Friday, June 30, 2006


Tonight I've reviewed the last ten days here at Jake's place. To be honest, I don't feel very good about some of it.

I know there are good reasons to be upset. I know we need to stand up and push back.

But I also know something else;

We're broken, and we can't fix ourselves.

More specifically, I'm broken, and I can't fix myself.

And out of that brokenness, I've sometimes responded in emotive, and even manipulative ways, and have said some things that were better left unsaid. And, by so doing, I've encouraged others to speak in the same manner.

We can't continue this way. We just can't. At least I know I can't. The world is watching our conversation. This is not the way to be a witness to the healing power of the living God.

I ask that we all take a couple of days to pray and reflect on where God is leading us. Because, in the end, it is only God that can heal our brokenness. That is where we find our hope.



Who is Bishop John Howe?

Yesterday the diocese of Central Florida declared their intention to seek ALPO. This brought Bishop John Howe into the spotlight once again. For those who have been following developments in the Episcopal Church for many years, his name is quite familiar. It might be helpful for others to mention a few things about Bp. Howe.

To begin, I refer you to a lengthy article written by Lewis Daly entitled A Church at Risk: The Episcopal "Renewal" Movement. This piece was written some years ago, but remains required reading if you want to understand what is going on in the Episcopal Church today. Many of the names from the extreme conservative position that are mentioned in this article can be found in today's news.

Regarding Bp. Howe, let me quote the relevant section:

...Knippers is a member of Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, Virginia. Truro is an historically evangelical parish that grew to 3,000 members, with a strongly revivalistic emphasis, under the leadership of then rector John Howe (1976-89), formerly John Guest’s assistant at St. Stephens in Sewickley and a pioneering leader of the Episcopal renewal movement.

In the 1980s, Truro and its charismatic sister church, The Church of the Apostles, became an important religious hub for the political right wing in Washington, including Oliver North and Clarence Thomas. Howe supported Pat Robertson when he ran for president in 1988 and, more recently, he participated in a charismatic “re-ordination” service for Robertson held at Regent University.3 1 H e was formerly president and chairman of the board of the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life, part of a network of mainline anti-abortion movements now being organized by the National Right to Life Committee . In 1990 Howe became the third bishop of the Diocese of Central Florida, and joined the board of the American Anglican Council in 1998...

Despite John Howe’s departure in 1989, Truro has remained an important parish for
the Episcopal renewal movement. Its current rector, Martyn Minns, serves on the board of the American Anglican Council. This strong Washington axis centered on Truro and IRD sets the AAC apart from previous renewal efforts, along with the heavy involvement of bishops...
Starting at the beginning, we find the late Diane Knippers mentioned, who was the President of the Institute for Religion and Democracy for many years. Hopefully, most readers recognize the name of this organization by now. If not, I commend to you an article recently provided by the Diocese of Washington, Following the Money.

We then encounter John Guest, who, with Bp. Hathaway of Pittsburgh, started Episcopalians United. This organization spearheaded attempts to block legislation that would allow the the ordination of gay and lesbian Christians at the General Conventions of 1988, 1991, 1994 and 1997. Following the Lambeth Conference of 1998, they became Anglicans United.

John Guest can also be considered the pioneer of the manuever of Episcopal clergy being aligned with an offshore bishop. In 1998, Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh allowed the independent congregation of which John Guest was the rector, which had split from St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Sewickley, to come under the authority of an Anglican bishop in Uganda.

We then find mentioned Bp. Howe's support of Pat Robertson. Not only did he support Robertson's run for the presidency, but participated in his "reordination":

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson's plan to reaffirm the ordination he gave up when he ran for president in 1988 has drawn questions from the Southern Baptist pastor who ordained Robertson in 1960...

...Members of an ordination council, who will serve as a board of spiritual advisers for Robertson, heard and responded to his vows. Its members include Jack Hayford, president of the King's Seminary in Los Angeles; Thomas Trask, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God; Vinson Synan, dean of the School of Divinity of Regent University; and Episcopal Bishop John Howe of Florida.
Does this mean that the televangelist who called for the assasination of a foreign leader, as but one example of his outrageous public statements in recent years, is an Episcopal priest? Even contemplation of such a thing is enough to make one shudder.

But, from accounts of Truro Church, I suppose such a close relationship between Bp. Howe and our most unstable televangelist should not be that surprising. Consider David Corn's description from 1991:

...In a wing of the simple, red brick church, a bookstore sells anti-abortion material (the church is devoutly anti-choice), inspirational tracts and books that expose the workings of Satan. A corner is reserved for the products of the Truro Tape Ministry, which markets audiocassettes of lectures by church associates and well-known charismatics, including Pat Robertson. The Rev. John Howe, until 1989 the rector at Truro, was a key endorser of the 1988 presidential campaign of Robertson, who once called for a theocracy with "judges speaking in tongues on the bench."

Truro's services and tapes present a clear message: True Christians engage daily in actual, not metaphorical, hand to hand combat with Satan. In a taped lecture series on "Spiritual Warfare," Tom Tarrants reveals that the Devil and evil spirits "carry on a relentless battle behind the scenes" to affect "world events." Philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Immanuel Kant and Sigmund Freud were all under demonic influence. Lecturer Beth Whitnah averts that Satan is behind the "pollution of the whole entertainment industry."

Charismatics are instructed to heed orders. On one tape, the Rev. Brian Cox, associate rector of a sister church, the Church of the Apostles, exhorts Truro's congregants to obey unquestioningly God's commands. "When the Father tells you to do something," Cox says, "you don't argue with Him...You don't need to know why." During a 1987 sermon at his church, according to two people who were there, Cox preached that the goal of the charismatics is to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth, adding, "The Kingdom of God is not a Democracy." After that sermon, he embraced a member of his flock, Oliver North. On another tape, Os Guiness, a "Christian author," examines "the problem of constitutionalism." By "problem" he means that the U.S. Constitution has no "transcendence" because it does not rely on religious values.
And finally, we come across the mention of Martyn Minns, the current rector of Truro Church, and recently elected bishop in the Anglican Church of Nigeria. He will be heading up CANA, which is claiming to be a missionary effort by Archbishop Akinola, but is clearly an expansion of the concept introduced by John Guest; using offshore bishops to manuever around the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

It appears that Minns intends to remain at Truro Church. How he plans to be a bishop of Nigeria and a rector in the Episcopal Church at the same time is beyond my comprehension. Bp. Lee of Virginia considers such a situation "impossible". One would assume the leadership of TEC will have something to say about this as well?

So, what can we surmise from all of this? Just a couple of observations. Note all this activity happening in and around the Diocese of Pittsburgh. One explanation for this is to recall that Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge Pennsylvania was accredited as a seminary of the Episcopal Church in the early 1980s. Trinity, considered by many charismatics and evangelicals as the New Jerusalem, has heavily influenced current developments in the Episcopal Church.

It is also revealing to notice the role Truro Church, located in Fairfax, Virginia, a suburb of D.C., played in the alliance between the American Anglican Council and the Institute for Religion and Democracy. Martyn Minns remains a member of the board of the AAC, as was Bp. Howe before him.

One other bit of history that is worth recalling is that it was at Truro Church that Archbishop George Carey was invited for confirmations, as Virginia's bishop was considered tainted by his support of the Bishop of New Hampshire.

The final thing to note is that these folks have known one another for a long time. We can assume that these close relationships will continue. Consequently, we can also assume that we will be the subject of this "purity campaign" for years to come.


UPDATE: Since I did much wandering off the original topic in the above, I now realize that this post really needs a clear summary statement regarding Bp. John Howe. Thanks to Charlotte, who provides us with just such a summary, which I'm lifting out of the comments from a previous post:

The Diocese of Central Florida has lost 8.5% of its membership in the last two years, despite the fact that it includes a coastal Florida area which is the fastest-growing in the United States.

Its recent capital campaign was a dismal failure.

A large amount of money the Diocese had invested disappeared under somewhat dubious circumstances two or three years ago. Bishop Howe has never publicly explained how the invested money was lost.

Here is a bit more about Bishop Howe's view of things:

1) He supports the teaching of intelligent design in the public schools, and has attempted to mobilize the diocese to support it through an article by Terry Mattingly (sp?) in the Central Florida Episcopalian.

2) In addition to his support for Pat Robertson, Bishop Howe is a strong and committed supporter of James Dobson and his Focus on the Family.

3) This Lent just past, Bishop Howe called, in his column in the Central Florida Episcopalian, for priests to make a practice of denying Communion to anyone they identified as "notorious sinners."

4) Bishop Howe advertises some sort of weekend workshop for laypeople under the slogan "Can you learn to do miracles just like Jesus?" We had this announced by a visitor to my church, who stood up and identified himself as a strong supporter of Bishop Howe. With a big wink, he said that the Bishop's answer to the question "Can you learn to do miracles just like Jesus?" was "Yes."

5) The following is taken verbatim from a sermon by one of his favorites among the priests. He stood before the congregation, floppy Bible in hand, whacked it hard, and said "They're trying to take the Bible away from us. Every word in it is the Word of God."

One final comment. The first thing that strikes almost anyone coming in to Central Florida from another Episcopal diocese is just how weird the place is. The realization that it is rankly and offensively homophobic as a matter of official policy comes later.

I would say to those of you who have never had to live in this place: The first thing, and perhaps the most important thing to understand about the Diocese of Central Florida, because it is the fountainhead from which all else flows, is that it isn't Anglican. I still don't know what it is, and whatever it is, it is certainly strange, but it isn't Anglican.

It is really time to open up the windows of this diocese, clean the place up, and let the light and air in. It is time for Central Florida to rejoin the Episcopal Church and the great Anglican tradition.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bp. Jefferts Schori Interview

Renee provides us with a transcript of part of Diane Rehm's interview of Bp. Katharine Jefferts Schori.

In response to the question if it would not have been preferable to come out of convention with no formal response to the Windsor Report, Bp. Jefferts Schori offered the following:

Well, in my personal viewpoint, if we were only dealing with the Episcopal Church, perhaps so. It would certainly make me more comfortable in relationships with gay and lesbian Christians in this church. But the reality is that we're part of a larger body. If we're at the table, if we're able to continue this conversation, we retain the ability to "converse with and convert", as the current Presiding Bishop is fond of saying, those others at the table. We retain the ability to advocate for basic civil rights for gay and lesbian people, where they are threatened across the Communion. I note that Nigeria has recently passed laws that not only criminalize same-sex activity but also criminalize speaking about it. I think that this church has something to say to that.
I really want to give our Presiding Bishop Elect the benefit of the doubt. I really do. But the way things played out last Wednesday, and her role in that drama, continues to trouble me.

Bp. Jefferts Schori is going to have some difficult years ahead of her. She is going to need our support. What say you; can we accept this explanation and move on?


General Convention Affirms Civil Rights

The House of Bishops and the House of Deputies passed the following resolution:

Resolution A095
Title: Gay and Lesbian Affirmation

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the Episcopal Church’s historical support of gay and lesbian persons as children of God and entitled to full civil rights; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the 71st General Convention’s action calling upon “municipal council, state legislatures and the United States Congress to approve measures giving gay and lesbian couples protection[s] such as: bereavement and family leave policies; health benefits; pension benefits; real-estate transfer tax benefits; and commitments to mutual support enjoyed by non-gay married couples”; and be it further

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention oppose any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions.

For at least thirty years, and even as debate about the role of gay and lesbian people within the Church has continued, successive General Conventions have recognized the equal claim of gay and lesbian persons to the civil rights enjoyed by all other persons. In 1994, General Convention (1994-D006) called on all levels of government to support legislation giving same-sex couples the same legal protections as non-same-sex married couples. In light of recent legislative actions in several states, and a proposed federal constitutional amendment, an affirmation of the Episcopal Church's support for equal rights is warranted.
It appears that the Diocese of Central Florida, the latest to beg for ALPO, specifically notes this resolution as influencing their decision:

...We disassociate this diocese from Resolution A-095 which opposes “any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions.” This resolution gives, in effect, the endorsement of the Church on same-sex civil marriage...
How quickly the real colors of the extremists are being revealed. Civil rights are now denied our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, in the name of God, no less.

For those of you who may not recall the history of this diocese, Bp. Howe was formerly the rector of the parish in Truro, Va., where Marty Minns, the newly elected bishop of the schismatic CANA hybrid, currently serves. Birds of a feather and all that.


Marilyn McCord Adams: "Do Not Delegate Your Discernment"

I recently revisted some of our previous discussions of various chapters from Gays and the Future of Anglicanism. A couple of quotes from Marilyn McCord Adams seemed quite relevant to our current discussions:

...But to listen carefully and to treat with dignity are not the same as to agree, to do only what the other can recommend you to do, or to say only what the other can approve you to say. Spiritual discernment is not certified in the short run by majority rule. Northern member churches - not only ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada, but also the Church of England - are not entitled under God to delegate their own discernment within their own cultural contexts to the now-majority African and Asian churches. To do so is not to behave as fellow adults, as mature bodies in relation to one another, but to regress to the child's role...

...Notoriously, American Episcopalians aligned with the Network agree with Archbishop Akinola about homosexuality. But those of us, who have thought gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons to be treasures of the church, should not mollify our message. We should seize the initiative and take the opportunity to clarify just how opposed our discernment is to theirs. I agree that northern Anglicans owe apologies to African and Asian member churches for being insufficiently respectful. And, in my judgment, the Anglican Communion, the Church of England, my own ECUSA need equally to beg pardon of gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons for ecclesiastical complicity in centuries of abuse...

Insights From the Mad Priest

This might shed a bit of light on the recent curious actions coming out of Canterbury.

You may also want to take Wednesday's quiz. This is a quite timely quiz, in view of the current outrage coming from some quarters regarding the amended version of resolution D069. I tend to think GC got it right, based on the logic followed in this quiz.

And finally, you may want to consider these commentaries, which seem to get to the heart of the matter.

But, of course, as the Mad Priest would be the first to admit, he could be wrong.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

ABC Gives Green Light, and They're Off!

It appears that Archbishop Akinola, not satified with the Kingdom of Nigeria, has moved into the greener pastures of North America. His henchman on this shore will be none other than Marty Minns, formerly rector in Truro, Va., and well known extremist.

And so the plan, revealed to us some years ago, finally comes to fruition, only one day after the Archbishop of Canterbury issued a statement that was interpreted as giving the extremists a nod of approval for launching their plan.

What plan, you ask? Allow me to lift some of the verbiage from a previous post to describe it:

The details were revealed in the Chapman Letter. It is worth taking a moment to review that document. If we consider recent developments, it is clear that this is the plan we are watching unfold. For more thoughts on this plot, take a look at my previous commentary, A Closer Look at the Attempted Coup.

I want to focus on one segment of the Chapman Letter;

...Stage 2 will launch at some yet to be determined moment, probably in 2004. During this phase, we will seek, under the guidance of the Primates, negotiated settlements in matters of property, jurisdiction, pastoral succession and communion, If adequate settlements are not within reach, a faithful disobedience of canon law on a widespread basis may be necessary.

Some congregations have already proceeded to Stage 2 because of local circumstances. While we cannot offer AEO under an AAC diocesan Bishop at this time, we do have non-geographical oversight available from offshore Bishops, and retired Bishops. We may also be able to offer oversight from special designated priests acting on behalf of our AAC Diocesan Bishops...
"...non-geographical oversight available from 'offshore' bishops..." Keep that phrase in mind while we consider another internal memo from these extreme conservatives, contained within the court documents of the case of Calvary Church vs. The Diocese of Pittsburgh. The memo is near the end of this lengthy file, and is entitled "Draft Proposal for Overseas AEO." Here is a summary of the proposed phases;

Phase One is "Dual Citizenship." A priest stays canonically resident in ECUSA, but also becomes canonically resident in an offshore diocese. The suggestion is made that CAPA (Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa) take an active role in this process.

Phase Two: The priest leaves ECUSA for the offshore diocese. The congregation leaves with the priest. The ECUSA bishop deposes the priest. The offshore bishop does not recognize the deposition. The example given is David Moyer.

Phase Three: The offshore bishop delegates responsibility of spiritual oversight to the Network (a group of conservatives within ECUSA). The U.S. is divided up into "overseas diaspora archdeaconries."

We've already seen phase two put into motion in the diocese of Los Angeles, and other places.

The new glitch in the conservatives' plan was the release of the Windsor Report, which included this recommendation;

We call upon those bishops who believe it is their conscientious duty to intervene in provinces, dioceses and parishes other than their own:
* to express regret for the consequences of their actions
* to affirm their desire to remain in the Communion, and
* to effect a moratorium on any further interventions.
We also call upon these archbishops and bishops to seek an accommodation with the bishops of the dioceses whose parishes they have taken into their own care.
We further call upon those diocesan bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) who have refused to countenance the proposals set out by their House of Bishops to reconsider their own stance on this matter. If they refuse to do so, in our view, they will be making a profoundly dismissive statement about their adherence to the polity of their own church.
Since the conservatives want to use the Windsor Report for their own purposes, this meant that they would have to carefully word any future communications regarding their plan to use foreign bishops to take over the Episcopal Church. Consequently, the statements from the first group of foreign bishops they hoped to use, CAPA, have to be carefully read to understand what their intention actually is. For instance, consider this one, dated 7 April 2005, from Abp. Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria, regarding the formation of the Convocation of Anglican Nigerian Churches in America;

This Convocation will function as a ministry of the Church of Nigeria in America. Our intention is not to challenge or intervene in the churches of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada but rather to provide safe harbour for those who can no longer find their spiritual home in those churches. While it will initially operate under our Constitution and Canons, it will have its own legal and ecclesial structure and local suffragan episcopate. I will be asking the next General Synod of the Church of Nigeria, which will meet in September 2005, to make the necessary constitutional amendments.

During the intervening months, in cooperation with our friends in the Anglican Communion Network, I will be appointing episcopal visitors from among already consecrated bishops to provide pastoral and episcopal oversight for those congregations already in operation and in formation. I am excited by the possibilities before us and look forward to seeing this ministry grow.
Sounds like the implementation of the "master plan" to me, with the disclaimer inserted that the intention "is not to challenge or intervene in the churches of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada." How it can be read to be doing anything other than that escapes my understanding.

Well, now we have Marty Minns elected as Bishop of this attempted end run around the Windsor Report. The absurd thing is that those bishops begging for ALPO (Alternative Primatial Oversight) which are currently Fort Worth, South Carolina, Pittsburgh and San Joaquin, fancy themselves as "Windsor Bishops." How much you want to bet the Primate they ask for is Peter Akinola? And then, of course, they will eventually attempt to move their entire diocese over to CANA, where their bud Marty will be waiting for them.

Thank you, Dr. Williams, for giving the green light for this drag race to destruction to commence. And please don't act surprised; the plan has been quite clear, easily accessible to everyone, for many years now.

For those who are choosing Akinola over Jefferts Schori, all I can say is go with God, and to please do it quickly. We have other things we need to be doing instead of being held in bondage to the power ploys of a handful of disgruntled purple shirts.


UPDATE: Thinking Anglicans offers us a quote from Bp. Griswold regarding Pittsburgh's request for ALPO:

I find the action by the Standing Committee and Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh unsurprising and altogether consistent with their implicit intention of walking apart from the Episcopal Church. The urgency of their appeal indicates an unwillingness to be part of the process of formulating a covenant so clearly set forth in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s reflection. I would very much hope that they would remain part of the Episcopal Church as we, along with the other provinces of the Communion, explore our Anglican identity - as the Archbishop has invited us to do.
Thank you Bp. Griswold, but don't you think we're past the time for words? File a presentment and begin the process to depose Bp. Duncan.

Jim Naughton asks some good questions, especially concerning the fate of the Via Media congregations.

The REAL Instruments of Unity

I think we've about exhausted the topic of responses to the Windsor Report. For those who might want to continue such discussions, I recommend Tobias Haller's reaction to Dr. Williams latest pronouncement. My favorite line is his closer:

...So let's embrace an imperfect communion based on mission instead of a pure one based on the lifestyles of the missionaries!
On that note, it might be helpful to remember that Windsor wasn't even a topic for the first half of Convention. The buzz was all about the Millennium Development Goals, which I briefly mentioned following the amazing U2charist. Here's the resolution regarding the MDGs that was passed by Convention:

Resolution D022
Title: MDGs and the ONE Episcopalian Campaign

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church commend the leaders and members of The Episcopal Church, including Episcopal Relief and Development and program ministries of the Episcopal Church, for their leadership on behalf of the Millennium Development Goals, both through public advocacy and implementation of MDG programs in the developing world; and commend parishes, missions, congregations, and dioceses, and others, like Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation and the Micah Challenge, for their support of the implementation of the MDGs in fulfillment of our Baptismal Covenant and as an expression of the hunger of this church for far deeper communion with all of God’s beloved; and be it further

Resolved, that the General Convention establish the work toward the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals as a mission priority for the coming triennium, and that each diocese, congregation and parishioner be urged to commit to 0.7% giving toward these goals by July 7, 2007 (07/07/07); and be it further

Resolved, that the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget line item of no less than an additional 0.7% (circa $900,000) of the non-government revenue of the Episcopal Church for work that supports the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability, and
8. Create a global partnership for development with a focus on debt, aid, and trade; and be it further

Resolved, that the General Convention encourage parishes, missions, congregations, and dioceses to designate the Last Sunday after Pentecost , or such days as may be designated ecumenically for commendation of the MDGs, as special days of prayer, fasting and giving in the Episcopal Church toward global reconciliation and the Millennium Development Goals; and be it further

Resolved, that the General Convention request that all dioceses establish a global reconciliation commission or similar body dedicated to mobilizing Episcopalians toward the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals; and be it further

Resolved, the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns report to the 76th General Convention on the progress that has been achieved in implementing this resolution; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention endorse “The ONE Campaign,” the U.S. movement for the MDGs, through The Episcopal Church’s “ONE Episcopalian” campaign; call on all parishes, missions, congregations, and dioceses, and individuals to join the ONE Episcopalian campaign; and publicly endorse The ONE Campaign’s call for the United States government to annually spend an additional one percent of its budget to combat global poverty, and to be active advocates for the achievement of this work.

The Episcopal Church is to be commended for its endorsement of the Millennium Development Goals and the widespread adoption of 0.7% giving for the implementation of those goals.

In addition to our individual and communal giving and advocacy, in this resolution our church joins our ecumenical partners in advocating that the U.S. government spend one percent more of its annual budget to combat poverty in the world. The ONE Campaign is a two year-old U.S. based movement to "make poverty history." The ONE Episcopalian Campaign begins with this convention, equipping dioceses, parishes, and individuals to be effective advocates for the MDGs and connecting Episcopalians with others who seek to end global poverty in our time.
Since the MDGs are one of the main priorities of our new Presiding Bishop, we can expect them to become an essential part of the future mission of the Episcopal Church.

Here's a few resources:

The UN Millennium Development Goals

The ONE Campaign

Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation

ONE Episcopalian

Convention also approved a related resolution:

Resolution A010
Title: Affirm "Call to Partnership"

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church receive and affirm "Call to Partnership," the communiqué presented to the United Nations Summit on Sept. 13, 2005, by Anglican, Evangelical, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Reform, Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist and United Methodist participants in the Consultation of Religious Leaders on Global Poverty; and be it further

Resolved, That the Episcopal Church acknowledge the leadership of persons in poverty and local leaders in poor communities as equal partners and not simply recipients in the global effort to alleviate the crushing burden of extreme poverty; and be it further

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention urge our ecumenical and interfaith partners to affirm "Call to Partnership" and join the Episcopal Church in working across confessional lines and in partnership with governments and international organizations to pursue the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with all available human and financial resources; and be it further
Resolved, That in receiving and affirming the communiqué, the Episcopal Church call upon governments to pursue the achievement of the MDGs through:

1. significantly increased official development assistance to poor countries;
2. debt cancellation premised upon a country’s need for resources to meet the MDGs;
3. fair and open trade policies that allow developing countries to compete in international markets with rich countries;
4. policies designed to alleviate structural barriers and social injustices that exacerbate the effects of poverty in the developing world; and
5. policies that promote full accountability and transparency among developing countries for the use of resources derived through foreign aid while still allowing strategies for accountability and transparency to be dictated by developing countries themselves; and be it further

Resolved, That in receiving and affirming the communiqué, the General Convention affirm the work of the Church's officers, dioceses, congregations, baptized members, and Episcopal Relief and Development in undertaking and supporting partnerships for global development in impoverished countries and call for the expansion of this work through:

1. increased support through time and financial resources for companion relationships with dioceses and congregations in the developing world;
2. a renewed commitment to the work of Episcopal Relief and Development and other faith-based organizations that are operating successful partnerships on behalf of those living in poverty around the world;
3. a commitment to regular prayer from all dioceses, congregations and baptized members for an end to global poverty in all its forms.
We've got some work to do!


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Global Episcopal Church

The flags pictured here (forgive the poor quality of the shot) were displayed above the podium in the House of Deputies throughout General Convention. They represent the various nations and territories that are currently a part of the Episcopal Church.

I need your help identifying which flag represents which nation or territory.

Looks like a good beginning for a global communion to me.


From Canterbury

Dr. Williams has offered us a "reflection". As I just learned that I've been summoned to a meeting, I only have a few minutes to note a couple of things. For a fuller commentary, take a look at Mark Harris' analysis.

...The recent resolutions of the General Convention have not produced a complete response to the challenges of the Windsor Report, but on this specific question there is at the very least an acknowledgement of the gravity of the situation in the extremely hard work that went into shaping the wording of the final formula...
We get an "E" for effort, and extra credit for giving in to the pressure brought to bear on us by the English Bishops of Durham and Rochester and the English Arbishops of York and Canterbury. It remains to be seen if we passed the test, however, and so graduate into full alumni status within the Church of England.

...Thus if other churches have said, in the wake of the events of 2003 that they cannot remain fully in communion with the American Church, this should not be automatically seen as some kind of blind bigotry against gay people. Where such bigotry does show itself it needs to be made clear that it is unacceptable; and if this is not clear, it is not at all surprising if the whole question is reduced in the eyes of many to a struggle between justice and violent prejudice...It isn’t a question of throwing people into outer darkness, but of recognising that actions have consequences – and that actions believed in good faith to be ‘prophetic’ in their radicalism are likely to have costly consequences...
But, Dr. Williams, it is indeed a matter of "throwing people into the outer darkness," or at least in jail, if you happen to reside in Nigeria, for instance. Have you written a Godly Admonition to the Archbishop of Nigeria yet? I didn't think so. Consequently, it is difficult to take seriously your support for bigotry, which is what we are struggling against. If you doubt that, I suggest you visit David Virtue's site, as but one example of the "violent prejudice," that is alive and growing within TEC.

...We could arrive at a situation where there were ‘constituent’ Churches in covenant in the Anglican Communion and other ‘churches in association’, which were still bound by historic and perhaps personal links, fed from many of the same sources, but not bound in a single and unrestricted sacramental communion, and not sharing the same constitutional structures. The relation would not be unlike that between the Church of England and the Methodist Church, for example. The ‘associated’ Churches would have no direct part in the decision making of the ‘constituent’ Churches, though they might well be observers whose views were sought or whose expertise was shared from time to time, and with whom significant areas of co-operation might be possible.

This leaves many unanswered questions, I know, given that lines of division run within local Churches as well as between them - and not only on one issue (we might note the continuing debates on the legitimacy of lay presidency at the Eucharist). It could mean the need for local Churches to work at ordered and mutually respectful separation between ‘constituent’ and ‘associated’ elements; but it could also mean a positive challenge for Churches to work out what they believed to be involved in belonging in a global sacramental fellowship, a chance to rediscover a positive common obedience to the mystery of God’s gift that was not a matter of coercion from above but of that ‘waiting for each other’ that St Paul commends to the Corinthians...
The Covenant idea, with two types of Anglicans. The reference to the Methodist church is troubling, however. One must wonder what contribution the Methodists make to the work of the Anglican Communion. There is also the term "separation." We can imagine what the extremists will make of this.

...Pursued far enough in isolation, each of these would lead to a different place – to strict evangelical Protestantism, to Roman Catholicism, to religious liberalism. To accept that each of these has a place in the church’s life and that they need each other means that the enthusiasts for each aspect have to be prepared to live with certain tensions or even sacrifices – with a tradition of being positive about a responsible critical approach to Scripture, with the anomalies of a historic ministry not universally recognised in the Catholic world, with limits on the degree of adjustment to the culture and its habits that is thought possible or acceptable...
It is worth noting that "religious liberalism" is listed among those who "has a place in the church's life." Maybe now we will see an end to the accusations of this perspective being alien, pagan, apostate, heretical, Satanic, etc.? I won't hold my breath.

...All that I have said above should make it clear that the idea of an Archbishop of Canterbury resolving any of this by decree is misplaced, however tempting for many. The Archbishop of Canterbury presides and convenes in the Communion, and may do what this document attempts to do, which is to outline the theological framework in which a problem should be addressed; but he must always act collegially, with the bishops of his own local Church and with the primates and the other instruments of communion...
Dr. Williams will not make the decision. The Primates will. Or the ACC. Or Lambeth. Or maybe no one, for at least 6 years (which is the minimum time it will take to develop some kind of Covenant). Are we expected to be held captive by this debate for the next 6 to 9 years? I hope not.

There's much more that is worthy of discussion in this reflection. Actually, I find it to be a document that may be of value in future discussions. But I do find it troubling that the English really believe that us colonists really give that much weight to their opinions. It may be time to remind them that we are capable of hosting our own tea party. If we are unwelcome at Lambeth, maybe Boston would be an appropriate alternative?


Monday, June 26, 2006

Be Still!

Since I'm still on vacation, Demi and I had a "free Sunday" yesterday. We decided to visit the parish where Rodney serves. Rodney and I have been corresponding by e-mail for over a year now, but General Convention was the first time we'd met in RL.

To be honest, I was hesitant to go to Church at all on Sunday, as my state of mind of late has not been such that I feel at peace with some of my brothers and sisters in Christ. But this week I return to serve my congregation, and I knew that I needed to get past this dark place in order to be present to those whom I am called to serve. Confession and communion seemed like the right perscription.

The Gospel was about Jesus calming the storm. Here's part of Rodney's sermon:

...The British Navy has a strange custom. If there's a sudden disaster aboard ship, the "still" is blown. It's a whistle that calls the crew to a moment of silence in a time of crisis. When the still is blown, people aboard know that it means. "Prepare to do the wise thing." They tell us that this moment of calm has helped avert many a catastrophe.

The General Convention ended just four days ago but we're already hearing warnings about deadly storms brewing all around us. We've heard most of it before, but now some of the actions we're seeing feel like those waves crashing over the boat threatening the demise of life as we have known it. I am pleased with probably 95% of the work of our General Convention. But there is that nagging 5% that breaks my heart, deeply wounds me.

Maybe what our church has done is "blown the 'still'" in a time of crisis. Called for the calm on the ship. Prepared to do the wise thing. The wise thing is not a particular outcome. The wise thing is creating a calmer place so we can better hear God speak from the storm.

You can only claim this power when you know the value of stillness and practice it, when you do not give in to the panic and fear but hear the words of Jesus spoken with authority:

Be still!

Do not be afraid!

I am with you always!
"The wise thing is not a particular outcome...the wise thing is creating a calmer place so we can better hear God..." Yes, there it is. Seeking the voice of God in the midst of all this chaos.

After the Eucharist, some of us gathered in the parish hall to discuss General Convention. I was amazed by Rodney's ability to calmly discuss GC even though some of the actions taken he finds quite painful. His example was very helpful in preparing for future discussions that I will have to facilitate in the place where I serve.

Afterwards Rodney and Alan took Demi and me to lunch. The relaxed conversation and easy laughter helped bring home the wisdom of the words I heard earlier in the day; "Be still! Do not be afraid!"

I cannot surrender my belief in redemption. "All things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." God will create good out of even the most twisted human actions. My life is a testimony to this truth. It may be difficult to trust some human authorities right now, but I cannot stop trusting in the redemptive power of God's love.

When I came home, I found an email awaiting me from db, who reminded me of something I had written some months ago:

...As I administered communion this morning and we shared that special moment, I felt that "something" happening. My heart began to literally ache because of my love for each of those precious souls. Soon, the ache was transformed into joy, as I received their love for me.

This relationship, of love flowing between us at that special moment, was the way the theological reality, of receiving the outward and visible sign of God's grace, became manifest. Some of those folks were young. Some were old. Some were conservative, and others were liberal. Some were Democrats, but others were Republican. It didn't seem to matter to God. The grace flowed, and it was a glorious thing.

Some of the wounds caused by life may never heal. And I may always be shadowed by a deep sadness. But, thank God, there is more to life than that.

In the end, it is a matter of recalling what the point of living is all about; of honestly answering one of the most primal questions; what do you want?

I want to give love, and be loved. And that is what I experience when I gather with my brothers and sisters to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Thanks be to God!
And thanks be to God for Rodney and Alan, and db, who have been for me "God with skin on" this weekend. I now feel better prepared to return to service tomorrow.

Be still!

Do not be afraid!

I am with you always!


Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Church of the People

From the Guardian:

The American church is to be commended for quietly carrying on with its life. The entire Anglican communion has risen up against it, Lambeth Palace included. But it has chosen to maintain its dignity. Last week Katharine Jefferts Schori became the first woman leader of an Anglican church anywhere in the world when she was appointed to head the US Episcopalian church and said there should be "room at the table" for gay and lesbian members of the church...

...In Nigeria the listening process has had an equally remarkable beginning: the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, has successfully sponsored a bill, now on the statute books, increasing the legal penalties not only for homosexual activity but for any public statement in defence of homosexual people.

It might be imagined that at this point Williams would finally remember his principles and intervene. And intervene he does. He warns the Americans of their duty not to offend the Africans, and lobbies parliament for exemptions from UK anti-discrimination legislation to ensure that all church schools will have the right to maintain a consistent anti-homosexual ethos. And under his leadership the Church of England itself is becoming increasingly active in the persecution and expulsion of its own homosexual membership, with sanctions imposed against everyone from homosexual clergy to homosexual godparents, with no rebuke or restraint of any kind imposed on those who continue open campaigns against all gay people and their supporters...

...In the early days some of us would write to Williams asking how he could bring himself to oversee the active persecution of minorities he used to champion. At first he would reply sadly in his own hand. Now he is more likely to have his chaplain issue a curt rebuke. He is too busy advising the Americans to resume active discrimination against homosexual clergy to worry about bewildered liberals at home. And so we wonder how and when it will all end, quietly cheering on the dignified, magnanimous Americans.

The US liberals are not campaigning to destroy the church. Their church - unlike our own - is a church of the people. The ordinary scripture-reading people of the US church call their own clergy and elect their own bishops. Some of them are women. Some of them are gay. These are the people the churchgoing faithful have chosen. Long may they be faithful to their soundly biblical, soundly Christian principles.

Recommended Attire

Res Publica recommends the shirt to the left, with its timely message, as appropriate attire for your bishop's next visitation. Click on the pic to order yours while supplies last.

Here's a bit of interesting info regarding what may have triggered the irregular behavior on the part of Bishops Griswold and Jefferts Schori on Wednesday morning:

...Katie Sherrod, an Integrity member and straight supporter who lives in Fort Worth, was devastated. She’s also a journalist and producer. We talked about the shocking behavior of our presiding bishop and she told me that just before the vote in the HOB, she was on her way to the bathroom when she stumbled upon ++Griswold and a few of his minions in the hall. ++Griswold was talking into a cell phone. Then +Schori joined the group. ++Griswold handed her the cell phone. Shortly thereafter, she stood up in the HOB and gave her “conjoined twins” speech. Who was on the other end of that cell phone? We can only speculate that it was “someone high up” in the communion giving orders to pass B033 or else...
For those who are suggesting that we just get over the way this legislation was force-fed to our members and move on, let me offer you the closing words of the above post:

...We were sold out. We were used as the bargaining chip to get an invitation to Lambeth. I want all those who voted yes to look into the eyes of the gay and lesbian faithful…look long and hard and close…and see what you have done. It will take years to undo the harm. I hope it was worth the price. And as we ponder that question, we must remember another sermon we heard here at GC. It was preached by +Gene Robinson at the Integrity Eucharist….words that were more prophetic than any of us realized: “No matter what they say or what they do….you must” he implored, “you must love them anyway!”
Yes, love them anyway, but hold them accountable for their actions.

I guess we know why Dr. Williams was so quick to respond to B033; he had Frank on the phone. He was not the only one to respond quickly, however, as Bp. Robinson points out:

I don't know whether or not our Presiding Bishop-elect was coerced or merely persuaded to join in this appeal, but it is clear to me that her support for such an action provided the push needed to convince the Deputies to adopt a resolution more prohibitive than the one they had rejected the day before. Gay and lesbian deputies, many in tears, not to mention our straight allies, rose to the microphones to pledge their support of our new primate as she goes off to represent us in unfriendly places, to "give her what she needs" to continue the conversation. The scene of gay and lesbian deputies, willing to fall on their own swords for the presumed good of the Church, voting for this resolution against their own self-interest was an act of self-sacrifice that I won't soon forget.

Keeping us in conversation with the Anglican Communion was the goal -- for which the price was declaring gay and lesbian people unfit material for the episcopate. Only time will tell whether or not even that was accomplished. Within minutes -- yes, MINUTES -- the conservatives both within our Church and in Africa declared our sacrificial action woefully inadequate. It felt like a kick in the teeth to the ones who had gotten down on their knees to submit to the will of the whole, even though the price of doing so was excruciating. Such a quick, obviously premeditated and patently cruel reaction from the Right can be seen only as the violent and unchristian act it was...
The extremists seemed to have no scruples regarding what tactics they would use to encourage elements of the Anglican Communion to give TEC the boot, including voting for Bp. Jefferts Schori, considered by some to be the most progressive of the nominees, to assure her election.

From Bishop Wimberly of Texas:

...As for the vote, Bishop Jefferts Schori was consented to by our deputation in the House of Deputies with two non-consenting votes, one lay and one clergy. The House of Bishop's vote is not public. However, I will say to you that I understand she received votes from supporters and a solid number of more conservative bishops who supposedly hope to move the split of our communion forward. Politics can make strange bedfellows. Further, this same undercurrent is attempting to undermine the good work of the Special Committee on Windsor...
From Bishop Gray of Mississippi:

...In addition to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, her election was made possible by an interesting coalition of both liberal and very conservative bishops. Historians will have to figure that one out!
And, from a report that I refuse to link to, due to the venom the reporter regularly spews:

At least four perhaps as many as nine (or more) orthodox Episcopal Church (TEC) bishops joined in voting for Katharine Jefferts Schori as TEC's new presiding bishop at the just-concluded General Convention in Ohio, in order to send a signal to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the wider Anglican Communion about the bankrupt state of the U.S. Church...
Eventually these behind the scenes manipulations will be brought into the light, at which time I would suspect that Dr. Williams and Bishop Duncan are going to have some very uncomfortable questions to answer.

Make sure you read Bp. Robinson's entire letter. His "So What Now" section offers some encouraging words.


UPDATE: Renee has provided us with the unique bumper sticker on the right. Click on the pic to order one.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Voices from the Middle

From Nick Knisely:

...If anyone claims that the Episcopal Church has not taken Windsor seriously, they were not on the floor of the House of Deputies yesterday. There was such pain and anguish in that place. We have taken the WR seriously and have struggled to say what we can say, and have not said what we can not say.

I was moved to tears (me! The person who was nicknamed "Mr. Spock" in seminary) as my friends and fellow Episcopalians spoke to the resolution from the House of Bishops. People were openly sharing their anguish about what we are being asked to do and the depth of our wanting to walk with our sisters and brothers in the Anglican Communion. After the vote people were embracing each other and trying to comfort those who felt dishonored or even betrayed - both on the right as well as the left. The Archbishop of York asked us to show the Communion the marks of our cross in his remarks last week. We did that yesterday...

... I have to admit that I am profoundly relieved to be finished. I am proud of what we have done? Not really. I am sad about what has happened? Yes. Would I change it? I don't know. Were we honest? Yes - what we said and didn't say yesterday is a pretty clear snapshot of where we are as a church at the moment. I am also very relieved that this now belongs to the Archbishop of Canterbury. If it's not enough - okay. We tried. We wept. We bled. We hurt each other on the right and on the left trying to find a way forward together. If that pain is not honored on earth, it will be honored in heaven. And that is what I really care about...
From David Simmons:

...What has amazed me the most today has been what I have to perceive as the utter hypocrisy of those on the extreme right. Those on the extreme left can be difficult, bull-headed, etc., but the things I have seen coming out of the other side in the last day is truly amazing in it's duplicity. Even the more conservative members of our deputation were disgusted by the time we left.

Yesterday, the right was a well-oiled procedural machine. Deputies moved from deputation to deputation during the entire convention. They even had people in the gallery doing communications with the "outside." Despite all the rhetoric about wanting the Episcopal Church to “uphold the Windsor Report,” when it came down to it they were the ones that called for a vote by orders (making the legislation more difficult to pass) and then voted AGAINST the Windsor resolutions, claiming that they were not sufficient. Today they tried everything they could do with parliamentary procedure to avoid reconsideration of the Windsor resolution, they again moved for a vote by orders, and I’m not sure of it, but I believe they voted against it despite the strengthened language. There’s no logical sense here – even if a resolution is not everything you want, if goes in your direction, you would think you would take it. It would only make sense if even though you claimed you wanted the Episcopal Church to comply, you didn't REALLY want it to.

The answer to all this came literally within a couple of minutes of us passing the resolution from the House of Bishops. Two of the ER bishops released a statement saying that we had failed to comply with Windsor, that they were willing to do so, and that they were the faithful remnant of the Episcopal Church.

It is obvious to even a casual observer that this moment had been scripted since before the convention. My suspicion is that the ER had planned their entire legislative agenda in order to defeat the Windsor resolutions so that they could execute their schism at the most opportune time, claiming that the Episcopal Church had shown we had no desire to stay in the Anglican Communion. They never intended to stay with us no matter what we passed...
From Joe of Canterbury Trail:

...First, on the "conservative" side of the aisle, there are all the expected noises about our efforts not being a "good enough" response to Windsor. This ignores a few important facts:

1. This WR contains recommendations. Does anyone remember what that word actually means? If not, please take the time to consult Webster's.

2. The Report, and the recent words from ++Cantaur and +York, seem to talk about mutual submission. This is, I believe, a very humble and painful effort on our part to come part way down the path towards the other Provinces. Now...what about their turn? That leads us to:

3. Whether we are "Windsor compliant" may be debatable, but there is no doubt...none...that several Bishops and even a Primate in our Communion have blatantly ignored the WR's recommendations regarding the crossing of provincial and diocesan boundaries. Anyone hear Canterbury talking to them about "mutual submission?"

Now, on the "liberal" side (which on this issue includes me), I am also confused by a few things.

1. Do we trust the Spirit to work through the GC process or not? When things go in our favor, we seem to laude it. When things do not, we cry all sorts of bloody hell. Could it be that God is doing something here, in God's own way and time, that we do not understand? Shouldn't we at least be open to that possibility?

2. Finally, while I really do understand the emotional component to many of the responses that I have heard, an I do see the danger in making an idol of unity, I simply cannot believe that we have such a poor understanding of or love for our Communion that we could honestly call the Lambeth gathering and our place at that table a "tea party." Don't we know what it means to be a full, recognized member of the Church catholic? What it could mean to GLBT Christians all over the world, including in places where very lives and not just episcopates are on the line? We need to at least try to stay at that table if we ever really hope to have our witness truly heard beyond the choir. The longer we are in, and the more we keep speaking truth from a seat at that table, the more hope there is for lasting, systemic change.

Look...I am truly sad that this legislation is even necessary. I am broken hearted at the idea that so many of our sisters and brothers feel betrayed and bullied by this...but it is what it is. Let us pray that it will allow us to continue our ministry of transformation to the rest of the Church.
I'm not offering these views to be debated; simply for us to take in and recognize as sincere perspectives of what happened. The moderate middle makes up 60% of TEC. We need to hear what they are saying. I ask that you give weight to their sincerity and be gentle in your responses.


A Crisis of Trust

A few days stuck in the hills of Ohio gave me the opportunity to think a little more about recent developments, and achieve some degree of emotional distance from the events.

Here’s my concerns at the moment. We are now in the midst of a crisis. But it’s not a crisis that has much of anything to do with morality, except tangentially. The crisis concerns the damage done to the trust relationship between the elected members of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops.

Let’s start at the top and work down. The Archbishop of Canterbury, for some reason he has yet to articulate, is responding from a position of fear. That is not a good place to start when addressing moral issues. From his past actions, we know his personal position on the questions facing us today. But, some factor has caused him to deny those positions, and to give ear to those whose approach to morality is to use an iron fist to get the rabble in line. As long as Dr. Williams continues to listen to these voices, our trust in his ability to address any issues regarding ethics or morality has been severely compromised.

Symbolic of the warrior bishops who seem to now run the Communion is Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria. His solution to one particular ethical issue is to incarcerate those who even voice disagreement with his position. And, before this is refuted, let me simply point out that I don’t find it a coincidence that only a few weeks after the Church of Nigeria failed in their campaign to silence Changing Attitude, this new legislation was introduced. The President of Nigeria is known to have close ties to Akinola. One would have to be quite naïve to not understand what happened behind the scenes. Deny it all you want, but I have little doubt that this new legislation was initiated by Peter Akinola. If nothing else, we have the Archbishop’s clear statement that he supports this legislation, which seeks to put in prison anyone who dares to speak out against injustice in Nigeria.

This type of bishop, and others of a similar stripe, who have clearly abandoned the Gospel of Jesus Christ, are pressuring the Anglican Communion to make their twisted morality the norm around the globe. Such voices, regardless of their purple shirts, cannot be trusted.

The Instruments of Unity all consist of bishops, except for the Anglican Consultative Council. But the ACC has recently decided to allow the Primates to become members. They have also been taken over by the purple shirts. The Instruments are responding out of fear now as well. It is questionable if they can be trusted to speak for us regarding moral issues.

Our own House of Bishops asserted their authority in the 11th hour of General Convention, and got the resolution they wanted. One of the last bastions of protection against the potential oppression by those who consider themselves the aristocracy of our Church was broken down; the bishop’s representatives, the current and future Presiding Bishops, were allowed to address the House of Deputies regarding a critical vote.

If you read what happened in the House of Bishops prior to this, it becomes quite obvious that Bp. Griswold suddenly found himself under great pressure to do something. I would suppose that he received a message from Canterbury. And so, responding out of fear, our bishops used a heavy hand to force the House of Deputies to reconsider a matter that they had already decided.

I watched the deliberations in the House of Deputies. I was proud of the way the questions of morality were taken seriously and debated with civility. Those who suggest that the Deputies acted immaturely and needed to be corrected by purple shirts clearly did not witness what unfolded on the floor.

We must never forget the scene of the Presiding Bishop-elect intruding onto the floor of the House of Deputies in the midst of a debate to instruct the Deputies on how to vote. That was the moment when the trust relationship between the members of the Episcopal Church and their bishops was deeply damaged.

The relationship is damaged, but maybe not beyond repair. We must consider the bishops who stood to affirm the Statement of Conscience. We must also consider the many years that Bishop Griswold has stood against oppression. For him to use such hardball tactics is surprising, and suggests that there may be much more to this story that will never become public.

Beyond that, we have to consider that clergy are all “persons under authority.” Some of the House of Bishops voted for this resolution because they believed in it. But, I would be willing to wager that many others supported it because their Presiding Bishop and Presiding Bishop-elect asked them to do so. I disagree with such motives, but it is helpful to at least understand them.

I am also a person under authority, as is every priest, which is another aspect of the vote in the House of Deputies that troubles me. The clergy take a vow to obey their bishop. In some respects, the Presiding Bishop is their chief Bishop. There is no question that the plea by Bp. Jefferts Schori influenced the clerical vote.

Having said all the above, I would be negligent if I did not note Bishop Robinson’s comments regarding this vote:

…Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire expressed some disappointment with the resolution because it does not affirm the role of gay and lesbian people in the church, but seemed encouraged by the seriousness with which the Episcopal Church has grappled with the issues in public.

"The church has a picture of the wide diversity in this church and people have been remarkably honest and loving in all of this," he said in an interview after the vote. "I have been approached by all kinds of people who have felt called to vote for this resolution in order for us to continue the conversation with the Anglican Communion."

Robinson encouraged support for Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori "in every way give her everything that she can have in her pocket to go to the primates meeting, to go to the rest of the Communion," he said. "In some sense, having given the Anglican Communion what it asked for regarding gay and lesbian members of this church, we'll be looking to them to see if they were serious about wanting to be in conversation about this, or whether they wanted this to end the conversation."

Describing the process as a journey, Robinson acknowledged that there will be bumps in the road.

"This is not what we hoped for, but it's what we have, so I'm much more interested in talking about tomorrow than I am about today or yesterday," he said…
It may also be helpful to consider the specific words used by Bishop Jefferts Schori when addressing the Deputies:

…During the debate in Deputies, Jefferts Schori asked to be invited to speak to the House. The deputies agreed and she reiterated the comments she made in the House of Bishops, saying that the image of conjoined twins came to her the day before when Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana spoke of there being one church and two minds.

She went on to say that she is "fully committed to the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in this church," she said.

"I certainly don't understand adopting this resolution as slamming the door. I think if you do pass this resolution you have to be willing to keep working with all your might at finding a common mind in this church. I don't find this an easy thing to say to you, but I think that is the best we are going to manage at this point in our church's history"…
I’m willing to move on to “talking about tomorrow” as Bishop Robinson suggests. But I think it would be a mistake to simply forget these heavy-handed tactics that were used to push through this resolution. Pay attention, Deputies: NEVER ALLOW A BISHOP ONTO THE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE OF DEPUTIES. There are good reasons for this rule, as Wednesday hopefully made clear to everyone.

In the future, it will be difficult to trust our House of Bishops, the Instruments of Unity, or the Archbishop of Canterbury. Their words often seem to spring from a fear of scarcity; the fear that if they do or say the wrong thing, their numbers might drop. As long as they deny that there is another hidden agenda; the agenda of oppression, pushed by those who seem willing to use any means to force their "purity code" on the global communion, their words must be carefully questioned, and when necessary refuted.

Some have asked what the Holy Spirit was doing in Columbus. I suggest to you that the Spirit has revealed to us that our means to discern the will of God has been severely damaged. There are few places left in the Communion for the Spirit to speak through anyone who is not a bishop. And some of those bishops have shown us that they cannot be trusted.

In the end, my trust rests in God, who offers us the promise of abundant life, not in purple shirts, many of whom appear to be in bondage to their fear of scarcity. I trust God to mend the broken hearts within the Episcopal Church, and to strengthen us for the struggles of tomorrow.

It is time to rethink the way we embody the Church. It is time to empower all the orders, and shake off the shackles of those who fancy themselves to be Prince Bishops. If some of our bishops lack the courage to confront those who continue to victimize the innocent in the name of God, then it is time for the laity, priests and deacons, three-fourths of those called to ministry in this Church, and those courageous bishops who will stand with us, to rise up against bigotry and oppression.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Open Thread

Hey everybody, guess what???


He called me to ask me to declare an "open thread."


--Jake's Demi

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Statement of Conscience

We, the undersigned Bishops of this 75th General Convention, in the confidence of the Gospel and out of love for this great Church, must prayerfully dissent from the action of this Convention in Resolution B033 (on Election of Bishops). We do so for the following reasons:

  • The process used to arrive at Resolution B033 raises serious concerns about the integrity of our decision-making process as a Church. In particular we note that we discussed a resolution, A162 , on Tuesday, but were never given an opportunity to act upon it. Instead, we were presented with a different resolution this morning, and were given only 30 minutes for debate and discussion. This resolution bears great consequences both for the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church and unfortunately was not adequately discussed.

  • Our conversation has been framed in a flawed paradigm, forcing us to choose between two goods—the full inclusion in the life of the Church of our brother and sister Christians who happen to be gay or lesbian and our full inclusion in the life of our beloved Communion.

  • The process that brought about the reconsideration of this matter failed to honor the integrity of the House of Deputies by bringing undue pressure to bear on that body.

  • Our witness to justice has been prophetic in this nation and in the wider Anglican Communion on the issues of the full inclusion of people of color and persons who are differently-abled. For more than 30 years women been permitted to be included in the councils of this Church as lay deputies to this Convention and as deacons, priests and bishops. This witness to full inclusion has borne the fruits of the Spirit and is incarnate in the faces and lives around these tables and throughout the Church. The language of this resolution too much echoes past attempts by the Church to limit participation of those perceived to be inadequate for full inclusion in the ordained ministry.

  • Any language that could be perceived as effecting a moratorium that singles out one part of the Body by category is discriminatory. We are absolutely committed to the future of this Communion and the process of healing the strain that we readily admit and regret exists, and has been exacerbated in our own house by events today. We must participate in this process with our own integrity intact and thus we are obliged to make this dissent. We intend to challenge the rest of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion to honor the promise to include the voices of gay and lesbian in the conversations about the future of the Communion. We pray for the Church, for our Communion, and for our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters.
  • The list of bishops who have signed this statement is not yet available. I'll add an UPDATE when it is.


    UPDATE: Jim Naughton, who helped draft this document, gives us a little more information. The Statement was read by Bishop Chane of Washington in a closed session of the House of Bishops. The Bishops who support this Statement demonstrated their affirmation by standing after it was read. The drafting group included the Bishops of Chicago, Newark, Northern Michigan, Rochester, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.

    The Cover Up

    cartoon from

    Cartoon by Dave Walker.

    The Network Bishops' statement:

    ...It is our intention not only to point to the inadequacies of the General Convention’s responses, but to declare to our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the Communion that we continue as The Episcopal Church in this country...who desire to be fully a constituent member of the Anglican Communion...

    ...We will take counsel together to fulfill our service on behalf of faithful Anglicans...we seek the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates and Bishops of the Anglican Communion...
    Translation: "See, we told you we were the real Anglicans. Now give them the boot so we can take over." As I said, this was the game plan all along.

    I wonder how many months ago this statement was written?


    Episcopal Church Bows to the Idol of Communion: Embraces Bigotry

    The House of Deputies just concurred with the House of Bishops on B033:

    Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, that the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report's invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconcilation; and be it further

    Resolved, that this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.
    "..exercise restraint by not consenting..." How else can this possibly be heard except as a slap in the face to Bishop Robinson and all of our faithful glbt brothers and sisters?

    The world was watching to see if at least one segment of the Body of Christ would reject the self-righteous bigotry that they have come to expect from those who call themselves Christians. And we have shown them that we're not any different from the Falwells and Robertsons that regularly make a mockery of our faith. Most likely many will shrug and say they were not surprised, and then turn to the next page of the Wall Street Journal. We have crawled back into that box the secular world has built for us; a box that is quickly becoming irrelevant in many people's lives anyway.

    I'll tell you one thing: I will never refer to myself as an Anglican again. We have created a golden calf that is not worthy of our worship, let alone our respect.

    Keep in mind that this will not be enough for Anglican bigots like Peter Akinola. TEC is going to continue to be treated like a naughty child who must be disciplined. We have managed to not only compromise our integrity, but have also produced nothing that will be considered acceptable to the Communion. We blinked.

    My heart is broken. Beyond that, I am outraged. There must be consequences created for this act of cowardice.


    Joint Session

    As I'm stuck in a motel somewhere in Eastern Ohio, I am now dependent on the net for news about what is going on in Columbus. Regarding what might be discussed at the Joint Session being held right now, we do have this report to give us some insight. Here's what apparently transpired in the House of Bishops yesterday, which led to the call for this Joint Session:

    ...Bishop Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina, co-chair of the Special Committee, subsequently told the bishops that A161 had failed in the House of Deputies.

    "In the last few minutes I have taken A162 on which we were prepared to recommend dismissal and have substituted language dealing with the substance of A161."

    Immediately Bishop John Howe of Central Florida called a point of order that the new language of A162 was "word for word" the same language as A161 and that, under rules of the House of Deputies, could not be presented for consideration again...

    ...Several bishops suggested the possibility of drafting a mind-of-the-house resolution, which expresses the views of the house but is not binding and carries no legislative weight. Such a resolution would need to express that the Episcopal Church is taking the Windsor process seriously, according to Bishop John Croneberger of Newark...

    ...Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh disagreed with proposals for a mind-of-the-house resolution and asked for honesty...

    ...After an hour's discussion, Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold asked for the bishops and deputies on the Special Committee to meet to prepare a resolution for the joint session.
    So, we can assume that the Special Legislative Committee, which was asked to reconvene last night, will have some kind of resolution to present that will incorporate some "Windsor compliant" language.

    This may be A162 (blessings), which the Committee had incorporated into A161. But since A161 was defeated, A162 now becomes the most obvious one for some of the content of of A161 to be tacked on to and pushed through. I don't think the Deputies will go for it.

    Consequently, maybe there will be some joint statement issued. Beyond that, the Bishops will have to issue their own statement, which is going to be problematic. If you recall, when the Bishops met shortly after the release of Windsor, one of their arguments for pleaing for more time was that they did not have the authority to make such decisions alone. They insisted the Communion wait until General Convention. Well, GC is here, and it look like we still don't have much to say to the Communion.

    Which is not necessarily a bad thing. We considered the recommendations, and have said "No, but thanks for sharing." That certainly seems to me to be an honorable response.

    It is interesting to note that it was Bp. Howe (Network) who shot down presenting an amended A162. And it was Bp. Duncan (Network) who disapproved of issuing a "Mind of the House" statement. Combined with the comment from Bp. Wimberly suggesting that there was a push from the extremist bishops to elect Bp. Jefferts Schori, and considering Deputy Cantrell of Fort Worth submitting a resolution including the "moratorium language that he knew would never pass, it sure is beginning to look like there is a concerted effort on the part of the extremists to orchestrate matters so the Episcopal Church will look as "non-compliant" of Windsor as possible.

    As I've said before, the game has not changed.

    Keep General Convention in your prayers. The next few hours will tell the story.


    UPDATE: Here's the resolution that just passed the House of Bishops and is headed for the Deputies:

    Resolution B-033

    Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, that the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report's invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconcilation; and be it further

    Resolved, that this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.

    The Rev'd Dorsey F. Henderson (Upper South Carolina)

    The Rt. Rev'd Peter James Lee (Virginia)
    The Rt. Rev'd Edward S. Little II (Northern Indiana)
    The Rt. Rv. Robert J. O'Neill (Colorado)
    The Rt. Rev'd Geralyn Wolfe (Rhode Island)

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    A161 Fails

    The substitute resolution proposed by Fort Worth, which included all the Windsor language; moratorium, etc., was ruled by the Chairs Of Constitution and Canons and the President of the House of Deputies to be out of order.

    We need to get the history of this clear, as you will hear it spun other ways in different places.

    The moratorium on the elction of bishops was ruled out of order because it mandated critieria for nominees that went beyond the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

    The moratorium on same sex blessings was ruled out of order because it was contrary to the Constitution and Canons regarding bishops authorizing special services and the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer; neither of which address this specific situation. Such a resolution would have to be worded in such a way as to amend the Constitution and Canons and the Book of Common Prayer. Such amendments would take two General Conventions before becoming effective.

    So, when you talk with others, be clear; we did not initiate moratoriums because the motion was ruled out of order by the President of the House of Deputies in consultation with the Chairs of Constitution and Canons and the Parliamentarian.

    This returned us to original resolution presented to us by the legislative committee, which I posted last night. A Deputy rose to ask if this resolution would also be out of order, as it also mandates just about the same thing regarding the election of bishops. The Chair of the legislative committee addressed this by pointing out that the wording had been carefully chosen so that it did not mandate anything; it simply strongly recommended (actually, "urged"), leaving dioceses the freedom to do as they felt was best.

    Then a curious thing happened. The President stated that if this resolution failed, we would return to consideration of it in its original form as published in the blue book. That would be the draft prepared by the Special Commission including the language of "caution" rather than "refrain." The dissent on the floor from among the Deputies was quite evident. After one Deputy rose to state that in her five Conventions, she had never heard of a resolution voted down in its "perfected" form ever being automatically revisted in it's pre-amended form. The Chair reversed the decision. This would be the only vote on A161.

    The vote was cast by orders, by diocese, meaning that a split lay or clercal vote within a diocese would be counted as a no. The resolution was defeated. As it was less than two-thirds, the tally for all no votes was read aloud. Interestingly, both poles voted against it. California and Fort Worth both voted no, for instance. Obviously for different reasons. Fort Worth felt the language was not "Windsor compliant." California felt the resolution continued the victimization of our glbt brothers and sisters.

    So, the bottom line is that regarding the election of bishops and same sex blessings, the Episcopal Church stood firm and did not back down from our earlier decisions. The Communion will not be pleased. So it goes. We have expressed our desire to continue the relationship, but have also clearly said that we will not do so at the expense of some of our members. Now the Communion will do whatever it feels it must do.

    We have kept our integrity intact, and have not denied the movement of God's Spirit. And, beyond that, we have elected a new Presiding Bishop who is poised to move us beyond this stagnant debate and lead us forward on paths that will refresh our souls and renew our spirits.

    Thanks be to God!


    Tuesday Morning

    To try to get through the legislative calendar, all special presntations have been suspended. President Werner asked that we consider the consent of Canon Beisner as bishop coadjuter of Northern California, as he has been in limbo for some days now, before returning to debate on A161. Deputy Rushing rose to suggest that we postpone the consent discussion until after the vote on A161, as that resolution may impact the decision of consents for Canon Beisner.

    The issue is that Canon Beisner has been divorced twice and is now married for the third time. A161, as proposed, clearly asks us to "refrain" from the election of bishops who might add to the strains on the bonds of affection within the Anglican Communion. Due to the various stances of the Provinces on divorce and especially multiple divorces, giving consent to Canon Beisner would indeed be a problem for some Provinces. Deputy Rushing's amendment was adopted by the Deputies.

    The significance of this is that if some form of A161 is passed, the first situation it will impact will have nothing to do with glbt persons. The precedent will be set to understand it to refer to all manners which will strain the Communion, which one would assume would include a nominee to the episcopate who did not recognize the ordination of women.

    Shortly after continuing debate on A161, Deputy Cantrell moved a substitute resolution, which was passed out on the floor. It included all the language of Windsor; calling for a moratorium on glbt bishops and same sex blessings. The amendment was immediately challenged, but the Chair ruled that the amendment was within the Canons. Another Deputy rose to challenge the decision of the Chair, which required a vote. The decision of the Chair was upheld. Then another Deputy challenged if the proposed amendment was in order, as it calls for a moratorium, which our Canons do not give Convention the authority to impose. This required the Chairs of Constitution and Canons and the Parliamentarian to hold a discussion, after which it was announced that one of the resolves of the Cantrell resolution was not in order, but the other two were. Then another deputy arose to challenge that decision. At that point, since no one seemed too clear what was going on, the House adjournned for lunch so that Constitution and Canons could figure things out.

    My impression is that the substitute amendment, with the "moratorium" language, will never pass. I think the extremists know this. They simply want the record to show that they presented it and it was rejected, so that they can say "See? They rejected Windsor!"

    I predict the ploy is going to backfire. The words of this substitute sound harsh. I think the Deputies have had just about enough of gay bashing. By presenting this substitute with it's grating Windsor language, they have succeeded in turning some of those who were unsure towards being more prepared to have nothing to do with these proposals in any form. I'm now predicting that A161 will fail. Thank you Fort Worth for allowing the Deputies to see what a poor witness to Christ such exclusive and punitive language within this resolution portrays.


    Monday, June 19, 2006

    Regret and Bishops

    This afternoon two Windsor resolutions were considered by the deputies; A160 (expression of regret) and A161 (election of bishops).

    A160 was amended and adopted. Here is its final form:

    Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, mindful of “the repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ” (Windsor Report, paragraph 134), express its regret for straining the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003 and the consequences which followed; offer its sincerest apology to those within our Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion; and ask forgiveness as we seek to live into deeper levels of communion one with another.
    The insertion of the term "straining" in place of the phrase "breaching the proper constraints" was the amendment.

    This may seem like a minor change, but the discussion that led up to it was quite revealing. The amendment was offered because it was argued that "breaching" was too severe of a term to use to describe our current situation. Some parts of the communion are angry with one another. We're having a family argument. What the deputies would not accept was the premise that there is a serious "breach" in the relationship. Some Deputies listed our many friends and supporters throughout the Communion. The amended resolution passed by roughly 500 to 200 votes. The significance in this is that a good majority of the Deputies seem to not be taking the prophets of gloom and doom seriously. Also note that among those who voted against this resolution were a mixture of those who wanted it in stronger terms (keeping in the "breaching" language) and those who felt that there was nothing to apologize for.

    Next was the discussion of A161. This is the biggie. Here it is in its current state:

    Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church regrets the extent to which we have, by action and inaction, contributed to strains on communion and caused deep offense to many faithful Anglican Christians as we consented to the consecration of a bishop living openly in a same-gender union. Accordingly, we are obliged to urge nominating committees, electing conventions, Standing Committees, and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise very considerable caution refrain from the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.; and be it further

    Resolved that this General Convention not proceed to develop or authorize Rites for the Blessing of same-sex unions at this time, thereby concurring with the Windsor Report in its exhortation to bishops of the Anglican Communion to honor the Primates’ Pastoral Letter of May 2003; and be it further

    Resolved that this General Convention affirm the need to maintain a breadth of responses to situations of pastoral care for gay and lesbian Christians in this Church.

    Resolved that this General Convention apologize to those gay and lesbian Episcopalians and their supporters hurt by these decisions.
    The bolded italicized words were the amendments made by the legislative committee. The strikeout is the language originally proposed by the Special Commission.

    There was no vote on this resolution today, although debate commenced, to be concluded tomorrow morning. I don't think this new language will be adopted. At least I certainly hope not. "Refrain from" is the very definition of the term "moratorium." This will place human limitations on the movement of the Holy Spirit. It will also go beyond what the canons of the Episcopal Church requires for one to be considered as a nominee to the episcopate.

    There seems to be some desire to pass something in response to the Windsor Report. I don't know if this resolution will be defeated. I think the best hope is to amend it; possibly returning it to the original language of "considerable caution."

    I heard that the House of Bishops may not accept the amendment to A160 (changing "breaching" to "straining"). This is curious, as A161 uses that kind of language to describe the situation ("...contributed to strains on communion").

    Since the response to the blessing of same sex unions was combined into A161 by the legislative committee, this resolution will be the critical one. My plan right now is to point my pony for home as soon as the Deputies deal with this one.

    To the right is a familiar face. Prior Aelred and I listened to the above proceeding together from the peanut gallery.