Saturday, 31 January 2004

columns from Britain

The Guardian has published an edited extract, Imitations of Christ from Rowan Williams’s introduction to the guidebook accompanying Presence: Images of Christ for the Third Millennium , a series of exhibitions organised by Biblelands to mark its 150th anniversary.

And David Haslam writes about the World Social Forum 2004 in Mumbai, Glimpsing the new world orders.

In the Telegraph, Christopher Howse writes about What is a soul without a body?.

The Times has We have to face the fact: we must remember our future by Stephen Plant in its Credo slot.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 31 January 2004 at 2:15 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Thursday, 29 January 2004

Canterbury under siege

Last week, The Tablet published an article by Stephen Bates under this title.
The full text of this has now been added to the Tablet website, and can be found here. This article includes many details of how English conservative evangelicals are involved in these plots. Some key extracts:

Many ironies resound around the debate about the future of the Communion. English conservative evangelicals, who could never stomach the idea of a pope and Curia - forms of authority which are indeed inimical to the whole Anglican tradition - are calling for the imposition of some form of centralised authority within a traditionally autonomous Church. This, they believe, would discipline provinces that step out of line doctrinally. By this, of course, they mean provinces that don’t toe their particular line, as on homosexuality - for this is a debate about authority and political power more than sexual practice.
This authority, as they perceive it, is far too precious to be entrusted to one man, particularly someone like Rowan Williams, so an executive body can decide what is right. As Maurice Sinclair, the evangelical former Archbishop of the Southern Cone, the archdiocese [should read province] which stretches from Peru to Tierra del Fuego but yet contains only 22,000 Anglicans, has argued: “Some light-handed but wise-headed supervision of a collegial nature would do us all good. Authority in the Anglican Communion would continue to be distributed authority but it would gain the necessary coherence we cannot afford to be merely a loose federation or a separating family.”

What the American traditionalists say they want is alternative - or adequate - episcopal oversight: the ability to call in like-minded bishops to supplant the authority of those diocesans with whom they have fallen out, probably because the bishop supported Robinson’s consecration. This has its precedent in the Church of England where a decade ago parishes which could not approve the decision to ordain women could opt for like-minded flying bishops.
Thus was the pass of episcopal authority sold as a short-term expedient. But why should such a precedent be limited to women’s ordination? If you don’t like this bishop, choose another. This is congregationalism that some militant conservatives in the pressure group Reform would endorse.

Money from Ahmanson’s foundation has been channelled to at least one English evangelical organisation, the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, whose leadership has been active in stirring dissent in the Anglican Communion during the current crisis.

In the US, the traditionalists believe they are a persecuted minority, prey to liberal bishops. In England, by contrast, the conservative evangelicals, with whom the Americans might otherwise have little in common in terms of forms of worship, believe that they are on a rising tide in a numerically declining Church and that their views should prevail.
Some are still not reconciled to Rowan Williams as their archbishop. When he was invited, after some agonising, last September to lead prayers at the evangelical national congress in Blackpool, the organisers set aside a separate room so that those who could not bear to be in the same room as the leader of their Church - even while he prayed - could maintain their pristine consciences. Even though he forced his old friend Jeffrey John, the gay but celibate canon theologian of Southwark, to resign from his appointment as suffragan Bishop of Reading last summer - an appointment Williams had earlier endorsed - he is still not entirely trusted by the militants.
They want to push him further, or tell him to get out of the way. At a conference held with the American conservatives in Charleston, South Carolina on 8-9 January, the traditionalist leaders were making clear the archbishop had to choose to back them or be cast into outer darkness. The Revd Chris Green, vice-principal of the highly evangelical Oak Hill Theological College in north London - and one of those who organised the Blackpool conference - told the Americans: “There are very senior figures among evangelical circles in Great Britain who would like to say to you: ‘Elect your own presiding bishop and force Rowan Williams to choose’.”
One of his colleagues, the Revd Peter Walker of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, spoke of a growing archway of interest between Anglicans of the global south and northern conservatives, becoming stronger every day regardless of any future involvement by the archbishop: “This is the picture I have in mind. The question is whether Canterbury will be the keystone of the arch or will be left out.”

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Wednesday, 28 January 2004

anglican news worldwide

Uganda installed a new archbishop, Henry Luke Orombi, last Sunday. Kampala newspapers had several reports, for example:
Archbishop Orombi Enthroned

Rev. Sandy Millar, the Vicar of Holy Trinity Church of Brompton, London, delivered the day’s sermon. Archbishops from Sudan, Kenya and representatives from Rwanda, Burundi, UK, US, Korea and Nigeria attended.

A lot of background detail on the history of the province is in Viewing Orombi in the Context of the Church.
Luwum Statue Erected in UK
Bishops Pledge to ‘Exorcise Gay Ghosts’
What the new archbishop said

Rowan Williams went to Jordan and preached at the Anglican Church of the Redeemer, Amman and then to Jerusalem, where he preached this sermon at an Ecumenical Service at St George’s Cathedral Jerusalem. Meanwhile this Joint Statement on Antisemitism by the Presidents of the Council of Christians and Jews was issued in London.
The Jerusalem Post reported the statement here.
The Guardian had Israel’s wall a symbol of fear - Archbishop
Aljazeera carried this editorial from the Jordan Times A Christian issue

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Monday, 26 January 2004

more on General Synod

I failed to note previously the official CofE press release concerning the forthcoming session. Here it is.

Today The Times has Bishops urged to make vows of priestly poverty. The motion to which this story relates is not necessarily going to be debated. It is listed as a contingency item on the agenda, i.e. it will only be taken at this session if a gap in the timetable opens up due to other business completing early. An extract from Ruth Gledhill’s account:

The General Synod is to debate a private members motion in which bishops will be asked to give up nearly half of their £33,000 stipends to earn the same as a parochial clergyman or woman.
The motion, if successful, will cut the stipends of all dignitaries in real terms over time to the £17,940 earned by the ordinary parish priest in the Church of England, a stipend still about six times the allowance of priests in the Roman Catholic Church.
The motion is thought to be unlikely to succeed but is certain to arouse fierce debate as bishops seek to defend their rewards in the face of an attempt by Church officials to force parishes instead of the Church Commissioners to fund them. The commissioners want to switch more than half of the burden of financing the Church’s 110 bishops on to the dioceses, which means that parishes will soon have to find an extra 5 million a year to pay for their ministry, on top of financing clergy stipends and pensions and repairs to church organs and roofs.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 26 January 2004 at 1:48 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Sunday, 25 January 2004

ECUSA disputes

Meetings planned to debate future of All Saints Church Sun News Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - relates to the parish that left ECUSA recently to join AMiA:

The future of All Saints Church, and whether it will remain part of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, will be the topic of meetings this week on the Waccamaw Neck.
A group of about 38 people who opposed the church’s vote to leave the diocese is scheduled to meet Tuesday with Bishop Edward Salmon.
“The meeting is meant to support members of All Saints who want to remain part of the diocese,” said Craige Borette, president of the standing committee of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
The 1,000-member church, which is the third-largest congregation in the Diocese of South Carolina, voted overwhelmingly Jan. 8 to leave the diocese.

Parsley opposes protest group Birmingham News Alabama (Bishop Parsley opposes the Network)

The formation of a national protest network last week in response to the denomination’s first openly gay bishop is “clearly divisive,” said Alabama Episcopal Bishop Henry N. Parsley.
While 12 bishops have signed on to the new Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, Alabama’s bishop won’t.
“This is unfortunate,” Parsley, head of the Diocese of Alabama, said about the formation of the network. “We do not need ‘a church within a church.’ As the New Testament bears witness, we are to be the church together, with inevitable differences of opinion at times.”

Central Florida Episcopals vote to join conservative group Lakeland Ledger Florida (Bishop Howe was previously worried about the network when he read the Chapman memo, but now seems happier, see next item)

The Diocese of Central Florida is the state’s first to align itself with the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, in existence only since Tuesday.
The diocese consists of 48,000 members in 87 parishes across 15 counties.

Bishop Seeks Calmer Tone In Episcopal Controversy

…he [Bishop Howe] urged the diocese to move beyond the rancor that has gripped the church since the consecration of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in November.

A response to a ‘Call to repudiate the American Anglican Council and Network’ appeared on Kendall Harmon’s blog but is written by Ephraim Radner.
He disagrees (at some length) with this Via Media Groups’ statement.

Kendall Harmon has written an even longer piece On the Matter of the Geoff Chapman Memo.
In this, among many many other things, he complains again about my choice of headline, based directly on the Washington Post’s own wording, which in turn reflects the content of their story.
He also comments that I attributed this and this to the American Anglican Council when I first listed them here. Both items were published on the AAC website at about the same time as their own press release with three URLs differing only in serial number (947, 948, 949). They also appeared in due course elsewhere here and here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 25 January 2004 at 5:28 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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British press on religion

The Sunday Times has a report that there are more Muslims than Anglicans attending weekly worship in Britain, Muslims outpace Anglicans in UK.

Figures compiled from government and academic sources show that 930,000 Muslims attend a place of worship at least once a week, compared with 916,000 Anglicans.
The Muslim community does not keep registers of attendance in mosques. However, the 2001 census included a question about religious adherence.
The census recorded 1.59m Muslims but academics believe the true figure is at least 1.8m. Ceri Peach, professor of social geography at Oxford University, said the census failed to record the balance because the question was voluntary.
Research by Tariq Modood, a professor of sociology at Bristol University, found that 62% of Muslims pray in places of worship. The total is about 930,000 if young children, most of whom do not worship in the mosque, are excluded. The figure underestimates the number of practising Muslims. Mohammed Anwar, professor of ethnic relations at the University of Warwick, said: “In addition to those who go to the mosque, many Muslims also pray at home.”

And another report from The Times on Saturday:
Mammon needs God, says Carey. He was at the World Economic Forum at Davos.

The servants of God should be employed to keep watch on those of Mammon, according to Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.
Clergy should sit on boards of big companies as moral guardians to prevent financial scandals in Britain, he claimed.
There were many Anglican priests with business experience, including former accountants, who could help directors to achieve the highest standards of accountability, he said. They could have the same status as independent non-executive directors, who provide a check on executives, and would not require a fee.

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Saturday, 24 January 2004

Saturday press columns

Christopher Howse in the Telegraph writes about Rowan Williams’ new book Anglican Identities in God is not negotiable.

Theo Hobson in the Guardian writes about Life after Anglicanism.

In The Times a column by Julie Birchall that describes her religious journey: I believe: but not in a God of Screaming Mimis.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 24 January 2004 at 6:51 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 23 January 2004

yet more Plano

The Church Times has this report US conservatives deny they want a split.
Now as Kendall Harmon notes, this is a little incorrect. Credit for publishing the AAC letter should go exclusively to the Washington Post which published the full text as a pdf file. The letter itself first appeared in html right here on TA. The CT’s own press column (not on the web for another 2 weeks) discusses only the stories in the Guardian the next day.

Meanwhile, from around the USA:
In Texas, a Tall Order by Doug LeBlanc, in the Wall Street Journal
Episcopalians remain split on gay issues, New Jersey Herald
Diocese joins conservative group Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Bishop: Episcopal splinter groups ‘breeding schism’ Houston Voice

Forward in Faith North America has published this comment by David Moyer, FiF North America and The Network

Another article by Diane Knippers of IRD. The following comments were given by IRD President Diane Knippers at the American Anglican Council “Plano East” Conference in Woodbridge, VA on January 10, 2004. Exploding Myths about the Episcopal Church Crisis.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 23 January 2004 at 2:24 PM GMT | TrackBack
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more GS previews

The Church Times has extensive coverage in its paper edition. Only some of these are on the web today:
Heavy agenda and serious issues facing General Synod
Clergy could gain job rights
Culture change needed to let the fresh air in
with Fresh expressions of church and the editorial The end of geography

The others will appear on the web just before the synod starts.

The CEN had these:
Synod to tackle pressing social issues as MP speaks
Synod to be asked to bless cohabitation
The big idea to renew the Church’s mission
Clergy give a cautious welcome to Church’s employment proposals

Synod prepares for battle over relations with Rome

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 23 January 2004 at 10:33 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Thursday, 22 January 2004

Plano updates

The CEN has US group fears retribution. The CEN went to press before the outcome of the meeting was known, but said:

Claims that the Network was an attempt to create a cocoon for conservatives within the Episcopal Church were inaccurate, one bishop noted. The Rt Rev Peter Beckwith of Springfield told The Church of England Newspaper “a Church within a Church is not what we are about”; such a solution would be “unworkable”.

ECUSA’s Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold, has issued this statement: A word to the Episcopal Church.
Every Voice Network has published AAC backtracks on breaking the law.
In Upstate New York the Albany Times-Union has Dissent network divides diocese.
In Kentucky, the Lexington Herald-Leader has Episcopal dispute on the front line.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 22 January 2004 at 10:54 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 21 January 2004

further Plano reports

Chicago Tribune Conservative bloc taking on Episcopal Church USA
Charleston Post and Courier Episcopal network OKs charter
Fort Worth Star-Telegram Episcopal group sets its course
Jacksonville Florida Times-Union Episcopal dissidents create ‘network’

AAC President’s Letter to AAC Members Concering the Adequate Oversight Memo

Episcopal News Service New Anglican network signs charter, elects Duncan moderator
Associated Press Questions and answers on the Episcopal Church’s gay divide
Peoria Journal Star Episcopal bishop: Leaders trying to end exodus from denomination
Reuters UK Anglicans could head for schism

“This is a definite step in the direction of schism,” Church Times Editor Paul Handley told Reuters after conservative U.S. Anglicans formed their own Episcopalian network in protest over the ordination of an openly homosexual bishop.
“There is no way this group of traditionalists will stay in the same organisation as the Liberal leadership of the U.S. Episcopalians,” he told Reuters.
“They are definite and determined,” he added. “This is a confirmation that they are not going to buckle under.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 21 January 2004 at 6:55 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 20 January 2004

Plano meeting news

The meeting in Plano has released the text of the Charter for the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes they have unanimously agreed.

Wednesday morning update
American Anglican Council press release.
The Charter is also now here along with this statement.

Reuters reported it thus: Conservative Episcopalians Form New Network
The Associated Press had Launch of dissenting ‘network’ ensures a protracted Episcopal struggle over gay issues and Dissident Episcopalians Form Protest Group but Not Schism.


Beliefnet carried this interview What Do Conservative Episcopalians Really Want? with Diane Knippers, an Episcopalian who is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a completely separate body from the American Anglican Council.

What we really want is an amicable realignment of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. One possible scenario is that membership in the Anglican Communion is redefined with more obligations and with some measure of accountability. For example, perhaps the question of who gets to be an Anglican bishop might be settled, not only by national churches, but also through confirmation by some sort of global body. The Episcopal Church would presumably opt out of a Communion that requires such accountability, leaving the way for another entity to be granted the Anglican “franchise.”

The Christian Science Monitor ran this article: New Episcopal ‘network’: path to schism?.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 20 January 2004 at 11:53 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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February synod plans

The press were briefed on Monday about the February session of the General Synod. See Peter Owen’s blog for a list of all the documents, and a link to the agenda. The meetings are 9-13 February. More about all this later on.

Some stories that relate to items to be discussed:
Archbishop backs guerrilla tactics in war on secularism (Times) This is about the report GS 1523 Mission-Shaped Church -Church planting and fresh expressions of church in a changing context.
Why Is Sunday Sacred, Church-Goers Asked (Press Association)

Book challenges gay sex ban (Telegraph)
Synod to hold gay debate (Guardian)

Church to explore law on ‘gay marriages’ (Press Association)

Synod to debate Pope’s supremacy (Telegraph)

Clergy to be saved from the sack by job protection law (Times)
Clergy close to workers’ rights (Telegraph)
Priests to get employment rights (BBC)
New Clergy employment rights ‘A bit of a Curates Egg’ says Amicus (press release from trade union)

Sell churches, keep bishops’ palaces (Telegraph, opinion column)

Minister Benn to Address Church on HIV (Press Association)

Church Could Rent Out Vestries to Raise Money (Press Association)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 20 January 2004 at 4:18 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Monday, 19 January 2004

ECUSA-related stuff

The Organizing Convocation of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes today and tomorrow in Plano, Texas. The Convocation sessions will not be open to media or observers, but there will be press briefing or conference each day. Note that this body is not to be confused with the American Anglican Council.

This was front page news in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today, Rules jettisoned in Episcopal rift over gay bishop. Bishop Neil Alexander of the diocese of Atlanta ‘slammed the conservative coalition’s plans to break church law. “They seem determined to have their way, regardless of what kind of destruction it may cause the church rather than engage in the hard work of reconciliation.”’

Whether the Diocese of Central Florida would join seemed unclear, according to the Orlando Sentinel: Local Episcopalian bishop to convene with conservatives
and Episcopal Church’s Future Uncertain in the Lakeland Ledger.

The BBC reported it tonight: Anti-gay US clergy mulls ‘split’.

Meanwhile, Beliefnet’s Deborah Caldwell interviewed Frank Griswold, Presiding Over Crisis—and Maybe Schism.

Earlier, the Chicago Tribune had reported on the separate South Carolina defection of a parish as A fractured covenant.

And this press release supporting Bishop Johnson of West Tennessee was issued by all the Via Media diocesan groups together.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 19 January 2004 at 11:30 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 18 January 2004

ECUSA plot updates

The BBC interviewed Bob Duncan on the radio this morning, listen here with Real Audio.

The Bishop of West Tennessee wrote a pastoral letter, severely critical of the American Anglican Council and in particular of the Chapman letter (first published on the web here).
They replied with a press release, and two other responses.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 18 January 2004 at 2:47 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 17 January 2004

Saturday press review

From the UK papers on Saturday:
The states we’re in, Ian Bradley writes in the Guardian, comparing church/state relations in the UK, USA and France.
Wise men say: our life and our death are with our neighbours Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times about spiritual direction.
Also in that paper, a report of ICS-sponsored chaplaincy work on the Swiss ski slopes, Because skiers have spiritual needs too, one aspect of work in the Diocese in Europe that Bishop Geoffrey leads.
What is stopping would-be worshippers going to church?, Paul Handley writing in the Independent discusses the latest CofE church attendance statistics.
Greene saved by damnation, Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Graham Greene.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 17 January 2004 at 3:09 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 16 January 2004

Church Commissioners change tack

By far the most interesting Church of England news story this week is the leak to the Church Times of the report due to be published on Monday, Future Use of the Church Commissioners’ Funds. The story is here, Dioceses should pay for own bishops, say Commissioners.
There is also a report in The Times, Collection plate needs £5m to pay for bishops but this contains no additional information about the report itself.

What makes this interesting is that the Church Commissioners now appear to be quite happy to contemplate new legislation, radically altering their statutory obligations, e.g. to pay the stipends of bishops and deans. This conflicts with another report from them released earlier in the week, in they state that they were not prepared to contemplate anything of the kind with respect to the provision of housing for bishops, a much more labour-intensive task.

The genesis of this review lies in the Mellows Report, “Resourcing Bishops”, commissioned by the Archbishops. This recommended that the Commissioners should reappraise the guidelines for see houses, and commented on certain specific issues such as the image presented by the see house, the size of the garden and grounds, the location of the bishop’s office, and the special considerations which should apply to “heritage” see houses. While recognising that the Commissioners were not empowered to do so, the report recommended that the law be changed to enable the Commissioners to transfer the ownership of the see houses to each diocese without payment. This was subject to each diocese being allowed to change the house, if it so decided, before ownership was transferred. The prospect of legislating for something so fundamental to the Commissioners’ purpose - the holding of assets on behalf of the Church - caused them grave concern. This concern was acknowledged by the Archbishops’ Consultations Group which endorsed the alternative proposed by the Commissioners, that they should undertake a strategic review of see houses.

They failed to note in the report that if the highly sensible recommendations of the “Mellows One” report are followed, then virtually the entire administrative cost of the Bishoprics Committee - around £300,000 a year - will be saved. The alternative approach adopted seems certain to preserve those Bishoprics Department jobs that would have become redundant under Mellows.

But now the Commissioners are actually proposing major legislative changes, there is no logic in excluding the arrangements for see houses from their scope, and thus scuppering a major part of the Mellows reforms.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 16 January 2004 at 10:41 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Thursday, 15 January 2004

other news

It seems the CEN was wrong to report previously that Zambia had broken communion with the Church of England. However, as Zambia is only part (along with Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe) of the Province of Central Africa, it’s unclear to me what it would mean if they had. Zambia and Botswana have broken communion with ECUSA, but as I have noted previously, no formal official statement from the province has yet been seen. Curiously, the same is true of Rwanda which acts as a “host” so to speak to the AMiA. The CEN does report on the defection of a South Carolina parish to that body.

Meanwhile in The Times Ruth Gledhill reported on the episcopal housing review. You can download the report yourself here (Word format).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 15 January 2004 at 11:48 PM GMT | TrackBack
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more conservative plots

Yesterday’s story has produced plenty of follow-up.
First, here is the Associated Press version of the story as headlined in the Philadelphia area, Strategy paper asks ‘replacement’ for Episcopal Church due to gay bishop.
This version met with less disapproval than any other version from Kendall Harmon who even objected to “anti-ECUSA plot revealed” as my choice of title, though he failed to comment on our main blog headline Plot to supplant ECUSA.
Anyway, he really didn’t like the Washington Post story one little bit, not to mention the ENS version.

I don’t suppose he’s any happier about Stephen Bates who managed to get both a front page article, US Anglicans plot to break up church, and a more detailed inside story, Leaked letters reveal plot to split US church in today’s Guardian. The front page starts out:

American Anglican traditionalists are plotting the break-up of their national church and the creation of a new fundamentalist church in the wake of its consecration of the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson.
In spite of public assurances that they only wish to secure oversight by sympathetic conservative bishops, rebel parishes are being secretly told to prepare for the ultimate goal of breaking up the US Episcopal church - the American equivalent of the Church of England - the Guardian can reveal.

And that was not all: Stephen also had a third story in the same paper, this one about English plots: Bishops attack pressure groups which reports that Bishop Colin Buchanan has joined Bishop Pete Broadbent in complaining about the dreadful notes written after NEAC.
And for good measure today, the Guardian also has Karen Armstrong weighing in about third province apartheid proposals, The Eve of destruction.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 15 January 2004 at 11:19 PM GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 14 January 2004

still more ECUSA news

Some other items today:
Slate published an article by Deborah Caldwell of Beliefnet Where Anglicans Fear To Tread - Will a schism destroy the Episcopal Church?

The American Anglican Council issued this press release in reaction to the Washington Post story.

The ECUSA Episcopal News Service issued this story about the report in the Washington Post, Memo discloses AAC’s strategy for replacing Episcopal Church (which also includes the full text of the memo).
Here also is an earlier ENS report on a conference of conservatives held earlier this month. Although titled North American conservatives and global South Anglicans seek discipline of ECUSA, in fact the speakers included several UK residents. Perhaps UK is Global South?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 14 January 2004 at 10:43 PM GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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anti-ECUSA plot revealed

Today’s Washington Post carried this story:
Plan to Supplant Episcopal Church USA Is Revealed

The full text of the document mentioned in the story can be found below. It is also on the Washington Post website as a PDF document but is over 30 megabytes in size, so downloading is not recommended. PDF file later replaced by smaller one, only 4 Mb

It may be worth mentioning that the website listed at the end as being “in Great Britain” is not in Great Britain but is part of a Canadian one. Close :-)

December 28th, 2003

Dear Friends,

I am Geoff Chapman, Rector of St Stephens Church in Sewickley, Pa. (Diocese of Pittsburgh). I am responding to you on behalf of the American Anglican Council and their Bishops’ Committee on Adequate Episcopal Oversight (AEO). Thanks for contacting us; we very much want to network with you in these difficult times and be of real help to you.

The AAC Strategy Committee has been working for months on AEO. In consultation with a wide circle of friends - inside this country and beyond - we have clarified our strategy and are now moving to implement it. I am serving as their response person for AEO, and I want to brief you on our progress. This document will get you up to speed on where we are going. Please keep this document confidential, sharing it in hard copy (printed format) only with people you fully trust, and do not pass it on electronically to anyone under any circumstances.

1) Our ultimate goal is a realignment of Anglicanism on North American soil committed to biblical faith and values, and driven by Gospel mission. We believe in the end this should be a “replacement” jurisdiction with confessional standards, maintaining the historic faith of our Communion, closely aligned with the majority of world Anglicanism, emerging from the disastrous actions of General Convention (2003). We believe this goal is now pressed upon us by the Holy Spirit as a result of the rejection of the historic Christian faith and the rejection of biblical and Communion authority by the leadership of ECUSA. We will lead our congregations and partners in making the adjustment to adopt this strategy. We seek to retain ownership of our property as we move into this realignment.

2) As an intermediate step, we will respond to the urgent pastoral need in our country by offering Adequate Episcopal Oversight to parishes or remnants of parishes who share our deeply held convictions, proceeding under the guidance of our Bishops and the Primates. Bp Griswold’s offer of “Extended Episcopal Care” is unacceptable, fundamentally flawed and disingenuous, and does not meet the needs of our parishes or the intentions of the Primates. Our AEO will maintain confidentiality in the application process, and seek transfer of Parish oversight across geographic diocesan boundaries to an orthodox bishop, the right of pastoral succession, liberty of conscience In financial stewardship (the right to “redirect” funds), and negotiated property settlements affirming the retention of ownership in the local congregation.

The implementation of Adequate Episcopal Oversight will normally follow a two-step, “Stage 1 Then Stage 2” process.

Stage 1 will feature “spiritual realignment” while remaining within the letter of current canons. Parishes would publicly announce that their relationship with their diocesan Bishop is “severely damaged” because of the events of the summer, and that they are now looking to one of the Primates or an AAC orthodox Bishop for their “primary pastoral leadership”. Announcements will need to be carefully phrased to avoid canonical violations.

During the months of Stage 1, we will begin to reform our relationships to build the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. We will move to initiate support structures for fellowship and strategy, We will act courageously and faithfully to support “at risk” parishes. We will creatively redirect finances. We will refocus on Gospel initiatives. We will innovatively move around, beyond or within the canons to “act like the church God is making us”. Stage 1 will enable congregations/clusters to keep clear use of their buildings for the foreseeable future, and would give critical time to strengthen our leadership circles for what promises to be a turbulent spiritual season.

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.

3) Our local strategy for developing AEO will have to keep our goal and current hostile circumstances in mind. We call it a “cluster strategy”, and it will closely sync with the establishment and spread of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. We are developing clusters of churches (3-30 churches per cluster) in 15-30 varying dioceses. These churches would join the Network and apply for AEO whenever possible as diocesan clusters. When they are prepared, we will sequence public announcements of their intentions to realign in successive weeks to build impact. These churches will need Clergy and Vestries who are unified, well networked, and ready for a season of conflict if necessary.

Smaller, isolated congregations that cannot connect with a supporting cluster will be welcome to apply, but encouraged to make a public announcement later in 2004. They will sail in the wake of the leadership of stronger clusters.

Parishes/clusters that go through this process in a “Stage 2” mode and Bishops who receive such parishes/clusters will be at risk of litigation and presentment, and should be prepared for such.

An AAC Bishop could be available to go with any parish/cluster to meet with the diocesan Bp, as needed. We think the presence of an AAC Bishop with a stated partnership with the Primates could change the dynamics of such a meeting.

This “Stage 1, Stage 2, Cluster Strategy” has several advantages: It will…

  • (1) build “rising orthodox network” DNA among the networked churches. Churches in the clusters would gain formative experiences of working together, depending upon each other, praying together, linking with the Global South, and if need be, suffering together. This would be invaluable for the months and years ahead.
  • (2) give us our best shot at a success. Any isolated parish that moves alone into the revisionist line of fire at this point is going to be in peril. Congregations moving in clusters have the advantage of leveraging their combined strength.
  • (3) generate significant public attention both within this country and among our world-wide partners.
  • (4) build “position” for any settlement talks in the future.

4) We are building a network of “Cluster Moderators” who will serve emerging clusters as they gather. These leaders should have a servant’s heart and a broad base of support in their own parishes that will enable them to come alongside conflicted or imperiled congregations. They must be able to bridge the lines of our coalition with genuine respect for the differences within the orthodox community. We will identify these key leaders as soon as possible.

5) We would cover everything in intentional, dependent Christ-centered prayer, seeking the Holy Spirit’s leading and provision at every point, Prayer support cells will be developed around the country and mobilized at critical moments.

Here are some “Frequently Asked Questions” :

1) What does it take to apply for AEO (Adequate Episcopal Oversight)? Normally we would ask for the signature of the Rector and a supporting vote of the Vestry. When you have reached this point of decision, send the application to the AAC office. There is no need to inform your Bishop yet of the application. We will inform him with you in due time. You can find the application and guidelines here:

2) Does AEO mean that the orthodox overseeing Bishop would have control of the call, licensing, and canonical residence of the clergy? We do not know the answers to that, but our Bishops will be exploring these issues as we move forward. The AAC bishops are not prepared to sign off on an arrangement that will leave a congregation in continuing high risk, and that means that issues of spiritual authority, pastoral succession and episcopal oversight must be solved, That Is the fundamental difference between Adequate Episcopal “Oversight” envisioned by Canterbury and the Primates and the Episcopal “Care” offered by Griswold. However, there are many details yet to be ironed out.

3) What legal liabilities would you face if you wanted to leave your current diocese? Recent litigation indicates that the local diocesan authorities hold almost all the cards in property disputes and clergy placement if they want to play “hardball”.

But we think that the political realities are such that American revisionist bishops will be reticent to play “hardball” for a while. They have just handed the gay lobby a stunning victory, but are being forced to pay a fearsome price for it. The opposition at home is far greater than they anticipated and the opposition overseas is serious and inflamed. ECUSA will certainly lose members and funds at a high rate over the next months, accelerating their decline. In one short summer they have managed to radicalize all the orthodox in our communion and take away the “middle ground” where so many of our members have hidden! This has put many (perhaps even most) parishes in conflict and made the survival of many smaller parishes a large and urgent question. No one is very happy about this inside ECUSA, and the American public is hardly cheering the events in New Hampshire.

ECUSA leaders know well how conservatives could quickly become the “victims” in the public mind. They also know that all of our AEO work will eventually find its way across the desk of the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC). All of this together will create pressure for them to cooperate with the ABC/Primate’s call for AEO. So we suspect that there will be a window of time before they return to “hardball” tactics.

The AAC has a new “Legal Resources” link on their home page, and if you or your new Vestry need help in this area, we would suggest contacting them.

4) Can we redirect our funds? This is happening on a widespread basis. There are several strategies to consider. Some parishes have used “donor intent” to trump diocesan canon. The argument goes something like this… “In these conflicted times we will offer our congregation pledge forms with options to indicate their preferred use of their funds. The options go… “Would you like to have a canonical portion of your gift sent (1) to the Diocese? (2) To the National Church? Or (3) To the Vestry for their judgment on whether to pass on funds to the Diocese or National Church? All redirected funds will go to Anglican missions who are committed to biblical faith, values and Gospel ministry?

The Vestry then informs the Diocese that they feel it important to allow their members to follow their conscience. Arguing for “freedom of conscience” and the honoring of “donor intent” is very difficult for liberals to oppose, regardless of the strength of your state law. And it should give your parish some breathing room as you seek to move through this difficult season together.

For a biblical/theological understanding of redirecting funds, look at John Guernsey’s talk from the Dallas Conference. You can find it here:

5) What is important over the next months? Here are some concrete suggestions for your consideration:
a. Join the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. Here’s some basic information:
Look to the AAC website for updates.
b. Form diocesan “clusters” with sympathetic churches. This is essential. An AAC chapter can be the seedbed for a cluster that is seeking realignment. Circle up, pick a moderator, and contact us at AAC headquarters.
c. Be careful of your language. Don’t declare yourself “out of communion” with your diocesan Bishop as such statements have been used as evidence for canonical action against clergy (“abandonment of communion” in Philadelphia). To say that your communion is “impaired” or “damaged” is a wiser response for the moment. Let the excommunications come from the Primates.
d. Prioritize your issues and pursue them in due order. Sort out the challenges you face and go after the most important first, while saving the least important till last. The issues you face could include securing new leadership, consolidating and educating your Vestry, building a network of support within your Diocese, stabilizing your, congregation, etc. Take first things first. Operate in God’s time. Don’t be stampeded to early and untimely actions. The Primates will move over the next months to build a growing and determined solution to the crisis. It will be good to follow their lead and that of the AAC Bishops.
e. Be measured, deliberate and courageous in your responses, “Wise as serpents and gentle as doves was Jesus’ phrase for it! This is a moment for courageous and clear leadership. Watch out for the spirit of anger or self-righteousness! It will kill fractured parishes.
f. Join and build the network of churches committed to biblical values and faith. There will be safety in numbers. See if there are other parishes in your diocese who could also apply for AEO. Work in partnership with us in the AAC. Either we hang together or we hang separately! And don’t forget (when it seems like you are all alone) that Christ himself has promised to walk with us through these times!
g. Familiarize yourself with the strategy affirmed in Dallas in October and talk and pray about how you can apply it locally. It can be found here:
h. Keeping close to Christ is essential. Read your Bible. Pray lots. Be aware of Satan’s opposition and resist him. Worship regularly. Stay in good fellowship with close Christian friends. Watch out for your own emotions, especially anger and frustration, and remember that the Holy Spirit’s leading is not the same as your emotions! We will be of no use to the Lord Jesus in these struggles if we are not fully His!
i. Remember confidentiality! Much is at stake over these next months. The careers of godly men and women, the possibility of congregational survival, the Anglican witness to Christ in our culture and generation, etc. We ask you not to spread these emails over the internet, and to speak of them only to people you trust. In the end, everything will be spoken plainly, but the ability to get organize and take counsel together effectively depends upon our readiness to keep confidentiality.

Here are some Internet resources that might be of value in keeping you informed…

A site in Great Britain: “Crisis 2003”
Kendall Harmon’s excellent web site
David Virtue’s web page with a wide ranging collection of news stories
The American Anglican Council AAC Legal Resources page
The AAC Dallas Strategy affirmed by over 2300 people
Guidelines and Application for the AAC’s Adequate Episcopal Oversight

We will keep all details of our contact with parishes in confidence. Please do not hesitate to keep in touch with me or with the AAC office if we can be of further help. God bless you, as you courageously serve Christ and his gospel.

Here is my contact information…
Geoffrey W. Chapman
Rector, St Stephens Sewickley, Pa
xxxxxxxxxxxxx (work)
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (cell)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 14 January 2004 at 3:18 PM GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 10 January 2004

some ECUSA news

First Pittsburgh where the Post-Gazette reported on 7 Jan a story misleadingly headlined Attorneys withdraw Episcopal land-grab resolution (but see 9 Jan correction at end of article) and this news was also reported by AP, for example Church leader withdraws local property-control call.

Second South Carolina where an ultra-conservative parish has decided to withdraw from ECUSA completely and join the AMiA, despite being in one of the most conservative dioceses of the church. Charleston Post-Courier: Church severs Episcopal ties or Myrtle Beach Sun News All Saints declares its independence. The diocese had previously reduced the parish to mission status under the direct control of the bishop.
Update here is what the diocesan standing committee said.

The AP also carried this story on Via Media groups in conservative dioceses across the country: Dissenting in place.

Meanwhile, there’s another gathering of conservatives right now in “Plano East” which turns out to mean Woodbridge, Virginia. Here’s the latest AP report as carried by the New York Times, Episcopalians Meet to Discuss a Possible Split.
Update here is a further report from the Washington Post, Episcopal Dissenters Plan Their Strategy.

And the Southern Cone province has unsurprisingly condemned ECUSA.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 10 January 2004 at 11:12 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Saturday newspapers

The Guardian interviewed Geoffrey Kirk, national secretary of Forward in Faith, and some others, about the threat of schism in the CofE over women bishops, A traditional revolutionary. I was interested in the statistics claimed by FiF:

…the organisation claims to have 7,000 members, including 1,000 clergy. Fr Kirk is particularly proud of the “amazing” number of women members - “ballpark 4,000”.

The Guardian also has an article by Michael Nazir-Ali entitled The Cross and the Crescent about whether Muslims and Christians believe in the same God.

The Times reports that Tory leader Michael Howard’s son is training to become an Anglican priest, Howard’s son to be Anglican priest. I’m not sure this is newsworthy.

Yesterday, The Times printed an extract from a forthcoming book by Rowan Williams, Anglican Identities, Passion and patience, liberalism and sexuality: what makes an Anglican?. An extract from this extract appears below, and another one is here.

In the Telegraph Christopher Howse discusses “new styles of church life” in his weekly Sacred Mysteries column. He refers to recent Church Times articles that are not yet online. I will provide links to those articles when they are.

extract from Anglican Identities by Rowan Williams
Anglicans have always been cautious about laying too much stress on formulae over and above the classical creeds; and that has proved both a strength and a weakness. A strength because it has at best focused attention on the fundamentals of Christian orthodoxy in a way that allows people to “inhabit” this tradition without too much defensive anxiety about contemporary battles; a weakness because this makes rather a lot depend on the capacity of individual theologians and teachers to orchestrate the central themes of the tradition in a satisfactory way at times when the lack of external norms and boundaries has become a serious worry.
It is not true that there is no distinctive Anglican doctrine. But the discovery of it may require some patience in reading and attending to a number of historical strands, in order to watch the way in which distinctiveness shows itself.
There is in the Anglican identity a strong element of awareness of the tragic, of the dark night and the frustration of theory and order by the strangeness of God’s work.
God does not belong in a limited area of human life; but one implication of this is that we do not find or identify God with ease. He may be encountered in any area of psychological experience or of political challenge. To recognise Him in these unexpected places we need, most certainly, a discipline of scriptural thinking, informed by all the resources that can be summoned in the intellectual sphere, and an inhabiting of the doctrinal tradition that reminds us again and again of what we are for as creators and as adopted children.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 10 January 2004 at 11:28 AM GMT | TrackBack
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Friday, 9 January 2004

Broadbent bites conservatives

The Church Times carries a report, Conservative groups ‘two-faced’ says bishop.

Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden, and a card-carrying evangelical (he signed the letter of the Nine Bishops last June) has written a letter to all the bishops who attended NEAC, criticising severely two notes which were sent to him anonymously. These documents are the minutes from a “post-mortem” meeting of the NEAC4 steering group, and a paper from a separate meeting of representatives from the Church Society, the Fellowship of Word and Spirit, and Reform.

The documents attack Rowan Williams, David Hope, James Jones, and “Open Evangelicals” most particularly Fulcrum. See full article for details. It describes what Broadbent said as follows:

Bishop Broadbent wrote to all the bishops who attended NEAC4, describing the two documents as “inflammatory”. “The document is explicit in asserting what Reform et al have always denied - that there has been a deliberate attempt by the right wing to take over,” he writes.
The ultra-conservatives believed the bishops were the enemy. “These are, of course, the same people who write and speak to us telling us how much they respect us when we make a stand for what they believe in. In reality, they are two-faced and show themselves to be completely untrustworthy.”
He concludes: “It would seem to me that there is little to be sanguine about in relation to the climate of Evangelical Anglicanism post-NEAC4. Whatever sense of unity we may feel across the spectrum, it is clearly not reciprocated.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 9 January 2004 at 11:19 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Thursday, 8 January 2004

coming and going - 2

More newspaper coverage of Peter Carnley’s announcement yesterday that he will retire in May 2005.
West Australian Carnley plans to keep conservatives on their toes
Sydney Morning Herald Anglican fault line deep, if not irreparable and Retreat from liberalism likely as bishops come under orders for Anglican primacy
Australian Three-way struggle to lead Anglicans
Brisbane Courier-Mail Search begins for new primate
Melbourne Age Three in the running to lead church and Outspoken cleric says it’s time to move on plus a comment column by Muriel Porter Anglicans’ leading light dims
and a transcript from ABC Radio of an interview with Peter Carnley plus a second transcript of a discussion about it all.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 8 January 2004 at 11:03 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 7 January 2004

bishops come and go

Suffragan bishops never used to get this kind of national attention. The Times, the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Independent all reported on the appointment of a new Bishop of Reading. “He is a liberal Anglo-Catholic, and no less radical in his beliefs than Dr John” says Ruth Gledhill. “Anglican Mainstream, the evangelical group formed to campaign against Canon John, said it was “delighted” by the appointment” says Jonathan Petre.

Meanwhile in Australia, Peter Carnley has announced he is retiring in May 2005. Reports on ABC, in The Age, The Australian and also this commentary, and his hometown paper, The West Australian.

Update Thursday morning
Clergy must speak out: Carnley in The Australian
Anglicans face change of direction from ninemsn

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 7 January 2004 at 10:50 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 6 January 2004

Busy Tuesday

Stephen Cottrell, currently Vice Dean of Peterborough was nominated as the new candidate to be Bishop of Reading today, and this apparently pleased absolutely everybody, even those most opposed to the previous nomination, and the previous nominee.

Earlier in the day, the Guardian had reported on the women bishops story from yesterday’s Telegraph, All-male enclave ‘would split C of E’ and also on an unusual religious event in Lincolnshire, Special church services bless road gritting crews.
Meanwhile, The Times reported on the plans of the Museum of London to rebury 17,000 skeletons, Museum bones ‘should have a Christian burial’.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 6 January 2004 at 11:10 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Monday, 5 January 2004

new year news

The Church of England gets the year off to a good start :-)

First, a story about “new” legislation, Sex case vicars will be tried in new, secret courts turns out to be about the latest draft of the Code of Conduct (already mentioned by Peter Owen) to support the Clergy Discipline Measure. Really very old news except apparently to the legal correspondent of the Independent.

Slightly more to the point was the CEN story Bishops plan heresy courts for unruly clergy about a new report from an episcopal working group chaired by Peter Forster about proposals to reform the handling of the cases excluded from that measure, i.e. doctrine and ritual. But I seriously doubt the bishops are panting to prosecute clergy for not wearing robes.

Really much more important is Jonathan Petre’s story in the Telegraph about the draft report from the other episcopal working group chaired by Michael Nazir-Ali on women bishops. Church’s ‘third way’ on women bishops and the accompanying editorial Church’s third way.

But the best piece of writing about Anglican matters was a major article by Michael Massing in Sunday’s New York Times magazine, Bishop Lee’s Choice.

The Anglican Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo has issued a statement of condemnation of homosexuality etc. This was one of the statements that was previously missing. It’s dated 20 Dec 03.

The Moonie newspaper, the Washington Times has this article about blogs and episcopalians, Episcopalians grapple on Web.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 5 January 2004 at 6:44 PM GMT | TrackBack
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