Monday, March 06, 2006

Anglican Consultative Council Chair Offers Apology

The Rt. Rev. John Paterson spoke at the opening session of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church on March 6. In his comments, he offered an apology for the ACC's decision to "limit the participation of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada's delegations to the last ACC meeting in Nottingham, England in June 2005":

...I was saddened personally by what took place at ACC13 in Nottingham. I chaired the session at which a vote was taken to “endorse the Primates' request that 'in order to recognise the integrity of all parties, the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the ACC, for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference'”. Your representatives were not permitted to speak or to vote on that resolution. It was carried by two votes. The effect of it was to ostracise the American and Canadian representatives, who were forced to live apart and walk apart. I apologise and at the same time I commend your representatives for the manner in which they managed somehow to stay with the body which was treating them so badly. There was a dignity in their bearing in the midst of their sadness and the Episcopal Church can be quietly proud of your people. Nevertheless, it happened on my watch, and this is my personal apology...
Bishop Paterson also offers a good explanation as to why some of us find the exclusion of the Episcopal Church at the last ACC meeting quite outrageous:

...The fact that the Lambeth Commission on Communion was asked to report to the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose office is itself one of the Instruments of Unity, 'in preparation for the ensuing meetings of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council' yet has found that the Instrument which happened to meet first, has taken steps to recommend that the Instrument which was to meet subsequently can only meet without its full membership, is at least slightly premature, if not coercive and somewhat punitive. A body which exists by means of a constitution agreed to by all the member churches of the Anglican Communion, and that is required by that constitution to be 'consultative' cannot consult fully or properly if all of its members are not sitting at the same table. It is surely not for one Instrument of Unity to disempower another?
For those who haven't been following the Anglican saga closely, let me clarify the bishop's point; The Primates (the lead bishops of the various provinces of the Anglican Communion) met before the Anglican Consultative Council (the only "Instrument of Unity" that is not made up of only bishops)to consider the Windsor Report. In the Primates' Communique, they demanded that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada "voluntarily withdraw" from the Anglican Consultative Council. Thus, by the time the ACC met, the Primates had already made the decision to expel the North Americans. Obviously, in the Primates' mind, some "Instrument of Unity" are more equal than others.

Bishop Paterson continues by commending the Episcopal Church:

...My next word is one of commendation. Along with a number of others in the Communion, I take the view that the Episcopal Church thus far has been exemplary in the attention that you have given to the recommendations of The Windsor Report. Of course you have your General Convention soon, and that body will make up its own mind about these matters. The process of reception is moving along, and at considerable cost to your own ministry and mission the Episcopal Church has acted carefully and well. I hope that the call in The Windsor Report for all Provinces to exercise generosity and charity as the process gathers pace does not go unheeded. Those qualities are yet to be shown by some...
Bishop Paterson seems to be advocating for acceptance of the Windsor Report:

...For all its imperfections, The Windsor Report is the document before the Communion, with suggestions for a way ahead. I hope the General Convention debates it rigorously, and then generously shares its conclusions with the Churches of the Communion...
At best, the Windsor Report might be considered the beginning of a conversation. But it is such a terribly flawed document that I cannot imagine it being affirmed by the Episcopal Church without drastic revisions.

As a side note, in regards to the Windsor Report, the Diocese of New Jersey held their 222nd Convention last weekend. Out of six proposed resolutions, four were passed. The two resolutions proposed by the Network (I assume that they were from the Network, as much of the wording was lifted from resolutions proposed in the Diocese of Pittsburgh last November) were defeated. The following resolution regarding the Windsor Report passed by a large majority:

Subject: On the Windsor Report
Resolved, That the 222nd Convention of the Diocese of New Jersey acknowledge with gratitude the conscientious efforts of the Lambeth Commission on Communion, reflected in The Windsor Report 2004; and be it

Further resolved, That this Diocesan Convention urge the clergy, laity, and congregations of the Diocese to give thoughtful and prayerful study to The Windsor Report, its recommendations, and the varied responses already made to it; and be it

Further resolved, That this Diocesan Convention encourage all Episcopalians to engage in honest conversation on the issues involved; and be it

Further resolved, That this Diocesan Convention encourage members of the Diocese to communicate their views on the issues to the Clergy and Lay Deputies to the 2006 General Convention.

Submitted by: The Rev'd Frank B. Crumbaugh, III, Rector, Holy Innocents' Church, Beach Haven; the Rev'd Gregory A. Bezilla, Chaplain, St. Michael's Chapel, Rutgers University, Piscataway; the Rev'd Lisa S. Mitchell, Rector, Christ Church, Shrewsbury; the Rev'd Ronald N. Pollock, Rector, St. John’s Church, Somerville; and the Rev’d Terry Martin, Vicar, Church of the Holy Spirit, Tuckerton

Statement in Support of Resolution 2006-4 by Proposers:
The Archbishop of Canterbury established the Lambeth Commission on Communion in October 2003, requesting "consideration of ways in which communion and understanding could be enhanced where serious differences threatened the life of a diverse worldwide Church." The Report of the Commission, entitled The Windsor Report, is significant in its contribution to the ongoing conversations about the present and future of the Anglican Communion.

The Windsor Report has many ideas and proposals which may affect our common life to- gether as Anglicans. These ideas and proposals are the beginning of a conversation regarding the future of Anglicanism. They are not necessarily the final word. They need to be thoughtfully and prayerfully considered before being accepted or rejected.

Responses to the Windsor Report and its recommendations have been made by scholars in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. We recommend the following responses as resources to inform the conversation among the members of the Diocese of New Jersey: Understanding the Windsor Report, by Ian Douglas and Paul Zahl (Church Publishing Inc. 2005); The Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2005, Vol. 87, No. 4 (Ellen Wondra, ed.); "To Set Our Hope on Christ": A Response to the Invitation of Windsor Report ¶ 135 (
I'll have more to say about Diocesan Convention once the final draft of the resolutions becomes available. What are your thoughts on Bishop Paterson's statement?


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