Mark Harris has posted a report from a participant in the General Synod who details how ACNA was rejected not once but three times by the Curch of England last Wednesday-
The Rev. Brian Lewis, member of General Synod from the Diocese of Clemsford and member of the Executive Committee of Inclusive Church, UK, has written the following report on the General Synod's decision to reject the call to "express a desire to be in Communion with ACNA," and to pass a motion that does quite another thing.
I want to thank Brian for his report and for clearing up many matters. Here is his report:
“We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language” (Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost 1887).
I was alarmed but (bearing in mind Oscar's witticism) should not have been surprised to hear that some in TEC and ACoC might misunderstand the full significance of the Church of England's General Synod's decision to reject the call to "express a desire to be in Communion with ACNA".
But let us be clear it did just that, not once, but twice or perhaps even three times.
To follow through the sequence of events.
The original motion was:
That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America.
In a background paper circulated in advance of the debate the mover (Lorna Ashworth) made a number of allegations about TEC and the ACoC. This clearly established that though the motion was ostensibly only about ACNA it was intended to invite the CoE to condemn the behaviour of TEC and ACoC.
In response to that briefing paper I circulated to all members of synod two papers.
THE General Synod declined on Wednesday afternoon to express a desire to be in communion with the Anglican Church in North Amerca (ACNA).
But, "aware of the distress caused by recent divisions" in the Anglican Churches of the US and Canada, it recognised and affirmed the desire of those who had formed ACNA to be part of the Anglican family, and "acknowledged that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further".
It invited the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011.
Lorna Ashworth (Chichester) had brought a private member's motion. There was no hidden agenda, she assured the Synod; but this was a question of fellowship. "If one part of the body suffers, all suffer."
There was an early attempt to scupper the debate. Canon Simon Butler (Southwark) said that there had been so many claims and counter-claims that it would be difficult to separate truth and falsehood. He moved "next business", supported by a member who spoke of the "grisly inevitability of watching a train wreck in slow motion", and opposed by another who was "deeply offended that what I was going to say was a lie".
Canon Butler's motion was lost.
The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, moved an amendment from the Bishops which formed the main part of the final motion. He believed that Mrs Ashworth's motion would commit the C of E to "too much too soon".
The Bishop of Chichester, Dr John Hind, also felt that there was "serious work still to be done".
The Synod was beginning to run out of time. When it came to voting by Houses on an amendment to the Bristol amendment which would in effect have combined it with the main motion, the electronic voting system broke down, necessitating a time-consuming division through the Ayes and Noes lobbies.
When they returned, that amendment lost, another indefinite adjournment was unsuccessfully attempted. But the mood had lightened. An amendment from the Revd Andrew Dow, to recognise the orders of ACNA clergy as an interim measure, was also lost.
The Bristol amendment was carried, with Mr Dow's other amendment about "distress". The amended motion was carried by 309 to 69 with 17 recorded abstentions.
The Rev. Brian Prior realizes that several thousand people are going to make their way to the Minneapolis Convention Center Saturday morning to witness his installation as the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota. He just doesn't want all the attention to be on him.
"As I was talking to the people planning this, I told them that the one thing I don't want is for this to feel like a coronation," the 50-year-old bishop said Thursday. "I want this to be a celebration of the diocese. I don't want it to be focused on the new bishop, I want it to be focused on the new chapter in the diocese."
The consecration, which starts at 11 a.m. (people are being encouraged to arrive by 10:30), will feature a localized version of pomp and circumstance. It will include Ojibwe and Dakota drummers, Hmong choristers and a 200-voice choir gleaned from the diocese's churches.
A banner hanging outside St. Francis Anglican Church proudly declares “Lives Change Here.” Rev. Gerry Grossman is quick to point out the present tense of the declaration and is even quicker to point out that his parish has no plans of letting it slip into the past.
That goal was recently put into question by a lawsuit filed Monday in Stanislaus County by the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. The lawsuit, which names Grossman and nine members of the church’s leadership as defendants, seeks “to return control of the parish premises and other parish assets to the plaintiffs in the matter.”
The lawsuit was spurred by a separation among the Episcopal Church. Differences over interpretations of Scripture caused some churches to leave the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican Church.
In 2007, about 40 parishes, including St. Francis, decided to leave the original Episcopal diocese in Fresno and align with the Anglican Church. Another seven opted to stay. About 20 parishioners left St. Francis prior to the separation, Grossman said.
The Rev. Henry N. Parsley Jr., bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, today announced his plan to retire at the end of 2011.
Parsley became bishop-coadjutor in 1996, serving under Bishop Robert Miller, and became Bishop of Alabama in 1999.
"Fifteen years is a long, full tenure for a diocesan bishop and I believe that my decision to retire in two years is in the fullness of time for the diocese and me," Parsley said in a news release. "When I retire I will have gone to seminary 41 years ago and been ordained nearly 39 years. It continues to be a fascinating life's work."
His announcement today came during his address to the Diocesan Convention, held this year at the Marriott Shoals Hotel in Florence.
Episcopal leaders in central California are launching a new round of legal action to gain control of property used by congregations that split from the national church in a dispute over the Bible and homosexuality.
The Diocese of San Joaquin said the congregations that left to align with more conservative Anglican parishes in 2007 had no right to take control of church property. Former Bishop John-David Schofield led about 40 San Joaquin parishes in the secession after the Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Breakaway Episcopal conservatives have since formed the rival Anglican Church in North America.
The Modesto-based diocese previously filed a lawsuit against Schofield in an effort recover most of the church properties.
But 10 of the breakaway parishes are incorporated—meaning that they own their own property—so the diocese must deal with those cases individually.
On Monday, the diocese sued one of those parishes, St. Francis Anglican Church in Turlock, "to return control of the parish premises and other parish assets to the plaintiffs in the matter." The lawsuit also names the Rev. Gerald Grossman and nine members of the church's ruling body. "The (Modesto) diocese has never given us money," Grossman said. "The national church has never given us anything. Why do they think they have a right to this property?"
Tighter official regulation of violent computer games was called for by members of the Church of England general synod last night.
In a brief debate, members queued up to condemn the availability of ultra-violent games and the relative lack of restrictions on what children can see.
The church itself has been a victim – in 2007 images of the interior of Manchester Cathedral were used without permission in the violent game Resistance: Fall of Man.
The cathedral staff secured an apology - but not the withdrawal of the game from its worldwide market.
The cathedral's dean the Very Rev Govender Rogers Govender told the synod: "Sony's response was: "What is the church worried about? It's just a game.' I had to tell them, 'It may just be a fantasy game to you, but violence is really serious on the streets of Manchester.' We eventually managed to elicit a grudging apology."
Initiating the debate, synod lay member Tom Benyon, a former Tory MP, said: "There is a bubbling sewer of gratuitously violent and sexual pornography and games all around us … I have seen [their] pernicious effect: a family member saw a so-called game and he had nightmares. The images remained with him for months."
Starting Friday, the largest convention to ever come to Killeen will fill the Killeen Civic and Conference Center with more than 1,000 attendees, 70 vendors and the goal of a clear direction for Episcopalian churches across Texas.
The Episcopal Church Diocesan Conference annually brings together delegates from across the state to discuss problems that arise during the year, find solutions to those problems and consider ways to implement those solutions.
The group alternates the location of the conference between its "headquarters" in Houston and other cities. St. Christopher's Episcopal Church of Killeen is hosting the event this year.
The first-time hosts have worked for about two years to bring the conference to Killeen, said Connie Kuehl, director of the Killeen Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"The way conventions normally work is that you're actually preparing two as far as eight years out," she said. "The best one is like this one where we had a bunch of local folks who are proud of the conference center and want to show it off to their peers."
Kuehl said the group has "maxed out" the center for this weekend's event.
The first evening of the event begins with a worship service that brings together all participants, with dinner afterward.
Saturday is filled with workshops and meetings "to basically determine the direction of the church and take care of the business of the church," said Don Christian, former assistant city manager, who was one of the most active in bringing the conference to the center.
The Episcopal-Anglican battle in Stanislaus County got very personal on Monday, as the Episcopal faction filed a lawsuit against St. Francis Anglican Church in Turlock. The suit, filed by the Rev. Jerry Lamb, bishop of the Modesto-based Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, names the Rev. Gerald Grossman and nine members of the church's vestry, or ruling body, as well as the St. Francis parish as defendants.
No monetary damages are mentioned. Instead, the lawsuit seeks "to return control of the parish premises and other parish assets to the plaintiffs in the matter."
St. Francis is the first parish to face an individual lawsuit. When the original diocese, headquartered in Fresno, voted in December 2007 to leave the Episcopal Church and align itself with the larger worldwide Anglican church, about 40 of its parishes joined in that action, while another six or seven decided to remain Episcopal.
The break was mainly over the interpretation of Scripture — whether Jesus is the only way to salvation and if homosexuals should be ordained and married in the church, for example. The Episcopal Church set up a parallel San Joaquin diocese with Lamb as bishop, while the Rev. John-David Schofield is the bishop of the Anglican diocese.
Most of the parish property belongs to one of the two dioceses; about 10, however, were incorporated, which means their property was never owned by the Anglican diocese, which stretches from Stockton to Bakersfield.
The Church of England has said it recognizes and affirms the desire of the Anglican Church in North America to remain in the Anglican family, but it is not yet ready to be in full communion with the breakaway entity.
Amended legislation passed Feb. 10 by General Synod, the Church of England's main governing body, said that ACNA's desire required further exploration by the "relevant authorities" in the Anglican Communion.Bishop Michael Hill of the Diocese of Bristol, who proposed the amendment, told ENS that the debate had been charitable. "While it leaned towards issues of human sexuality, the real issue is about the process of reception with groups like ACNA," said Hill, a member of the Anglican Consultative Council, the communion's main policy-making body.
The passing of the motion hasn't resolved all the issues, he added. "It leaves the doors open but makes it clear that the church has to deal with these matters with due process and not in an ad hoc way."Hill's amendment -- which received 309 votes for, 69 against, and 17 abstentions -- also invites the archbishops of Canterbury and York to report further to synod in 2011.The original motion submitted by Lorna Ashworth of Chichester had called on synod to "express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America."
From Titus One Nine- Bishop Mark Lawrence in South Carolina-
February 9, 2010
My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Greetings in the strong name of Jesus Christ whose word calls us to conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day.
I write to announce a change in the date of our upcoming Diocesan Convention which was scheduled for March 4_5'" at St. Paul's, Summerville. According to our Diocesan Constitution and Canons the Ecclesiastical Authority may "for sufficient cause" change the date of the Convention. I, with the unanimous concurrence of the Standing Committee, have so done. The 219'" Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina will now be held at St. Paul's, Summerville on March 26, 2010.
The Chancellor of the diocese, Mr. Wade Logan, was informed in December of 2009 that a local attorney had been retained by the Chancellor of the Presiding Bishop to represent The Episcopal Church in some "local matters." Then, beginning in January of 2010, a series of letters requesting various documents from our diocesan records were sent sequentially to our chancellor, leading us to believe that perhaps the Presiding Bishop's Chancellor, if not the Presiding Bishop herself, is seeking to build a case against the Ecclesiastical Authorities of the Diocese (Bishop and Standing Committee) and some of our parishes. These requests (which can be viewed here) seek from the Diocese and about certain parishes: lists of all persons ordained since October 24, 2009; all parish bylaws and amendments since 2006; all Standing Committee Minutes since the episcopacy of Bishop Salmon; parish charters, parish founding documents, parish deeds, parish mortgages, documents evidencing parish participation in diocesan programs and others. In some cases, the stated reason for the information requested is the assertion that these parishes have left the Diocese of South Carolina because of changes made to their respective bylaws. However, these parishes have not made these changes with the intention of leaving the Diocese of South Carolina, nor have they left. I have been working with their clergy and lay leaders to find appropriate ways to resolve their struggles with the recent decisions of the General Convention in ways consistent with the Holy Scriptures, our common life and fellowship in Christ, as well as with the canons of the Church and the laws of the State of South Carolina.
The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has started a new round of lawsuits to get dissidents to return numerous Central Valley churches. The dissidents split from the national Episcopal church to affiliate with a more conservative unit of the Anglican Church.
The lawsuits have been filed because invitations of the Diocesan Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb, to discuss the orderly return of the churches have been largely ignored, the diocese says. “It is particularly disappointing given the recent and unequivocal decisions of the California Supreme Court and Court of Appeals’ rulings that the properties and assets are held for the Episcopal Church and its Dioceses,” says Diocesan Chancellor Michael Glass, the lawyer for the diocese.
The litigation is focused on returning the properties and assets to the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, he says. Mr. Glass says the litigation will not be initially seeking monetary judgments against individual defendants “unless it becomes evident that such defendants have diverted parish assets to other purposes or parties.”
As the Church of England’s General Synod begins, some Anglo-Catholic leaders have said if their concerns about the introduction of women bishops are not addressed they will withdraw their resources from the Anglican Church and focus them on ministries outside the formal church structure.
The Church of England introduced women to its priesthood in 1994. It is committed to the consecration of female bishops as well, The Telegraph reports, but controversy continues about the implementation.
Many of those who favor female bishops argue they should be introduced on the same basis and with the same powers as men. They fear the development of a two-tier system.
Those who oppose female bishops argue they had been assured that provisions would be made for them. They point to the current “flying bishops” arrangement for parishes that cannot accept the oversight of female vicars and so have bishops from other regions as their overseers.
The traditionalists, led by a group called Reform, seek either an entirely new province that could cover all of England or extra junior bishops in dioceses that had not ordained women bishops and would be answerable only to an archbishop.
The debate has been postponed until July. However, according to the Telegraph, Anglican Bishop of Manchester Nigel McCulloch’s comments to Synod members on Monday suggested that the proposals desired by traditionalists are no longer being considered.
At last, the Church of Uganda, the Anglican Communion branch there, has spoken up on the anti-homosexuality bill it has been studying for months. Their confusing statement, released today to Christianity Today, is long on bewildering rhetoric and very short on proposed amendments.
Indeed, Warren Throckmorton, an associate professor of psychology at Grove City College, blogs that the "changes" only serve to show the church wants to "make it more clear that homosexuality is against the law."
The only specific amendment suggested would qualify a provision of the bill that now says people who fail to report gays to authorities could be imprisoned themselves. The Church would like to see pastors, doctors and counselors exempted. Otherwise, they back all efforts to be sure homosexuality is "excluded as a human right."
So, family and friends who fail to turn in gays to authorities would still be facing jail, as per the original bill's wording. (Note to actress Anne Hathaway, who told a British mag she left the Catholic Church because it wouldn't welcome her gay brother: Stay out of Uganda.)
A special Family Worship Service will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday in the Music Center at St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church.
This service is called a "Comfy-Space" service because although it is a worship service, it is set up in a less-formal space, with activities, lessons and songs that are more informal and designed to hold the interest of younger worshipers.
This enables parents or grandparents to feel more relaxed as they worship with their young ones. "For the first time, I can actually worship while I am with my family because I don't have to be so concerned about how my kids are behaving," one parent said after a family service.
Worshipers of all ages are welcome.
This service will celebrate the end of the Season after Epiphany. Participants will get shiny stickers on their faces to commemorate the Transfiguration of Jesus. The story of the Transfiguration is that Jesus went on a mountaintop with three disciples to pray, and while there his face became radiant, he spoke with Moses and Elijah and God called him "Son."
Also, "alleluias" will be metaphorically packed away in a basket, where they will stay throughout the season of Lent. In Episcopalian tradition, "alleluia" is not said from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday.
One of the most controversial motions to reach the General Synod for several years will be debated today when members discuss a proposal that the Church of England should be in communion with the breakaway US conservative Church, the Anglican Church in North America.
Lorna Ashworth, a lay member from the Diocese of Chichester, will call for the General Synod to express a wish for communion with the new group, which has 742 parishes and more than 800 clergy in the US and Canada and opposes the consecration of openly gay bishops and the blessing of gay partnerships.
Mrs Ashworth, a Canadian-born mother of three who works as a volunteer at All Saints’ Church in Eastbourne, said: “Most lay members like myself have little understanding of the technical ins and outs of canon law but what is clear, however, is the shocking and unjust treatment of historical, biblical Anglicans as they seek to continue to live out their faith in this province.”
Many have been subject to legal actions over property, and some have been deposed from their orders.
Years ago I was visiting friends in the Episcopal Church in the United States. The diocese had just elected a new a bishop and my friend had been an elector in the House of Laity of the diocesan synod. What did he think of the new man? I asked. "Well", he said, "he's a bit of jerk but he's our jerk". This layman, in other words, responded like a grown-up, taking responsibility for decisions and acknowledging his accountability.
In the Church of England, unlike most of the Anglican Communion, we do not elect our bishops, but we are governed by a synodical structure in which the three "estates" of the church are represented in three houses: laity, clergy and bishops. This model is replicated in every diocese as well. That it is a cumbersome and often frustrating decision-making system is beyond dispute. What is less acknowledged is that lay participation and a (somewhat) democratic authority is nothing new and has been inherent in our structures since at least the Reformation.
General Synod is a direct descendent of the Reformation Parliament of 1529-1536 which declared the Church in England to be independent of the see of Rome and the king to be its supreme head – in so far as the law of Christ allows. Even that megalomaniac Henry VIII needed parliamentary legitimisation for his programme of ecclesiastical reorganisation. The Commons, acting as a "lay synod" of the church, developed an increasing sense of responsibility and accountability in religious matters. So much so that slightly more than a century later, a Commons-dominated Parliament would abolish the Church of England and send its archbishop and supreme governor to the scaffold: a superb example of the law of unintended consequences.
In the last few weeks we've seen a number of topics coming up in public discussion, all centring on one set of questions – a set of questions which I think reflects painfully accurately some of the problems we face in our church, locally and internationally. The heated debates around the equality bill brought this out in one way, some of the renewed flurries of pressure and anxiety about euthanasia and assisted dying in other ways. And as we look forward to our own debates later in the year on women bishops and on the Anglican Covenant, we may see the parallels. And in the middle of all the frustration that many feel about deferring the debate on women bishops, perhaps we can at least ask how we can spend the intervening time constructively, looking again at whether we might learn anything from the way our culture is moving that will help us maintain some level of health or maturity in our church. That is the task I'm going to attempt, with some trepidation, today .
But when the affirmation of that good takes the form of pre-empting the discernment of the wider Anglican (and a lot of the non-Anglican) fellowship, and of acting in ways that negate the general understanding of the limits set by Bible and tradition, there is a conflict with another undoubted good, which is the capacity of the Anglican family to affirm and support one another in diverse contexts. The freedom claimed, for example, by the Episcopal church to ordain a partnered homosexual bishop is, simply as a matter of fact, something that has a devastating impact on the freedom of, say, the Malaysian Christian to proclaim the faith without being cast as an enemy of public morality and risking both credibility and personal safety. It hardly needs to be added that the freedom that might be claimed by an African Anglican to support anti-gay legislation likewise has a serious impact on the credibility of the gospel in our setting.
Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, attempted today to bind together the warring factions of the Church of England by appealing for both conservatives and liberals to show mutual tolerance and understanding over issues of gay equality and women bishops.
He also placed the church firmly against any liberalisation of the law on assisted dying, describing the granting of a right to die as a moral mistake and an upsetting of the balance of freedoms.
However, his warning to Anglicans not to demonise opponents was immediately undermined by a pugnacious statement by the archbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi, who, with immaculate timing, insisted on his church's support for homophobic legislation under consideration by the Ugandan parliament.
Williams, who described such legislation as infamous and repugnant, insisted in his address to the Church of England's General Synod, meeting in London: "Our job is not to secure purity but to find ways of deciding such contested issues that do not simply write off the others in the debate as negligible, morally or spiritually unserious or without moral claims."
But the archbishop stoutly defended the recent opposition of bishops in the Lords to the government's equality legislation, seeking to define how far the church could discriminate, particularly against gay people, in making secular appointments.
Aaqil Ahmed, a controversial executive whose appointment last year prompted more than 100 complaints, said: "I think all the faiths should be treated in the same way. I don't believe in treating any faith differently."
He dismissed claims that the BBC was marginalising religion as overly simplistic and argued that Christianity, in particular, was already covered well on television.
His comments come on the eve of a debate at the General Synod, the Church's parliament, over the BBC's treatment of Christianity.
There has been growing concern at top levels of the Church over the corporation's approach to religion, with warnings that it must not ignore its Christian audience.
Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, met last year with Mark Thompson, the BBC's director-general, to discuss religious broadcasting.
Bishops, clergy and lay members of the General Synod will vote this week on a motion calling on the state broadcaster to explain why its television coverage of Christianity has declined so steeply in recent years.
Output has fallen from 177 hours of religious programming on BBC television in 1987/88 to 155 hours in 2007/08 - a period during which the overall volume of programming has doubled. However, in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Ahmed, an award-winning programme-maker, said that the Church's criticisms were too simplistic.
I owe it to my readers to provide an explanation of a puzzling title. What does a discussion of “communion, order, and dissent” have to do with the well-known and well-loved children’s story of Puss and Boots? Remember, in the story, the hero can only reach his goal if he listens to a despised cat that he must take as his companion on the way. It would seem that the point of the story is that attention must be given to what we might otherwise despise if we are to succeed in our more “high flown” endeavors.
My point is that hierarchy, the subject of this conference, is an aspect of church order, and both have become something like the cat in Puss and Boots. We cannot reach our more noble goals without these unwelcome sources of help. Nevertheless, for some years we have neglected these despised companions, and as a result our church and our communion are in a terrible mess. Indeed, our seminaries do little or nothing to introduce future clergy to the importance of church polity. I remember when I was in seminary the arguments about church order that so engaged the Reformers were mentioned, but only in passing. Polity, we were told, is a subject we ought to “bone up on” because there would be polity questions on our General Ordination Exams. The message was clear. Hierarchy and order are not very important subjects. Yet, here we are at the beginning of the 21st Century faced with fiercely debated polity issues. The debate centers on the communion wide challenge of an Anglican Covenant and on a domestic legal battle over the meaning of the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church (TEC). The former challenge might produce a divided communion and/or result in TEC becoming a second track form of Anglicanism. The latter might produce a change in our constitution effected by a secular court rather than constitutionally mandated procedures.
Conservative evangelicals in the Church of England today became the latest group to threaten to split the church if it decides to consecrate women bishops.
At the start of this week's meeting of the General Synod, the church's parliament, in London, they warned that their clergy would in future be trained outside the Church of England if the proposals go ahead later this year.
The pressure group Reform, which claims to represent 350 ordained clergy and which has a track record of threatening action unless it gets its way, claimed its parishes would raise money to train their own clergy and would accordingly reduce payments to the Church of England.
The conservative evangelicals oppose women's ordination to the clergy, let alone the episcopacy, joining High Church Anglo-Catholics – with whom they share little else in common theologically or doctrinally – because they believe the Bible does not allow women to be in "headship" of any organisation, including businesses or the family.
In a statement signed by 50 vicars and endorsed by one suffragan bishop, Wallace Benn, the Bishop of Lewes, they said: "We are not for a moment saying women are less valuable than men … this is the point we find hardest to communicate, since the world about us equates value with power … In the end this is an issue about our view of Holy Scripture and this is why it matters to us so much as ministers of the Word."
The chaos of the Church of England's move towards consecrating women bishops is revealed in the statement the Bishop of Manchester will make to the General Synod tomorrow. Read the news story in The Times today. Articles of Faith has obtained a copy of this statement. In it he says:
'...proposals for a recognised society, some sort of transfer or vesting, or for adopting the simplest possible legislative approach all got initial amber lights, that is to say, we agreed to consider them further.. We then did some serious work on these models, particularly to tease out the pros and cons of the society model and to understand exactly what it might mean in terms of who exercised what jurisdiction and on whose authority.... The Revision Committee voted by a clear majority to reject the society option but, by a similarly clear majority to go for the transfer or vesting route....
...after more than six months work we had rejected all the options which would have involved conferring some measure of jurisdiction on someone other than the diocesan bishop. The legislation that the Revision Committee sends back to the Synod will, therefore, be on the basis that any arrangements that are made for parishes with conscientious difficulties about women’s ordination will be by way of delegation from the diocesan bishops. That much is already clear.'
The Archbishop of Canterbury will fight threats of disintegration in the Church of England with what is expected to be a forceful intervention at the General Synod today.
Dr Rowan Williams is determined to challenge the increasingly bitter infighting sparked by disagreements over women bishops in England and gay ordinations in the US.
In one of the most important presidential addresses of his seven-year archiepiscopacy, described by one insider as a “brilliant piece of work”, the Archbishop is expected to salvage hope from the despair felt by many Anglicans over pressure brought by the liberal, evangelical and Catholic wings of the established Church.
Anglican leaders are increasingly concerned at the way that the Church’s tussles over women and gays is hindering its mission to proclaim the gospel to the nation. The synod was told yesterday that the Church of England was suffering a “testosterone deficit” caused by a “seriously out-of- line” gender balance. The synod heard anecdotal evidence suggesting that women are playing an increasingly important role in the Church, and when it comes to attendance bishops should be actively pursuing missions directed at men.
A question tabled at the Synod by Canon Simon Bessant, of Sheffield, called on the Church to redress the problem where with women seriously outnumbered men in congregations.
He said there was ''plenty'' of anecdotal evidence that the gender balance in congregations is getting ''seriously out of line''.
In a question to the House of Bishops of the Church of England, he asked whether the Church was debating the ''profound theological issues'' implied by a ''gender imbalance''.
The Rt Rev Michael Hill, Bishop of Bristol, told the General Synod meeting in London that ''every soul'' is precious to the Lord and the gospel is the same for men and women alike. ''I believe every bishop is concerned to build a well-balanced church and mission amongst men and young people is on everyone's agenda,'' he said.
Asked about what efforts were being made to attract more people into Church of England congregations, Dr Philip Giddings, chairman of the Church's Mission and Public Affairs Council, told the General Synod that patterns of attendance in the Church of England were changing. "Given such factors as the aggressive secular attacks on all faiths and the deepening time pressures on people in work, evangelism in parishes and dioceses is bearing fruit from difficult ground," he said.
When it comes to issues of gender and sexuality the Church of England is a church divided.
From women bishops to gay clergy Anglican leaders have papered over the theological cracks by avoiding taking decisive action.
This week the church's governing body, the General Synod, meets in London. Stephen Sackur asks the Bishop of Fulham John Broadhurst, how much longer Anglicans will stay together in a communion of convenience.
On Wednesday, there wil be an important vote in London on whether the Brits will side with a nascent would-be 39th North American Anglican province that has split with the U.S. Episcopal Church.
The General Synod, the governing body for the 27-million-member Church of England (on paper that's who belongs but real attendance is only a few million per Sunday) will vote whether to align themselves with the 100,000-member Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). That is about one-tenth the membership of the U.S. Episcopal Church. Some Canadian Anglicans are part of the ACNA as well. The London Times explains a bit of the background here.
The ACNA, meeting last June in Bedford, Texas, adopted a constitution and appointed its first archbishop (Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh) to head the new church, which is constituted of former Episcopalians who left the denomination over issues of biblical authority, which had been simmering since the late 1960s, and the 2003 consecration of V. Gene Robinson as the denomination's first openly gay bishop. Several Anglican provinces have signified they will recognize the ACNA but the big kahuna is the Church of England. Once the ACNA gets recognized by enough of the current 38 provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion as a legitimate Anglican body in North America, it's only a matter of time before they supplant the Episcopal Church, which at this moment claims it is the sole approved Anglican presence north of the Mexican border.
The Church of England said on Monday it would go ahead with installing women as bishops, but a delay in draft legislation has left liberals and traditionalists alike uncertain about how the plan will work in practice.
Together with homosexual bishops and same-sex marriages, the ordination of women is among the most divisive issues facing the Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members worldwide.
Some Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England, the Anglican mother church, have threatened to leave and switch to Rome after an offer made last October by Pope Benedict.
Church leaders at the General Synod, or parliament, were due to discuss women bishops at a week-long meeting in London this week, but the Revision Committee, assigned to draft legislation, failed to meet the deadline.
The committee, which is struggling to accommodate liberals who demand equality and traditionalists who want to keep an all-male senior clergy, will present draft proposals in time for the next Synod in July, in York, northern England.
Anglicans in the United States, Canada and New Zealand have women bishops, although the Scottish Episcopal Church failed to elect Britain's first woman bishop in a ballot last month.
Jesus instructed his followers not to serve both God and mammon. Buddha taught his followers to abandon all earthly attachments. But in the past few years, a new workplace spirituality movement has proclaimed the exact opposite and seeks to transform capitalism away from narrow materialism. Many wonder whether it will work, but the better question is whether we want our work to be holistic and all-consuming.
According to the workplace spirituality movement, creativity at work is a spiritual process that involves the whole person and not just the intellect or manual skill, and the new class of knowledge workers is devoting more of their time to work because they find deep meaning and a sense of purpose on the job. Today, clergy from various traditions serve as corporate chaplains, and the new faces of spiritual leadership are organizational development consultants who lead employees through creativity-enhancing spiritual practices. Overall, the contemporary workplace is regarded as a community, open to spirituality in the same way that it is hospitable to friendship and love.
A small but significant number of companies make a spiritual connection specifically to the Christian tradition, and owners of these organizations tend to be evangelicals. When founder Truett Cathy faced a business crisis at Chick-fil-A, now a growing fast-food enterprise, he made glorifying God one of the corporation's goals. At Chick-fil-A's corporate headquarters in Atlanta, company meetings sometimes include prayer. Cathy also requires that all his stores be closed on Sunday.
A good time was had by all at a recent viewing party for a new episode of the popular Learning Channel series “What Not to Wear.” WNTW, as it is known to fans, is one of those makeover shows that takes people who are in the frumpy-to-normal range of appearance and makes changes to their clothes, hair, and makeup that are supposed to leave them looking absolutely fabulous. As the promo for the show put it, this was an episode about Emily, a “typical single girl with one divine difference…she’s an Episcopal priest.”
I don’t know Emily very well, but I was interested to see how a colleague in ministry would handle this challenge. And it’s clear that she considered the makeover a challenge. Like most of us, she was comfortable with a certain way of dressing and she wasn’t too sure about trying something completely different. Emily is a young, smart, and very accomplished person who had decided that, in terms of her appearance, blending in was more important than standing out. Besides the usual obstacles to looking her best–limitations of time, money, energy, and the vision to know what really does look best (I’d hate to have to face that 360-degree mirror myself!)–Emily also has the hurdle of sticking to what’s appropriate for a priest.
Which is where the show got really interesting. The hosts were genially clueless about the life of an Episcopal priest, but they were unafraid to ask the obvious, though impertinent, questions: Can a (currently single) priest date? Is it okay to look sexy when you’re not at work? Are you always representing the Church, or only when you’ve got your collar on? It quickly became clear that talking about a female priest’s body was not very comfortable for anyone, including the priest herself. But for a basically kind of silly TV show, I thought they handled it fairly well.
Here in the US, the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) is run on strictly democratic lines. Each parish is a private corporation with a vestry, consisting of lay members of the congregation, as its board of directors. The governing body of the national church is General Convention, which includes House of Bishops and House of Deputies consisting of elected lay and clergy representatives from each diocese.
Of course it makes not one whit of difference. Priests run their churches as they please and the national church's policies are set by the überpriests, cardinal rectors and bishops who've managed to shinny up the greasy pole of ecclesiastical office politics. Church politics in ECUSA mimics secular US politics at its dirtiest, in a virulent, concentrated form. There is lobbying and logrolling, clergy are bullied, laypeople are manipulated and in the end the policy-makers, iron fist in velvet glove, get their way.
Episcopalians watched this political process play out for over 20 years as the church's organisational elite campaigned to win support for the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of openly non-celibate homosexuals. After winning their protracted battle for liturgical revision, policy-makers turned their fancies to sexuality and, in 1985 induced General Convention to approve a resolution calling to "dispel myths and prejudices" against homosexuality. In 1994, after extensive politicking, and long before the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson, General Convention approved a resolution calling for a report on rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.
Catholic Online readers throughout the Globe have shown tremendous interest in the coming entry into full communion of many of our Christian brethren in the Traditional Anglican Communion.
As Editor in Chief, I have written extensively on this historic event. I have expressed my opinion that this is a response to the Prayer of Our Lord Jesus to the Father "That They May Be One" (John 17) and marks the beginning of a move toward the coming reunion of the One Church of Christ in the Third Millennium.
We are happy to present an insightful article written for the "Messenger Journal", the publication of the Traditional Anglican Communion entitled United in Communion, But Not Absorbed by Roman Catholic Bishop Peter J. Elliott.
The Bishop gives a deeper explanation of the implications of the invitation to members of the Traditional Anglican Communion. In so doing he not only shares his compelling personal journey to full communion but explains the extraordinary theology of ecclesial communion behind the Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans.
THE election, two months ago, of the Rev. Mary Glasspool, a priest who has been in a committed relationship with another woman for more than 20 years, as a suffragan (assistant) bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, has brought added turmoil to the Episcopal Church in the United States and to the worldwide Anglican Communion. There has been sporadic schism since the regular ordination of women as priests in 1977 and especially since the election of the Rev. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. He is the first openly gay bishop in the history of those Christian bishops — Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Greek and Russian Orthodox among them — who trace their succession back to the apostles.
In protest, several dozen parishes have aligned themselves with conservative Anglican bishops in Africa, and the Roman Catholic Church has offered to take in disaffected Episcopalians. In 2008, the leadership of the Anglican Communion, to which the American church belongs, tried to keep things together by urging the Americans not to elect other openly gay people as bishops until the Communion could establish more common ground. The Los Angeles electors’ choice of a gay woman as bishop has pushed the denominational envelope to the point of tearing.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has suggested that ex-Anglicans who join the Roman Catholic Church as part of the Pope’s Ordinariate Scheme will not be “proper Catholics”. He made this claim in an interview with BBC Northern Ireland journalist William Crawley, who has put the transcript on his blog.
Dr Sentamu is displaying what appears to be deplorable ignorance. To put the record straight: any Anglican joining the Ordinariate will be as Catholic as the Pope. It’s as simple as that. Hat-tip to an Anglican friend who intends to follow this course of action and, like me, is outraged at Dr Sentamu’s misrepresentation.
Here’s the relevant section of the interview:
Archbishop Sentamu: “If people genuinely realise that they want to be Roman Catholic, they should convert properly, and go through catechesis and be made proper Catholics. This kind of creation [the Apostolic Constitution] — well, all I can say is, we wish them every blessing and may the Lord encourage them. But as far as I am concerned, if I was really, genuinely wanting to convert, I wouldn’t go into an ordinariate. I would actually go into catechesis and become a truly converted Roman Catholic and be accepted.”
Leading conservative clergy have declared their support for a motion at this week's General Synod which would ally the Church with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). This was formed in opposition to the consecration of Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual bishop, and the actions of liberals in the Episcopal Church of the US, which is the official Anglican body.
However, the House of Bishops has tabled an amendment to the Synod motion which would seek to defuse the issue by postponing a decision until next year.
The Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, Bishop of Blackburn, is opposed to the stance taken by his colleagues. He said: "I am hoping for a sign of early support for ACNA, not a report coming back to Synod by the end of 2011."
The Rt Rev Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes, a fundamentalist on the Church's evangelical wing, said: "It seems to me that the House of Bishops' motion is just needlessly undermining, delaying and prevaricating."
The original motion, put down by Lorna Ashworth, an evangelical from the Chichester diocese, comes after the Episcopal Church elected a homosexual priest, Mary Glasspool, to be a suffragan bishop in the Los Angeles diocese.
Bishop-elect Ian T. Douglas’ heart is drawn to two different places these days. One brought him to where he is now; the other will form his future.
Douglas, a former missionary to Haiti, was elected Oct. 24 as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut and, while he won’t be consecrated until April 17, he’s finished teaching at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., and is settling in at Diocesan House on Asylum Avenue, waiting for his office to be painted.
Douglas, 51, has spent his ministry primarily involved in world mission, looking outside the Episcopal Church’s boundaries to the church’s role in the worldwide Anglican Communion. But he decided to run for bishop of Connecticut because of what’s within the state’s boundaries.
“It was Haiti and l’Eglise Episcopale d’Haiti (the Episcopal Church of Haiti) that actually gave me my vocation,” Douglas said last week. “While my life has been one whose boundaries literally were the four corners of the Earth, or the ends of the Earth … I felt like God is guiding me to go deeper rather than broader.”
They worked for years cleaning and maintaining the Episcopal Church Center in midtown Manhattan. But after they were fired on Dec. 30, nine hard-working people are in desperate need of divine intervention.
"We came to work on Dec. 30 as every day, hoping to leave a little earlier to celebrate the new year," said Bronx native Héctor Miranda, a father of three. "But when we got to the building we were told that we no longer worked there. Just like that. They picked the date well to fire us."
Now, without the means to support his family, Miranda has no idea how he will pay the rent.
"Even worse," he said, "without health coverage I don't know how I am going to pay for my wife's treatment. She is a diabetic, you know."
The workers lost their jobs - which paid standard wages and benefits - when the church canceled the contract with Paris Maintenance, a union cleaning contractor, and replaced it with the nonunion Benjamin Enterprises.
The workers belong to SEIU Local 32BJ, which is helping them organize demonstrations outside the church to protest what the union calls "the unlawful termination" of the porters - and to demand that they be offered jobs by the new contractor.
"We have called Benjamin Enterprises and asked to keep our jobs, but we haven't received any response," the workers said in a letter addressed to presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and to Bonnie Anderson, president of the church's house of deputies.