Bishop Duncan is elsewhere once again

The Moderator of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, aka the Anglican Communion Network (notice how the second sounds more "official" than the first?) appears to have been in England for a meeting of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) planning group while the House of Bishops was meeting. On the Church of Nigeria website there is the announcement of the meeting in England from March 10-12.

Here is photo of that group - Bishop Duncan is seated on the left.

Once again Bishop Duncan is missing in action, and action there was at the House of Bishops retreat and meeting. Among other things the Bishops worked on ways to be present at Lambeth, deal with the work of reconciliation, heard that Bishop Robinson will not be invited in any meaningful way to Lambeth, accepted various changes in episcopal appointments and retirements, and finally on the 12th, deposed Bishops Schofield and Cox.

Bishop Robinson said in his s
tatement to the House, "My own pain was sufficient enough that for 36 hours I felt the compelling urge to run, to flee. My inspiration for staying came from my conservative brothers in this house. I have seen John Howe and Ed Salmon and others show up for years when there was a lot of pain for them. I see Bill Love and Mark Lawrence, and I know it is a very difficult thing for them to be here right now. For me, the worst sin is leaving the table. And that is what I was on the verge of doing. But, largely because of you, I stayed. Thank you for that." Conservative bishops who were present in times of pain and difficulty became for Bishop Robinson a source of comfort in the moment when all hope was dashed of being invited to Lambeth in a meaningful way. Bishop Duncan was not to be numbered among those witness was helpful to Bishop Robinson.

The Moderator's own future in the Episcopal Church is now an open question. He has not yet crossed a line that would unite the three senior bishops in their recommendation to inhibit him, but the charge of abandonment of communion, issued by the Title IV Review Committee still stands. His absence from House of Bishops meetings, refusal to share communion with the Primate of the Episcopal Church, his leadership in the Common Cause Partnership whose goal is the establishment of an orthodox Anglican presence in North America - one distinctly unlike the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada, and his participation in the ordinations of bishops of other jurisdictions for service in The Episcopal Church on the explicit understanding that the Episcopal Church has abandoned the faith, all contribute to the case for the charge of abandonment of communion.

The Moderator's absence from this meeting, and in particular the lack of his actual vote on the floor against the deposition of his friends Bishops Schofield and Cox, suggests that he prefers the witness of involvement with the GAFCON, which has the promise of its leadership (to be taken with a grain of salt) to be a fine and positive meeting, to the witness of standing with his friends in the local dock which promised only a painful interlude in the life of the Church.

Pain is not after all an unheard of problem in the House of Bishops. Various bishops at various times have had their share of pain. Bishop Robinson said so in his remarks to the house: "I want to acknowledge that I am not the first or last person to be in pain at a House of Bishops meeting."
Pain is not of course a measure of true witness. Pain in the church is just a fact, an unsolvable fact. I know of no church leader who has not been in one way or another wounded in the strange ways the church grinds down those it sets apart for leadership. But the witness made is not measured by the pain suffered or inflicted. The witness made is measured by standing with and by those who at one time or another are or feel they are cast aside for the greater good, perceived of course by the community itself.

It also seems apparent now that the Network is now an ajunct to the Common Cause Partnership (CCP) - its future has been taken by the leadership into the new world of the CCP.

The Network recently posted its own statement of "Why the Network Matters?" Here is their answer:

"As the staff of Bishop Robert Duncan, our moderator and the moderator of the Common Cause movement, it is our job to help make the Common Cause Partnership a concrete reality. That includes organizing and supporting meetings of the Common Cause Council of Bishops, the elected officers of Common Cause, and many other gatherings and initiatives. Network affiliated dioceses and parishes are also represented at Common Cause meetings by the Network.

Common Cause is clearly our future. As we work with many others to speed its success, we continue to provide nuts and bolts support services, like a pension plan and property and liability insurance to parishes and others who need them.

We regularly visit with parishes and dioceses around the country, providing support, guidance and visible connection between Anglicans. Through our Chancellor, Mr. Wicks Stephens, we provide advice to those forced to make decisions with legal consequences.

Our Ministry Development Program has shepherded 20 men and women to ordination since we took over its work two years ago. A further 22 are currently discerning a call.

In the midst of all of this, the Network has incubated a thriving suite of ministry initiatives like the Anglican Relief and Development Fund, The Titus Institute for Church Planting, Anglican Global Mission Partners, Young Anglicans, and regional evangelism conferences. As these ministries mature, we have been able to offer them to the whole movement.

There is no question that there is more to do in the days ahead. God is building a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America. We at the Network are proud to contribute to that great work, especially as the administrative support for the Common Cause Partnership."

The Network then is the administrative support for the Common Cause Partnership (CCP) and its programs serve that group. It serves the Moderator of the CCP. Of course Network dioceses and parishes are recipients of its services, but those dioceses could also chose (and do) to make use of Episcopal Church programs... particularly as relates to pensions.

The Moderator of the CCP is more and more the leader of a new ecclesial expression, one unrelated to the Episcopal Church in any way.

It is perfectly within Bishop Duncan's right to decide which agenda is more important to him - the House of Bishops or the GAFCON leadership meeting. That's his business. But he should not be surprised if his absence continued unwillingness to witness, pain or no, in that context, are noted.


  1. FIVE years of infighting...in TEC and in the AC

    Surely there is a better way?

    An amicable split of parishes and property around the world...and and Episcopal (liberal) Church could get on with its life undivided and the Anglican Communion could do the same.

  2. Come on, Mark - let's finally all agree that we have a schism on our hands. What are we going to do about it? Let's try brainstorming solutions and quit poking each other's eyes out.


  3. "An amicable split of parishes and property around the world...and and Episcopal (liberal) Church could get on with its life undivided and the Anglican Communion could do the same."

    Sharon, you assume that the "Episcopal (liberal) Church" will be going a different way than the Anglican Communion.

    Yet all signs point to the "Episcopal (liberal) Church" remaining the sole recognized member of the Anglican Communion on the U.S., Haitian, Ecuadoran, etc. territory where it currently exists. Even if Nigeria et al. secede and form their GAFCON Communion, TEC will remain in the AC.

    So, more appropriately, you shopuld have written:

    "An amicable split of parishes and property around the world...and and Episcopal (liberal) Church / Anglican Communion could get on with its life undivided and the new-fangled innovation of a neo-puritanical GAFCON Communion could do the same."

    Viriato da Silva

  4. Why not an amicable split of property? Because that is not what Bp. Duncan et. co. want - they want to be the recognized entity, and they want us punished by being thrown into the outer darkness, and they certainly do not want us in the communion with them - after all, that's what this is all about. We are too unclean, too impure to be in communion with them, not to mention not being fellow Christians.

    In addition, I do not consider Mark's writings "poking eyes out". Someone has to continue to tell the truth, and Mark does that, to the best of his ability to do so, with the information he has. And when new or better info comes along, he amends his writing. But poking out eyes it is not.

    Lois Keen

  5. "Come on, Mark - let's finally all agree that we have a schism on our hands."

    Um, a half dozen bishops (to err numerically on the side of the "reasserters") plus 5-10% of TEC's membership (again, to err on the side of the "reasserters") hardly a "schism" makes.

    Dissent, dissatisfaction, disturbance -- yes, surely.

    But "schism"??? Hardly.

    And best to start making alternative plans for locations to worship. After all, Truro, Falls Church, etc, will one day -- in perhaps a few years, but no more than that -- be back in the hands of loyal Episcopalians, and there they shall stay.

    Viriato da Silva

  6. If failing to act to prevent schismatic behavior and protect church governance and property constitiutes "abandonment of communion of TEC", then Bishop Duncan's absence from the HoB's meetings and his increasingly bold acts and words in creating another church would seem to paint some his brother bishops into an increasingly tight corner. With friends like him, they don't need enemies.

  7. I second Lois Keen's comments above.
    I sometimes think that the emblem of our right-wing brethren should include a baseball bat and a can of Lysol.
    I'm astonished that Mark Harris' posts, which are always scrupulously fair and charitable, should be compared to eye-gouging. That would be a more accurate description of some of MY postings.

  8. I don't want a split at all, but IF there is one, Sharon and bb need to understand that the Anglican-Church-with-TEC-at-its-heart will be MORE an advocate of LGBT people EVERYWHERE, not less!

    [i.e., don't think that just because you go into schism---much less, push us out!---you can escape us queers&allies. The only thing that will shut us up, is a Kiss o' Peace! ;-)]

  9. "I know of no church leader who has not been in one way or another wounded in the strange ways the church grinds down those it sets apart for leadership."

    Hi Mark+, I read your blog almost every day and I have great respect for what you say.

    But I must confess irritation at statements like the ones above. The strange ways the church grinds down those it sets apart for leadership are, I believe, no different that the way the church grinds down the laity.

    I believe the clergy complain too much about the cost of their discipleship. The laity do most of the work in a parish and usually all the scut work. The laity usually do this after working full-time jobs. The clergy, who usually see themselves as underpaid, get a pension fund, a salary, health benefits, they get paid for coming to Church.

    The lay folks are raking leaves, ironing albs and purificators, dusting wood, polishing brass, going to choir rehearsals, working soup kitchen shifts, attending boring and difficult vestry meetings etc.

    I don't understand why the clergy feel so put upon.

    +Gene didn't get invited to a multi-million dollar bible study overseas. The scandal, perhaps, is that we even pay for such a thing.

    Why is it that clergy seem to love meetings of all types and spend so much time at them?

    Just a little rant from a lay person.

    I'm tired because I'm anticipating leading a Quiet Day Saturday, then helping rake the Church Yard, then Choir practice for Holy Week, then going to our soup kitchen fund raising dinner. I'll be about one of 6 or 7 parishioners having the same long day.

    It's hard for me to feel sorry for all these people who get to wear miters, be treated like royalty, and fly all over the world on other people's dimes.

    p.s. I'm going anonymous because I ranted. Sigh. You don't even have to post this if you like.

  10. Mark, it's a niggling point--but still important--that once again you have allowed the schismatics to steal the word "orthodox" that rightly belongs to us Anglicans who aren't going anywhere because we're already there. Should you find it necessary to refer again to the schismatics effort to set up an "'orthodox' Anglican province" in North America, please, please put that "orthodox" in quotes. We, not they, are the true orthodox.

  11. byabyblue -

    I'm your neighbor to the East, in a way - in Alexandria. In some ways I agree with you, particularly in our situation in Northern Virginia. I can understand you, in a way -my church owns a lot of very valuable property in more than the "church" real estate market. I could be in your position at a different place in time.

    The situation in DioSJ seems a bit different. We are in a very, very different place here in Northern Virginia. You and I can drive a couple of miles, and find just about any kind of church community we wish. I also think the Virginia CANA churches handled their departure with more grace, and there was a much better understanding of what a departure from TEC would mean. And I won't even think about touching on the difference between a diocese and a few churches.

    While I understand that the HOB action to depose Bishop Schofield seemed petty, I understand this was the only way to make a clean break; most specifically, to ensure he no longer had a voting seat in the TEC House of Bishops. He and his PB could have handled it in a clean and gracious way, avoiding the deposition. But they didn't, and I suspect The Rt Rev Venables would do the same were the sides reversed.

    An olive branch, a reminder of what we have in common. I know Truro is a fantastic witness for Christ in Fairfax, particularly for the homeless. I put my outreach time and dollars into the support of Carpenter's Shelter in Alexandria, along with many other of my fellow parishioners. I work more with the residential section, but I am proud that they include David's (the day shelter) in their mix.

    No doubt this note could make some people angry, but I have read enough of your blog to think that despite the differences in our outlook on all things Anglican, we could feed the homeless and go to the altar together. Probably have some lively discussions on literature, too.

    Just remember - we were pretty lucky. Easy for me to say, I suppose, but it is true.

    Love of the Father, grace of the Son, and fellowship of the Spirit to you. Easter-resurrection and rebirth - are coming, what shall it bring this year? There is always hope.

  12. JCF - absolutely, I realise that a new global church with TEC (and therefore Integrity) at its centre would be speaking very strongly for the rights of Gene Robinson, Jeffrey John and millions of others in the world...... rather than TEC making the compromises currently made to stay in Rowan's club..... I just don't get why you would prefer the latter to the former.

    Staying in the AC while rejecting Lambeth 1.10 and discipline is not a witness to the AC but it is divisive and results in TEC being divided too...... TEC could and should be doing something positive for its point of view. Why "stay in the face" of anybody rather than build something which many around the world could join with integrity??

    (pls see my post at Fr Jake in response to Mary Clara)


  13. Here is what I wrote at Jakes...

    Hello Mary Clara
    I understand where you are coming from...but my point is that the situation of the last 5 years has not been about building unity......it has created horrible disunity in TEC and in the AC. The question is,what for?

    The problem, it seems to me, is that some people (like the ABC) are trying to have their cake and eat it....trying to avoid admitting that people like your PB and +Durham will never agree on Lambeth 1.10 or on Christology or on biblical interpretation (I deliberately do not pick the obvious extremes to show that the differences are deeper and more widespread than some admit).

    Now, is the best thing to pretend we do not contradict each other and remain "united"? Hardly - the human cost is huge and the loss of integrity even greater. If TEC led a global, liberal Anglican church, Jeffrey John and Gene Robinson would not face the unfair treatment they have faced because some repeatedly sacrifice principles to stay in the AC.

    Is the best thing to stay in the club to change it from within? Is that realistic? What is the motivation for this? For some, it seems a political decision to "stay in the face" of the AC and they seem driven by anger against the AC. Is that beneficial for anybody? As I say above, the human costs are great and I don't believe their is any blessing for TEC in being divisive. Plus, there is a cost in that TEC is itself being divided.

    Much better to say that there is honest disagreement within the AC. Much better not to make lawyers rich and disgrace the gospel in the media but to make peace and not fudge. Much better to let all go in peace (with property and pensions) to choose whether to be part of the AC or TEC. As I said, many parishes in England would want to join TEC and I would be happy to see them do so rather than operate in "don't ask, don't tell" environments so they could teach what they believe to be right with integrity. Then, with integrity, we could all get on with our lives and cease tearing each other apart in the name of "unity"

  14. Virginia gal,

    I appreciate your comments very much.

    You know, I'm no advocate for divorce, but over the years I have come to accept that there are times when a marriage can be so broken it is dying. And some do die.

    The question I keep asking myself regarding the Episcopal/Anglican crisis is "can this marriage be saved?" Is this was a marriage, what steps could we take to save it?

    It seems to me that punitive actions and hauling people into court and saying that "if you take the house, I'll take the kids" and issuing threats and ultimatums are more and more signs that the marriage is failing.

    One of the major steps in saving a marriage ironically often involves a separation - even a legal separation, a cooling off period, a time of rebuilding the foundations that have been broken.

    There seems to be incredible fear coming out of the House of Bishops. At first I was angry at all the deposing and threats coming from the House - but then last night I started to think that they are acting out of their fear. The orthodox are moving out like spouses who have been betrayed (that's what it feels like) and the TEC leadership is acting almost like they are upset we are gone and need to blame someone, anyone but themselves. It's a failing marriage. Those who are being left behind are in pain too - and these depositions and defrockings and threats are all signs that the House of Bishops is in pain.

    ACI is like the kids trying to hold the parents together - they are exhausted trying to find a way to keep the marriage going, even as mom and dad are tearing each other apart.

    As many know, I am no separatist. I do not believe there is a pure church or a perfect church. For years and years I tried to find ways to save the marriage by living in the same house and through a lot of tears I've come to recognize that is not possible. We need to separate - with the goal of reunion.

    If we don't do this ourselves, then it's going to be decided by civil authorities. And that day may be soon upon us.

    But there has to be the desire to save the marriage - and as some of these other posts (and sadly even Mark's about Bob Duncan) illustrate that I am not sure there is resolve anymore to save the marriage.

    And that makes me very sad indeed.


  15. Anonymous should read Caminante's blog. I suppose there are clergy who are not overworked and underpaid. I don't know any. A week in clergy mocs might be eyeopening for Anonymous, especially in small parishes.

  16. In the spirit of Mark's "fairness and honesty" Bishop Duncan has missed two - count them - TWO HOB meetings in 12 years. But who's counting? Obviously, his once close friend and colleague, Mark Harris.

    Nara Dewar Duncan

  17. "We, not they, are the true orthodox."

    Unless there's a long tradition of gay "marriage" in Anglicanism nobody knows about, no, you're not.

    Unless "bishops" that deny the divinity of Christ and reject the Gospel have always been considered heroes and exemplars by Anglicans as Jack Spong is considered by ECUSA, no, you're not.

    Unless there's a tradition I don't know about of taking a 50%+1 vote on what the content of our faith will be for the next three years, every three years, no, you're not.

  18. It sounds like (at least as is being reported over at Stand Firm) that some canonically improper voting occurred on the depositions of Cox and Schofield.
    Ala the rejection of the consents of Mark Lawrence last year, let's hope that what's good for the goose, is good for the gander.
    If the canons weren't followed to the letter, let's not have a double standard and excuse this one.
    It's amazing that with all the lawyers falling over themselves in the church right now, that they could have possibly gotten this wrong.

  19. "Our Ministry Development Program has shepherded 20 men and women to ordination since we took over its work two years ago. A further 22 are currently discerning a call." WOW, only two years for ordination? I didn't know it was possible in less than, how many for postulancy, 3 months CPE and candidacy and 6 months minimum for ordination to the priesthood...and only part of this in seminary. Most folks I know couldn't do it in less 4 and that was fast-tracked. Did these 24 month wonders complete what would be seen as a regular program? Or maybe they only "shepherded" by these folks for part of their program in which case their statement might not be completely accurate?EmilyH

  20. "Among other things the Bishops worked on ways to be present at Lambeth, deal with the work of reconciliation, heard that Bishop Robinson will not be invited in any meaningful way to Lambeth, accepted various changes in episcopal appointments and retirements, and finally on the 12th, deposed Bishops Schofield and Cox.

    Really, Mark? You should have written "and finally on the 12th, vote on whether to deposed Bishops Schofield and Cox" for you proved you are certainly not a prophet by getting this bit of history incorrect.

    "Slightly more than one-third of all bishops eligible voted to depose bishops John-David Schofield and William J. Cox during the House of Bishops' spring retreat, far fewer than the 51 percent required by the canons. -- TLC

    Sometimes writing with a measure of uncertainty is more prudent.

  21. virginiagal-

    Note that the House of Bishops, it appears, did not depose Schofield or Cox. It would seems that the Presiding Bishop and her legal counsel don't know their own organization's canons when it comes to quorums and majorities.

    AN amusing twist of events for some of us... but in her words... "Rules are rules."

  22. Phil -- Yes we are orthodox, because Jesus never excluded gay and lesbian people, only those who came later, with their prejudices similar to those held against women, did so.

    Yes we are orthodox, because Bishop Spong does not deny the divinity of Christ, nor do we lie and claim he does.

    Yes we are orthodox because we do not take a vote on our faith every three years, as you claim, but we consistently attempt to follow our Lord Jesus Christ, not the prejudices of our culture.


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.