very firm that clergy on either side of the debate must fall into line.

Rev. Garth Bulmer at Saint John the Evangelist at Somerset and Elgin streets, recently threatened to stop marriages altogether if he couldn’t bless gay couples. And Rev. George Sinclair’s parish of St. Alban the Martyr on King Edward Avenue has withheld some of its funds from the diocese in protest over the issue.

In his opening speech, or charge the diocese, the bishop said: “Leadership that does not take its lead from the bishops and councils of the church, national and local, cannot be tolerated.”

Yesterday’s delicately-worded motion did not ask that gay couples be allowed to marry in an Anglican church, or even that their civil unions be blessed. It just asked that priests be given the right to approach the bishop for permission for such a blessing, should their parish approve. This way, priests and parishes who are not comfortable with gay marriage need not concern themselves with it.

The meeting of about 300 clergy and lay people heard several hours of impassioned discussion on both sides of the debate. One minister talked about how his gay son is always cautious about meeting strangers sporting crosses. Will they receive him for who he is?

Rev. Christine Piper spoke about a blessing her family received after her ex-husband had a sex change operation. The ceremony provided all the members with a healthy way of accepting this new version of a father and former husband.

Many others brought up the fact that the church welcomes gay people individually, gives them communion, baptizes their babies, and even offers a pension fund that recognizes same-sex couples. Yet it can’t “bless” them even though it blesses boats, houses, even animals.

However, as the debate wore on, more and more people took the microphones, expressing their reluctance to support the motion.

Ottawa becomes first diocese in Canada to support controversial motion; Critics predict exodus from church

Jennifer Green, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Sunday, October 14, 2007

One young girl took a stand against her fellow teens in the youth synod and told the crowd in a shy, hesitant voice: “We can go with our rules, or we can go with God’s rules, and God’s rules have turned out pretty well.”

Some worried that the Anglican church would lose more congregants. Others wondered where this motion placed Ottawa vis à vis the vague position of the national church. Still others expressed concern that the Canadian branch of the Anglican church might find itself cut adrift internationally, especially given the dire state of the church worldwide.

Ever since the Episcopal church, the American equivalent of the Anglican church, ordained an openly gay bishop in 2003, African bishops have been vociferous in their objections. They have threatened to break with the Anglican church and take their many millions of congregants with them. Many have ordained their own bishops in the U.S. to minister to conservative Episcopalians. In some instances, there have been court battles over the church buildings, many of immense heritage importance, not to mention hugely valuable on prime downtown land.

Last month, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the church worldwide, succeeded in getting the Americans to agree to a moratorium of ordaining gay clergy and blessing same-sex unions, at least until the global Anglican meeting next year at Canterbury.

Some delegates to yesterday’s meeting wondered if Ottawa’s vote could rock that very tippy boat.

Yet overwhelmingly, the people objecting to the motion simply felt that gay marriage, or homosexuality of any sort, goes against the word of God.

Rev. Sinclair said that if the church passed the motion, “We are saying we are smarter than Jesus. We are saying Jesus was wrong and we are right.”

Later he said he was “disappointed, but not surprised.”

He predicted some Anglicans will leave over it, and he just hopes the farewells will be fond and not bitter or triumphant.

– – –

The motion

‘Be it resolved that this Synod requests that the Bishop grant permission for clergy, whose conscience permits, to bless duly solemnized and registered civil marriages between same-sex couples, where one party is baptized; and that he authorizes an appropriate rite and guidelines for its use in supportive parishes.

The Ottawa Citizen 2007


An Open Letter to the LGBT Community from Bishop Gene Robinson

 gene-robinsonb.jpg

October 9, 2007

Now that the Church has had some time to absorb and consider the recent meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans and its response to the Anglican Communion, I’d like to share with you what I experienced at the recent House of Bishops meeting, and where I think we are as a result.

There is NO “mind of the House” nor a “mind of the Episcopal Church.”  In fact, we are a House and a Church of many different minds.  We are in transition from the Church we have been called to be in the past, to the Church we are called to be now and in the future.  We are not there yet. 

I value highly the thoughts and needs of my brother and sister conservative bishops, who have no intention of leading their flocks out of the Episcopal Church, but come out of dioceses which, for the most part, find the Episcopal Church’s actions of the last four years troublesome and alarming.  I listened to them when they voiced the fears of their people that changing our views on homosexuality is a precursor to moving on to denying important tenets of our orthodox faith, from the Trinity to the Resurrection.  We worked for a statement which would reflect the diversity we recognize and value as a strength of our Episcopal communion.  It was our goal to describe the Church as it currently is:  NOT of one mind, but struggling to be of one heart.

My own goal – and that of many bishops – was to do NOTHING at this meeting.  That is, our goal, in response to the Primates, was simply to state where we are as an Episcopal Church, not to move us forward or backward.  Sometimes, “progress” is to be found in holding the ground we’ve already achieved, when “moving forward” is either untimely or not politically possible.  And, doing nothing substantive respects the rightful reminder to us from many in the Senior House that the House of Bishops cannot speak for the whole Church, but rather must wait until all orders of ministry are gathered for its joint deliberations at General Convention.

While many of us worked hard to block B033 and voted against it at General Convention, it IS the most recent declaration of all orders of ministry gathered as a Church.  The Bishops merely restated what is, as of the last General Convention.

Yes, we did identify gay and lesbian people as among the group included in those who ‘present a challenge” to the Communion.  That comes as a surprise to no one.  It is a statement of who we are at the moment.  Sad, but true.

Many bishops spoke on behalf of their lgbt members and worked hard to prevent our movement backwards.  We fought hard over certain words, certain language.  We sidelined some things that truly would have represented a movement backwards.

I want to tell you what I said to the Archbishop of Canterbury.  In the course of his comments, it seemed to me that the Archbishop was drawing a line between fidelity to our gay and lesbian members, and fidelity to the “process of common discernment,” which he had offered as a prime function of a bishop.  I heard him saying that gay and lesbian members of our Church would simply have to wait until there was a consensus in the Communion.  When we were invited to respond, I said something like, “Your Grace, I have always respected you as a person and your office, and I always will.  But I want you to know and hear, that to me, a gay man and faithful member of this Church, this is one of the most dehumanizing things I’ve heard in a long time, and I will not be party to it.  It reminds me of Jesus question ‘Is the Sabbath made for man, or man for the Sabbath?’  Choosing a process over the lives of human beings and faithful members of this Church is simply unacceptable and unscriptural.”  The next morning, the Archbishop tried to assure us that he meant both/and rather than either/or.  I tried to speak my truth to him.

On the issue of same sex unions, I argued that our statement be reflective of what is true right now in the Episcopal Church:  that while same sex blessings are not officially permitted in most dioceses, they are going on and will continue to go on as an appropriate pastoral response to our gay and lesbian members and their relationships.  Earlier versions of our response contained both sides of this truth.  I argued to keep both sides of that truth in the final version, providing the clarity asked for by the Primates. 

Others made the argument that to state that “a majority of Bishops do not sanction such blessings” implied that a minority do in fact sanction such blessings, and many more take no actions to prevent them.  All this without coming right out and saying so.  That argument won the day.  I think it was a mistake.

Another issue to which I spoke was this notion of “public” versus “private” rites.  I pointed out on the floor that our very theology of marriage is based on the communal nature of such a rite.  Presumably, the couple has already made commitments to one another privately, or else they would not be seeking Holy Matrimony.  What happens in a wedding is that the COMMUNITY is drawn into the relationship – the vows are taken in the presence of that community and the community pledges itself to support the couple in the keeping of their vows.  It is, by its very nature, a “public” event – no matter how many or how few people are in attendance.  The same goes for our solemn commitments to one another as lgbt couples.

I suspect that these efforts to keep such rites “private” is just another version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  If avoidance of further conflict is the goal, then I can understand it.  But if speaking the truth in love is the standard by which we engage in our relationships with the Communion, then no.

Let me also state strongly that I believe that the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and Primates MISunderstood us when they stated that they understood that the HOB in fact “declared a ‘moratorium on all such public Rites.’”  Neither in our discussions nor in our statement did we agree to or declare such a moratorium on permitting such rites to take place.  That may be true in many or most dioceses, but that is certainly not the case in my own diocese and many others.  The General Convention has stated that such rites are indeed to be considered within the bounds of the pastoral ministry of this Church to its gay and lesbian members, and that remains the policy of The Episcopal Church.

Lastly, let me respond to the very real pain in the knowledge that the change we long for takes time.  This movement forward is going to take a long time.  That doesn’t make it right.  It certainly does not make it easy.  Dr. King rightly said that “justice delayed is justice denied,” but that didn’t stop him from accepting and applauding incremental advances along the way.

We have every right to be impatient.  We MUST keep pushing the Church to do the right thing.  We must never let anyone believe that we will be satisfied with anything less than  the full affirmation of us and our relationships as children of God.

BUT, I will continue to try to remain realistic in my approach.  I work hard, and pray hard, to find the patience to stay at the table as long as it takes.  And I hope we can refrain from attacking our ALLIES for not doing enough, soon enough.  The bridges we are burning today may turn out to be the bridges we want to cross in the future.  Let’s not destroy them.

We need to be in this for the long haul.  For us to get overly discouraged when we don’t get all that we want, as fast as we want, seems counterproductive to me.  We should never capitulate to less than all God wants for us, but to lose heart when we don’t move fast enough, and to attack the Church we are trying to help redeem, seems counterproductive.

The two days of listening to the Archbishop of Canterbury and some members of the ACC were the two hardest days I’ve had since my consecration.  (It was a constant and holy reminder to me of the pain all of YOU continue to experience every day at the hands of a Church which is not yet what it is called to be.  Ours is a difficult and transforming task: to continue serving a church that seems to love us less than we love it!)  I was comforted by the support I DID receive from those straight bishops who spoke up for us, and especially by many of the Bishops of color, who implicitly “got” what I was trying to say and defied the majority with their support of me and of us.  I was even encouraged by many conservative bishops’ willingness to work together to craft a statement we, liberal and conservative alike, could all live with.

I believe with my whole heart that the Spirit is alive and well and living in our Church – even in the House of Bishops.  I believe Jesus when he told his disciples, on the night before he died for us, that they were not ready to hear and understand all that he had to teach them – and that he would send the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth.  I believe that now is such a moment, when the Church, in its plodding and all-too-slow a way, is being guided into truth about its gay and lesbian members.  It took ME 39 years to acknowledge who I was as a gay man and to affirm that I too am considered precious by God.  Of course, the very next day after telling my parents, I expected them immediately to catch up to what had taken me 39 years to come to.  Mercifully, it has not taken them the same 39 years to do so.  The Church family is no different.  It is going to take TIME. 

I voted “yes” to the HOB statement.  I believe it was the best we could do at this time.  I am far less committed to being ideologically and unrelentingly pure, and far more interested in the “art of the possible.”  Am I totally pleased with our statement?  Of course not.  Do I wish we could have done more?  Absolutely.  Can I live with it?  Yes, I can.  For right now.  Until General Convention, which is the appropriate time for us to take up these issues again as a Church, with all orders of ministry present.  I am taking to heart the old 60’s slogan, “Don’t whine, organize!”

I am always caught between the vision I believe God has for God’s Church, and the call to stay at the table, in communion with those who disagree with me about that vision – or, as is the case for most bishops, who disagree about the appropriate “timing” for reaching that vision of full inclusion.  In this painful meantime, please pray for me as I seek to serve the people of my diocese and you, the community of which I am so honored to be a part.

Your brother in Christ,

+Gene

gene_robinson.jpg


Anglican Bishops Take First Steps to New Structure

 

acc-coat-of-arms.jpg

From: The Anglican Communion Network

COMMON CAUSE PARTNERSHIP SEPTEMBER 28, 2007 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Anglican bishops from ten jurisdictions and organizations pledged to take the first steps toward a “new ecclesiastical structure” in North America. The meeting of the first ever Common Cause Council of Bishops was held in Pittsburgh September 25–28.

The bishops present lead more than 600 Anglican congregations. They formally organized themselves as a college of bishops which will meet every six months. They also laid out a timeline for the path ahead, committed to working together at local and regional levels, agreed to deploy clergy interchangeably and announced their intention to, in consultation “with those Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion offering recognition under the timeline adopted,” call a “founding constitutional convention for an Anglican union,” at the earliest possible date agreeable to all of the partners.

“We met deeply aware that we have arrived at a critical moment in the history of mainstream Anglican witness in North America. God has led us to repentance for past divisions and opened the way for a united path forward. To him be the glory,” said Bishop Robert Duncan, convener of the council.

The full text of the bishops’ joint statement follows:

Common Cause College of Bishops Statement

In the Name of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, to whom belong all might, majesty, dominion and glory.

We, the College of Bishops of the Common Cause Partnership, meeting together in Pittsburgh, September 25–28 in the Year of our Lord 2007, solemnly affirm this agreement.

In the grace, mercy and power of God, and in repentance for past disunity and disharmony, in thanksgiving for our full reconciliation in the Lord Jesus Christ, to give expression to our unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church as Anglicans in North America, and for the sake of our mission to extend the Kingdom of God, nurture faithful disciples through Word and Sacraments, seek the lost, and partner globally with other orthodox Anglicans, we hereby commit to do the following:

  1. In order to achieve greater unity and strengthen our partnership in the Gospel, we the undersigned commit ourselves to the Common Cause Partnership as set forth in the Articles of the Partnership (see Appendix 1).
  2. We declare clearly that we are taking this as a first step in the formation of the “separate ecclesiastical structure” in North America called for at Kigali in September, 2006.
  3. In consultation with those Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion offering recognition under the timeline adopted, we intend a founding constitutional convention for an Anglican union (see Appendix 2).
  4. Those presently-participating bodies which have not yet joined the Common Cause Partnership will decide at the next meeting of their legislative bodies, either to enter the Partnership or leave full membership in Common Cause, becoming observer bodies. It is expected that all presently-participating bodies will be able to enter the Partnership.
  5. We will work together on the regional and local levels and avail ourselves of the various ministries of the Common Cause Partners. We will deploy clergy interchangeably as outlined in the Articles of the Partnership. We are free to invite our fellow bishops in this College to share episcopal acts and our sacramental life.
  6. The College of Bishops will meet every six months in order to accomplish our stated objectives. The leading bishop of each Partner will serve on a Lead Bishops Roundtable, which may be expanded as they may determine. The Roundtable will advise us in matters referred to it (see Appendix 3).
  7. We are committed to the Great Commission. We will make disciples who make disciples and plant churches that plant churches, not resting until the millions of unreached souls in North America are brought to Christ, until all groups on the earth have indigenous churches firmly begun within them and our Lord returns in glory.
  8. We ask our Chairman to inform the Primates of the Anglican Communion of these commitments in the hope that our emerging common life will commend us to them as full partners.

montj06.jpg

From: Father Jake Stops the World

It appears that the final scene of the attempted coup by the ultra-conservatives has finally commenced. From the Network:

…In order to achieve greater unity and strengthen our partnership in the Gospel, we the undersigned commit ourselves to the Common Cause Partnership as set forth in the Articles of the Partnership (see Appendix 1).

We declare clearly that we are taking this as a first step in the formation of the “separate ecclesiastical structure” in North America called for at Kigali in September, 2006…

This group of “disaffected, breakaway bishops” includes members from the American Anglican Council, Anglican Coalition in Canada, Anglican Communion Network, Anglican Essentials Canada, Anglican Mission in America, Anglican Network in Canada, Anglican Province of America, Convocation for Anglicans in North America, Forward in Faith North America and the Reformed Episcopal Church.

Of particular interest is that I would imagine that this “declaration” was also signed by at least four bishops who are still members of the Episcopal Church; Bps. Iker of Fort Worth, Duncan of Pittsburgh, Schofield of San Joaquin and Ackerman of Quincy. This is sheer speculation on my part at this point, as, once again, the document was released without signatures. Such a curious custom among this group. If these bishops have declared that they are working toward the “formation of the ‘separate ecclesiastical structure’ in North America,” they need to be held accountable for such an action. One wonders how much more these bishops need to do before they are judged to have abandoned the Episcopal Church.

Such a judgment needs to be made. Most likely, these four bishops will claim that their dioceses can simply transfer over to this new entity. As has been explained to them many times, that’s not how it works. But, they will most likely try anyway. Which means that the faithful Episcopalians within those dioceses need to be making some plans, if they have not already. It would seem to me that they need to be contacting the Episcopal Church Center, and find out how they go about electing a Standing Committee to be their ecclesiastical authority until such time as an interim bishop is appointed.

The court cases over property will be a mess, although this development will not significantly change anything. In order to be recognized as a “replacement” or an “alternative” to the Episcopal Church, this new “ecclesiastical structure” will have to seek approval from two thirds of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council to have their name added to the list of churches recognized as members of the Anglican Communion. Even if somehow this new structure was to get the necessary approvals, the process will most likely take a few years. Until that happens, it is doubtful if a case can be made for the existence of a “denominational split.”

I can’t imagine that they will gain such approvals from the Primates, let alone the ACC. This collage of organizations include some that have been declared “not in Communion” for some time. To simply graft them in without serious study of the theological difference that divide them from the larger Communion would seem to be foolhardy. Beyond that, if the Primates allow this splinter group full membership, they will have also given permission for similar groups to form in their own backyards. That should be enough to give most of the Primates reason to have serious reservations about this new structure.

Now, indulge me as I reflect a bit on my “glass is half full” perspective, which I know some of you find quite frustrating. When I’m done, you will have the opportunity to offer the other perspective to your heart’s content.

I don’t necessarily think it is such a bad thing for these folks to form their own church. In the end, it wouldn’t be much different from the Missouri Synod Lutherans. There’s really not much left to discuss. And one way or another, we need to get past this constant bickering and move on. There’s many more mission imperatives that we need to be addressing. Such a division will be tinged with sadness. Some of my friends will be leaving TEC as a result, and that hurts. But I really think it is time to let them go.

Regarding the legal matters and property issues; the leadership of TEC has a fiscal and moral responsibility to not allow our assets to be taken by illegal and immoral means. That’s not going to change. But let the leaders and lawyers work that out.

Our focus needs to be those who will remain faithful to TEC but reside within areas where they are a minority. They are going to need our support as they enter uncharted territory.

I hope that some of these congregations will see this as the beginning of an exciting adventure. Imagine going from 60 congregations to 10 overnight. The new leaders, elected from among the faithful remnant, will have to gather together and ask themselves “What do we do now?” And that will be the moment when new possibilities, fresh dreams, and powerful visions will be glimpsed. There will be churches to plant, maybe in innovative ways never imagined before. There will be structures to put in place, and maybe it will be a more shared leadership that in their previous experiences they could have never thought possible. Means to connect pockets of the faithful that are scattered over remote areas will have to be discovered. Maybe a circuit rider on a Harley? I love it.

Our God declares “Behold, I make all things new!” Our Church is being renewed before our eyes. Sometimes such a shift feels painful. Sometimes it can bring us to the point despair. Well, life is painful. And we all sometimes despair over change. But, what an exciting adventure!

Ok. I’ll set the glass down now. Your turn.

*****************************

Breakaway Episcopalians Unite
by The Associated Press

Posted: September 28,  2007

(Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) A leading Episcopal conservative announced plans for a partnership Friday that aims to create an alternative to the “liberal-leaning” Episcopal Church.

Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, whose diocese is considering breaking away from the national denomination, said the group will be called the Common Cause Partnership.

The founders are a mix of groups with varying ties to the Episcopal Church and the world Anglican Communion. Among the members will be Episcopal dioceses and parishes that have broken away or plan to split from the national church, congregations that have never been part of the Episcopal Church and fellowships that are considered schismatic by the Anglican Communion.

Duncan said that forming a separate North American church structure for conservatives is “necessary because of the drift of the church in the West.”

“We’re in a time of reformation,” Duncan said.

The partnership will include the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a network of Episcopal parishes that have split from the U.S. denomination and have aligned with Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, an outspoken critic of Episcopal acceptance of gay relationships.

The Episcopal Church, the Anglican body in the U.S., caused an uproar in the worldwide Anglican family in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. The 77 million-member Anglican Communion is a fellowship of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England.

Ever since Robinson’s election, theological conservatives in the U.S. have been trying to stay together, so they can create an alternative Anglican province in the United States. But they have often moved in many different directions, including individuals leaving on their own to join other denominations.

In a sign of these differences, some traditionalist Episcopal groups were not part of the founding meeting, held this week in Pittsburgh. Duncan said he hopes they will eventually join.

According to the Episcopal Church, about 66 of its more than 7,000 parishes have either left or voted to leave the national church, or have lost a significant number of members and clergy.

Duncan said that 51 Anglican bishops, saying they represent 600 congregations, attended the four-day meeting here where the partnership was planned.

Anglican conservatives and liberals are deeply conflicted over how Scripture should be interpreted on a wide range of issues, including salvation, truth and homosexuality.

Anglican leaders had set a Sunday deadline for the Episcopal Church to pledge unequivocally not to consecrate another gay bishop or approve an official prayer service for same-sex couples.

On Tuesday, U.S. bishops affirmed they would “exercise restraint” by not consenting to a candidate for bishop “whose manner of life presents a challenge” to Anglicans and the church.

The promise, however, is not an outright ban and has been rejected as inadequate by some conservatives. The Episcopal leaders also promised they would not approve official prayers to bless same-gender couples.

The Rev. Jan Nunley, a spokeswoman for the Episcopal Church, noted that conservatives have tried before to unite around their opposition to decisions by the national church. But many have remained low-profile splinter groups.

Members of the Common Cause Partnership acknowledge they must work out theological differences over whether they should ordain women, and over spiritual and moral standards for ordained and lay leaders, among other issues.

The Common Cause bishops plan to meet every six months, provided their individual territories vote to join the partnership. The partnership plans to hold its first constitutional convention late next year and seek recognition from the Anglican world spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

©365Gay.com 2007


Episcopal Bishops Agree To Scale Back Support For Gays

nrowan.jpg

by The Associated Press

(New Orleans, Louisiana) Episcopal leaders, pressured to roll back their support for gays to keep the world Anglican family from crumbling, affirmed Tuesday that they will “exercise restraint” in approving another gay bishop and will not approve prayers to bless same-sex couples.

The statement mostly reiterated previous pledges made by church leaders, and it will not be known for weeks or even months whether the bishops went far enough to help prevent a schism in the Anglican Communion. Theological conservatives in the Episcopal Church immediately rejected the document as too weak.

Bishops released the statement in the final hour of an intense six-day meeting and at a crucial moment in the decades-long Anglican debate over how the Bible should be interpreted.

The Anglican fellowship has been splintering since 2003, when Episcopalians consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Anglican leaders had set a Sunday deadline for the Americans to pledge unequivocally not to consecrate another gay bishop or approve an official prayer service for same-sex couples.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Anglican spiritual leader, took the unusual step of attending the meeting for the first two days, pushing bishops to make concessions for the sake of unity. Anglican lay and clergy representatives from overseas also participated, scolding Episcopal leaders for the turmoil they’ve caused. The Episcopal Church is the Anglican body in the United States.

Anglicans across the theological spectrum will interpret the language differently. And Williams said he will take time to evaluate the document with a committee representing Anglican leaders and the Anglican Consultative Council, an international lay-clergy panel.

Episcopal conservatives noted that many priests conduct same-gender blessing ceremonies, despite the lack of an official prayer. Critics also said that national Episcopal church leaders didn’t do enough in their statement to provide alternative leadership for conservative dioceses.

“This is a ‘try to keep your foot in the door’ maneuvering effort,” said Canon Kendall Harmon, a leading conservative from the Diocese of South Carolina. “It feels like they want to change the ground rules instead of pay the price for what they believe.”

The 77 million-member Anglican Communion is a fellowship of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England. It is the third-largest Christian body in the world.

In the document, Episcopal leaders made some demands of their own, including that overseas Anglican leaders stop coming into the U.S. to take oversight of breakaway conservative Episcopal parishes. Anglican leaders from Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and elsewhere have consecrated bishops to oversee congregations in the United States.

Four dioceses – Fort Worth, Texas; Pittsburgh; Quincy, Ill.; and San Joaquin, Calif. – are taking steps to break away and align with a like-minded Anglican leader overseas. And about 60 Episcopal parishes have left or have voted to leave the national church. A meeting of U.S. traditionalists who have either split from the national church or are considering leaving began Tuesday in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The next crucial event for the Anglican Communion will be the Lambeth Conference, in July in England. The once-a-decade meeting brings together all the bishops in the Anglican world.

Whether Williams can persuade bishops to attend will be a measure not only of his leadership, but also of the strength of the communion.

Williams did not invite Robinson or a U.S.-based bishop, the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, who leads a network of breakaway conservative Episcopal parishes aligned with the Anglican Church of Nigeria. But some Anglican prelates don’t want to be even at the same table as Episcopalians who consecrated Robinson.

Separately, Robinson has been in private talks with the archbishop of Canterbury to find a way he can attend, as an observer perhaps, and bishops in New Orleans this week voted to support that effort.

©365Gay.com 2007


The House of Bishops Decisions

 nrowan.jpg

From: Walking With Integrity

September 25, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW ORLEANS—The members of Integrity have prayed unceasingly for their bishops as they met this week to consider a response to the primates’ communiqué. The bishops were pressured by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other international guests to comply with the primate’s demands. The bishops struggled mightily amongst themselves to achieve a clear consensus on how to respond. Integrity is gratified that the final response from the House of Bishop declined to succumb to the pressure to go backwards, but rather took some significant steps forward.

We are encouraged by their strong language against the incursions of uninvited bishops into this province, their commendation of the Anglican Listening Process, their unequivocal support that the Bishop of New Hampshire should receive an invitation to the Lambeth Conference, and their affirmation of safety and civil rights for LGBT persons.

Integrity President Susan Russell said, “In response to requests for ‘clarity’ the House of Bishops made it clear today that the Episcopal Church is moving forward in faith. I believe today’s response will be received as a sign of great hope that we are committed to working through the hard ground of our differences. I look forward to taking the support of the House of Bishops for the Listening Process with me when I and other Integrity representatives meet with Anglican colleagues in London next month to prepare for our witness at the Lambeth Conference.”

“Integrity is confident that The Episcopal Church will continue to move forward,” concluded Russell. “Integrity expects General Convention 2009 to be a tipping point for equality. We will be working hard in the months ahead to repeal B033 and to authorize development of a rite for blessing same-sex relationships as steps toward the goal of the full inclusion of all the baptized into the Body of Christ.”

****************************************

gene_robinson.jpg

The Statement from the House of Bishops:
Read on Fr. Jake Stops the World 

House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church
New Orleans, Louisiana
September 25, 2007

A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners

In accordance with Our Lord’s high prienstly prayer that we be one, and in the spirit of Resolution A159 of the 75th General Convention, and in obedience to his Great Commission to go into the world and make disciples, and in gratitude for the gift of the Anglican Communion as a sign of the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work of reconciliation throughout the world, we offer the following to the Episcopal Church, the Primates, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), and the larger Communion, with the hope of “mending the tear in the fabric” of our common life in Christ.

“I do it all for the sake of the Gospel so that I might share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:23

Introduction

The House of Bishops expresses sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates for accepting our invitation to join us in New Orleans. By their presence they have both honored us and assisted us in our discernment. Their presence was a living reminder of the unity that is Christ’s promised gift in teh power of the Holy Spirit.

Much of our meeting time was spent in continuing discernment of our relationships within the Anglican Communion. We engaged in careful listening and straightforward dialogue with our guests. We expressed our passionate desire to remain in communion. It is our conviction that The Episcopal Church needs the Anglican Communion, and we heard from our guests that the Anglican Communion needs The Episcopal Church.

The House of Bishops offers the following responses to our Anglican Communion partners. We believe they provide clarity and point toward next steps in an ongoing process of dialogue. Within The Episcopal Church the common discernment of God’s call is a lively partnership among laypersons, bishops, priests, and deacons, and therefore necessarily includes the Presiding Bishop, the Executive Council, and the General Convention.

Summary

  • We reconfirm that resolution B033 of General Convention 2006 (The Election of Bishops) calls upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”
  • We pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.
  • We commend our Presiding Bishop’s plan for episcopal visitors.
    We deplore incursions into our jurisdictions by uninvited bishops and call for them to end.
  • We support the Presiding Bishop in seeking communion-wide consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.
  • We call for increasing implementation of the listening process across the Communion and for a report on its progress to Lambeth 2008.
  • We support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.
  • We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety, and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.

    Discussion:

    Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention

    The House of Bishops concurs with Resolution EC011 of the Executive Council. This Resolution commends the Report of the Communion Sub-Group of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion as an accurate evaluation of Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention, calling upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains.

    Blessing of Same-Sex Unions

    We, the members of the House of Bishops, pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process. In the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. In addition to not having authorized liturgies the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. We do note that in May 2003 the Primates said we have a pastoral duty “to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations.” They further stated, “…[I]t is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care.”

    Episcopal Visitors

    We affirm the Presiding Bishop’s plan to appoint episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight. Such oversight would be provided by bishops who are a part of and subject to the communal life of this province. We believe this plan is consistent with and analogous to Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) as affirmed by the Windsor Report (paragraph 152). We thank those bishops who have generously offered themselves for this ministry. We hope that dioceses will make use of this plan and that the Presiding Bishop will continue conversation with those dioceses that may feel the need for such ministries. We appreciate and need to hear all voices in The Episcopal Church.

    Incursions by Uninvited Bishops

    We call for an immediate end to diocesan incursions by uninvited bishops in accordance with the Windsor Report and consistent with the statements of past Lambeth Conferences and the Ecumenical Councils of the Church. Such incursions imperil common prayer and long-established ecclesial principles of our Communion. These principles include respect for local jurisdiction and recognition of the geographical boundaries of dioceses and provinces. As we continue to commit ourselves to honor both the spirit and the content of the Windsor Report, we call upon those provinces and bishops engaging in such insurvions likewise to honor the Windsor Report by ending them. We offer assurance that delegated episcopal pastoral care is being provided for those who seek it.

    Communion-wide Consultation

    In their communique of February 2007, the Primates proposed a “pastoral scheme.” At our meeting in March 2007, we expressed our deep concern that this scheme would compromise the authority of our own primate and place the autonomy of The Episcopal Church at risk. The Executive Council reiterate our concerns and declined to participate. Nevertheless we recognize a useful role for communion-wide consultation with respect to the pastoral needs of those seeking alternative oversight, as well as the pastoral needs of gay and lesbian persons in this and other provinces. We encourage our Presiding Bishop to continue to explore such consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.

    The Listening Process

    The 1998 Lambeth Conference called all the provinces of the Anglican Communion to engage in a “listening process” designed to bring gay and lesbian Anglicans fully into the church’s conversation about sexuality. We look forward to receiving initial reports about this process at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and to participating with others in this crucial enterprise. We are aware that in some cultural contexts, conversation concerning homosexuality is difficult. We see an important role for the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in this listening process, since it represents both the lay and ordained members of our constituent churches and so is well placed to engage every part of the body in this conversation. We encourage the ACC to identify the variety of resources needed to accomplish these conversations.

    The Lambeth Conference

    Invitations to the Lambeth Conference are extended by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Those among us who have received an invitation to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference look forward to that gathering with hope and expectation. Many of us are engaged in mission partnerships with bishops and dioceses around the world and cherish these relationships. Lambeth offers a wonderful opportunity to build on such partnerships.

    We are mindful that the Bishop of New Hampshire has not yet received an invitation to the conference. We also note that the Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed a desire to explore a way for him to participate. We share the Archbishop’s desire and encourage our Presiding Bishop to offer our assistance as bishops in this endeavor. It is our fervent hope that a way can be found for his full participation.

    Justice and Dignity for Gay and Lesbian Persons

    It is of fundamental importance that, as we continue to seek consensus in matters of human sexuality, we also be clear and outspoken in our shared commitment to establish and protect the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons, and to name and oppose at every turn any action or policy that does violence to them, encourages violence towards them, or violates their dignity as children of God. We call all our partners in the Anglican Communion to recommit to this effort. As we stated at the conclusion of our meeting in March 2007: “We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecutive because of their differences, often in the name of God.”
    ________________________________

    The above text was made available to us by epiScope. Many thanks to the Rev. Jan Nunley.

    Thank You Fr. Jake for this information…


  • Episcopalians try to prevent split

    Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori participates in her investiture as the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in 2006. Leaders of the US branch of Anglicanism, the Episcopal church, said they expect to have a response to conservative critics of the church’s stance by early next week.(AFP/File/Nicholas Kamm)

    NEW ORLEANS – Episcopal bishops, under intense pressure from Anglicans to ease their support for gays, said Monday they were crafting a straightforward statement that reflects their deep desire to remain in the global Anglican fellowship.

    Anglican leaders have set a Sept. 30 deadline for the Americans to pledge unequivocally not to consecrate another gay bishop or approve an official prayer service for same-gender couples.

    Episcopal bishops have dedicated their meeting here to crafting a response. A preliminary draft statement released in the morning was considered far too weak and was quickly scrapped.

    A bishops’ committee worked into the evening to finish the statement. A vote was expected in the full House of Bishops on Tuesday, the final day of the meeting.

    “We are working very closely with one another whether we are on the conservative end of the church, the liberal or the moderate middle,” said liberal Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno. “We’re looking to make as full, clear and complete a response as we can.”

    The Episcopal Church, the Anglican body in the U.S., caused an uproar in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

    Bishop Ed Little of Northern Indiana, a theological conservative who wants to stay in the Episcopal Church, said that lay and clergy leaders from the Anglican Communion who have been attending the six-day meeting are pushing bishops to make concessions.

    “They’ve all said in essence, for the good of the church, for the good of the communion, you have to take a step back,” Little said.

    The 77-million-member Anglican Communion is a fellowship of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England. It is the third-largest Christian body in the world, behind the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.

    Most overseas Anglicans are traditionalists who believe the Bible bars gay relationships. But liberals are a majority in the 2.2 million-member Episcopal Church. They emphasize biblical teaching on justice and tolerance.

    Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Anglican spiritual leader, took the unusual step of attending the meeting on its first two days, warning Episcopal leaders behind closed doors that they must make changes to keep the communion together. In an e-mail to his diocese, Arizona Bishop Kirk Smith wrote that “it seems we are being given a `Sophie’s Choice,’ being asked to pick who we love more” — the communion or gays and lesbians.

    Last year, the top Episcopal policy making body, the General Convention, asked bishops to “exercise restraint” by not approving candidates for bishop “whose manner of life presents a challenge” to the church. However, the measure isn’t binding, and a lesbian with a female partner is among the finalists in an upcoming election for Chicago bishop.

    The Episcopal prayer book has no liturgy for blessing same-gender couples, but about a dozen of the 110 U.S. dioceses allow priests to perform the ceremonies.

    There is much more reading at: Fr. Jakes Space