Comments: A Statement on Archbishop Beach’s Participation at Primates 2016

Paragraph 3 of this statement, like Mr Beach's earlier TV interview, directly contradicts the C of E statement posted here on 17th January. They cannot both be correct.

Posted by Iain mclean at Monday, 25 January 2016 at 11:35pm GMT

Paragraph 4, sentences 1 and 2 (i.e. the highlighting -- not in the original), are meant to imply that the leader of ACNA and a majority of Gafcon did not vote for the full communique. Welby and others have tried to make much about how the leaked portion was not the full communique. The leaked portion, which says nothing about apologies to LGBTs and nothing about decriminalization, is what ACNA and Gafcon support. By exiting early they have their cake and eat it too -- they're not on record in favor of criminalization.

Posted by John B. Chilton at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 2:00am GMT


What does this bit mean?

"Neither he nor a majority of the GAFCON Primates were​ present for these discussions on Friday."

Does that mean that other Primates (besides Uganda) walked out before the final communique was approved? Did any such others withdraw on Thursday evening?

I thought the Archbishop of Canterbury said that the Primates had unanimously decided to walk together. Did he misspeak? Or am I missing something? (Perhaps about when the meeting ended?)

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 3:02am GMT

Lambeth appears to have panicked, being highly sensitive to criticism. It is easy to check with another Primate what part Foley Beach played. And so what? What's done is done.

Posted by James at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 6:10am GMT

Archbishop Foley seems to have been accorded the privilege of an Anglican Primate at the Primate's Meeting, but without the ability to vote on any matter arising. However, his voice seems to have been heard on matters relating to the conditions to be laid down for discussion of the Primates' treatment of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada - from which Churches he has schismatically drawn most of his constituency. This seems both unusual and unduly accommodating for a schismatic church leader.

The outcome from this was that he was allowed to just leave the Meeting at a time of his own choosing - akin to the action of ++Uganda, who left because his desire to expel TEC and the A.C.of Canada from the Communion was voted down.

As someone else has mentioned; maybe not all of the remaining GAFCON Primates were present to experience the Foot-Washing at the end of the arrangements (a sacramental opportunity to accept individual responsibility for the present impasse in the Communion); nor to append their names to the list of those approving the final communique.

My question is: Where does this leave the extent of collegiality of the Communion's Primates, and what will Uganda's place be in the future of the Communion led by canterbury?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 9:03am GMT

So the unanimous agreement was only achieved with some people thinking it depended on things that everyone else thought would never happen, the balanced stuff in the final communique wasn't agreed by GAFCON and we only had a semblance of any sort of agreement due to very clever timetabling.

I also note that Beach claims that the primates didn't consider any part of this meeting to formally be a primate's meeting. One could argue from this that any discussion about whether a primates meeting has the power to censure TEC is now moot; this was an informal chat, not a primates meeting.

Posted by Leon Clarke at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 9:57am GMT

"Although early in the week he joined the other Primates in affirming his desire to walk together, this desire was necessarily contingent upon The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada giving evidence of returning to Biblical and historical Anglican theology and morality (Amos 3:3). On Thursday ​evening, ​with the absence of repentance, restored order, and true unity, Archbishop Beach felt it necessary to withdraw from the meeting."

So actually he is contradicting what the Archbishop of Canterbury said? He is saying that there is no real agreement to walk together? This is extremely sad and surely this is a significant statement and casts considerable doubt around the final communique?

Posted by Andrew Godsall at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 10:10am GMT

It's prooftext poker!

I see your Amos 3:3 and raise you... Luke 18:11

Posted by ExRevd at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 11:55am GMT

Can we conclude that the actual formal "primates' meeting" -- legitimately noticed or not -- took place only on Friday?

And that Ntagali, Beach, and at least three as-yet-unnamed GAFCON primates did not attend it?

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 12:10pm GMT

I share Jeremy's questions. Did the GAFCON bishops sign on to the communique that was in support of LGBTQ people and against criminalization? If not, wow.

Beach certainly had a bigger role than was advertised. That's disappointing. To me the ABC has blown any credibility he might have had.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 2:18pm GMT

What a wretched statement. I wonder which parts of the communiqué he is so anxious to disassociate himself from? Is it the condemnation of homophobic prejudice and violence? The rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people? He needs to make himself clear or a lot of people will make assumptions. I wonder how well ordinary ACNA clergy and laity feel ++Beech is representing them? Is this what they thought they'd signed up for? And don't even get me started on the crass scripture reference, Amos 3.3 indeed!

Posted by Rev Drew Tweedy at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 2:49pm GMT

So the "unity" that "is also joyful and astonishing, renewing and nourishing" that Archbishop Welby spoke of in his reflection after the gathering may not express what actually happened. I expect various versions of what went on will leak out drip, drip, drip, some surely spun to reflect well on one group or another. If the meetings were not secret, Anglicans around the world would know what really happened.

Posted by June Butler at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 4:38pm GMT

I asked Archbishop Welby at the final press conference on Friday afternoon why no GAFCON archbishops were present if they were all happily united and in agreement with the communique and he said that those he had asked all said they had planes to catch. It is only 100 miles to Heathrow from Canterbury and the M25 does get busy in the rush hour. He gave the impression he had asked them on Friday but maybe that was a mistaken impression, deliberate or not.
If they left early they probably missed Jean Vanier talking about the power of love and sticking together in relationships under strain, but then they probably would not have minded that.
In any event Abp Welby will have been left in no doubt about the venality of some of his fellow primates - but then he probably knew that already.

Posted by Stephen Bates at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 4:41pm GMT

Foley Beach should never have been at the primates meeting. Although the ACNA is 'recognised' by some provinces it is not part of the Anglican Communion. Beach heads up what is a schismatic and highly divisive breakaway group whose purpose is to discomfort and replace the Episcopal Church, to foment division in the Anglican Communion and long term to re-centre the Communion away from Canterbury.

It was probably a well-intentioned invitation as to some kind of reconciliation process but ultimately it was naive even to have hoped that there can be any other agenda for the ACNA than that I have described above. Unfortunately, now that the genie is out of the bottle as it were, it will prove very difficult to stop Beach from insisting on privileges regarding participation in future.

However, it needs finally to be said that ACNA and GAFCON do make preposterous claims regarding so-called majority membership of the Anglican Communion. Getting a few conservative Archbishops to 'sign up' to your package doesn't make for the uncritical and unequivocal allegiance of the multitudes to anyone other than the Archbishop of Canterbury as the focus of unity in our Church.

Posted by Nicholas Henderson at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 4:53pm GMT

James @ 0610.

You seem to be under the impression that the press release was from Lambeth Palace. It was from the schismatic sect known by the acronym ACNA and not from any province in the Anglican Communion.

Posted by RPNewark at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 5:08pm GMT

Father Ron asks the right question.

One wonders whether this clarification by ACNA--which goes so far as to clarify the status of other GAFCON participants--may be a signal by the GAFCON majority that they are not particularly worried anymore about playing nice with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

If a majority of GAFCON primates, plus ACNA, were gone as of Thursday evening, then I'd say the story of the week was schism, not unity.

Indeed, this was the very walkout that the GAFCON primates were threatening, the week before the Canterbury confab started.

Of course Lambeth tried very hard to spin a story of "GAFCON walkout averted." But it is now very hard to understand some of the immediate press coverage (and approval of Archbishop Justin Welby's role) without thinking that the press may have been misled into thinking that the walkout did not occur.

In point of fact, according to ACNA, the GAFCON walkout did occur.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 5:51pm GMT

Are there any spin doctors that we have not heard from yet?

Posted by Rod Gillis at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 6:11pm GMT

This is all so very sad. On the one hand the various statements leave a cloud of confusion as to who said or did what when; and on the other ++Welby starts to sound more and more like Sir Humphry: spin, cover-up, smiles...

If only the Anglican "community" had a leader with the clear sight of the ECUSA leadership. I believe people would rally if ++Welby had said something like, "We failed, but the C of E remains firm in its support of the dignity of LGBT people wherever they are." But of course, that's not even what he means.

Oh, for leadership that would put justice before mirages of "unity," that would put the C of E before delusions of an international curia, that would recognize that each national church grows best in its own unique soil. And above all, leadership that would shoulder the burden we have been given to love each other.

Posted by Nathaniel Brown at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 6:25pm GMT

The cruel irony of that week is becoming more and more clear.

To get the GAFCON provinces to attend, Abp Welby invited Beach.

Yet when it came time for those assembled to actually show some unity, it seems that neither Beach nor a "majority of the GAFCON Primates" were anywhere to be found!

Even so, there the Archbishop of Canterbury was at the press conference--spinning like a hurricane.

I hope the press does some correction/revising of the historical record. The truth seems to be that the Primates were much less unified than Abp Welby joyfully suggested.

It's easy to be "unanimous" if everyone who disagrees has left the meeting.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 6:26pm GMT

If what Foley Beach says is correct, then some of the (other) Primates, and one in particular, should be considering their position, for we have been grossly and shamefully misled. The 'walking together' and semblance of unity achieved by the 'consequencing' of TEC was nothing of the sort. The GAFCON Primates got some of what they wanted in the leaked communique on Thursday, and then most of them walked out, so that they would not be seen as affirming the (slightly) more balanced communique issued on Friday. What a disgrace!

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 8:37pm GMT

Beach is the leader of a rogue church led by thieves who attempted to steal the property of the Episcopal Church on their way out the door. He has no business being at any gathering of leaders of the Anglican Communion. These homophobic GAFCON bishops and their American co-conspirators deserve each other.

Posted by Rob at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 8:56pm GMT

So the GAFCONners did not "sign on" to the communique in any way.... just the part about excluding TEC.

You know, it is quite humorous that Welby apparently thought he could keep the illusion up that everyone is on board. He must get awfully dizzy.

Posted by I_T at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 8:56pm GMT

Nathaniel - Welby knows htb well - it's huge and full of young people; It's important to understand why the man thinks as he does (theologically and practically). If he wants to reach English young people, he knows who is doing it most successfully in England. And he knows the numbers in Africa. That's why it's a waste of time for tec and English liberals to waste more years trying to be in the club as it will always be on the terms set by the biggest numbers

Posted by S Cooper at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 9:49pm GMT

S. Cooper - I'm afraid I don't know what htb is,, and wonder if not capitalizing TEC is intended?

At any rate English young people, indeed young people all over, are staying away from religion in general. It is seen - usually rightly - as exclusive, sex-obsessed, and reactionary. My ECUSA church is growing steadily among 30-somethings and people starting families who want their children to be part of an open and accepting community.

Posted by Nathaniel Brown at Tuesday, 26 January 2016 at 11:33pm GMT

The only problem with S Cooper's analysis is that the Holy Trinity-alpha grouping has a very large drop out rate.Note how many evangelicals descend into liberalism and even drift away.

As for African figures, their "soundness" on homosexuality is largely based on cultural prejudice , and behind the facade of numbers there is widespread immorality. What about Lambeth 125, 1988...a blind eye to polygamy.

As I have pointed out before the time bomb in GAFCON is women bishops..with some African provinces wanting to move ahead.

Also ACNA is a loose federation and is constantly on the verge of falling apart as regards women's ordination. Equally liberal as TEC on divorce.Its inflated numbers are highly questionable.

By the way as a Roman Catholic I concede that Catholicism in Africa is growing, but is full of huge problems too.

Posted by robert ian williams at Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 7:15am GMT

Speaking of unity around diversity. How wonderfully different it was for the Pope to invite our own N.Z. Archbishop David Moxon (Anglican Representative to the Holy See) - together with an Eastern Orthodox prelate - to share in imparting the final Blessing to those gathered at the end of the week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Rome!

This desire for unity with those whose theology and praxis is 'different' from that of his own ecclesial community, puts Pope Francis above those GAFCON prelates gathered at Canterbury recently who wanted to exclude TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada from the Anglican Communion.

Who would have thought that some of us in the Communion have more in common with Pope Francis than we doo with prelates of our own Communion?
I gues that's where the rubber hits the road. How humble and intentional is our unity as Anglicans?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 9:25am GMT

A couple more thoughts:

On carefully re-reading the communique, I noticed that the weasel words about not criminalizing same-sex attraction were 're-affirming'. Is it the case that this is the exact words used in a previous communique. Does anyone know when these words were first affirmed?

Also, I see absolutely no evidence that Welby's idea of a looser communion was discussed. This may be a consequence of the democratic process for setting the agenda. When we thought that the unanimous desire to walk together meant something, we might have guessed that this would obviously inevitably lead to a looser communion.

It seems to me that what happened with this unanimous decision was this: On Monday, a form of words was found that all could say yes to. However, it now transpires that GAFCON thought they were agreeing that they thought TEC should walk down GAFCON's path. In my experience, when a group of people manage to agree on a form of words when there's a major disagreement about what they mean, it's so obvious that this is happening that only a politician or a diplomat could fail to see it.

Posted by Leon Clarke at Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 10:16am GMT

Father Ron
Although the Pope has not reversed Catholic teaching on homosexual relationships, he has demonstrated a clear personal interest and compassion. As you say, it is quite a contrast to GAFCON.

Posted by Kate at Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 10:42am GMT

Nathaniel, HTB is Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, an Anglican church in London, England. They're charismatic evangelical, and a runaway success (think a smaller, denominational Willow Creek).

Once again, I think S Cooper's analysis nails it. Regardless of turnover, Welby sees HTB (his old stamping ground) get the numbers, plant churches, and generally succeed. What does he see liberal churches do? Shrink and die, often literally: he sees aging congregations attend antiquated services, everything a corporate evangelical go-getter like Welby loathes. Yes, there's the cathedrals, but he understands they're about theater, not theology.

Unless liberalism can present him with tens of thousands of youth, booming churches fronted by dynamic pastors, leadership conferences, and all the other trappings of success, by him, it might as well not exist.

Posted by James Byron at Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 12:35pm GMT

"I see absolutely no evidence that Welby's idea of a looser communion was discussed."

This is not Welby's idea. This is the current reality.

The Anglican Communion is (and always was) a family of independent churches. Nothing more.

Now GAFCON want it to be something more. But GAFCON are also trying to confuse the issue by pretending that there is more central authority than there actually is.

Abp Welby's idea was to stop issuing directives as though there were central authority. Obviously on this point he was outvoted.

The Primates went ahead and purported to do something that they have absolutely no authority to do.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 1:38pm GMT

Does anyone have any figures on how many Anglican leaders in Africa have more than one wife?


Posted by cseitz at Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 1:57pm GMT

This has been an absolute circus. And Welby has demonstrated terrible leadership.

Posted by Ellen Campbell at Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 2:37pm GMT

Are we not allowed to rejoice in churches that are visibly thriving, making an impact and growing faith among the very generation the wider church is finding hardest to reach? I hope I celebrate that whatever tradition is achieving it. a. because we don't have the luxury of being that choosy and b. because we are always part of a bigger story than our own preferences will ever quite reveal.

Posted by David Runcorn at Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 2:40pm GMT

Beach had no more business at an Anglican primates' meeting than the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA or the Chief bishop of the Moravian Church - both of whose churches are in communion with TEC. Being in communion with member churches of the Anglican communion doesn't make you an Anglican or your leader an Anglican primate.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 3:39pm GMT

I realize that things may be different in England, James Byron. But here in America the Charismatic-Evangelical megachurches have a constant, churning turnover, with many members continuing only for a year, or two, or three. Sadly, these American Pentecostal denominations are filled with some of the most educationally challenged and least economically prosperous people in the country, many of whom continually vote against their own class interests (e.g., for Donald Trump). The heretical “Prosperity Gospel” is very popular among this social stratum, despite the fact that it doesn’t work for them.

I can assure you that liberal Episcopal Churches are far from dying. Some small, rural churches may be closing, but the great churches such as Trinity Wall Street, St. Thomas Fifth Avenue, St. Mary the Virgin, St. Luke-in-the-Fields, Grace Church, St. Bartholomew, etc. are holding their own. Many of their members have been associated with these churches for decades, rather than just a year or two.

My own little Anglo Catholic parish in Greenpoint, Brooklyn has grown modestly over the past 10 years. Over the past four or five years we have experienced a surge in Baptisms, with younger families moving into the neighborhood. Having talked with many of them, I can tell you that they have affiliated with an Episcopal parish because they want a denomination that has a forward looking, open and tolerant atmosphere in which to raise their children.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by Kurt Hill at Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 4:46pm GMT

Kurt, there are of course success stories in all traditions, and research on church growth has found theology to be largely irrelevant (at least compared to practical factors like outreach, social support, service quality etc). Affirming LGBT people, since it has such real-world effects, blurs the line between theology and outreach.

Much of this is about perception, and it's undoubtedly true that evangelical churches are expert at portraying success. Given that virtually all church networks are evangelical (can anyone here even name a liberal leadership conference?), I suspect there's at least some substance to this. Evangelicals are certainly successful at filling megachurches. The closest thing to a liberal megachurch is Mars Hill (no not that one!), and Rob Bell is himself rooted in evangelical tradition.

Blunt truth is, if liberals even want to get a hearing from CEOs like Welby, they've got to replicate outward signs of success. He wants results, and results for him is the bottom line: members and cash. Welby doesn't want petitions and pleas for justice; he wants an army of young prayer warriors.

Hard as it is for me to accept, without numbers and money, the dream of an affirming church is a castle in the sky.

Posted by James Byron at Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 6:23pm GMT

S. Cooper said, 'At any rate English young people, indeed young people all over, are staying away from religion in general. It is seen - usually rightly - as exclusive, sex-obsessed, and reactionary. My ECUSA church is growing steadily among 30-somethings and people starting families who want their children to be part of an open and accepting community.'

I think we should all resist the temptation to generalize. My brother is part of a New Frontiers church in northwest England; they meet in a school gym, and the vast majority of the congregation are under forty, with a lot of twenty-somethings, youth, and children. Their theology is very conservative and it hasn't hurt their growth one little bit.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 8:56pm GMT

@ Kurt Hill: I liked your posting directed at Mr Byron. I'm a member of St Luke's for nearly 30 years. I don't know enough about parishes in other parts of the country, but you give a good portrayal of Manhattan parishes' thriving. when I travel outside NYC, i'm pleased at how often an Episcopal parish in conservative regions is an outpost of something I like to think of as sanity. I've found this to be the case i churches I've visited in Iowa, Tennessee, North South Carolina, Georgia and Arizona. And I've visited the websites of many more, which seem to tell the same story. To me this is illustrative of the mission that TEC has in the US - and certainly among the many and varied churches in the US. I don't know enough about the Church in England to know how this compares to the experience there.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 10:39pm GMT

I don't think it's clear yet that Beach is speaking for Gafcon as a whole. We still have five Gafcon Primates who have not publically repudiated the communique, and at least some may well have had to leave for flights. Beach's explanation for staying for the agreement on the communique, and then leaving later (because something that no one expected to happen didn't happen) is tortured.

Posted by David Beadle at Thursday, 28 January 2016 at 2:45am GMT

"have had to leave for flights"

Who'd have thought there'd be decisions made on the final day and/or there'd be a press conference at the end? Surely the flight arrangements could have been made such that everyone was there until it was all over?

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Thursday, 28 January 2016 at 3:29pm GMT

Tim--One might also cite--in TEC circles--Incarnation in Dallas. Growing solidly. Traditional theology and practice. 800-1000 ASA.

Posted by cseitz at Thursday, 28 January 2016 at 4:39pm GMT

'Their theology is very conservative and it hasn't hurt their growth one little bit.' (Time on Wednesday)

It will though. This kind of theology is unsupportable and for the majority of people, it is left behind , as part of growing-up.

Also, one has to question the ethics of inculcating ideas which are without foundation -untrue - in children and young people. It is bad for them in the long run, and for the truth.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 28 January 2016 at 4:53pm GMT

Leave for flights. Just goes to show you that, to be Archbishop of Canterbury, you have to be able to convince yourself that you can spout whatever balderdash you need to in the moment and expect to be believed.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Thursday, 28 January 2016 at 5:41pm GMT


If a bishop wanted to be back in New Zealand for Sunday services, they would have to leave on Friday. Those with shorter journeys have less of an excuse.

Posted by Kate at Thursday, 28 January 2016 at 6:47pm GMT

Even the leader of the schismatic ACNA said that the Primates' Meeting was informal, and that his participation was actively wlecomed - which could not have been if this were a closed meeting of Anglican Primates - to which he was not a party.

So those who think that this 'Primates' Meeting' had any legal authority to discipline TEC or the Anglican Church of Canada need to think again.

The fact that some of the Primates had already left before the Meeting officially ended, and the communique formulated, would lead one to suspect that the communique was not binding nor its decisions enforeceable. The fact is, that ACNA was there as a sop to the GAFCONites, and when they didn't get their way, they left.

Perhaps the Anglican Communion could well confine its constitutive membership to those prelates who stayed to support one another at the Foot-Washing.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 28 January 2016 at 11:35pm GMT

Re Holy Trinity Brompton and similar.

There are pluses and minuses.

It is great that so many young people are inspired by their services.

The vast majority of its members are non-parishioners. Many Christian young people, especially students in London, who would otherwise attend local churches (CofE, Methodist and Baptist), attend instead HTB. So the local churches lose their input. The students themselves gain a strong and particular concept of Christianity, but it is one which once rejected leads to rejection of all Chrstianity. This is as decribed by Peter Woods (article on Saturday).

If HTB draws to itself Christian youngsters and then presents such a narrow view they reject it, it is bad. Yet it can also draw non-Christians.

It is far from straightforward to say anything is wholly good ort bad.

Posted by Mr David at Friday, 29 January 2016 at 12:37am GMT

A Gafcon perspective that might help readers here see how others view this meeting.

"Was it a success? Yes! Because God is faithful.

'People ask me, bottom line, was it a success or not? Does the fact that Canada was not mentioned in the one action of discipline mean it was a failure for us in Canada?

"I don't think anyone knew what to expect going in, but it is clear that what happened and how it unfolded was completely different from what anyone would have predicted.

"It was the GAFCON Primates’ goal and prayer that this meeting would focus on restoring good order and reviving the Anglican Communion in line with the clear teaching of the Bible. Evidence that order was being restored would require suspension of the US Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) at least until there was repentance and evidence of a change. "


What did happen was that the gathering addressed the very narrow issue of TEC and its change of liturgies and the marriage Canon at its most recent General Convention last summer. The decision to discipline TEC finally came to a vote on Thursday. Archbishop Foley has made it clear that, while he chose not to participate in that vote, it was passed by a very large majority. After that, with TEC and the ACoC Primates still fully participating, he and some of the GAFCON Primates absented themselves from the remaining day of the meeting. They felt they could only continue if there was evidence that the Communion was being brought back into Biblical order. The fact that the ACoC was undisciplined and TEC was disciplined in a minor way but was still at the table made it necessary for the GAFCON Primates to leave.

Posted by John sandeman at Friday, 29 January 2016 at 6:06am GMT

I should have made it clear in my earlier post that all the text after the first line comes from Bishop Charlie Masters of ACNA, and the purpose of my posting it is simply to provide information.

Posted by John sandeman at Friday, 29 January 2016 at 10:00am GMT

Thank you John Sandeman for posting the link to Anglican Network, Canada.
I have a great deal of time for ++Justin Welby and fully support is desire for getting people together to talk. But like many other people I have been very saddened by the reported outcomes of the Primates meeting. In our congregation, in a small village, one key person has already resigned saying she is no longer able to be part of a discriminatory church. Others are also thinking about their position. I am trying to hang on in there, but don't know how much longer I will be able to. What really bothers me is which account is right? ++Justin says some primates were not present on Friday because they had flights to catch. This report from Canada says something very different. It also talks about 'disciplining' TEC. There is something seriously wrong here. For ++Justin and the CofE to have continued credibility we need to know what actually happened. I am also really saddened that some people have highjacked the meeting to make it only about sexual orientation and behaviour whereas issues of much greater importance were discussed including climate change, religiously motivated violence and child protection. Do I now understand that the paragraph which says "The Primates recognise that the Christian church and within it the Anglican Communion have often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation that has caused deep hurt. Where this has happened they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that God's love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression." was only agreed by the nonGAFCON primates? My faith in my Lord Jesus Christ remains, but my faith in the church has been seriously dented by the conflicting claims being put out about who agreed to what and when. ++Justin's apology to LGBT people sounded sincere, but we need to see actions which speak louder than words. The comments coming from Canada which John Sandeman has pointed us to further my resolve to have nothing to do with institutional discrimination. Jesus died for us ALL, we were ALL created in the image of God. We are ALL sinners. How dare we point the finger at some people without taking note that 4 of our fingers are pointing back at ourselves. Lord, have mercy on us all and heal the wounds we have inflicted on others.

Posted by Anne at Friday, 29 January 2016 at 11:15am GMT

Thank you to Mr David for the balanced comment about HTB. While I am no apologist for some of the theology that has been asserted there over the years (including the condemnation of gay and lesbian sexual relationships), nevertheless I have had previous involvement with HTB Christians, been on house parties with them in the summer, and worshipped at the church.

We are talking about sincere fellow Christians, and I celebrate the call to faith that has actively occurred there over the years.

We are one in Christ. Whatever diversity of theology there may be, I am gladdened when people make choices to try to follow God.

Of course it is school nature in human beings to try to dominate the playground, to 'other' those who don't fit in with our clique or gang... and that's one of my main critique's of Gafcon and also the Bishops' Pastoral Letter in this country.

But equally, I would want to avoid 'othering' those with different theologies to my own (and yes, if you trawl these pages, I have probably done that myself). I believe the big lesson we should learn from the huge division of opinion in our Church, is that a single and uniform theology is less urgent and important than opening up to grace... and love. Seeking the grace to love and acknowledge one another's sincerely and tenderly held faith, and to celebrate and recognise that in all our diversity we still fine our only unity and communion in our union in Jesus Christ.

This does not rule out strong debate and critique, but if we can't co-exist, and respect one another's consciences, then I feel we start missing the point... the grace and the Spirit that Jesus calls us to, beyond the letter of the law.

There will never be theological uniformity (and there isn't) but instead of 'othering' and dominating other people's consciences, we should try to open up to that unity in diversity, that calls for grace to be diverse and yet to love one another.

I affirm the faith people have found at HTB, as fellow Christians, and the love of God, and the sincerity and sacrifice that involves. At the same time I would critique some of the underlying theology, but I should not trample on other people's consciences or try to dominate them. That is a principle and lesson of love and grace that I believe Justin and the Bishops urgently need to exercise. It is why the 'enforcing' nature of the Covenant project was rejected here in England, which is also why the Archbishop has little mandate here in England to try to re-introduce it by the back door.

We are only, ever, One in Christ. There should be room for people of various and diverse theological views, and that can be part of the richness and treasure of Anglicanism, not least because of the grace and forbearance that necessitates that we open up to.

It makes the Church of England more than a narrow sect, more than just 'puritan'. Christianity has a historical tendency to divide and divide over dogma and demand for uniformity. But at the point of division that often boils down to 'domination' and control, more than love and grace and valuing co-existence.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Friday, 29 January 2016 at 11:46am GMT

"Tim--One might also cite--in TEC circles--Incarnation in Dallas. Growing solidly. Traditional theology and practice. 800-1000 ASA."

In my neck of the woods, to get that kind of attendance, the average Episcopal parish (for that matter, the average church of any denomination except RC) would have to hold four or five services. Our buildings only seat about 200 or so.

Is Incarnation Dallas meeting in a gymnasium?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Friday, 29 January 2016 at 12:12pm GMT

So Charlie Masters of the Anglican Network in Canada was in Canterbury, as he tells us. How many other ACNA-Network people were sequestered in Canterbury or London directing the GAFCON primates? In 1998 the North American potential breakaways used text messaging into the Lambeth meeting to tell their allies what to do. Was this event any different?

Posted by Adam Armstrong at Friday, 29 January 2016 at 2:28pm GMT

Posted by cseitz at Friday, 29 January 2016 at 4:31pm GMT

Anne said, "In our congregation, in a small village, one key person has already resigned saying she is no longer able to be part of a discriminatory church."

I respect her sentiment and decision.

I hope someone is letting the appropriate Archbishop and Member of Parliament know about this resignation. What will truly make a difference is grass-roots pressure from the Church of England.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 29 January 2016 at 5:26pm GMT

Susannah, while I agree that we shouldn't prejudge other groups, not all "othering" is equal, nor unjustified: if a church condemns homosexuality, treats LGBT people as a problem to be solved, and campaigns against their civil rights, then it's "othered" them, along with their families, friends, and allies; and in the process, has othered itself.

We can maintain communication across the gap, but it exists, and will continue to exist until all people are welcomed regardless of how they were born. If a church is preaching against what the courts call a suspect or protected class, then frankly, regardless of whether it deserves to be boycotted, a boycott is justified to pressure it into changing its mind.

Conscience must be free, but when people are being harmed, it shouldn't get a free ride.

Posted by James Byron at Friday, 29 January 2016 at 5:51pm GMT

Incarnation Dallas has room for its ASA. And it raised 25 million to make its space more growth-worthy.

It doesn't have a gymnasium.

Posted by christopher seitz at Saturday, 30 January 2016 at 7:07am GMT

Thank you Anne for your post. You are absolutely right that we need to know the full story here. What ++Welby said at the Press Conference and what Foley Beach has subsequently said cannot both be right. If Beach has misspoken, then Welby needs to refute what he has said, preferably with some evidence. The longer that this goes on with only silence from Welby, the more I am inclined to believe that Beach cannot be refuted because he spoke the truth, and it is Welby who has misled us.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Saturday, 30 January 2016 at 10:53pm GMT

I don't think we'll hear anything further from Abp Welby. For him to clarify the situation would be to admit that his own spin was overly aggressive, and that the primates' gathering was a failure.

After all, the Communion's hypocrisy is bare for all to see. African provinces are free to impose their homophobia on other provinces--homophobia that they say is culturally necessary within their contexts, because they are competing with Islam. But TEC, Canada, Scotland, and others are somehow unfree to legislate culturally appropriate justice within their own churches? The double standard is mind-boggling.

Then we have the attendance issues. Uganda left early. Most of the rest of the GAFCON primates couldn't be bothered to stay around for the end of the meeting. Reading these tea leaves, the movement for an alternative Communion has not lost momentum, but has gained it.

And in England, the gathering was an own goal by the Church of England.

The Communion remains riven by hypocrisy, and the Church of England riddled with injustice.

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 31 January 2016 at 12:06pm GMT

"Incarnation Dallas has room for its ASA. And it raised 25 million to make its space more growth-worthy.

It doesn't have a gymnasium."

The gymnasium line was intended as light-hearted. My error in thinking Dr. Seitz would recognize humor.

If "growth-worthy" is meant to indicate erecting a larger building, then it is a proposition unlikely to be available to those parishes located in densely-populated areas like the Northeast US. In my own parish, we are hemmed in by residences on all sides...there's nowhere to expand to--without moving to another location in the "exurbs", which would separate the building from the community in which most of the parishioners live (and how would THAT serve to grow attendance?). Dallas, on the other hand, is a sprawling metropolis (one might almost say a megalopolis) with a great deal of open space and a culture built around driving great distances for almost everything.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Sunday, 31 January 2016 at 3:00pm GMT

Not that it matters much--I lived in NE 18 years--but the density of uptown Dallas mirrors NE in many ways. The Foundation had bought a parcel of land many years back and held onto it.

You don't strike me as a humor man...

Posted by cseitz at Monday, 1 February 2016 at 2:53pm GMT

"The Foundation had bought a parcel of land many years back and held onto it."

How many years back? To do the same thing in my neck of the woods, inner-ring suburban Philly, you would have to have bought said parcel of land at the turn of the last century, at the latest. That's a long time to hold on to a piece of land without building on it.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Monday, 1 February 2016 at 8:07pm GMT


Here. Anything so that you won't have to continue getting sniped at:

They seem to be strangely reticent to tell you specifics of what they believe or who they welcome.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 2 February 2016 at 9:25am GMT

Thanks, Mark.

As you say, not a whole lot there about where the parish sits on the conservative-liberal ladder...although the existence of "contemporary" services (replete with overhead screens) makes me think a substantial portion of their worship is in what has sometimes been called the "happy-clappy" mode.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 2 February 2016 at 1:39pm GMT

Also, the rector's involvement with a group coming out of St. John's, Savannah (I'm in the Diocese of Georgia). St. John's is one of those 1928 Prayer Book parishes, skating around former episcopal decisions about the official diocese-wide adoption of the '79 by having a sort of half-hearted '79 service which is presented as a sort of also-ran. They declare themselves a 1928 Prayer Book parish, and, in true gentlemanly fashion, the bishop and his two predecessors have been loath to play the heavy and tell them to cut it out or cut out.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 3 February 2016 at 7:56am GMT
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