Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Lambeth Roundup

There's a number of developments loosely related to the upcoming Lambeth Conference that are worth our attention.

The Daily Episcopalian offers us "a statement by Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church at Preparing for Lambeth: A Conference for Religion Writers held at Virginia Theological Seminary on May 30, 2008." Here's part of her comments regarding Lambeth:

...I think that the Archbishop has given up trying to get our bishops to take an independent stand on the future of the moratorium of same sex blessings for instance, and is now moving to “plan B” and turning his attention to encouraging our bishops to understand their “distinctive charism” as bishops, perhaps in a new way. I envision Archbishop Rowan pondering in, to use his word, “puzzlement” why these bishops of the Episcopal church don’t just stand up and exercise their authority as bishops like most of the rest of the bishops in the Communion do. Why would our bishops “bind themselves to future direction for the Convention?” Some of us in TEC in the past have thought that perhaps the Archbishop and others in the Anglican Communion do not understand the baptismal covenant that we hold foundational. Perhaps they just don’t “get” the way we choose to govern ourselves; the ministers of the church as the laity, clergy and the bishops, and that at the very core of our beliefs we believe in the God- given gifts of all God’s people, none more important than the other, just gifts differing. We believe that God speaks uniquely through laity, bishops, priests and deacons. This participatory structure in our church allows a fullness of revelation and insight that must not be lost in this important time of discernment. But I think our governance is clearly understood. I just don’t think the Archbishop has much use for it...
I would suspect that there is a good possibility that many, if not most, of the Bishops in the Anglican Communion are uncomfortable with the participatory structure of our church. They may not say so publicly, however. It makes things much more complex when the hoi poli are given voice and vote on matters that, apparently according to Dr. Williams, they are clearly insufficiently competent to hold an informed opinion.

In this regard, President Anderson's mentioning of the Baptismal Covenant (which I would suggest is the only "covenant" we need) is not accidental. Either we accept that, by the nature of their baptism, the members of all four orders of ministry have their place at the table, and their roles to play in the life of the Church, or we need to start only baptizing those who are called to Holy Orders. If you want to muzzle and shackle the lay order, then you had better stop baptizing them.

Regarding Lambeth invitations, Bishop Jerry Lamb of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has been invited to attend. That was to be expected, as Bp. Lamb is listed as the Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin in the Anglican Communion's Provincial Directory. What is curious, however, is that even though their former Bishop, John-David Schofield, has no jurisdiction in any listing in that same directory, we are told that he has also been invited to Lambeth. Possibly the former Bishop's recent attempt to run off with 4 million dollars belonging to his former Diocese might be cause for Dr. Williams to reconsider that particular invitation. If one of the criteria Canterbury is using in his decision to exclude certain Bishops from Lambeth is the potential scandal their presence might cause, I would suggest that John-David Schofield certainly qualifies as one of those that needs to be excluded, for much better reasons than others whom Canterbury has judged as unfit for Lambeth.

Speaking of those unjustly banned from Lambeth, Elizabeth Kaeton has launched the Christmas in July Fundraising Appeal. Here's more about it:

As many of you are painfully aware, the Rt. Rev’d Gene Robinson, duly elected and consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire, has not been invited to attend Lambeth Conference, the once a decade gathering of Bishops and Primates around the Anglican Communion which has, for over thirty years, pledged to be part of a ‘Listening Process’ of the stories of LGBT people.

Never mind. Bishop Gene will be there anyway.

The Incarnation has always been something of a scandal. For some, the Incarnation is a threat that must be silenced or destroyed.

Bishop Gene and his beloved Mark have received constant death threats. When Bishop Gene was in England just a few weeks ago, Mark received two death threats on the answering machine of their home – they were "angry and credible" and a serious concern since that number has been carefully guarded.

It goes without saying that Bishop Gene will need greater security and protection while at Lambeth. That actual expense will come to over 70,000 American dollars.

Thank God, quite a bit of it has already been raised, but there is a wee bit of a gap - about 20 thousand American dollars worth.

That's where you come in. I am counting on the readers of this Blog to be generous again. You were wonderful in responding with the Christmas Appeal for the kiddo’s in the City of God with over $10,000 in contributions. I’m hoping you will be just as generous with this Christmas in July Appeal.

Please make out your check to The Episcopal Church of St. Paul, marked “Bishop Gene” and mail it to:

Christmas in July
The Episcopal Church of St. Paul
200 Main Street
Chatham, NJ 07928
There is also a paypal button on Elizabeth's site at the top on the right for those wanting to make their contribution electronically.

Elizabeth also alerts us to a new way for all four orders of ministry to have input when the Bishops' gather in England this Summer; Letters to Lambeth:

From the Windsor Report forward we have heard calls for what is called “The Listening Process,“ meaning a deep, Communion-wide attentiveness to the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people.
We believe belief that forwarding the listening process is a work that needs to be engaged by all of us who think it would be valuable, rather than for us to wait for some entity to take up the work for us.

To this end, we invite you to participate in the Letter to Lambeth program sponsored by Oasis California. LGBT Anglicans and their allies from around the Communion can use this web site to speak to the Lambeth Listening Process...

So what will happen at Lambeth? There will be much talk about an Anglican Covenant. For those interested in learning more about this particular matter, The Episcopal Cafe is hosting "Covenant Week". They will be offering five essays this week on the St. Andrews Draft. The first essay, by Tobias Haller, can be found here. The second essay, by Marshall Scott, can be found here.

What else might happen at Lambeth? According to our Presiding Bishop, not much:

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said last Tuesday that she does not expect up-or-down votes on the role of gays and lesbians in the church at a meeting of global Anglican leaders in England this summer.

The Lambeth Conference, a once-a-decade gathering of bishops from the 38 provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion, will instead be an opportunity for bishops to work out differences in closed-door discussion groups, according to organizers.

"I don't expect legislation at Lambeth. That's not why we're going," Jefferts Schori told reporters. "It's a global conversation. ... It's not going to make a final decision about anything."
So, there you have the latest Lambeth-related news. Did I miss anything?


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