Bishop MacPherson to Tanzania.

Over on Drell's Descants, Brad Drell has posted the news that Bishop Bruce MacPherson will be the second bishop invited to the Primates Meeting in February. The dates for the meeting are February 15-19. Lent and Beyond gave the dates as February 12-19. It appears that the Living Church is the source of that set of dates. The Living Church earlier had the correct dates.

I understand, however, from the Episcopal Church Center that the actual meeting, that is the sessions of the formal meeting, does indeed run from February 15 to 19. So Bishops MacPherson and Duncan are to meet with the Primates the day before the formal called meeting. This would be in line with what I understood was the Archbishop of Canterbury's intention, namely to have these bishops meet prior to the formal meeting.

Brad Drell's comment is therefore puzzling: "Specifically, he has been asked to be there on February 14, at the beginning of the Primates’ Meeting, rather than as part of a preliminary meeting before the Primates officially convene. This is the same invitation given to Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh. +Bruce has accepted this invitation." If the meeting is indeed on the 14th, and the dates for the formal meeting are fromthe 15th to the 19th, then the Primates will hear what these two have to say and then they will leave - we hope.

The choice of Bishop MacPherson is an interesting one. He is a fine bishop and has just recently been made the President of the Presiding Bishop's Council of Advice. He is conservative but a very constructive and pastoral person. His presence is, however, contrary to the Council of Advice's own read of the matter of inviting additional people from the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal News Service article on the meeting said this; "The Council was not encouraging of the Archbishop of Canterbury's consideration of additional "dissenting" bishops from this Church attending the Primates' Meeting."

So Bishop MacPherson goes as the President of a Council that advised against consideration of additional "dissenting" bishops attending the meeting. Believing him to be a person of great integrity I am sure he goes not as a "dissenting" bishop and not with the understanding that he is attending the Primates Meeting. We may rightly hope that he will be a moderate voice.

Once again, however, there seems to be no voice beyond the pale of the purple, no voice from the progressive bishops, clergy or laity, and no voice from Gay and Lesbian persons.

Perhaps the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks that our voices are already present in the voice of our Primate. The answer, of course, is yes and no. Yes, she is the Presiding Bishop for all of us in the Episcopal Church and we are glad of it. No, she is not the voice specifically of any of these communities - clergy, lay, Gay or Lesbian - but rather the primary voice of who we are as a Church expressing itself through General Convention. Her voice alone is not the progressive voice.

If the ABC wants the Primates to hear from the progressives, lay and ordained persons other than bishops, or Gay or Lesbian Christians of the Anglican community, balancing out the presence of two bishops, he has only to ask. I don't think he does.

I suspect he believes that has already been done at the ACC meeting where we were asked to withdraw but also asked to witness to and defend our actions. That was at the Anglican Consultative Council, where at least there were communion wide voices of a variety of sorts. This is the Primates Meeting, and if the Primates are to hear any voices beyond what they want to hear now is the time to invite those voices in. If not, the Primates will hear only what they want to hear and because they have ears to hear they will indeed feel satisfied.

It will be a thin gruel and not the feast of the banquet we had hoped.


  1. What a slippery slope to be on! Does this mean that dissenters from other provinces will be invited to future Primates meetings?!? The camel's nose is in the tent.

  2. Well, we shall see, won't we? Notwithstanding some of the glee expressed at Drell's site, and the proclamation of the solidity of MacPherson's "orthodox" credentials, certainly he is going as one who is committed to The Episcopal Church as it is, and not to realignment. His acceptance of the position of Chair of the Council of Advice implies this certainly. The long thought before he accepted clearly implies he knew the that the question would be raised.

    So, we have the acknowledged Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church; the Chair of her Council of Advice who is a committed member of te loyal opposition; and the Moderator of the Network, who could be described as (a) leader of the disloyal (to the institution of The Episcopal Church, at least) opposition. You know, unless the Dar es Salaam meeting were to come out with a clear and unequivocal call for realignment, this could actually be embarassing for the Moderator. If the Primates - even if only a bare majority of them - acknowledge that it is possible for there to be a loyal opposition within The Episcopal Church, the sense of necessity for realignment could suffer a major blow. Since I would ultimately (and one some days marginally) prefer them to stay I'd be happy to see that.

    I continue to pray daily that God might turn the hearts of those committed to schism back to reconciliation. I also feel, event by event, that it will take a more dramatic epiphany to turn those hearts. I'm not optimistic; just trusting in what God can do despite our stubbornness.

  3. Dear Anonymous...please...please...identify yourself if only with a set of initials. I don't want to strike your comments, but I do need to be able to distinguish between writers. Even Anonymous 12 will do. So, sign off somehow. thanks, Mark

  4. Might progressive groups within African provinces get the same right of representation?


  5. Mark,

    I am not sure, is this the end of the begining or the begining of the end? Either way, the communion of saints has to be very dissapointing to the Spirit. ;;sigh;;


  6. I'm trying to remember if I had any hope--ever.

  7. revLois Keen26/1/07 4:54 PM

    It's okay, Annie. We're still here with you. I went to read Evening Prayer an hour ago, and as I started the psalm, I quit, and I cried out, and I slammed my Order of St. Helena's Breviary on the table, and then I threw it with all my might onto the floor. And there it lies.

    But one of these days I know I'll pick it up again. Rowan, who I once knew, and Bob Duncan, who I once knew, and all the primates who don't know me or you, might be able to cast us into the outer darkness of the institution, but they cannot ever, ever take Jesus away from us. They cannot ever, ever take away our faith, and for all their claims that we are not Christians, or we have started a new religion, or we can't say what it is in which we believe in a way they find acceptable, for all that, they can never, ever take from us the salvation won for us by our Lord Jesus Christ, and they can never, ever take from us or deny us the truth that we hold in our hearts and which we proclaim with our worship and in our lives and even in our bodies, male, female, gay, lesbian, straight, black, white, red, yellow, brown, whole or broken. And that truth is this: that Jesus has not left us. That in us Jesus has important things to show the world about himself and God. We are still in him and he in us. And in him we are in communion even with those who would cast us aside. So fear not. We are one.
    Lois Keen

  8. Marshall (et. al.): I too pray that God will bend the hearts of those who are "committed to schism back to reconciliation." I pray that those who support the schismatic acts of blessing same sex unions and ordaining people engaged in sex outside of marriage will repent and return to the Anglican Communion and the Church.

    I am heartened that +Duncan and +MacPherson are going to meet with the primates and I hope that +Shori goes to listen rather than lecture.

    Phil Snyder

  9. phil, since Mark posted it some time ago, I watch the Chris Bliss routine daily, almost as a meditation.
    My Christ, the Jesus that I understand, and who I look to for direction in my daily life as much as I look to for salvation, is about love; overwhelming love, beyond comprehension. I am a straight, white male, but several of my closest friends are gay; one of them is my minister, who is in long term committed relationship. I am a layperson, completely untrained in theology. But a theology that denies the love and joy that my friends have for each other is beyond my comprehension. A theology that says that love; selfless, compassionate love, is ever wrong, cannot be my theology. If this is the path to schism, I will hold my Jesus and my friends in my heart, and I will walk that road.

  10. "I pray that those who support the schismatic acts of blessing same sex unions and ordaining people engaged in sex outside of marriage will repent and return to the Anglican Communion and the Church.

    I am heartened that +Duncan and +MacPherson are going to meet with the primates and I hope that +Shori goes to listen rather than lecture." Deacon Phil

    Let me see if I got this right.

    You're pleased and praying for:

    1) Aledged "schismatics" who are bad acting out people who bless same sex unions.

    2) Ordained (or to be ordained) people who have had "sex" outside of marriage especially when you don't want them to be "blessed" in loving/committed "unions" like "marriage" because of your disapproval and desire to keep slaves and kill misbehaving children.

    3)You want ALL variations of the above to repent and return to the Anglican Communion and the Church (where they have not departed from)...and in reverse order as I "note" being Anglican may be unholy/unsavory and a unhealthy place "to be" especially if one is a celibate LGBT Christian/Anglican in Nigeria and/or Uganda or many other Anglican Provinces where bigotry is promoted openly by Anglican Primates.

    4)You're "heartened" that ++Katharine Jefferts Schori, Primate of the Episcopal Church will be in attendence to receive some "listening" from two non-primates at the Primates Meeting although you prefer that she doesn't speak.

    Soul sickness brings on car sickness and I'm having trouble following the bouncing balls.

  11. Blessings to All.
    Thanks for the incite Mark+. I couldn't find much on +McPherson on the PEP chat. I'm curious if the ABC is hoping to find a few friends in the middle that might move to the right. I feel by not inviting a progressive bishop it looks if +++Rowan is looking to like up the Windsor bishops, network bishops and moderates. I hope I worded this clear enough.
    Thoughts anyone?


  12. ... no voice from Gay and Lesbian persons.

    Well, I wouldn't worry an awful lot about that, at least, Mark. I remember it was at an Integrity meeting here in Vegas between GC03 and the Diocesan Convention that I first heard Susan Craw mention that Mrs. Schori would make a wonderful PB. It seemed like what we'd call out here a long shot at the time, but you never know.

    So I think that the interests of Gay & Lesbian persons will be pretty well represented by Mrs. Schori.

  13. the schismatic acts of blessing same sex unions

    Anathema! >:-0


    I rely on your hope in Bp. MacPherson, Mark.

    Prayers for ALL to Tanzania: may those going for good ACT ON that good, may those going for evil be converted---may we ALL be converted...

  14. denbeau: I am pleased that some of your friends have found a measure of joy in this life. However, I cannot sanction their sexual relationship nor can I ask God to bless it because Scripture teaches that God does not bless it. Tradition has always stated that homosexual sex (in any context) is less that God's ideal for us and, so, the Church cannot bless it.

    Leonardo, When you present some logical arguments, I will respond. All I read from your comment is hatred and anger and what appears to be a willful misunderstanding of my comment. I believe that the actions of TEC, in blessing same sex unions and ordaining people involved in sex outside of marriage, are causing schism in the Anglican Communion. I further believe that Presiding Bishop Shori should listen at Tanzania rather than lecture. I am pleased that the Archbishop of Cantebury sees that TEC is in trouble and needs to have a couple of other voices to speak and listen at the Primates meeting and I am pleased with his choice of +Duncan and +MacPherson.

    Phil Snyder

    ps. If you wish to continue a conversation rather than a harangue, then you can email me at plsdeacon@yahoo.com

  15. I wish the archbishop had invited a bishop of color to represent EC-USA. It might help to have someone other than a white eurocentric male represent our church.

    Fundamentally, I think this whole conflict in the Anglican Communion is a conflict between the old, white, dying churches of the west, and the church of the two-thirds world which is asserting it's rights. God hath cast down the mighty from their thrones, and we in EC-USA don't like it.

    Will we have the courage and humility and repent and listen to our African and Asian brothers and sisters?

  16. Oh yes, Revlois! You expressed so well what I do cling to!

    Thank you.


  17. Ever since General Convention of 2003, the next meeting was going to lead to the big schism (maybe I am exagerating, but I don't think so -- go back & look at earlier comments form various pundits & on various blogs). So far, lots of little sniping things (but AMiA was before CANA, so it wasn't just GenCon 2003, was it?) but nothing irrevocable. Some of the primates say that they will refuse to meet with ++Katharine but the ABC says she's coming & they decide that they can meet with her after all. Maybe this will be decisive, but I suspect that there will be a lot of talk & strutting & nothing will really change.

  18. There is still much mystery about this meeting. Why, after all, is Bishop Duncan included? His position is well known. What is less well know is the position (positions, really) of the other 90% of The Episcopal Church. Bishop MacPherson's position—whatever that might be—does not represent all of that 90%. Then, of course, there are the priests, deacons, and laypeople, whose opinions, apparently, are of no interest at all to the self-important primates.

  19. Marshall says "I continue to pray daily that God might turn the hearts of those committed to schism back to reconciliation."

    Me, too. This means I pray for VGR, Schori, and all those who by their actions tear the fabric of communion, as the Primates warned, at the deepest level.--John

  20. Phil,

    I came to Christianity later in life, after some time exploring other spiritual traditions. As a result of this process, I view the Hebrew and Christian scriptures as I view the texts of the other traditions; as works of committed followers of the traditions, but followers who were subject to human error, the political infighting of their time, all followed by bad translation. I recognize that this isn't your position. I value the input of those who have a more conservative opinion, and those who take scripture more literally; I have specifically written Brad Drell to tell him how much I value his insight ... but it's not my insight. I try to look into scripture to hear the voice of Jesus, with the meaning and spirit that he spoke. The central teachings for me are the the two great commandments, the transcendence of the love of God, and the tradition of commensality. But my understanding - which I know is not the understanding of others - rejects a narrow interpretation of the Levitical rules. In the healing of the centurion's slave, Jesus recognized love and commitment, and healed the slave without any judgment of the relationship between them. I don't expect to change your mind on this; in fact, I appreciate your response, because it's by challenging, praying, and seeking the truth that we move forward. I only ask, can we continue in the same church? Is there room in your church for me?

  21. denbeau

    You said :

    "The central teachings for me are the the two great commandments"

    By what authority do you consider these to be commandments?

    You said:

    "I view the Hebrew and Christian scriptures as I view the texts of the other traditions; as works of committed followers of the traditions, but followers who were subject to human error, the political infighting of their time, all followed by bad translation."

    If so, the commandments to which you refer are products of the same human error, infighting, and bad translation. Why then do these particular words possess authority to compel obedience?

    I fear your answer will be something along the lines of "Because it seems reasonable to me this is what God would require." If so, then you have reduced Scripture to a mirror, and it simply reflects your own image. But God is not a man, and does not think like a man. This is the principle objection conservatives have to your approach to Scripture.

    You can't have it both ways. You can't have an authoritative Word but only so long as you decide get to decide which parts actually possess authority.


  22. Something just struck me.

    It will be really interesting to watch what happens after the liberals are gone from the Anglican Communion.

    Because I can't quite imagine right-wing Anglo-Catholics finding much agreement - about much of anything except homosexuality and perhaps women's ordination - with right-wing Evangelicals. In actual fact, the liberals are what holds the thing together; we're the buffer between these two groups who'd be scratching each others' eyes out normally. (Come to think of it, perhaps putting them all together in one room isn't such a bad idea, after all. Maybe it could provide a little hint of what's to come?)

  23. Carl,

    Excellent points, and I accept your warning (and possibly your implied criticism). And a good example of why I want to be in the same church with those who disagree with me on some of these issues; they illuminate, teach, and challenge. If I worship and study only with those who are in complete agreement with me, I will tend not to grow at all.
    As I said in an earlier post, I'm not a theologian; I'm a businessman. The following analogy may seem trite, but I mean it sincerely. When I felt the need for a spiritual home, after many years of not being actively involved, I was like a shopper in a theology store. I had a sense of what I was looking for, but didn't know exactly where to find it. I spent some time studying very seriously with Buddhists, but as much as I admired what they had to offer, I still felt something missing at the core. As an 'outsider', it was the nativity stories that brought me to Christianity; not that I saw them as literally true, but their presence and importance in the Gospels spoke to me about the unconditional love of a mother for her child as symbolic of God's love for all creation. The importance of this image of Madonna and Child throughout western art only reinforces the image of the vulnerable God as child, and the example of maternal love as the closest we can - as humans - come to understand the God of love.
    But I have digressed; this is what brought me to Christianity. As a 'consumer in the theology store', can I listen to my heart and my discernment, and say 'this tradition is as close as I can find to the divine, as I understand it?', and accept that there will still be differences between what I truly believe and the offering being made? Or must I completely accept what this tradition tells me - being the best fit I can find, yet not in complete alignment with what I feel to be true?
    Carl, I don't know the answer; I don't even pretend to know the answer. I only know what my heart tells me, and what I feel (misguided as I may be) that the Spirit tells me, and that is that love - unconditional, forgiving, encompassing love - is never wrong.

  24. So I think that the interests of Gay & Lesbian persons will be pretty well represented by Mrs. Schori.

    Give me a break, Craig: NO ONE represents LGBT Episcopalians, but ourselves. The issue isn't whether Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori can speak for us Episcopalians: among the Primates, she (and she ALONE) can.

    The issue is among all the OTHER "Instruments of Unity", and the various commissions assembled by them: there, HETEROSEXUALS (bishops, clerical and lay) are abundantly represented. LGBTs (out ones), not at all! >:-/


    However, I cannot sanction their sexual relationship nor can I ask God to bless it because Scripture teaches that God does not bless it. Tradition has always stated that homosexual sex (in any context) is less that God's ideal for us and, so, the Church cannot bless it.

    This is just fundamentally erroneous, Phil (I remember you from Salty Vicar's, so I know I've said this to you before: Scripture says NOTHING about "homosexual sex", and any purported "Tradition" about it is <150 years old, and FAR from being any kind of consensus. Rather, "proposition and reaction"). The fact that you continue to REPEAT it, having been corrected, only means that you are now spreading lies. Call that a "harangue"---but, so help me, it IS the God's honest truth.


    Um, carl: I believe denbeau is citing one "Jesus Christ" as his/her authority! ;-)


    Prayers for ++KJS's witness (and safety!) in Tanzania: that Christ's Gospel she preaches, may be heard!

  25. "Um, carl: I believe denbeau is citing one "Jesus Christ" as his/her authority! ;-)"

    That's all well and good, JCF, but what exactly does it mean to cite Jesus Christ as an authority in the absense of Scripture? How do you know what He wants? Without the Scritures, we know nothing about Him. If you do not accept the testimony of Scripture as reliable, then what testimony will you accept? A burning in the bosom? An angel of light?

    When I was in the military, I never once received a verbal order from my Wing Commander. Even so, I was accountable because his orders were written down, and came with the authority of his signature. Could I have said: "I will not obey his order. The clerk must have typed it wrong, because my commander would never give an order that offends me. I will decide what he meant to say, and I will follow that order instead." Having done so, could I still cite him as my authority? Or would I have simply substituted my authority for his?


  26. RevLois, Boy do I feel for you. You go right ahead and leave that breviary there on the floor until you're ready to pick it up. Wish the clergy at my pretty-progressive parish had the same guts (wonderful people that they are, of course). Wonderful post!

    bls, Good point about the buffering effect of "liberals" in the AC. Please, let's do put 'em in a locked room together. Preferably armed with cheese graters ;->

    And welcome denbeau. I'm afraid you'll find out pretty quickly that the extremist types don't have room in "their"* church for you. Better develop a thick skin ;)

    * Irony intended

  27. Denbeau (et. al.)

    I beieve what we are seeing among those who support the blessing of same sex unions is a reverse of "donatism"

    "Donatism" is a heresy that states only the moraly good (or perfect) can be leaders in the Church. Only those who live without sin can be administrators of the Grace given in the Sacraments.

    The reverse of that heresy is that because we see God's blessing in the lives of people who are in homosexual relatinships and we see evidence of grace in the lives of those involved in same sex relationships, therefore God must bless those relationships.

    This is also a logical fallacy.

    If receiving grace were evidence that what was once called "sin" is not blessed, then gluttony would not be a sin because I have experienced much grace in my life and gluttony is one of my besetting sins. Likewise, I am often guilty of pride and yet I still receive God's grace abundantly! Is pride, therefore, not a sin for me?

    Sinners still receive God's grace and I am glad they do so. But the evidence of grace or blessing does not mean that a behavior is no longer sinful.

    Phil Snyder

  28. And the relationship between gluttony and pride, on the one hand - and the self-sacrifice and faithfulness involved in a life of commitment to another human being, on the other, would be....?

    (I'm sorry to tell you, Phil, but that argument sounds increasingly hollow and disconnected from reality in an era when so many people know gay individuals and couples and what our lives are actually like. The comparisons you're making simply don't hold water for many people any longer - because they don't make any rational sense. Going forward, that's going to be even more true - and it's not because we're all in thrall to the dread "spirit of the age." The fact is, people have begun to recognize the truth of something that they hadn't realized before.)


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.