3/29/2008

While Waiting Around...Nigeria, Dallas, Maryland, and who knows what all...

While waiting around to get reports on the special convention in the Diocese of San Joaquin there have been several other items of interest out there in Anglican Land.

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) just finished a meeting of their Standing Committee - which consists of all the bishops and delegates from the House of Clergy and House of Laity. They have issued a Communique and a Report. You can access them HERE. Always a fascinating read these products of Standing Committee meetings offer a glimpse into the thinking of the Church of Nigeria. Three things stood out in these documents:

(i) the establishment of new dioceses and the election of new bishops is a growth industry in Nigeria. It is a good thing to use the episcopate as a missionary tool. That it boosts the statistics for the CofN in its desire to show itself the bastion of Christian faith, well at least it is a boast made in public. Towards the end of the Communique they write, "For the past five years the Church of Nigeria has become known around the world as a champion for Biblical Sexual Morality. We recognize that we cannot simply ask others to conform to biblical norms if we ourselves are unwilling to look inward especially on the issue of the sanctity of marriage. At this meeting we took time to reflect upon the issue of polygamy, a practice that is still present in Nigerian culture. We agreed that while there are complex pastoral issues that must be addressed we as a Church stand against it and declare that the biblical norm for holy matrimony is the lifelong monogamous union of one man and one woman."

(ii) On the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), Nigeria is committed to having all its bishops and wives take part. Interestingly no mention is made at all of the Jordanian segment of the trip. Rather it is Jerusalem that is at the heart of GAFCON. Here is what they think is going on:

"One report, “The Road to Lambeth” commissioned by CAPA and endorsed by the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria concluded that: “We Anglicans stand at a crossroads. One road, the road of compromise of biblical truth, leads to destruction and disunity. The other road
has its own obstacles because it requires changes in the way the Communion has been governed and it challenges our churches to live up to and into their full maturity in Christ. But surely the second road is God’s way forward. It is our sincere hope that this road may pass through Lambeth, our historical mother. But above all it must be the road of the Cross that leads to life through our Saviour Jesus Christ.

It is this second road that is leading us to Jerusalem and the call by Primates and senior leaders of the Communion, representing more than thirty million active Anglicans, for the bishops and their wives together with clergy and lay leaders to meet for prayer, study and pilgrimage in the Holy Land. It is the shared conviction of the GAFCON leadership team that this will provide a unique opportunity for those who hold to the historic teachings of the Church to meet and discern God’s call for our common future as Anglican Christians. The Primate reported that in the last few days God has shown his favor on these plans by sovereignty providing the funds necessary for all of the Bishops, their wives, the clergy and lay delegates of the Church of Nigeria to attend."

GAFCON is clearly set to reorder the Communion, with or without the Archbishop of Canterbury and without any input from dioceses or Provinces not to the liking of the GAFCON leadership.

(iii) Note in (i) that the CofN also raised the continuing issue of polygamy in Nigeria. "At this meeting we took time to reflect upon the issue of polygamy, a practice that is still present in Nigerian culture." The CofN seems to be acknowledging the reality in the culture. There have been persistent reports of polygamy still being practiced among clergy, and in particular bishops, and as is true for other cultures, so for Nigeria I suppose - where the culture is there the church is also.

Two Elections Today, one pending. Dallas elected Paul Lambert as Bishop Suffragan and Maryland elected Eugene Sutton as Bishop. Out in San Joaquin Bishop Lamb is being recommended to the convention as provisional bishop. A vote confirming or not is expected this afternoon.

The Perfect Storm predicted by Dan Martins seems not to be brewing, but who knows. The Diocese of South Carolina has decided it will not recognize Bishop Lamb, or whoever, given their distress about the voting. My sense is they have every business questioning the voting procedure, but that not recognizing Bishop Lamb as bishop provisional of San Joaquin (supposing that passes today) is not the way to go. In the first place there will be very few contexts in which that will make any difference at all. In the second place that sounds like "we are not in communion with him" language. But more importantly the place to go with an objection is to the House of Bishops that voted and passed, without objection (although with some nay votes) the consents to depose.

The Quieting of the Storm seems to be under way in San Joaquin. Fr. Jake has reports from those attending the service last night. Thinking Anglicans reports on a note found on Stand Firm that the question of the loyalty and continued viability of the old Standing Committee to the Episcopal Church is now reemerging, since three of the remaining six members of the old Standing Committee are on their way to realignment. ( TA notes that this is a matter subject to correction.)

Other Signs that the storm may be subsiding, at least for most of us:

The Presiding Bishop's comments from last night's question and answer period suggest that the arguments against the validity of the vote have been met as follows:
(a) "the vote was conducted in the same way that other such deposition requests have been done."
(b) "While the applicable canon (Canon IV.9.2) may have "varieties of interpretation," the Presiding Bishop said that her chancellor and the House's parliamentarian ruled that the canon called for approval by the majority of those bishops present at the meeting.

(c) She added that the canon does not allow for a poll by mail of all bishops eligible to vote, as some have suggested ought to have been done."

It appears as well that there was noobjection raised at the time.

At least we know then what the thinking was.

and, oh yes, Thinking Anglicans notes that the Anglican Communion website lists the Diocese of San Joaquin as vacant.

Well there you have it.


Stand Firm
has been in a nice dither about Fr. Jake and my defense of the actions of the House of Bishops and the Presiding Bishop. Lots of comments...some fairly scathing. Oddly they do not address Fr. Jake's unwrapping of the relation between Wantland, Howe, and Schofield in the late un-lamented effort to capture the flag by acquiring the name, "the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, incorporated."

To their credit the folks at Stand Firm are still posting items on the miserable state of affairs in Tibet.

So it is a busy time out there in Anglican Land and more to come. News this evening from San Joaquin, we hope.

8 comments:

  1. Oddly they do not address Fr. Jake's unwrapping of the relation between Wantland, Howe, and Schofield

    Well, perhaps they are spending all their time doing research into the Yelwa massacre and just don't have any spare cycles to use to look into that story.

    Then again, maybe they are still in a kerfluffle about the cooking magazine that had a feature on "Spring Recipes" rather than proclaim boldly that it is called Easter by all right thinking Americans.

    I'm still mystified by why one of the lead Standfirmians who has left TEC cares at all about what KJS and the rest of TEC has to say.

    But I'm just an old dog, what do I know.

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  2. What is this "sovereignty" that is providing the necessary travel funds? Maybe I'm paranoid, but every since reading "Follow the Money," I see malign influences behind all these blithely accomplished (and very expensive) international junkets. I'm a travel agent IRL, and business class is NOT cheap. Somehow I don't think the entire delegation will be in coach.

    It's ironic that in going to the Holy Land, the attendees of GAFCON will be following in PB Katharine's footsteps. Also, that she met a very nice young Anglican priest leading a CAN tour group and was photographed with him (photo is on the ELO website, and I also saved a copy).

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  3. The Anglican Communion website has been listing San Joaquin as vacant for some time. The interesting change is that the website link now leads to website the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin as opposed to the website of the schismatics who purport to believe that Fresno is in South America.

    Bishop Lamb has indicated an intention to reach out to the decampers and dissenters. I hope and trust that this will include reaching out to the however many surviving members of the displaced standing committee. While their was certainly blame enough to go around, strikes me that the dismissal of the six has complicated the present situation.

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  4. "... the establishment of new dioceses and the election of new bishops is a growth industry in Nigeria". One way of packing the vote and dominating the Communion. Maybe we could look for a bicameral Lambeth, membership divided on a similar basis to the US legislature? Come to think of it, we saw at Dar es Salaam what that can lead to.

    "God has shown his favor on these plans by sovereignty [?] providing the funds necessary for all of the Bishops, their wives, the clergy and lay delegates of the Church of Nigeria to attend." So Canon Dr Sugden's fundraiser brought in the Widow's Mites, or might other agencies of divine intervention are involved? Be interesting to know the conduits through which God's favor flowed.

    It is to the credit of Sarah Hey, for my money the most interesting, though not the least fractious of the Stand Firm commentators, who is putting up the Tibet posts, that the posts are there, but the topic is of virtually no interest to SF "regulars". There has been only one response to four or five posts she has put up since Tuesday. Might this be related to the rug chewing that erupts over there whenever a Buddhist monk is spotted participating in Episcopal activities in San Francisco, New York City, or Washington DC?

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  5. The Anglican Communion website still lists the DoSJ bishop position as open but it lists the address as Stockton and the website as the new one.

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  6. (Dan)
    I read the following with great amusement the fact of Nigerian growth in the size of its HOB: "One way of packing the vote and dominating the Communion." Do yourself a favor and compare the number of bishops per communicants, members or ASA for the US, Nigeria and the UK and see who "packs" what. Bishops in Nigeria do something. They plant churches. They make disciples. They guard the faith. The entire ASA of the dioceses of NH or Nevada prpbably don't equal the ASA of the cathedral church in Abuja. Yes - I know, numbers don't matter - except each one of those numbers is a soul and souls do matter. At least to God they do.

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  7. "... the establishment of new dioceses and the election of new bishops is a growth industry in Nigeria"

    Lest we cast ridicule on Nigeria, up until I don't know how recently, this was how churches were begun in new territories in the Episcopal Church as well. Hence "Missionary Bishops" were consecrated so that they could ordain priests and deacons for church planting purposes. It would be interesting to know if current bishops still see their primary purpose as planting, re-planting, or revitalizing churches.

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  8. We moderates in Dallas are currently feeling like things are pretty status quo. Canon Lambert is at least a known quantity, and while things could have gone better for us (David Holland), they could have been a lot worse (Leander Harding) as well...

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