Friday, August 31, 2007

Two Anti-Gay Americans Consecrated in Kenya

From Ruth Gledhill:

The worldwide Anglican Church took a further step towards schism over homosexuality today with the ordination of two American Bishops to pastor to conservative US Anglicans under the jurisdiction of Kenya.

The Right Rev William Murdoch and the Right Rev Bill Atwood were consecrated at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobu by Kenya's Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi.

The ordinations are valid but are expected to be counted as "irregular" by Lambeth Palace in London, placing the two outside the officially-recognised Anglican hierarchy...
Counting AMiA bishops, this makes ten "irregular" bishops now serving in the US, without any permission granted to do so by the Episcopal Church.

So, why were these consecrations done now? From the Associated Press:

...The spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has asked African archbishops not to consecrate U.S. priests to help avoid a schism. Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said there had been no direct communication with Williams over the Thursday's ceremony...
Dr. Williams returns from sabbatical on September 1. Thus the late August consecrations, before he could issue a "Godly admonition" to Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi. What better way to establish "the facts on the ground" than to not ask permission and then, if necessary, apologize later?

Speaking of Abp. Nzimbi, he is to be commended for giving us clarity as to what these consecrations are really all about:

...Archbishop Nzimbi said the consecration was not intended to widen the gulf in the church, but was a Christian response to a plea for help and pastoral care from Anglicans in the United States.

Gay people, he said, did not have a place as leaders in the Anglican communion.

"We need to love them, we need to preach to them, but not to make them lay readers, pastors, bishops," he said...
Can't get much clearer than that.

Ruth Gledhill observes that not all conservatives are pleased with these consecrations.

From Andrew Carey:

...Of equal scandal to the theological drift of the Episcopal Church into a kind of uncommitted unitarianism, has been the failure of those who are theologically orthodox to stand firm together in opposing that movement. Individualism and schism has marked the response of American conservatives to their denominational tussles. And I still don’t see how separate Rwandan, Ugandan, Kenyan and Nigerian adventurism on American soil really helps create any kind of solidity around central theological convictions.

In fact, to the outsider these intiatives must smack of desperation – the shock tactics of a Militant Tendency, or an ‘Outrage’ rather than the calm authority of the party in power...
And from Graham Kings

...These consecrations in Nairobi and Kampala, as well as the earlier consecration of Martyn Minns in the Church of Nigeria, seem to me to be examples of 'trans-communion interventions' that are warned against in The Windsor Report and in the Primates' Communique from Dar es Salaam.

Paragraph 26 of that Communique states:

The interventions by some of our number and by bishops of some Provinces, against the explicit recommendations of the Windsor Report, however well-intentioned, have exacerbated this situation. Furthermore, those Primates who have undertaken interventions do not feel that it is right to end those interventions until it becomes clear that sufficient provision has been made for the life of those persons.

Just when the central weight of the Anglican Communion is backing The Windsor Report and the Covenant process as the way forward, and the Archbishop of Canterbury has clearly underlined these as part of his letter of invitation to the Lambeth Conference, why are these consecrations considered to be helpful and wise?
Speaking of the Covenant process, guess who the preacher was at this consecration? None other than Archbishop Drexel Gomez, chair of the Covenant Design Group, which prompted the following comment from Mark Harris:

...It is necessary to point out the presence of Archbishop Drexel Gomez, who was preacher at the ordination. As the chair of the Covenant Design Group he has played a major part in the work of the Communion. By his participation in this ordination he has made his stand, a stand that is incompatible with the very document that produced the recommendations concerning a covenant. He has made his choice. It is time for him to step down as Chair of the CDG...
Mark also makes a point that is important for us to note. Two bishops who are supposedly still part of the Episcopal Church, Robert Duncan and Jack Iker, were present for these consecrations:

...But here is the thing: These two Episcopal Church bishops are sworn to uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church. The clear intent of the Constitution and Canons is that no bishop is to exercise ministry in another diocese than their own, except by permission. Complicity in circumventing this understanding by ordaining a US citizen to do precisely that, as a bishop in another province commissioned to ministry here, is in violation of the Constitution and Canons of this Church. At least that is how I read it...

...The presence and participation by Bishops Iker and Duncan in the ordinations of Bishops Atwood and Murdoch signals not a miracle at CANA, but a disaster in Kenya. They are now in non compliance with Windsor and with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. The problem is, who will bring the matter up? At a time when the Moderator is given to talking about the cross to come and bishops are being invited to "play the Man" who wants to point out the obvious?
The best one sentence summary of what this all means comes from Susan Russell:

The consecrations today are one more sad indication of just how far those committed to splitting the Episcopal Church are willing to go to achieve their goal of a church created in their own image...
This event should help make it clear to our House of Bishops that there is no point in attempting to appease some segments of the Communion. They are going to do what they want to do, regardless of what anyone else has to say. So please, bishops, when you meet later this month, ignore the schismatics and just do the right thing.

J.

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