Venables: Colonial British Evangelical on Parade

His mother would be proud. Bishop Gregory Venables, a citizen of the United Kingdom, has emerged as a spokesperson for the Global South rescue effort to save the poor and huddled Anglican masses in North America. One can see it all in an interview with the Anglican Journal.

He is saving them from the awful prospect of leadership that he claims denies the lordship of Jesus Christ, the uniqueness of that position, and the faith once delivered to the saints. And, oh yes, from the invasion of queer people in ordained ministry and the episcopacy.

Bishop Venables is not from the Global South. He is British. The Province of the Southern Cone has Episcopal leadership that is only partially from the Global South. The Province of the Southern Cone is the missionary effort primarily of the evangelical wing of the Church of England and notably of SAMS – The South American Missionary Society. While it has done some quite wonderful work it has not been the expansive success that evangelicals everywhere claim for their efforts.

Bishop Venables has taken on the Anglican Church of Canada by way of surrogates – Bishops Harvey and Harding, retired and now resigned of the ACofC. They have two parishes now in their purview. The Anglican Journal
noted that "The two churches that have joined are not members of the Anglican Church of Canada, although they had their roots in Anglican congregations."

This bishop, who is not from the Global South, not a rousing success as a missionary presence, and primate of one of the smallest of the provinces of the communion, and is a classic example of colonial Anglican missionary engagement has had the audacity to say that the Anglican Church of Canada is practicing either denial or hypocrisy, according to the Anglican Journal. Well, denial and hypocrisy comprise a feast best cooked up in one's own home.

The good bishop has singlehandedly broken with the Windsor Report's recommendations, the fellowship of the Anglican Communion and ancient tradition. As a special add-on he has misrepresented himself as somehow speaking from the Global South. He is a British agent of the Evangelical wing of the Church of England operating in South America for the good of the cause.

When is the Archbishop of Canterbury going to speak out against the actions of this spoiler? When will there be any recognition that the ecclesiastically pleasant and well intoned British sounds are a cover for a militant and repressive vision?

Bishop Venables seems a charming man and an intelligent one. Appearances can be deceiving. The man is a wolf in wolf's clothing.


  1. so when debating the issues fails Mark, then you start playing the man eh? I doubt if we shall see much "expansive success" from this new strategy of yours of trying to discredit the man, or the province he leads, or the origins it has in the fine work done by SAMS.

    So what if he leads one of the smallest provinces in the Anglican Communion. ECUSA itself is hardly a giant. And didn't Jefferts-Schori come from one of the smallest dioceses in ECUSA to reach the exalted heights of PB? And how expansive was her success in that diminishing diocese?

  2. I cannot understand at all why providing pastoral care for independent Anglican congregations should be considered "militant and repressive." More than that, though, I am puzzled that you seem to consider breaking with "the Windsor Report's recommendations, the fellowship of the Anglican Communion and ancient tradition" a bad thing. Do you think all Anglican provinces should comply with the Windsor Report's recommendations and ancient tradition? Do you believe that the Anglican Church of Canada and TEC are doing so? Really?

    With nine provinces' involvement in William Murdock's and Bill Atwood's consecration as bishops to America, something very significant has changed within the Anglican Communion. Boundary crossing just isn't the shocker that it used to be. Venables can hardly be considered a renegade Primate at this point. Even in Canada, this isn't new: Kolini in Rwanda has the drop on him with the Anglican Coalition in Canada; Venables is just a johnny-come-lately. There seems to be a perceived need on the part of these Anglican congregations to find alternative episcopal oversight. To end it, the ACoC and TEC will probably need to persuade these congregations that it is not necessary. Chasing off primates who are responding to these individuals and these congregations has already proved to be ineffectual. Rowan won't be any more able to control their actions than he can make demands of us.

  3. I totally and wholeheartedly agree with the previous posts (by brian f and rb). It's worth noting that the PB, while she was Bp. of Nevada, managed the remarkable feat of leading her diocese into one of the steepest declines of any diocese in TEC, despite the fact that Nevada was the fastest growing state in the country in those years. How's that for lack of "expansive success?"

    To me, Archbishop Venables is a genuine hero. Although I don't know him personally, I do know one of his colleagues, Frank Lyons, the Bp. of Bolivia. We went to college together (at Wheaton, Billy Graham's alma mater, "the Evangelical Harvard") and have kept in occasional touch since. I saw him last in April. Taking on the burden of offering emergency oversight to over 40 US (ex-TEC) congregations has been an enormous sacrifice on his part. It has been a huge diversion that has cost him and the diocese dearly. He is a hero too.

    Mark, you can whine all you want. The New Reformation is underway, and there is nothing you and your fellow progressives can do to stop it....except to repent and to cease and desist spreading the false gospel that "gay is OK." None of this would be necessary if you would just wake up and admit that you have been terribly wrong.

  4. Canon Harris:
    You're better than this sir.

    And can you really have it both ways? +Akinola is the native born son of the largest Anglican province and you harrumph. +Venables the expat Brit of a small province & you harrumph.

    I'd advise dropping both arguments and sticking to the merits.

    Advent blessings,
    -miserable sinner

  5. Soooo...would it really make any difference to you, Mark, if Venables was born in South America instead of the UK? Why are you so concerned about repeating that point when it seems rather irrelevant to the issue at hand? After all, his whole province voted on taking in the Canadians (amongst others) and I'm sure they're not all BRITISH.

  6. Venables' province is situated in an area of the world where evangelical missionaries have made spectacular inroads into what was, until recently, pretty well the exclusive preserve of the RC Church. Yet the total membership of the province of the Southern Cone has remained static, in the region of 20 to 30,000 souls. The poaching of dissident North American parishes clearly offers opportunity for expansion that old-fashioned, hands-on evangelism has not achieved.

    Some of us familiar with facets of the American right-wing mindset never seriously imagined that submission to an African primate - particularly to one as autocratic as the current primate of Nigeria - was ever a serious option for oversight of the secessionist North Americans. The ascendancy of an individual along the lines of the more low-key Venables, a man of European extraction, unlikely to interfere with the egos of the prouder of his new prelates, has long been anticipated.

    Of marginal relevance, but of political interest, is the open support that Venables' predecessor, Richard Cutts gave to the Argentine military junta during the Falklands' War.

  7. Wow, that did not take long. See what happens when you call a homophobe on the evil they do?

    ABp Venables is arguably less well behaved than you wrote, but hey, he is anti-gay so the defenders of holiness will be right there for him.

    RB of course won't understand why showing up in someone else's backyard proclaiming yourself too holy to be with them, and then doing things reserved to the owner of the yard might be an offense. Herewith a hint: there is an old Spanish proverb, "there is no answer when the question is 'What are you doing in my house?' or 'What do you want with my wife?'"


  8. Wow.

    Good job, Mark, on calling wickedness wicked. It certainly got the Reasserters trying to scramble and cover up the truth about themselves that you revealed.

    (I especially like that, one week the argument is that TEC is just "a minority," a "numerical insignificance" and then the next week, Venables' "size doesn't matter" -- only dishonesty needs that much spinning to live).

  9. "[T]here is no answer when the question is 'What are you doing in my house?' or 'What do you want with my wife?'"

    Sorry. Doesn't apply. The primate and the bishops of ACofC and TEC are not the Owner of the House; nor are they the Husband of the Bride. If that's their mindset, this may be part of the problem. Perhaps if they would return to their proper roles of Steward of the House and Guardian of the Bride, this portion of the Bride would not seek elsewhere for help to maintain her faithfulness to her true Husband.

    Yes, so the Southern Cone is a small province. What, you think if these were the actions of the primate of a large province, such as Uganda or Nigeria, this would be okay in your eyes? I think not. The size of the province is a non-issue, and this attack on one man's character tells us nothing at all about Venables, though perhaps something about Mark (though I personally believe him a better man than this screed would suggest).

  10. RB, I take it you have never read the canons of Nicaea. The bishop is indeed the holder of sacramental authority in the diocese.

    If of course, the ABp wants to claim there is no bishop from his church in the States / Canada, we see a different situation, but that means he is formerly Anglican. I am OK with that, albeit I am not sure he ever really was.

    What he cannot have is both ways. Either the ACCanada is the Anglican presence in Canada, which is what Cantur thinks based on the Lambeth invites, or it is not. So too, TEC. If they are indeed the provincial authorities, then the Nicene canon applies every bit as much as anything else the communion has considered its heritage.


  11. I have indeed read the canons of the council of Nicea; they are available online, including Canon XV:

    On account of the great disturbance and discords that occur, it is decreed that the custom prevailing in certain places contrary to the Canon, must wholly be done away; so that neither bishop, presbyter, nor deacon shall pass from city to city. And if any one, after this decree of the holy and great Synod, shall attempt any such thing, or continue in any such course, his proceedings shall be utterly void, and he shall be restored to the Church for which he was ordained bishop or presbyter.

    However, I also read the nineteenth-century translator's note further down:

    In 341 the Synod of Antioch renewed, in its twenty-first canon, the prohibition passed by the Council of Nice; but the interest of the Church often rendered it necessary to make exceptions, as happened in the case of St. Chrysostom. These exceptional cases increased almost immediately after the holding of the Council of Nice, so that in 382, St. Gregory of Nazianzum considered this law among those which had long been abrogated by custom.

    I note that the Council of Nicea was held earlier that same century, in 325. Less than 60 years later, the Church Fathers are already discounting it. Interesting that it would be resurrected now.

    In any case, a church which performs same-sex blessings, consecrates female and non-celibate homosexual priests and bishops, and supports abortion on demand, can hardly appeal to ancient tradition just because it threatens its own liberal establishment. Good grief! For the last few General Conventions, the TEC has eagerly overturned ancient traditions, crying "Look! The Holy Spirit is doing a new thing. Whee!!!" Don't expect the rest of us to believe that you all suddenly believe in ancient tradition now. It gives the rest of us a good laugh, but doesn't accomplish much else.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, 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.