Saturday, August 9, 2008

Three Rivers Episcopal will be taking a brief Sabbatical

On Sunday the 10th of August I leave for a week long short-term mission trip to Kentucky. We will be working with an excellent organization known as The Christian Appalachian Project. You can find out more about them here The work will be down near the West Virginia border in a very rural part of the country and I will not have high-speed access. So the Blog will be taking a week long break. When I return there will be some more original content from myself and (I hope) other conservatives who are staying in TEC. Look especially for the narrative, which describes how the twelve of us came to sign the controversial statement in January. That should be up next weekend.

I love this photo taken by Andy Starnes of the Post-Gazette. The little boy is 7 and named C.J.- he's attending a camp for disabled kids and their siblings. Talk about sheer summer joy!

The Sun Has Got His Hat On: A Summer Commentary by Dr Rowan Williams

A parody (I'm assuming) of Rowan William's exegetical style using the "The Sun Has Got His Hat On" from Me and My Girl. Actually sounds like a lot of modern biblical scholarship.

"What, then, do we understand by that "the"? All of us, during the course of our daily lives, use the word "the" probably rather more than we think we do. "I am just popping out to the shops" we might say, or "I wonder who will win the football match later today". Yet the shops and the football match are two quite different things: one would not pop into a football match, for instance, in order to purchase a half-pound (or the equivalent metrical measurement) of brussels sprouts; nor, conversely, would one expect to kick a ball around in a greengrocer's shop without incurring the understandable displeasure of the greengrocer in question. So, in a very real sense, it all comes down to context."

Bishops back Rowan Williams in gay sex row - even though some don’t agree with him

The London Times reports on the conservative support of Rowan. He's been under attack, accused of being a hypocrite. Welcome to the club Rowan !

"The Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright (Pictured here with Rowan), who is the Church’s fourth most senior cleric, headed the list of bishops who signed a letter to The Times protesting at the “gross misrepresentation” of Dr Rowan Williams. The bishops admit that many among them do not agree with Dr Williams’s contention that a same-sex relationship “might . . . reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage”. But they defend his right to differentiate between his role as theologian and church leader and to uphold “what has been received in faith from scripture and tradition”."

Friday, August 8, 2008

Archbishop may be forced to do fundraising tour to solve £1m Lambeth financial crisis

As of today 1 million pounds is equivalent to a little over $1,920,000. Maybe we should pass a hat - a very large hat !

"The Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA, said: "Yes we've been asked and the bishops of this church responded in ways that would provide bursaries for those unable to attend. "I believe the Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed a desire to come to the United States and do some fundraising work, and we have certainly offered our assistance in that." Lambeth Palace denied that Dr Rowan Williams will travel to America to ask churches for money, despite the Presiding Bishop's claims."

Bishop Ed Little's Reflections on the Lambeth Conference

My friend, Ed Little, the Bishop of Northern Indiana reports back to his diocese about his experience at Lambeth. Ed is another conservative Bishop who wants to work for reform in the Church.

"I did sense throughout the Conference a deep yearning for the unity of the Anglican Communion, a yearning that penetrated every conversation, every public session, every worship service. We’re living through a strange, even dark time in the Communion; but I was heartened by the good will of my colleague bishops, and their willingness to invest themselves in the long and sometimes tortured processes of the Conference. Meanwhile, it will be for future generations of church historians to tell the tale of Lambeth 14, and draw their own conclusions. "

Dr Williams' contortions

The Manchester Guardian takes the Archbishop of Canterbury to the woodshed over not pressing his beliefs on the communion. Its from a column called "Comment is Free". My dad always said you get what you pay for.

"The point that interests me is why he continues and whether what we see is peculiarly religious behaviour. It's just possible that it is not. What the Archbishop is holding on to is the idea that we can't have ideas alone. They are always part of a conversation within a particular community, and sometimes the things that we get from that community are more important than any particular idea. In his case, as a Christian, who believes that the church (in some sense) is a means for God's purpose in the world, he has to think that connection with it is a vital part of what he is called to do."

Dr Williams has made a split inevitable in the Anglican Church

The Archbishop of the Southern Cone (not pictured) and his self fulfilling prophetic voice. From the London Times -

"The Primate of the Southern Cone, Bishop Gregory Venables, predicted the end of the communion, saying: “This is more evidence of the unravelling of Anglicanism. Without a clearly agreed biblical foundation, all the goodwill in the world cannot stop the inevitable break-up. Unity without truth is disunity.” Bishop Venables, who has infuriated North American Anglicans by taking conservative defectors into his South American province, including the entire Diocese of San Joaqu√ćn in central California, was among the organisers of the recent Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem."

Its all here

It would be foolish to let such a gift fall apart, say bishops

The Church Times reflects on the Lambeth Conference and the Moratorium.

"There was support for the moratoriums, especially from the bishops of the Global South. The Archbishop of Hong Kong, the Most Revd Paul Kwong (pictured), said that they had listened to the explanations by various bishops with respect. “Now we are asking these people to stop defending what they do as right, and stop accusing other parties of what they do as wrong. Instead, we must come together and say: ‘What sacrifice, what concession, can you make for the sake of the integrity of the Communion?’”

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ligonier robbers, gunman in sync?

The news from Lake Woebegone. A synchronised bank heist in my hometown? Unheard of !

"A shooting reported at 9:20 a.m. pierced a window at the Dollar General Store a block and a half away from the borough police station. It also shook up merchants and workers startled about gunfire in their tiny town.

"I heard a crack, and I thought it was a car backfire," said Balinda Tiech, a clerk at the Ligonier Pharmacy, across South Fairfield Street from the Dollar General. "I was scared the minute [a co-worker] said there was a gunman out there.""

Karstens' poise brings taste of perfection

Only 17 perfect games in the history of the game. For you soccer fans out there, a perfect game is when the pitcher allows no batter to reach base on a hit, error, or walk.

PHOENIX -- The cameras and microphones had just backed away, and Jeff Karstens sat at his stall, the arm still wrapped in ice, the iPhone vibrating up a storm in the background. And he confessed he had no clue what had just happened to him.

"To be honest," he said after a deep breath, "I'm just trying to let some of it sink in."

Presiding Bishop's statement at the conclusion of the 2008 Lambeth Conference

No Link its all right here - From August 3

Many bishops came to this gathering in fear and trembling, expecting either a distasteful encounter between those of vastly different opinions, or the cold shoulder from those who disagree. The overwhelming reality has been just the opposite. We have prayed, cried, learned, and laughed together, and discovered something deeper about the body of Christ. We know more of the deeply faithful ministry of those in vastly differing contexts, and we have heard repeatedly of the life and death matters confronting vast swaths of the Communion: hunger, disease, lack of education and employment, climate change, war and violence. We have remembered that together we may be the largest network on the planet – able to respond to those life and death issues if we tend to the links, connections, and bonds between us. We have not resolved the differences among us, but have seen the deep need to maintain relationships, even in the face of significant disagreement and discomfort. The Anglican Communion is suffering the birth pangs of something new, which none of us can yet fully appreciate or understand, yet we know that the Spirit continues to work in our midst. At the same time patience is being urged from many quarters, that all may more fully know the leading of the Spirit. God is faithful. May we be faithful as well. The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori Presiding Bishop and Primate The Episcopal Church

Archbishop Affirms Ban on Gay Bishops, Same-sex Unions

Christianity Today's take on the Moratorium. This is a brief summary followed by a number of different reports and original documents. -

"In summary, here are some of the things that did and did not happen: 1. Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson did not gain official entrance to Lambeth. But he was frequently on site at the University of Kent, to the joy of some and the disgust of others. 2. Lambeth's 600 plus bishops (no official count or list has been released) did not approve an Anglican Convenant. Much discussion was held and more meetings on the covenant are expected lasting into 2009. 3. The Anglican Communion did avoid a formal split or schism. Yet even Rowan Williams admits the communion is still at 'gravel peril.' 4. Lambeth-attending conservative bishops and primates did voice much criticism of liberals and revisionist theology. But as yet the rhetoric of conservatives has not resulted in all revisionists clearly agreeing to bans on same-sex unions and gay ordinations. The word stalemate still seems to fit this situation"

Indian pastor arrested under anti-conversion laws

This is a serious problem in the sub-continent. Its not about proselytizing its about the right to determine one's own religion. I witnessed this personally when I was in India and Nepal 10 years ago.

"Police raided Pastor Sam Oomen’s church on August 4 after a man who was baptised levelled charges of forced conversion and allurement.

“India’s growing anti-conversion movement puts the church in real jeopardy,” said Andy Dipper, the chief executive of Release International, an organisation which serves to protect persecuted Christians worldwide."

An earlier related post can be found here -

Some Canada Anglicans may reject same-sex moratorium

From the Washington Post a Reuters piece about Canada's response to the call for a moratorium. Adds a new meaning to "Oh Canada" !

"Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, leader of the global Anglican church, warned on Sunday that the 80-million-member church would be "in grave peril" if the U.S. and Canadian branches did not agree to moratoriums on same-sex blessings and on the ordination of gay bishops.

But the head of the Canadian church, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, told Reuters in a phone interview on Wednesday it would be especially tough for Bishop Michael Ingham of the British Columbia diocese of New Westminster to halt the homosexual blessings altogether."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Religious diversity may be caused by disease

An article from the most recent Economist. It reads a little like its from the April 1st edition.

"Mr Fincher and his colleague Randy Thornhill wondered if disease might be driving important aspects of human social behaviour, too. Their hypothesis is that in places where disease is rampant, it behoves groups not to mix with one another more than is strictly necessary, in order to reduce the risk of contagion. They therefore predict that patterns of behaviour which promote group exclusivity will be stronger in disease-ridden areas. Since religious differences are certainly in that category, they specifically predict that the number of different religions in a place will vary with the disease load."

Anyway you can read it and weep (or laugh here)-

Religious leaders 'have a key role in Aids battle'

Report on the role of the church in the AIDS fight from Mexico City's AIDS conference this week

Religious leaders hold the key to reducing stigma and discrimination towards those with HIV and AIDS, Mathew Frost Chief Executive of Tearfund told delegates at the Ecumenical Pre-conference on AIDS last week. Over 500 mainly church-based organizations from 77 countries met in Mexico City ahead of the 17th International AIDS Conference which began on Sunday August 3. At the final session Frost called for “courageous humility that brings us to listen and repent and a resolve that drives us to break the silence on stigma and discrimination towards those with HIV.”

Traditionalists, not liberals, are at fault for Anglican rift

Two letters to the Manchester Guardian about their Lambeth coverage. One claims that its the conservatives not the liberals who are to blame for the rift. The other is sort of a pox on both houses argument.

"Your leader (headline) (August 4) has us Anglicans divided into "liberal" and "evangelical" camps at war over homosexuality. I do not recognise myself as a member of either camp, and neither, I think, would most Anglicans. If asked whether I wish to align myself with Nigerian fundamentalism or American liberalism, I would answer: "Neither of the above." I flatter myself that the Archbishop of Canterbury would entirely agree with me in this."

The summer church festival -- the sights, sounds and hairspray

Nostalgic piece about growing up in Pittsburgh and the local church festival. They were (are) quite the event. Maybe another good reason to "swim the Tiber"?

"I grew up in Penn Hills where our parish festival ran for six nights. It started Sunday afternoon with a spaghetti dinner and ended Friday night with fireworks. In between there was gambling, skydivers, bingo, hayrides, raffles and plenty of junk food -- hot dogs, hot sausage sandwiches, fries, Sno-Cones.

That first night of the festival, walking to the church grounds was such a giddy-kid time. When you arrived, the atmosphere was overwhelming to every sense: the colored lights, the smell of popcorn, the sound of the merry-go-round."

Catholic Church can learn from Lambeth

A letter to the London Times from Lord Hylton (pictured) regarding an article they printed entitled "Catholic-Anglican relations reach new low over women bishops". Don't miss the comments which follow the letter.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bishop Mark Lawrence Interviewed by PBS

The Bishop of South Carolina was interviewed by Religion and Ethics Weekly while at Lambeth. The Text can be found at the link below.

Q: A group here within the church has recommended that the moratorium continues and be enforced against a blessing for same-sex relationships, against gay bishops, against the cross-jurisdictional relationships. What is your reaction to these recommendations?

A: Well, I'd say this: that the Anglican Communion is in a process of trying to understand how we live in a global age. … Some of us have come to the conclusion we need some kind of covenant by which we can say this is who we are, this is how we shall live together, this is how we should treat one another. There are limits to Anglican diversity, and these are now what they are.

Q: Is that a good idea?

A: It's a wonderful idea, because this Communion is too important in an age of globalism, in a global church, not to be able to live together with respect, with trust, and with cooperation.

Archbishop of Uganda Clarifies his Position

You may remember that last week Henry Orombi wrote a letter to the London Times critical of Rowan Williams. Anglican TV spoke to him and he has clarified his position -

"It seems to me that the maturing of the global nature of the Anglican Communion, beyond its colonial beginnings, would involve separating the role of the spiritual leader of the Communion from that of the Primate of All England. The Primate of All England should still retain the title primus inter pares, for he does retain a significant place of honour and historical significance. I would not want to diminish that in any way. We are very grateful for the British missionaries who came to us in Uganda and brought to us the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We shall never forget that and never cease giving thanks."

The original letter to the Times is here-

Peter Ould reflects on Lambeth

This a very thoughtful article written by a conservative who is critical of both the left and the right extremes in the church. Its lengthy but worth the read. Thanks to Bruce Robison for sending this along. This may be a blog worth bookmarking and checking on every so often.

"Here then is perhaps one road forward for the Conservatives. GAFCON and the Global South should call an immediate moratorium on border-crossing. Yes, that will be painful for many. It will explicitly involve the dying to self that I spoke about above, for in the short term it will leave many abused and attacked in liberal dioceses, believing that they have been abandoned by those who said they would provide rescue. It would also implicitly involve confessing that the act of crossing diocesan boundaries was wrong, for we there would be no need to have a moratorium if crossing boundaries was seen by all as acceptable. But beyond these two things, it would at the same time indicate that we are serious about holding the Communion together, and what it would also do is give TEC, Canada (and Scotland now it appears) a very clear opportunity to also engage in the moratoria that they have been asked to impose, on same-sex blessings and ordaining and consecrating those in sexual relationships outside of marriage."

It's your job to stand up to the bigots, Archbishop

Rowan gets blasted by a commentary in the Evening Standard. This is a good example of what the social justice argument looks like when there is no scriptural influence in one's thinking. Its a pretty worn argument but prevalent. The author's name is Will Self, suppose that's his real name or just a rich coincidence ?

"Why does Rowan Williams bow down before those belligerent African Anglican bishops and their conservative supporters who view homosexuality as "unnatural" and a "sin"? By doing so he is not only betraying the spiritual welfare of gay Anglican communicants but also undermining any claims his church has to be established."

The Bishop of Central Florida's Lambeth Diary

John's final report from Lambeth. Its brief and worth reading because he describes the process used to arrive at the final document (Three posts below)-

The Fourteenth Lambeth Conference has come to an end. The "Reflections Paper" I described to you yesterday has been released (all 44 pages of it!), and the Archbishop of Canterbury has just concluded his Third and Final Presidential Address, stating unambiguously that Jesus Christ is, indeed, "the Way, the Truth, and the Life," and that we find our unity in him.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Commentary: rebellion in the Church's ranks

London Times Commentary on the results of Lambeth -

"But not all Anglicans like success. Their gospel is the Christ-like one of victory through defeat, preferably crucifixion. In response to his failure to have a good public row and bring about schism, Dr Williams is facing rebellion within the ranks, although all done with the nicest of English smiles, a handshake or two and the Christian "sign of the peace". Some bishops believe a £5 million-plus conference with a deficit of up to £2 million was a waste of money. These bishops, many of them senior, are beginning to circulate some Anglican "whispers of discontent" about the leadership of Dr Williams. They have even begun speaking of another diocesan, a thrusting, youngish, photogenic evangelical, who might be suited to take his place."

Thrusting ? I wonder who that could be ? Well the whole thing is here .

No Comment

Final reflections on the Indaba process

This is the web page version from the official Lambeth web site. You can also find the pdf there all 42 pages of it. Its long but its what they did and what they produced.

108. There were repeated statements of the desire to remain in communion while attempting to maintain a generous space for ongoing discussions. Although there has been a great appreciation of one to one conversations, there is the need to develop further trust in the relationships that have started here. In addition to previous expressions of regret by both the House of Bishops and the General Convention of The Episcopal Church[29], some individual bishops of The Episcopal Church have expressed apologies in their groups, noting that they had not previously grasped the depth of the negative impact that their action in the consecration of a bishop living in a same gender union had caused in many parts of the Communion.

Anglican Event Ends With Leader's Plea

Special to the Washington Post-

"In a news conference Sunday, Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the world's 77 million Anglicans, urged bishops to halt further consecrations of gay bishops, pointing a finger specifically at the United States. He said that certain dioceses in the American church continue "to put our relations as a communion under strain, and some problems won't be resolved while those practices continue.""

Anglicans 'will stick together'

BBC audio report on the Conclusion of Lambeth

"Bishops who gathered in Canterbury for the Lambeth conference of the worldwide Anglican Communion are on their way home. What did their meeting achieve? Nick Baines (Shown with Rowan (his right our left)), Bishop of Croydon, discusses whether the crisis over homosexuality within the church has been solved."

Bishop Lawerence's Final Reflections

My friend Bishop Mark Lawrence of The Diocese of South Carolina has been sending intermittent reports back to his diocese.

"This was followed by more appreciations and introductions, and then came Archbishop Rowan Williams’ Third Presidential Address. I thought it was brilliant. A clear and bold affirmation of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and of a unity that is inseparable from the Truth. He was not forcing others to conform but he was strongly urging us toward a covenanted future, possibly making of us more of a Church. Very importantly he added his weight to Lambeth 1.10 and the moratoria—no same-sex blessings, no consecration of active gay bishops, no diocesan incursions. All of which I can abide by. Likewise I was encouraged by his vision of a global church with international commitments; not merely as a colonial relic, but as a global communion. I suppose I resonated with it because it is where my thoughts have been for so long. It is the only viable and godly way through our present problems—which, I might add, I see as things God has allowed both to judge and move us towards greater faithfulness in this new and challenging century."

They are all here but the final one is at the top of the page. Mark is still clear that realigning is not best for his diocese.

Archbishop of Canterbury Upbeat after Lambeth Conference

London Daily Telegraph exclusive interview with Rowan Williams-

"I'm content, I think," he said. But surely he was elated? "Encouraged," he replied carefully. "Elated is a very dangerous thing to say." But if he'd been offered this Sunday two months ago, would he have taken it? A pause, then: "Yes, definitely."
His body language was speaking even more definitely. After two weeks, averaging 17-hour working days, he sat forward on a leatherette sofa in a soulless suite of rooms he's been using at Kent University, which looked like they hadn't been redecorated since Michael Ramsey was Archbishop in the 1960s shirt-sleeves rolled up as though he was about to start the conference.
"I feel a great deal of what I hoped for has happened," he said. "We've found that very slowly there's a slightly different way of doing business. What we haven't had is a very consistent counter-narrative flowing through the conference from people feeling disenfranchised."

Its all here -

Anglican Archbishop Urges Ban on More Gay Bishops

Associated Press report on Lambeth's Outcome as it appears in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"In his final speech at the Lambeth Conference, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said the Anglican Communion needs "space for study and free discussion without pressure" about whether to accept changes in the traditional biblical understanding of same-sex relationships. "A fellow Christian may believe they have a profound fresh insight. They seek to persuade others about it. A healthy church gives space for such exchanges," he told the 650 bishops at the meeting in Canterbury, England. "But the Christian with the new insight can't claim straight away that this is now what the Church of God believes or intends.""

Dr Rowan Williams restores peace at the troubled Lambeth Conference

London Times on the the completion of Lambeth Conference

"The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, raised hopes that he could hold the Anglican Communion together as the Lambeth Conference ended yesterday without schism or open rebellion.

Dr Williams is pursuing a plan that will depend on three moratoriums being observed by liberals and conservatives at opposite poles of the divided church. The Episcopal Church, which consecrated the openly-gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, and the Anglican Church of Canada, where a diocese authorised same-sex blessings, must both guarantee to desist from any further such moves."

Final Eucharist at Lambeth

Episcopal News Service on the closing Eucharist at Lambeth

"Members of the four religious communities of Melanesia, in white robes, brown robes and grey habits, sang a haunting chant -- the Litany of Saints and Martyrs of Melanesia -- as they took a document with the names from Williams. In a procession, joined by Pogo, they brought the names through a carved archway in the rood screen and into the east end of the cathedral. Their lyrical song could be heard echoing through the ten-story-high church after the congregation could no longer see them."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What the Lambeth Conference Accomplished

The Living Church on the close of Lambeth - Rowan again (what a big hat you have!)

"The Lambeth Conference accomplished some very important work, but in the closing press conference on Aug. 3, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said if the North American churches do not accept the need for a moratorium on same-sex blessings and the consecration of additional partnered gay bishops, then the Anglican Communion is no further forward."

One more from the Guardian - More encouraging

Lambeth conference: Archbishop blames liberals for church rift- Rowan calls the liberals out -

"On the final day of the Lambeth conference, a 10-yearly gathering of the world's Anglican bishops, Rowan Williams said practices in certain US and Canadian dioceses were threatening the unity of the Anglican communion. "If North American churches do not accept the need for a moratoria [on same sex blessings and the consecration of gay clergy] we are no further forward. We continue to be in grave peril," he said."

Healing the rift: How Williams kept his flock together

But the story from the Guardian is optimistic -
"A formal schism has been avoided and several initiatives have been proposed to resolve present crises and pre-empt future ones. These suggestions include a pastoral forum to discipline problem churches, an Anglican Communion Faith and Order Commission to enforce doctrine, a mini-Lambeth to meet between the 10-yearly conference and an Anglican covenant to provide guidance and mediation in difficult situations. Williams has pinned his hopes on a covenant."

Faith 1, Charity 0

A Commentary from the Manchester Guardian. Pretty pessimistic.

"There were two texts for the world's Anglican bishops as they prepared to leave Canterbury last night at the end of what was anticipated as a make-or-break Lambeth Conference. The first was about faith; the second about inclusivity. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, dearly hoped that focus on the first would open the way to the second. But for all the talking of the past fortnight, it does not look as if he has had much success in reconciling the two versions of Anglicanism, the evangelical and the liberal, that are straining to breaking point the Communion that links 70 million Anglicans."

Lambeth Conference Q&A: What has it achieved?

London Telegraph on the end of Lambeth - Q&A

"What are these rescue projects?
Firstly a set of guiding principles of Anglicanism, to which all the 38 provinces are expected to agree, known as a Covenant. Those which do not agree to it may lose their place at important gatherings such as Lambeth. A group called the "pastoral forum" will also be developed to deal with crises over authority as they emerge, while a "holding bay" will be set up for parishes that have defected from their national church, in the hope that they can return home eventually. The forum will be set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and headed by a bishop whom he will appoint."

Report on Rowan's Final Address

London Times on the end of the Lambeth Conference. Susan Russell (hysterical gay activist) chimes in with her two cents and Bishop Venables continues to poach-

"However, early indications from other provinces in Africa and Asia are that the illicit consecrations will continue. In addition, Bishop Gregory Venables, the Primate of the Southern Cone, who has taken an entire US diocese into his province, is expected to continue poaching conservative parishes and dioceses from the US. Liberals in the US are determined to fight the moratorium on gay consecrations and same-sex blessings agreed by the Episcopal Church’s convention two years ago.
The Rev Susan Russell, of the gay lobby group Integrity, said: “It is not going to change anything on the ground in California. We bless same-sex relationships and will continue to do so.”"