11/20/2006

A Good Week for the Episcopal Church, less so for the Realignment Community.

The Global South Steering Committee on November 15-17 “met with bishops and representatives of eight Anglican Communion Network Dioceses who have appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Global South Primates for various forms of Alternative Primatial Oversight. Representatives of other Windsor-compliant Dioceses and the more than one hundred congregations that are now separated from the Episcopal Church also joined us.”

The members of that Steering Committee include:

President: Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola, Primate of All Nigeria
General Secretary: The Most Rev’d John Chew, Bishop of Singapore
Treasurer: The Rt. Rev’d Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Diocese of Egypt
Most Rev’d Emmanuel Kolini, Province of Rwanda
Most Rev’d Drexel Gomez, the Province of the West Indies
Most Rev’d Bernard Malango, Province of Central Africa
Most Rev’d Gregory Venables, the Province of the Southern Cone

On November 14th AnglicanTV recorded a statement by The Moderator of the Network at the Anglican Relief and Development Fund meeting at The Falls Church, Virginia. At the end of the talk the camera pans across the stage and there are seven people. Several of those on the stage are members of the GS Steering Committee. The picture is blurry, so it is not possible to identify them all. The overlap between the members of the ARDF (8 persons) and the GS Steering Committee (7 persons) are three persons: Akinola, Gomez, and Chew. I think I recognize all three as there.

The Moderator’s comments then were directed to a gathering and with at least three members of the GS Steering Committee on the stage, including both its chairperson and secretary.

All of this is of some interest because the Moderator’s talk seems an effort to reassure the faithful and ends by saying,

“It’s going to be alright brothers and sisters but its going to be mighty hard. How it will work out doesn’t have to do with somebody else doing something, it has to do with whether I am doing what God calls me to do in this situation: to stand for the truth, to stand for others, to stand for mission. And that’s what we’re going to do together, right?”

The meeting between the Global South Steering Committee took place and the GSSC issued a statement. Having heard the Moderator make his plea, and having heard the witness of others, what they had to say was pretty bland. They said in part:

“The Steering Committee will be making its report and recommendation to the Global South Primates when they next meet and will also be sharing them with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Deeply touched by the oftentimes painful and gravely disconcerting testimonies that we heard, the Global South Steering Committee feels morally and spiritually compelled to reassert its deepest solidarity with these orthodox and faithful bishops and representatives.

We express our unequivocal support and heartfelt recognition for their faithful stand and struggles. We urge all faithful members and parishes of these concerned dioceses to remain steadfast in their commitment to Christ as our one and only Lord and Savior during these turbulent days. We will do all in our power to bring about the desired outcome of the “Windsor process” so that the refined global Anglican Communion can be faithful to its vocation as part of the ‘One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic’ Church.”

Things are going to be referred: to the Global South Primates when they next meet, to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Things are going to be put in context of the Windsor Process. When will the Global South Primates next meet? Perhaps after the meeting of the Anglican Communion Primates in February? If so this communiqué is telling the Anglican Communion Network things they don’t really want to hear: that Communion wide support for a rapid move to realignment is not as popular as might be supposed. Talk now is of process, and time for calm consideration of the matter. Referral is not the soundest of support. Has someone whispered in the ear of the Archbishop of Nigeria?


By now the Global South Steering Committee may well have met with the Archbishop. It is on the way home for several of them. Might as well not waste the tickets.

It must be a difficult time for the Moderator, who is also Bishop of Pittsburgh. As he said, “it’s going to be mighty hard.”


The Rev. Harold Lewis, Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh, wrote a scathing commentary on the actions taken at the Diocesan Convention held just a week before the Falls Church meeting at the time of the Investiture of the Presiding Bishop. This particular critique has been out on the net for two days and already it has been picked up by The Episcopal Majority. It was picked up for good reason. It is a carefully thought out piece and worth the read.

It would appear that the Moderator, giving to promoting such ideas as “Alternative Primatial Oversight” also is inventive concerning the manner in which dioceses are part of provinces within the Episcopal Church. You will recall that the Moderator / Bishop has asked that the Diocese of Pittsburgh be “reassigned” to some new Province (nicely called Province X) to be made up of Anglican Communion Network dioceses. Dr. Lewis takes on the Bishop’s arguments for thinking that a Diocese can unilaterally withdraw from a province to task, calling them “specious justifications.”

Not to be outdone, a delegate suggested that perhaps non-Network parishes could be joined together as a distinct “district,” recognize Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and “live in peace.” The motion to do this was defeated, but the Bishop, it is reported, thought the Diocesan Council might in turn take the matter up again. Here Dr. Lewis finally puts the skunk on the table.

The real problem with separating out those “loyal to the Episcopal Church and who recognize the primacy of Bishop Jefferts Schori” is that “such a plan would result in the Bantunization of the Diocese, creating a virtual ghetto for those who hold a minority point of view.” That, of course, is the problem with all these inventive schemes unwarranted by Constitution and Canon of the Episcopal Church. A Province X of the Episcopal Church, a Diocese with some other Primate than the one who is Primate of this Church, or a parish consigned to a local “district” is that they all proceed on the assumption that such forms of governance do anything more that provide separate rules for separate homelands.

None of this is legal or warranted. It is inventive in a sort of immoral way, but it’s not reality based. Dr. Lewis has the Bishop on this one.

There is a legal, warranted and even moral way forward for those who believe, as Bishop Schofield has reportedly said, that “"The Episcopal Church has become an apostate to the point of heresy." That way is to leave. But, even then we need to be reminded of certain appropriate behaviors, among them being that, when leaving the table, leave the silver.

It fell to the Presiding Bishop to write Bishop Schofield today (November 20) and state the matter simply and clearly:

“I certainly understand that you personally disagree with decisions by General Conventions over the past 30 and more years. You have, however, taken vows three times over that period to uphold the "doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church." If you now feel that you can no longer do so, the more honorable course would be to renounce your orders in this Church and seek a home elsewhere. Your public assertion that your duty is to violate those vows puts many, many people at hazard of profound spiritual violence. I urge you, as a pastor, to consider that hazard with the utmost gravity.

As you contemplate this action I would also remind you of the trust which you and I both hold for those who have come before and those who will come after us. None of us has received the property held by the Church today to use as we will. We have received it as stewards, for those who enjoy it today and those who will be blessed by the ministry its use will permit in the future. Our forebears did not build churches or give memorials with the intent that they be removed from the Episcopal Church. Nor did our forebears give liberally to fund endowments with the intent that they be consumed by litigation.”

It is immensely refreshing to have such clear statements coming from the Presiding Bishop on these matters. Her words bring hope to many who want the Episcopal Church to thrive and get on with life, even if they disagree with decisions made in the past. For those who are struggling not to have the realignment folk leave with the silver, the name and the position in the Anglican Communion, her words are a breath of fresh air.

It’s been a good week for the Episcopal Church. Matters are getting clarified: There has been a pull back from the desire for instant rescue, a call to sanity in Pittsburgh and a Presiding Bishop who reminds us all that this is the Episcopal Church.

9 comments:

  1. Perhaps the best articulation of THE problem in the Episcopal Church is in the latest issue of the Living Church, and article called "Irreconcillable Differences by jack Estes, Rector of St. Luke's, Bakersfield. He asks the question of weather liberals will abandon their committment to promoting gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender inclusiveness, a peace and justice gospel, and the acceptance of all faiths asequivalent paths to God? Will Conservatives Anglicans abandon their commitment to morality based on an objective scriptural standard, Jesus as the exclusive means of salvation, and a gospel that proclaims the need to convert others to Christianity?
    Simple answer: NO!
    Summary: Jesus said, "I am the Way and the Truth and Life, no one comes to the Father buy by me." So, was Jesus lying? It seems that the Episcopal Majority does not realize that they are toying with Eternal things here, trying to put the Desolating Sacrildge where it ought not to be.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well, yes, rev. dr. w.

    If you frame the issue as Jack Estes+ of Bakerfield does, then a Communion-wide schism is inevitable.

    If you frame the issue as Andrew Goddard+ of Fulcrum does, then a Communion-wide schism is not.

    Fulcrum is the British Evangelical organization committed to dialogue and reconciliation.

    So Evangelicals have a choice: frame your issue in a way that guarantees schism, or frame your issue in a way that makes dialogue and reconciliation possible.

    You can have either. Which do you want?

    Read Andrew Goddard's article at http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2006/newsletter10.cfm?doc=149

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dr. W,

    Some of us think that the commitment to inclusion of GLBT folks, peace, and justice, and all faiths as paths to God is a commitment to a morality basd on an objective scriptural standard, Jesus as the exclusive means of salvation, and a gospel that proclaims the need to convert to Christianity.

    The problem is that so many have lost any humility that they might be wrong. What else does history teach us but this?

    -anon

    ReplyDelete
  4. I watched the moderator (twice) and there is trouble in River City (even though it's Falls Church, it's Trouble with a capital "T")...regroup, rethink, reconstruct, repaint, repeat but never repent..."ain't we got trouble" when the big play for attention/sympathy making and justifying a purpose was in the "press release"...there was once again the painful witness of the Network AlPO'ers (these boys are in chronic pain while trying to promote takeover Good News). They still be a'look'n for another "place to stand" because everyone started standing in the place they had reserved for themselves exclusively and then the "place" they were offered by Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori wasn't big enough for their britches or their visions of grandiocity.

    Trouble I tell ya!

    Interesting +Duncan underscored the "great wealth" of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. to a audience that included +Akinola who suggested earlier in Pittsburgh the Network gang t"walk away" from such $$$ things and thoughts and just follow the Lord.

    Talk is cheap.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mr Harris

    You said:

    "For those who are struggling not to have the realignment folk leave with the silver, the name and the position in the Anglican Communion, her words are a breath of fresh air."

    OK, but I am not really sure how you can see a positive outcome resulting from all this.

    You probably will maintain the name 'Episcopalian' but then who is really competing with you for its possession? Its reputation has been badly damaged, and most conservatives want nothing so much as to remove themselves from any association with it.

    You probably will maintain possession of most of the family silver, but what do you suppose you will do with it besides sell it at auction? There is no Episcopalian progeny to receive an inheritance. Your church is old and sterile. The 'family silver' will be consumed by a rapacious bureacracy desparate to keep itself employed for yet one more year.

    And your place in the Anglican communion is already determined. The biblically orthodox must separate themselves from you because you teach a different gospel. And they will see you put out to demonstrate the illegitimacy of that gospel. The only alternative would be the complete implosion of the entire communion. And the AoC does not want that.

    So where is the upside?

    carl

    ReplyDelete
  6. the upside is that we can be rid of the likes of carl.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "the upside is that we can be rid of the likes of carl."

    Nope. The upside, if there is one, is that as I we see the cancellation of LEAC's conference, the signs of schism within the schism between holier that TEC Anglo-catholics and holier than TEC Evangleicals, and the recognition that the "realingers" have few layity and no resources, the conservative layity will start to think. When they do and they begin to figure out that their self-annointed leadership was in it for itself, they may decide to stay in TEC and raise all sorts of noise and arguement. That is the potential upside, because we need them, and even though such as +Schofield and the other potential oath breakers claim otherwise, we actualy want them.

    If we are blessed by the Spirit, and I pray we are, we will loose the oathbreaker bishops, and emerge chastened, contentious and focused on ministry. It appears that is precisely the course that the Spirit charted in Columbus when it chose ++Katherine.

    FWIW
    jimB

    ReplyDelete
  8. 6th-poster Anonymous:

    But I don't want to be rid of carl. I want carl to be rid of his bigotry and biases, that the Father-of-Lies deludes him into thinking is "biblically orthodox".

    The irony is, the more those like carl and rev dr. w dump on TEC, the more they show how essential TEC is, to *their* salvation (not in and of itself, mind you, but only as the coincident conveyor of The Good News they seem so diabolically determined to resist).

    I turn carl's question around: what's the upside of your separating from us? If you do so, we in TEC will only be more dedicated to sharing the Gospel with you! (Having *finally* convinced us that you, despite claiming the good name "Anglican", lack it!)

    If we stay together, we can (by the Holy Spirit) wrestle with these uncomfortable differences: each having only part of the Truth, each needing the other.

    Part from us---with or without "the silver" (I call it going AWOL from TEC, the Church Militant, driving off in one of our tanks!)---and we will (by God's grace) have to convert you.

    Which would you prefer?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Leaving with the silver? My parish has just been granted oversight by a different Anglican Province. While we will be leaving with our property intact, our diocese has exacted a substantial price for the privilege. No matter. We leave with heavy hearts, but with hope and faith that one day our one holy and apostolic church will be reunited as such.

    "The problem is that so many have lost any humility that they might be wrong."

    Amen, brother.

    In my search for truth, I am merely a student of a tremendous body of great Christian theologians of the catholic church throughout the ages. I would venture to say that this is a larger body of thinkers on the subject than, say, that of the current progressives of the faith who would call me and other such faithful Christians "neanderthal" or somesuch unfortunate insult. No question, there are shrill voices on both sides of this debate. Some humility is in order.

    "Some of us think that the commitment to inclusion of GLBT folks, peace, and justice, and all faiths as paths to God is a commitment to a morality basd on an objective scriptural standard, Jesus as the exclusive means of salvation, and a gospel that proclaims the need to convert to Christianity."

    If scripture did not appear to address these issues so specifically, we could all put away our barbs and move forward together, now couldn't we? Of course we orthodox Christians strive for understanding on the same issues liberals do, as we are all afflicted by the same contemporary Western European social construct. The difference is, we are not so willing to cast aside Christ's own clear words and actions in order to reconcile our pop-cultural conflicts. Regretably, and with great personal sadness, this is precisely the scorched earth policy ECUSA has relentlessly pursued to clear its collective conscious for the last 30 years.

    "But I don't want to be rid of carl. I want carl to be rid of his bigotry and biases, that the Father-of-Lies deludes him into thinking is "biblically orthodox"."

    Again we ask, who has lost all humility that they might be wrong? Even your new Presiding Bishop does not deny the challenge of reconciling Christ's own words and actions with her/ECUSA's progressive agenda. She does not call into question what is considered Orthodox, but rather the timeless nature of Orthodoxy. In her view, His words and actions must be reinterpreted for "our times". New evolving truths must be discerned that are relevent to today. On this point, few on either side of this debate disagree.

    I do not pretend to believe that I can bemuse a liberal of his/her beliefs in matters of faith (though I have friends with whom I relish our lively debate on the subject). We all must search for God in our own way. But, let us dispense with the nasty, cynical political partisanship, as if this were a national election. If it is necessary for us to go our separate ways, let's bend over backwards to accommodate one another, and move on.

    I will pray for the Episcopal Church and I ask that you pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ whose faith leads them to a different path. May our paths cross again one day.

    ReplyDelete

OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.