Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Episcopal Duel at Lambeth

Want proof that the Episcopal Church is divided? The two major factions are now holding dueling official press conferences at Lambeth.

While happy talk is being furiously spun at the official Lambeth Press Conferences (and not even the New York Times reporter is buying it anymore), another duel is breaking out outside the Big Top at Lambeth. The progressive Episcopalians and the conservative Episcopalians are putting out their own separate messages outside the official spin of the Lambeth Press Office in what is now a full-fledged duel.

While the Lambeth Press Office gets the nice rooms for their press conferences, the progressive Episcopalians and the conservative Episcopalians are holding their own official press conferences outside the press building, under the trees for all to see - even the other bishops passing by on their breaks.

Today we saw in vivid detail how separated the Episcopal Church truly is, right out on the lawn, in front of everyone. How can one spin be going on from the officials of Lambeth, while the Episcopal Church itself is dueling it out on the lawn?

Meanwhile, the press - working hard to sort out the truth from the spin - is dashing back and forth between all the factions - a situation as clear as any that reveals to the Anglican world that unity is no where in sight.

Archbishop Henry Orombi: Why I am not at Lambeth

From "The Church cannot heal this crisis of betrayal," from the London Times:
It is important that our decision not to attend this Lambeth Conference is not misunderstood as withdrawing from the Anglican Communion. On the contrary, our decision reflects the depth of our concern and the sober realisation that the present structures are not capable of addressing the crisis.

How can we go to Holy Communion, sit in Bible study groups, and share meals together, pretending that everything is OK?, that we are still in fellowship with the persistent violators of biblical teaching and of Lambeth resolutions?

The Bible says: “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked us to “wait for each other”. But how is it possible when we are not travelling in the same direction?

The Church of Uganda takes its Anglican identity and the future hope of the global Anglican Communion very seriously. We love the Lord Jesus Christ, and we love the Anglican Communion. Lord, have mercy upon us.
Read the whole thing here. Archbishop Orombi represents eight million Anglicans.

Breaking News: Lambeth Press Conference on Human Sexuality Parts One and Two

UPDATE: Now we have Part One up and ready to go. Here it is:

Yes, you have to see it to believe it. Here is Part Two (Part One is still processing and will be up soon). The New York Times kicks it off. Part Two includes Andrew Carey's all ready immortal observation to the bishops, "It's all quite nice how you are getting along. But to the outside it looks like naval gazing."

Bishop Mouneer Anis of Eygpt, Primate of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East reflects on Lambeth so far

From the London Times here.

I find that many of our North American friends blame us and criticise us for bringing in the issues of sexuality and homosexuality but in fact they are the ones who are bringing these issues in. Here at Lambeth, you come across many advertisements for events organised by gay and Lesbian activists which are sponsored by the North American Church. If you visit the marketplace at the conference, you will notice that almost half the events promoted on the noticeboard promote homosexuality and are sponsored by the North Americans. And in the end, we, the people who remain loyal to the original teaching of the Anglican Communion, which we received from the Apostles, are blamed. They say that we talk a lot about sexuality and that we need to talk more about poverty, about AIDs, and injustice. They are the ones who are bringing sexuality into this conference. It’s not us. We want to talk about the heart of the issues which divide us, not only sexuality. That is just a symptom of a deeper problem.

They talk about the slavery and say that 200 years ago Christians were opposed to the freedom of slaves and they compare us to those Christians for our attitude to gay and lesbian practises. To be honest, I think this is inviting us to another kind of slavery, slavery of the flesh, to go and do whatever our lusts dictate. Sometimes, I think that maybe because of the pressure in Western culture to push the practise of homosexuality, our friends in the West are pushing these issues. But, on the other hand, I see many who live in the West and still want to preserve the faith and the tradition of the Church. Should we allow culture to pressure the Church or should the Church be distinctive, light and salt to the world? Cardinal Ivan Dias said that we didn’t bring the Gospel to the culture we could end up suffering from spiritual Alzheimers."

Peter Ould: What is acceptable?

Peter Ould has discovered that not everything is going well with the poster boy for Changing Attitude, the gay lobby group at Lambeth. He has the scoop here. The original posting is here. Sad.

Thursday Morning at Lambeth

Just back from the morning press briefing and the featured guest was none other than Ian Douglas (who testified for the Episcopal Church at the trial last year in Virginia but left his dictionary at home) who is a vocal member of the Lambeth "Design" committee. He came to explain the day's plan as the topic of human sexuality comes up at the Lambeth Conference. For all the "lack of control" there sure seems to be a lot of orchestrating to make sure that the hot potato - Lambeth 1.10 - is ignored. We taped the Q & A again and will put it up after the SF Roundtable is done. Again, in this kind of 60s' style "conversation pit happenings" it's hard not to be groovy like all the purple dudes, like, it's all so far-out, man, ya dig?

As far as the weather goes, it's much like Virginia today - humid with a bright overcast. What we really need is a good Virginia thunderstorm. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

They didn't leave the light on for ya ...

So, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was they weren't hospitable enough. Oh. Watch the Press Conference Q & A here or below. These are the authorities representing the Lambeth Conference on the Bible and they came before the press today.

Outside The Big Top

Imagine having his job. A metaphor in the making.

The deal is, where ever I go places in Canterbury and locals see my badge or hear my accent and ask what I'm doing here and I tell them about the conference, I consistently get the same blank stare - as though I am talking about attending a Star Trek Convention.

Yes, there are interesting costumes - okay, let's say cincture (and it's not a procedure you get a nail salon) - and there are times when it feels like we are Lost in Space, but frankly, Star Trek Conventions are fun-er. I mean, at least at Star Trek Conventions everyone worships the same thing.

John Howe's Update on the Lambeth Conference

BB NOTE: I met up with Bishop Howe today and what he writes in this letter is what he said to me. The "Reflections" document is now up to fourteen pages that no one will read, instead of one page which they can't agree. Lincoln pulled it off and that was during the Civil War. Can Lambeth bishops behind their security fences and under the Big Blue Top stop messing around and finally say, simply and to the point what is the truth?

Well, how can they when so-called "scholars" of the Bible are appointed to speak for them and come out with the kind of stuff we heard at the press conference this morning? They might as well be handing out the color beads at the Indaba Groups and Bible Studies and then tally up the beads and see what they believe.

Here's John Howe's update from today:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The 14th Lambeth Conference seems to have begun shifting its attention, as of the Archbishop's Second Presidential Address last night. We are increasingly focused on the question of what this Conference will say to the churches of the Communion, to the wider ecumenical community, and to the world at large.

Perhaps that in itself is a problem! Perhaps the attempt to address all of these constituencies simultaneously is a mistake.

As of this point, we have seen two preliminary drafts of a Statement from the Conference. The first was in the form of "bullet points" derived from the Indaba group discussions. The second, distributed today, is already a thirteen page single-spaced document that reflects, almost like the minutes of a much-too- long-meeting, virtually everything we have discussed and done - even with four more days to go!

If that is what we end up issuing, of course, no one will read it! My plea to those on the "Reflections Committee" today was: give us a one page Statement that the whole world will read!

We have had what (I think) have been a couple of downright silly exercises! Today, for instance, in our Indaba groups we were each asked to prepare a sermon outline of any Biblical passage of our choosing, no longer than 300 words in length. Several people in our group were then asked to summarize orally (no longer than three minutes) what their sermon would be about, and how they would present it. So far so good.

Then we were asked to identify the "particularly Anglican" elements of approach, style and content!

As if there is any such thing!

In our Bible Study today, on John 11:1-44 ("I am the resurrection and the life") we were asked almost the identical question: "Having heard each other's interpretations of this text, what would we as a group say is Anglican about these interpretations?" (Our group unanimously agreed this was the "dumbest" question in the prepared materials, so far.)

Nevertheless, I think that for nearly everyone the best part of the Conference has been, precisely, the Bible Studies. The groups of eight have gotten to know each other, have learned from each other, have shared a bit about our families, ministries, very different social and cultural situations, prayed with and for each other. For instance, one of the Bishops in my group, from North India, is Vinod Malaviya, from the Diocese of Gujarat, where the series of bombings took place yesterday. Twenty-five people killed and 175 injured. It was incredibly poignant and moving to have him lead our noon-day prayers today.

This afternoon we had another meeting of the Communion Partners Bishops, and one of the concerns we plan to share in the closing days of the Conference is the absolute necessity of having ratification of the Anglican Covenant take place at the DIOCESAN level, and not (just) the Provincial level.

We plan to remind our fellow Bishops of what the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to me last October:

"I would repeat what I've said several times before - that any diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may be the longer-term result for others in TEC. The organ of union with the wider Church is the bishop and the diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such....

"I should feel a great deal happier, I must say, if those who are most eloquent for a traditionalist view in the US showed a fuller understanding of the need to regard the bishop and the diocese as the primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the 'national church.'"

Please pray for those who are charged with trying to pull together the strands of the Conference and make a coherent Statement regarding it. And pray that all of us will be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as we move into the final phase of our time together.

With warmest regards to all of you,

The Right Rev. John W. Howe

Lambeth Press Conference on the Bible: A Cause for Alarm

UPDATED: We now have the Lambeth Bible Experts Q &A up on YouTube. See below.

Bishop David Moxon of New Zealand along with the "scholar" Gerald West who produced the Bible Studies have just spoken to the press in what was one of the most infuriating presentations I have ever witnessed. I kept thinking that at some point the two presenters would come to their senses or that a third presenter would mysterious arrive to say that these two were just stand-ins and the real presenters were now arriving.

Bishop Moxon spent time talking about the Bible as being like a House. The Church is the roof. It was clear by the end of the press conference that the roof was blowing off the House. Gerald West, who designed the Bible Studies, clearly outlined that the biblical view by which Lambeth 1.10 was passed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference was out-of--date and spent his time basically outlining that the new way is the Jesus Seminar all over again. Next thing we know, they'll be handing out beads to the bishops.

By the way, we were informed by Gerald West that the "sin" of Soddom and Gomora was about their lack of hospitality. Even after Matt Kennedy confronted him, West did not back down. See video below.

That this is what is going on inside the Big Top is one thing. That this is what the Lambeth Conference organizers decided to trot out to the press is simply astonishing. If they think that this is the kind of the thing that will get Anglicans back into the Big Tent, forgetaboutit. And perhaps that is the real news - the rea news is there is no room in the Big Tent for those who hold the historic Christian view that we conform our life to the teaching of the scriptures, not reimagined them in the name of "process."

LATER: Sorry it took so long to get up. The wifi in the newsroom is bewitched. I finally walked the two miles from the Conference site to my residence, with one stop at Salisbury's. The wifi at my residence (which interestingly enough, is the same wifi as the one at Kent University) is terrific.

Morning at Lambeth

Or is that Mourning at Lambeth?

I am back in the newsroom with a host of journalists - there are a lot here. The Cone of Silence has now descended over the Lambeth Conference. At this moment the bishops are all ensconced in their Indaba groups, Indabing away.

Last night I stood with a few friends near the gate after Rowan Williams completed his presidential address (the session of course was closed). The bishops came streaming out, going in all different directions. One of the first out was the Presiding Bishop Schori, who came out walking in long strides in a purple shirt and collar and blue jeans.

She strode on by, by herself, looking at no one and up to a grassy knoll nearby where she stopped and stood alone, waiting.

More and more bishops came out, streaming across the road. Some headed into a VIP dinner hosted by Rowan Williams who appeared in his black cassock and purple stole - er sash, er red purple cinture (thanks Anon) or is it CINCTURE (thanks James) and his hair, though still hippie long, now shaped and cut. He came out with a bunch of blacked cassocked bishops, only these wore purple beanies - he seemed to be in closer company with those "ecumenical guests" then anyone else, until Bishop Keith Ackerman of Quincy popped up to him, all energetic and funny and made Rowan smile as patted him on the back.

Then out came Bishop David Jones, of Virginia, who I have a knack of running into. He seems to be the one I see in airports or on planes or while on a bus, or at these kind of gatherings or in restaurants at home. The last time I saw him was in court.

He walked out of the gate with his wife and I waved and said hello. He responded with an enthusiastic hello, then he recognized me and his face fell and he moved on, whispering to his wife. Oh well.

Next out was the Archbishop of the Southern Cone, Gregory Venables. He came over and greeted my friends with hugs and blessings. I hadn't met him before and so when he turned to me I introduced myself and said I was with BabyBlueOnline. "Baby Blue," he exclaimed and I got not only a hug, but a blessing. I don't know if I've ever receive a personal blessing from a bishop before. To my astonishment, tears stung my eyes.

More and more bishops poured out from the gates, some getting into cars, some gathering in small groups, some going off to the VIP dinner, some headed to their rooms. One of the small groups was across the road and included Bishop Bruno of Los Angeles and Suffragan Bishop of Texas, Dena Harrison. They stood together chatting up folks as they walked by as though they were running for office.

A car pulled up and the driver turned out to be Georgette Forney of Anglicans for Life. It was delightful to see a her and we promised to touch base before the conference ends. Anglicans for Life does have a booth in the "Marketplace." Haven't been to the Marketplace yet, but perhaps there will be time to stroll through today.

Finally, our car arrived and we all piled in to head back to the home base. There was a fantastic dinner waiting when we got there (well, actually, it was almost all gone as there were folks there all ready who found the food as delicious as we did). We sat in the kitchen around a big square table and threw out our theories of the day, debating and shouting and carrying on until I found my head bobbing in the pudding and said good night.

Finding the Strength to Forgive

BB NOTE: A few weeks ago, we had one of our periodical Coalition meetings, where rectors, wardens, and other leaders of the Episcopal, CANA, and Uganda congregations in Virginia and DC meet together for fellowship, prayer, updates, and teaching. We had heard several reports on the GAFCON meeting in Jerusalem, as well as the latest developments in court. And then the meeting took a sudden and powerful turn as Robin Rauh, rector of Church of the Epiphany in Herndon (one of the parishes that voted to depart the Episcopal Church and join CANA) spoke on the topic of forgiveness. Here is his talk:

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." -Romans 12:17-21

Sitting at my computer, I had been reading about GAFCON and other news from different web sites about Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. Some of it was true, some of the things were - to put it kindly - misrepresentations of the truth. It was difficult to deal with the anger I felt. I had accepted being deposed from the priesthood, sued, betrayed by people I once trusted and loved - but this - was an arrow that dug deep into me- evil was overcoming good inside.

Forgiveness - it’s easy to talk and teach about, painful to do.

Painful, because forgiveness goes out from us to another. The whole point of forgiveness is to overcome evil and bring about the beauty of holiness in a restored relationship in Christ. It is the front line combat of spiritual warfare. Forgiveness disarms the evil one and makes repentance possible. The alternative is feeding evil with more evil.

But it’s complicated. Forgiveness is not easy. It demands a strength we see in Jesus on the cross forgiving His enemies at the same time He disarms the powers and principalities through His death for our sin. Jesus bought forgiveness for us as a way of life. It’s a far cry from some popular ideas about forgiveness that range everywhere from a self-righteous declaration of “forgiveness” that is cold hearted, thinly disguised hatred-- and cheap forgiveness that is nothing more than passive evasion out of fear, not faith.

So what is it? Forgiveness is a way of being, not something we do. It can never be made to manipulate the heart of another to a reluctant repentance. Forgiveness is obedience to Christ that kills our pride and makes His love possible- its supernatural, not sentimental. And if we really live it- we must experience death of pride and arrogance. If we really forgive, we’ll see how much we need to be forgiven.

Forgiveness requires us to be something toward those who offend or hurt us.

No matter how our enemies treat us, the time for forgiveness is always near, even if we can no longer speak to each other.

But how are we supposed to behave to those who hurt us? Look at what St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome:
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
To “avenge” means to vindicate one's right, do see that justice is done either to protect someone or to punish the wrong doer. “Leave it” means to give way- make a place for the Lord- to get out of the way. Most of us would agree that as Christians, revenge is always evil, but that doesn’t stand up when you consider God does take vengeance some times.

The legitimate part is the desire for revenge comes from a passion for justice. What’s wrong about us carrying out ‘revenge’ is that none of us is holy, just or omniscient enough to deal it out, except God. But acknowledging our desire for it can open up our motives and even shed light on the real areas of hurt and pain. With that in mind, St. Paul tells us never to avenge ourselves, but to “give way” to God who has promised to repay. In some sense, when we take revenge, when we refuse to forgive or even consider a restored relationship with a repentant offender, we are in the way of God- we are interfering with His vengeance. The freedom of forgiveness is that there will be a day of reckoning and it will be of God’s timing and place.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
In part, this gives some answer to the balance of mercy and justice our hearts need. The choice we face as human beings in a fallen world is: Either we will be forgiven and our punishment will be absorbed for us by the righteousness of Jesus, or we will be punished in our self-righteousness in this life and the next.

Forgiveness is not cheap, painless, easy- or optional. If we are to experience the abundant life of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness is absolutely essential for love to become real. Anything else is a counterfeit

So we’re faced with evil in this world. We are in a spiritual battle with Satan who delights in bitterness, relishes every opportunity to use our words and acts to destroy and hurt- it’s his nature. He is a liar and the father of lies. He has lost the contest for our souls and is a spoiler out there- looking for someone to devour. The love Christ gives to us is a weapon to destroy evil of the devil.

In the contest of who's side God is really on, its certainly going to be tested by who's praying, obedient and willing to pick up their cross for the Gospel in all this. Forgiveness isn’t cheap- it cost Jesus everything, and requires us to put everything on the line for Him.

In the days ahead, one of the best indicators of obedience and orthodoxy will be how well we love our enemies as well as our friends. It’s the way of the Cross. It’s the words of forgiveness from the Cross

It’s the badge of honor in a war that will one day end- with a new heaven and a new earth.

And so Father, we commit ourselves to you. We entrust our souls to You, as Your Son entrusted His. We ask for your grace for the days ahead to, as unworthy servants, be faithful to Your commands- to trust in the power of Your might hand to see us through and make known the Gospel of Your Son Jesus Christ. For it’s in His name we pray.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lambeth VideoCast: On the Way to Canterbury

Rowan Williams Delivers the Presidential Address to the Lambeth Conference

We've just been handed the text of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Presidential Address to the Lambeth Conference. Here's an excerpt:

"At Dar-es-Salaam, the primates tried to find a way of inviting different groups to take a step forward simultaneously towards each other. It didn’t happen, and each group was content to blame the other. But the last 18 months don’t suggest that this was a good outcome. Can this Conference now put the same kind of challenge? To the innovator, can we say, ‘Don’t isolate yourself; don’t create facts on the ground that make the invitation to debate ring a bit hollow’? Can we say to the traditionalist, ‘Don’t invest everything in a church of pure and likeminded souls; try to understand the pastoral and human and theological issues that are urgent for those you are opposing, even if you think them deeply wrong’?"


"At the moment, we seem often to be threatening death to each other, not offering life. What some see as confused or reckless innovation in some provinces is felt as a body-blow to the integrity of mission and a matter of literal physical risk to Christians. The reaction to this is in turn felt as an annihilating judgement on a whole local church, undermining its legitimacy and pouring scorn on its witness. We need to speak life to each other; and that means change. I’ve made no secret of what I think that change should be - a Covenant that recognizes the need to grow towards each other (and also recognizes that not all may choose that way). I find it hard at present to see another way forward that would avoid further disintegration. But whatever your views on this, at least ask the question : ‘Having heard the other person, the other group, as fully and fairly as I can, what generous initiative can I take to break through into a new and transformed relation of communion in Christ?’

Why does he think that the Episcopal Church is going to stand down? Hasn't he heard what they've said - consistently, now for years? They believe that the Spirit is doing a new thing, the Spirit is the author of these innovations imposed on the Episcopal Church what have torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion. But it is not their idea - they believe most sincerely that it's God idea. To hold back on those innovations is to hold back on God, to marginalize people for the sake of keeping together a colonial structure that is long gone with the wind.

More later - my ride up the hill is now departing ...

Live from Canterbury

Yes, I am here. I'm writing at this moment from the press room at Lambeth. The first thing I did was to go to a press conference with Jane Williams, the wife of Rowan Williams, Jenny Te Paa, and Dr. Maria Akrofi, the wife of the primate of the province of West Africa who is also a medical doctor from Ghana. Of the three, Dr. Akrofi was impressive. The bulk of the questions from the press went to her - her presentation and the way she answered the questions were authentic, down to earth, honest, real, and compassionate. She was awesome. Later, as I went to checked in for my press credentials I was introduced to her husband whom I remembered seeing his picture at GAFCON. I told him what a great presentation she did. The contrast between her the processing ideology of Jenny Te Paa was like day and night. If you were in trouble you would you call? I'd call Dr. Akrofi.

Apparently there might be something going on up at the front lawn. I'm off to check that out.

LATER: Nope, well - did see Bishop Ackerman who said that the Episcopal bishops met with some Global South bishops for some conversation. But there had been an expectation of a very different type of event. There was quite a host of media that showed up, but no party.

It was well, surreal to see a lot of the usual suspects, the folks we see lurking about the newsroom at General Convention all here. I'm hiding behind sunglasses because my eyes look like they've dropped into next week. But this is quite different than General Convention, as well all know. Walked by the Big Blue Top (it actually has two tops) and it's located behind a security detail that reminds me of Washington after 9-11, with the big white tents and check points, only instead of sending cameras under people's cars, they've constructed a tall wire fence. The security detail are quite pleasant though - kind, but firm.

Was walking back to the newsroom in the Darwin Building (yes, that's what the building is called - the Press Conference room is in the "Missing Link" building - I kid you not) when I passed a door to an office labeled "Darwin Chaplaincy." Had to laugh - if I didn't know what the name of this building was I could only guess at what a Darwin Chaplaincy would do.

Tonight is a big address from Rowan Williams. There's more going on of course, but can't write about that. Not yet, anyway.

Speaking of reconciliation ... flew over from DC to London last night surrounded by teens taking part in the Ulster Project in Cleveland. It brings together Catholic and Protestant young people to spend four weeks together in in Cleveland. They were an active bunch, very entertaining and they didn't fall asleep until just before we started to land. But I enjoyed them - had a great conversation with one of the organizers in the seat next to me. We talked about how it used to be and how it is now and that even though the checkpoints are gone and it's so much better - there are still tensions. Still, it is quite an amazing story to see these young people - Rowan Catholic and Protestant being goofy and laughing and carrying on through the trip. I couldn't help but enjoy the joy - it's a far cry from the bomb blasts that used to cloud young people's faces with pain. But now - they are truly friends.

Maybe we should pack up the 800 Anglican/Episcopal Bishops and send them to Cleveland for four weeks and put the Ulster Project in charge. Of course, it might mean they'll end up with face painting and a decorated t-shirts, but it might beat what's going on here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lambeth Reflections: Creating "Little Englands"

Watching the Press Conference as I pack and repack my suitcase, I am reminded of an observation that the British have a tendency over the years to deal with conflict by creating what we might call, "Little Englands." Americans deal with conflict by having a revolution - usually quite public, usually on television - and we ask questions later. England has a Prime Minister who goes before Parliament and the members can actually ask him questions! If the American president went before Congress and took questions, the House of Representatives would chop him up and have him for lunch. We are a noisy, rambunctious, passionate, unruly, unwavering, over optimistic, rather fun bunch.

When in pinch, we organize revolutions. The British reorganize Little Englands.

Case in point, the British Empire.

All around the world, the British went and every where they went they created Little Englands in their wake, including celebrating their English Church and Brewed Tea. India, Africa, the Middle East, even North America (been to Victoria lately?) and the West Indies - all reflect their established Little Englands. Where ever they went they just set up as close to identical Little Englands as they could possibly muster. Assimilation was out of the question (except in the most extreme circumstances). When the Locals began to riot, they went home.

The French were often not that way. Going about the globe, many of their explorers and builders eventually disappeared into the population. Even in my own family history in Virginia, my early ancestors including Jean Pierre Bondaurant, did not come to America to create a New France. He came to start from new. And his name and his history disappeared into Buckingham County.

Back in college, when I was studying American Culture, we learned that the English settlers came looking for the Promise Land so that they could go in and create the Perfect England, holy and just and true, a New England. But the French came looking for the New Adam - a New Man that could start all over again, to a New Garden of Eden, with no sense of the past to encumber him and no sin or guilt to taint him. The archetype that comes to mind is Pasquinel in James A. Michener's Centennial.

American culture is a tension and a blend between these two - the Promise Land and the Garden of Eden. Even after 200 years later, we see in the Lambeth Conference that even as England has a "special" relationship with the United States - we are so very different, so very different indeed and it's nothing like a gathering of this magnitude to see it all come out, despite the efforts of the hosts to contain it. And when it comes to identity and government we are thousands of miles apart.

Watching the press conference today it was clear that the organizers of Lambeth think that they can solve the Communion's problems by creating yet another of their Little Englands (despite the fact they've been warned that the Colonial Days Are Over) - an England where everyone is polite, every one remembers their manners, everyone remembers what Nanny taught them in the Nursery, everyone remembers their station and the rules and are gentlemen and ladies and quite accommodating to English sensibilities, and everyone remembers the British are in charge. After all, what is the sense of being Anglican if one doesn't want to emulate the English! All will be well, all will be solved, let us create a safe space, a Little England and shut out all that dreadful unpleasantness that causes the Locals to riot.

It's almost endearing. Almost. The problem is - we Americans are revolutionaries. We can't help it. It's in our blood - we were never disappointed by despots storming the Bastille and chopping heads off aristocrats and their flunkies. We manage to retain elements of our English forebears who reminded us that manners are helpful and order is necessary, but that is more to be tolerated than embraced. We put cowboys in the Oval. We do stuff and ask questions later.

Watching the Press Conference today was like watching the Old Guard trying to contain a revolution. But revolutions are like tornadoes - and this is an ecclesiastical tornado. Tornadoes are neither contained nor controlled. You learn to watch for them, to learn the signs of their approach - and when they come, you either you find shelter quickly or you run fast.

And on that note, we offer a tune to travel by. God willing and the rivers don't rise, we'll see you soon in England. The Real One.

Live from Lambeth: Press Conference

Streaming Video by Ustream.TV

Lambeth Press Conference is scheduled for 12:00 noon EDT, brought to us by Kevin Kallsen of AnglicanTV. The Windsor Continuation Group has released their most recent report to the bishops who are now behind closed doors reading it. They are also reading the first draft of their "Reflections" document that is scheduled to be released at the conclusion of Lambeth.

2003: General Convention authorizes local option for Same Sex Blessings in Episcopal congregations

Lest we forget.

From the Fulcrum archives, we find the ACI report that reviewed the fact that sex blessings were authorized under the "local options" provision of C051 as passed by the 2003 General Convention of the Episcopal Church. The ACI reports:
...although arguments have been advanced that C051 at GC 2003 did not amount to authorisation of such rites it clearly permitted their authorisation within dioceses through 'local option'. As a result, since GC 2003 there has been an increase in the number of bishops and dioceses granting such authorization and one bishop has personally presided at such a blessing.
Resolution C051 as passed by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church reads:

Resolved, That the 74th General Convention affirm the following:

  1. That our life together as a community of faith is grounded in the saving work of Jesus Christ and expressed in the principles of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral: Holy Scripture, the historic Creeds of the Church, the two dominical Sacraments, and the Historic Episcopate.
  2. That we reaffirm Resolution A069 of the 65th General Convention (1976) that "homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church."
  3. That, in our understanding of homosexual persons, differences exist among us about how best to care pastorally for those who intend to live in monogamous, non-celibate unions; and what is, or should be, required, permitted, or prohibited by the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church concerning the blessing of the same.
  4. That we reaffirm Resolution D039 of the 73rd General Convention (2000), that "We expect such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God," and that such relationships exist throughout the church.
  5. That we recognize that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.
  6. That we commit ourselves, and call our church, in the spirit of Resolution A104 of the 70th General Convention (1991), to continued prayer, study, and discernment on the pastoral care for gay and lesbian persons, to include the compilation and development by a special commission organized and appointed by the Presiding Bishop, of resources to facilitate as wide a conversation of discernment as possible throughout the church.
  7. That our baptism into Jesus Christ is inseparable from our communion with one another, and we commit ourselves to that communion despite our diversity of opinion and, among dioceses, a diversity of pastoral practice with the gay men and lesbians among us.
  8. That it is a matter of faith that our Lord longs for our unity as his disciples, and for us this entails living within the boundaries of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. We believe this discipline expresses faithfulness to our polity and that it will facilitate the conversation we seek, not only in The Episcopal Church, but also in the wider Anglican Communion and beyond.
I was present at General Convention 2003 during this debate. A tremendous amount of attention was focused on paragraph six - you can read the legislative history on the debate of this resolution in the House of Bishops here. If you want to see professional legislative process at work - this would be it. There are TEC bishops who are masters at this.

It was a legislative masterstroke because the pivotal paragraph turned out to be Paragraph Five, which authorized Local Blessings, or what has been called in the Episcopal Church as Local Option.

The Bishop of Washington permitted same sex blessings in his diocese. The Bishop of Los Angeles permitted the same sex blessings in his diocese. The Bishop of Connecticut authorized same sex blessings in his diocese. Have any of them been deposed like this guy? Uh, no.

We have to catch a plane, but commentary like this and this "blinks at reality" of what is occurring in the Province of the Episcopal Church. What some in the Anglican Communion do not yet grasp is that the Episcopal Church is a "local option" church. We do not have a Archbishops for a reason. Local Option is what permitted same sex blessings to be authorized at the local diocesan level and local option is what permitted diocesan bishops (until November 2006 when Katharine Jefferts Schori was made Presiding Bishop) to negotiate with their parishes over separation.

Local Option for Same Sex Blessings continues unabated, as we saw during the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans last September. But Local Option for Diocesan bishops to negotiate with their parishes was crushed by the Presiding Bishops office. She has not disciplined a single bishop for either presiding over or authorizing same sex blessings in Episcopal parishes. But she has deposed bishops (and seems poised to do more come September) if a bishop exercises local option in any other way than the way she personally approves. And the Episcopal House of Bishops allows it to continue - and as we see in the debate over C051, they are sophisticated in knowing how to use parliamentary procedures to get what they want.

As the Bishop of Nevada, Bishop Schori authorized same sex blessings in her own diocese - she approves of same sex blessings and by her actions of "being left undone" shows that in practice the Episcopal Church, in the office of the Primate (a term that before the current Presiding Bishop was never used), authorizes same sex blessings.

As a friend recently said, "remember half the truth masquerading as the whole truth is an untruth." Case in point, here's the "has never happened in my diocese with my permission" video where the Bishop of Los Angeles is confronted, after making this statement at the press conference, that a same sex blessing had occurred over the weekend at at a premier Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills.

The "half truths" in this video alone illustrate the level of deception imposed by the authorities of the Episcopal Church who are charged as Anglicans to guard the faith. We must watch and pray.

Lonon Times Commentary: The Heaven's Open Up

BB NOTE: From Ruth Gledhill here. We will not try to take the fact that the weather is shifting as BabyBlue is arriving personally. But we are packing a couple of brollies.

his is a crucial week for the Anglican Communion. This afternoon, we get the third document from the Windsor Continuation Group. That could be a reiteration of Windsor, or an attempt to enforce Dar es Salaam, in other words, the removal of rebellious Primates from the councils of the church. Both conservatives and liberals could then be at risk. Then there are the Covenant and human sexuality debates. Liberals are deeply unhappy about the Covenant, in particular the appendix. Read it here and you'll understand why. Conservatives are even more unhappy about TEC resistance to rowing back on human sexuality, as made clear by Bishop Mouneer Anis in his letter back home to Egypt. (Dr Anis pictured here by George Conger.)

Then on Sunday afternoon we get the Archbishop of Canterbury's final reflections.

Even Anglican bishops are human beings. If we get some horrible British weather here over the next few days, as sadly seems likely, I just can't envisage the bishops continuing to get along as well as they have begun to do. The weather vane will turn, again.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

BabyBlueVideoCast: Driving to Truro

A request for prayer from Mouneer Anis

The Bishop of Egypt and Primate of the Middle East, Mouneer Anis, has asked for intercessory prayer as he takes part in a debate on Monday at the Lambeth Conference regarding the crisis in the Anglican Communion. "Please pray for me because on Monday 28 July we will have another debate," the bishops writes on his blog. "Last Wednesday the TEC bishops were well prepared and spoke very bluntly, making it clear that there is no turning back. I will present my thoughts to them on Monday. I pray to God for strength and direction, that He may direct my thoughts and words."

And we do pray that Jesus, the Light of the World, will so illuminate your path that many will have new ears to hear and news eyes to see that Jesus is Risen and He is Lord - of our lives and of our Church. Come, Lord Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly, my Lord. Amen.

Photo by George Conger.

The Principles of Canon Law: A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the bad Medicine Go Down?

Here is John Rees of the Anglican Communion Office (Kenneth Kearon's office) defending his Principles of Canon Law to the press. Watching this video reminds us of the song from Mary Poppins, A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down. Ah, but what kind of medicine is it? He approaches the press by attempting to disarm them - telling them what he thinks the document is not. It's quite clever, denoting a style that is quintessentially British - it's hard to imagine Americans talking like this. It's all so reasonable, so lovely, so delightful, but tell us please, if everything is so reasonable, so lovely, so delightful - why on earth what would we need this document in the first place?

Tip of the Tinfoil to Ruth Gledhill.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lambeth Songfest: It's all over now, Baby Blue

Here's the song where the Cafe gets its name. This particular performance was done after Dylan was booed at Newport for going electric. Peter Yarrow convinced him to come back on stage unplugged and this is the final song that Dylan sang to the crowd gathered at Newport in the summer of 1965. I was four then and living in New Hampshire and trying to figure out how to keep the baby gate closed so my brother wouldn't tumble down the stairs.

The Anglican Iron Curtain: "Principle 80"

BB NOTE: Wake up laity - looks like the iron curtain is coming to the Anglican world. Sad, isn't it? Instead of the solving the problem - they institute an iron curtain to keep everyone in control. Thought the Denis Canon was whacked. Get a load of this one. And where, pray tell, did Patrick Henry give his famous speech? Wonder what he'd say about this so-called "principle?" George Orwell, call your office.

Turns out that the authors of these "principles" think that bishops not only love to sit down to a roaring feast after a hot day protesting against poverty, but that they secretly wish they were all Yertle the Turtle too.

From page 81 of "The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion," (David Booth Beers contributing) which was handed out to the Lambeth press today. Thanks to Matt Kennedy for typing it up.

Principle 80: Ownership and administration of church property

1. Churches should satisfy those requirements of civil law which apply to the acquisition, ownership, administration and alienation of church property both real and personal.

2. Property is held by those authorities within a church which enjoy legal personality as trustees or other entities of a fiduciary nature under civil law and competence under church law.

3. Ecclesiastical authorities are the stewards of church property.

4. Ecclesiastical authorities must hold and administer church property to advance the mission of a church, and for the benefit and use of its members from generation to generation, in accordance with the law of that church.

5. Church property is held in trust for a church and should not be alienated or encumbered without such consents ans may be prescribed by law.

6. Ecclesiastical trustees may sell, purchase and exchange property in the manner and to the extent authorised by law.

7. The central assembly of a church, or other designated assembly, may frame laws for the management and use of property held in trust for that church.

8. Commissions, boards and other bodies may be appointed to advise church trustees on the development and administration of any property held by those trustees.

9. The management and day-to-day administration of church property at the local level are vested in parish assemblies or other legal entities and are subject to such prerogatives of the clergy as may be provided by law.

10. National, regional, provincial, diocesan, parish or other church trustees must perform their functions under the order and control of the appropriate assembly to which the law of a church renders them accountable.

11. No one shall deny or obstruct access to any ecclesiastical person or body lawfully entitled to enter or use church property.

9. The management and day-to-day administration of church property at the local level are vested in parish assemblies or other legal entities and are subject to such prerogatives of the clergy as may be provided by law.

10. National, regional, provincial, diocesan, parish or other church trustees must perform their functions under the order and control of the appropriate assembly to which the law of a church renders them accountable.

11. No one shall deny or obstruct access to any ecclesiastical person or body lawfully entitled to enter or use church property.

Would someone get Mack on the phone?

Anglican and Non-Anglican bishops out for the Photo-Op

To shore up their numbers, they included in non-Anglican guests for the photo-op. But what is one to do when more than 230 Anglican bishops are missing?

Rowan Williams has no Navy: So let's just build a Berlin Wall instead?

Watching the latest news to come out of Canterbury (I'm leaving for Lambeth on Monday) especially this and this and this - I am reminded of something my Brother the Methodist once said.

We were sitting on the couch and I was lamenting the latest news of the Episcopal/Anglican Crisis and going on about it all, waxing lyrical and getting teary and my Brother the Methodist, in his Methodist fashion shakes his head sadly, but with a hint of a smile.

I asked, "why do you smile?" and he said, "well, of course, they have no Navy."

Apparently, being a three generation Navy Junior, I was supposed to understand that cryptic remark. So of course I asked him what he meant.

One of the things that makes America a powerful country is that we have the ability to blockade. A blockade is any effort to prevent supplies, troops, information, or aid from reaching an opposing force. The ability to blockade is power. America has that power. The Episcopal Church does not.

In fact, it was designed that way. We remember that it was not easy to reinstate the Anglican church after the Revolution. Major changes were made to limit the centralized power of the bishops and clerical orders and more responsibility was turned over to the laity, especially in the Commonwealth of Virginia that had been on the frontlines during the war. A great portion of the Anglicans were loyalists to the Crown and to build any semblance of a church with the Prayer Book had to include the principles of liberty just won in that war. We must not forget that, if we are truly interested in the legacy left to us by previous generations, especially in Virginia.

The Episcopal Church does not have a way to prevent supplies, troops, information, or aid from reaching those who are resisting or fleeing. Even now, at this late hour, Episcopalians are still fleeing over the borders into safety. The only recourse the Episcopal Church sees it has is to try to use the courts as their Navy. Things have not been going well on that front of late and a court is not a Navy.

Now global attention has shifted to the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury and we are seeing attempts to institute a blockade - but one very different from a Naval Blockade. In an ironic twist, what we've seen developing over the last few days are attempts to institute a blockade against themselves.

And that is a called a Berlin Wall.

This morning's press conference, blogged by Stand Firm's Matt Kennedy, is a case in point of a lawyer sent out to meet the press to announce the building of a blockade from the inside.

The fact remains (as we've been reminded over and over again at this particular Lambeth Conference that - for the record - will have no binding legislative authority) that the Lambeth Conference has no Navy. The absence of the ecclesiastical representatives of at least half of the entire Anglican Communion at this Lambeth Conference illustrates that the Archbishop of Canterbury has no Navy. Their absence is a constant reminder that the Lambeth Conference has no Navy.

In fact, the greatest illustration that the Anglican Communion has no Navy is GAFCON.

So what to do in a crisis of these historic proportions? It's what many organizations do when they are in crisis, what families do when they are in crisis, what countries do when they are in crisis - they build a Berlin Wall.

A Berlin Wall is not a Naval Blockade. The Berlin Wall was designed to stop East Germans from fleeing. What we see in today's press conference is an attempt underway at Lambeth to build the Anglican version of the Berlin Wall. It is designed to keep churches and provinces and their assets from fleeing.

Remember the Berlin Wall?

A scripture that has been very much on my mind and heart over through this crisis has been Galatians 1:1: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

A Berlin Wall does not stand for freedom.

The lack of transparency, the lack of a free democratic process, the lack of accountability in decision-making, the nearly propaganda-esque event of publicly marching in the streets against poverty followed up by an extravagant palace feast, and now growing evidence of an attempt to control the borders and blockade from within - all point to signs of the building of an Anglican Berlin Wall.

Want to see it in action? The lawyer trotted out to the press today stated that he was "certainly affirming that property is held in trust and further on we talk about how that trust involves that property being available from generation to generation and how we must take the long view." Well, that pretty much sums up the legal strategy of the Episcopal Church right there in their ongoing litigation against the Anglican churches that voted to separate from the Episcopal Church and join another branch of the Anglican Communion.

With this press conference this morning, there seems to be mounting and rather compelling evidence that there is an attempt underway to build an Anglican Berlin Wall. In fact, that may be the whole point of this Lambeth Conference - to build that wall. Get ready.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Lambeth Update: Is something ticking?

George Conger reports from here:

A “bombshell” report is expected to be delivered to bishops attending the 14th Lambeth Conference on July 28 that is expected to call for the Episcopal Church to abandon its push for gay bishops and blessings.

The request is expected to come in the third presentation of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) to the bishops at Lambeth and follows a call for the creation of an Anglican Holy Office to police the boundaries of the faith.

Backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican “Faith and Order Commission” will be a fifth instrument of unity for the Anglican Communion.

Plans for were disclosed on July 23 during the second of three briefings on the work of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) chaired by the former Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Bishop Clive Handford.

In its briefing paper to the bishops, the WCG commended the creation of an “Anglican Communion Faith and Order Commission that could give guidance on the ecclesiological issues raised by our current ‘crisis’.”

The Anglican Inquisition proposal came in the last sentence of the briefing paper delivered by Bishop Handford to the bishops. “One person said it would be a good thing and welcomed it,” Bishop Handford explained, but noted there was little substantive discussion of the proposal by the bishops.

Created by Dr. Rowan Williams to advise him on “matters arising from the Windsor Report,” the WCG has prepared three briefings for the bishops that asks “Where we are now”, “Where we should be?”, and “How do we get from here to there.”

The first two briefings addressed the “severity of the situation” within the Communion, focusing on the “inconsistency between the stated intent and the reality” of the steps taken by the Episcopal Church to conform to the primates’ request.”

“The implications of requests and responses are either not fully thought through or they are disregarded. The consequences of actions have not always been adequately addressed,” they said.

The first presentation by Bishop Handford also addressed issues of trust. “Positions and arguments are becoming more extreme: not moving towards one another, relationships in the Communion continue to deteriorate, there is little sense of mutual accountability,” the briefing said.

The state of the Episcopal Church was one of “turmoil” the briefing said, with parishes and dioceses seceding to join other provinces, and “litigation and interventions” becoming “locked into a vicious spiral.”

In discussion following the first presentation, 21 bishops spoke, of whom 17 were white Western bishops. Bishop Keith Ackerman of Quincy (Illinois) spoke of the difficulties faced by traditionalists in the United States, while Bishop Peter Beckwith of Springfield (Illinois) enumerated the innovations of doctrine and discipline that have occurred in the Episcopal Church in recent years.

However, the majority of speakers at the closed-door session came from the Episcopal Church’s liberal wing, and argued the American church was being unfairly caricatured. Bishop James Mathes of San Diego complained of cross-border interventions into his diocese by overseas primates, while other bishops suggested the wider Communion did not understand the unique circumstances of the United States.

On July 25, the Bishop of Washington, the Rt Rev John B Chane dismissed comments made by the Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez that the American church was unravelling. Archbishop Gomez’s observations were “dishonest”, Bishop Chane told his American counterparts.

The second briefing on July 23 discussed the Covenant process that would establish “communion with autonomy and accountability” for the Anglican provinces. There was a “lack of clarity” about the current instruments of Communion, the Lambeth-Chicago Quadrilateral: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Primates’ Meeting, and their “ecclesiological significance” needed to be reviewed as “whether they are fit to respond effectively to the demands of global leadership.”

A fifth instrument of unity, the Faith and Order Commission should be established to assist the work of the other four bodies, the WCG recommended. Dr Williams said he “didn’t want to be specific” about the new Office, and its inclusion was a “flag raised to see who salutes.”

A “great head of steam was building behind” the Office, and he believed it was necessary to create “another instrument to sort out these issues” facing the Communion.

The archbishop denied suggestions the Office was a start of the curialisation of the Anglican Communion. He was seeking “consent, not coercion,” adding “we will fly farther apart” unless “protocols and conventions” are adopted.

Dr Williams said he had a “sense” that the bishops at Lambeth believed it was “worth working at staying together,” for the “unity and cooperation of the Communion is no small thing.”

Bishop Handford said the first two briefings had been “well received” by the bishops. The presentations were “doing what we hoped they would do” and were “stimulating conversation” amongst the bishops. People were “informally talking with one another.”

Bishops who had seen a draft of the third briefing told it would be a “bombshell” and intimated it would press the Episcopal Church to honor the Windsor Report and Dar es Salaam communiqué.

Bishop Handford declined to comment on the content of the final paper, but said “some may hear something ticking. I don’t know.”

The third WCG paper will be presented to the bishops on July 28.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Nothing quite like a Pino Grigio after a hot march against poverty

As someone who has seen her share of protest marches over the years (we have so many in Washington that springtime in DC is affectionately called Protest Season), I am not sure I have ever heard of a street protest against world hunger that that concluded with a march into a lavish banquet at a palace. Why, they even threw in the chandeliers. Who's idea was that?

An Episcopal bishop reports:

We arrived at Lambeth Palace and walked the grounds for a while before hearing a stirring speech from the Prime Minister about world poverty. Then, in an ironic contrast, we were served a very elegant lunch in a huge tent set up on the grounds.
Here's how Ruth Gledhill of the London Times describes the luncheon menu that followed the March against poverty:
The menu was cold lemon and thyme scented breast of chicken with fresh asparagus and porcini mushroom relish, summer bean and coriander, tomato, basil and mozzarella served with hot minted new potatoes. Pudding was dark chocolate and raspberry tart with raspberry ripple ice cream, topped off with coffee and white chocolate raspberries. To wash it down they drank Pino Grigio or Chiraz or cranberry and elderflower fruit punch. The cream marquee was decorated with a dozen chandeliers down the middle.
The bishop then goes on to consider the "irony" of this ill-timed luncheon, explaining for the record:
I would have been happy with a sandwich and a donation to the MDG funds, but apparently there are many from third world countries who look forward to this lavish event.
At least he had some sort of moral pang that perhaps this was all rather vulgar. That he then excuses it by rationalizing that the poor blokes from the poverty-stricken countries rather like this sort of thing is, quite frankly, patronizing. He seems to think that this rationalization gives him an excuse to have have no conscience. And he seems totally unaware of what he's just implied - or who he blames.

Ah, the old Bait & Switch: 815 preps Episcopal bishops to stay "on message" while at Lambeth

Turns out 815 has been busy orchestrating a campaign to keep Episcopal bishops to "on message" while they are at the Lambeth Conference. The Episcopal bishops were first instructed starting at the March 2008 meeting and then before Lambeth began, were given instructions and talking points in order to stay on message as a group.

Indeed, the bishops were instructed to uphold two "core messages" while at Lambeth.

They are:

1. At the Lambeth Conference, the Bishops of the Anglican Communion renew our deep unity in Christ.

2. When Anglicans work together through the power of the Holy Spirit, we change the world.

The Bishops are then given talking points to repeat these messages over and over - in their engagements with the press, in their indaba groups, and in any other encounters they have with Anglicans or those outside the gates. Dr. Philip Turner at the Anglican Communion Institute has done an excellent job of breaking down the two "core messages" as he recognizes two core points:
TEC’s leadership is advocating not a form of communion but a form of federation joined by affection, even love, but not by mutually recognized forms of belief and practice. The TEC memo is in fact proposing a post modern, de-centered church joined not by mutual recognition of belief and practice but by allegiance to a common mission
Be sure to read his entire analysis here.

What we wonder is - why these two core messages? Why the focus on unity? Why the focus on Anglicans working together to change the world?

1. At the Lambeth Conference, the Bishops of the Anglican Communion renew our deep unity in Christ.

There are very few in America who don't know that the Episcopal Church is embroiled in a schism. Even a Virginia judge could see that plainly - the evidence was so overwhelming that he ruled that the Virginia churches had satisfied the criteria to invoke the Division Statute of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is true that he bishops of the Anglican Communion have come to Lambeth in the past to illustrate that the provinces are united in a common faith expressed in the Book of Common Prayer and the Holy Scriptures. That's what makes us Anglican. But not this year! The fact remains indisputable - there is no unity this year and the Episcopal Church is to blame for the tearing of the fabric of the Communion.

What an audacious statement to attempt to pull over eyes of the other the bishops, the media, and the people by proclaiming unity when in fact, what they really have done and continue to do is break up the fellowship by unilaterally imposing social innovations on the rest of the communion. There is only unity if the rest of the Anglican Communion agrees with them.

It is then no wonder that the bishops have been instructed to talk about unity when in fact there is no unity? It is a classic "bait and switch."

2. When Anglicans work together through the power of the Holy Spirit, we change the world.

Again, a lovely statement but it is completely devoid of reality. How can anyone for a moment believe that an institution that is busy suing Anglicans is out to change the world? The Episcopal Church has been out to sue the world. If anyone does not adhere to their "changes" then lawsuits will follow. "Unity" is agreeing with them. "Diversity" means promoting cultural innovations at the cost of Anglican unity.

And the fact remains - Anglican are not working together. The Episcopal Church is the greatest illustration of Anglicans not not only not working together as a province, but working autonomously to invoke cultural innovations in spite of protests and pleas from the rest of the Communion to stop.

Is it again, then,m no wonder that the Episcopal bishops have been instructed to talk about Anglicans working together when in fact the Episcopal Church fails to do that even now?

It is slick - the bishops are orchestrated to bait those who are listening with a message that bears no resemblance to reality. Nearly half of of the Communion is not even represented at this Lambeth Conference due to the actions of the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church has the audacity to talk about unity and working together as Anglicans!

Read the bishops' briefing document here. As Dr. Turner writes, "the memo signals a hardened position on the part of TEC’s Episcopal leadership that runs counter to the spirit the Archbishop of Canterbury has asked to guide the bishops in their deliberations—a spirit of mutual subjection in Christ that is open to correction." See it for yourself.

Tip of the Tinfoil to Ruth Gledhill at the London Times.

BREAKING NEWS: Common Cause Partnership to ask for GAFCON province status

BB NOTE: While the Lambeth bishops are swapping howdies with the Blue Bloods at the Palace, the GAFCON Primates Council is petitioned by the CCP to seat the Rt. Rev'd Bob Duncan on the Primates Council. Pass the tea and crumpets.

The Common Cause Partnership leaders issued a statement today welcoming the Jerusalem Declaration and the statement on the Global Anglican Future and pledging to move forward with the work of Anglican unity in North America.

"We, as the Bishops and elected leaders of the Common Cause Partnership are deeply grateful for the Jerusalem Declaration. It describes a hopeful, global Anglican future, rooted in scripture and the authentic Anglican way of faith and practice. We joyfully welcome the words of the GAFCON statement that it is now time 'for the federation currently known as the Common Cause Partnership to be recognized by the Primates Council.'

"The intention of the Executive Committee is to petition the Primate Council for recognition as the North American Province of GAFCON on the basis of the Common Cause Partnership Articles, Theological Statement, and Covenant Declaration, and to ask that their Moderator be seated in the Primate's Council.

"We accept the call to build the Common Cause Partnership into a truly unified body of Anglicans. We are committed to that call. Over the past months, we have worked together, increasing the number of partners and authorizing committees and task groups for Mission,
Education, Governance, Prayer Book & Liturgy, the Episcopate, and Ecumenical Relations. The Executive Committee is meeting regularly to carry forward the particulars of this call. The CCP Council will meet December 1-3, 2008."

The Common Cause Partnership links together nine Anglican jurisdictions and organizations in North America. Together, the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Coalition in Canada, the
Anglican Communion Network, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas, Forward in Faith North America and the Reformed Episcopal Church represent more the 1,300 Anglican parishes in the United States and Canada. The Common Cause Partnership Executive Committee is: The Rt. Rev'd Robert Duncan, Moderator; The Venerable Charlie Masters, General Secretary; Mrs. Patience Oruh, Treasurer; The Rt. Rev'd Keith Ackerman, Forward in Faith North America; The Rt. Rev'd David Anderson, American Anglican Council; The Rt. Rev'd Donald Harvey, Anglican Network in Canada; The Rt. Rev'd Paul Hewett, Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas; The Rt. Rev'd Martyn Minns, Convocation of Anglicans in North America; The Rt. Rev'd Chuck Murphy, Anglican Mission in the Americas; The Rt. Rev'd Leonard Riches, Reformed Episcopal Church; The Rt. Rev'd Bill Atwood, Anglican Church of Kenya and The Rt. Rev'd John Guernsey, Church of the Province of Uganda.

International Herald Tribune: Why many bishops did not come to Lambeth

From here.

In his opening sermon at the Lambeth Conference, the bishop of Colombo, the Right Reverend Duleep de Chickera, insisted that the Anglican tradition was to welcome everybody. It is, he said, "an inclusive communion, where there is space equally for everyone and anyone, regardless of color, gender, ability, sexual orientation. Unity in diversity is a cherished Anglican tradition."

Given this shared tradition, why did some 230 of the Communion's 650 bishops choose not to come? Because they hold that - above anything else - the unifying, formal commitment of the Anglican Church is to Scripture and its teaching, and that those who are endorsing blessing same-sex relationships and consecrating active gay men as bishops are innovators who are setting the teaching of the Bible aside. For these 230 bishops this is a matter of conscience - obedience to the Bible and the continuous teaching of the Church.

The innovators hold that these bishops may disapprove of same-sex behavior, but put this down to their conformity to the taboos of their culture. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the president of the conference, told the gathering: "We have it in us to be a Church that can manage to respond generously and flexibly to diverse cultural situations while holding fast to the knowledge that we can also be free from what can be the suffocating pressure of local demands and priorities because we are attentive and obedient to the liberating gift of God in Jesus and in the Scripture."

But the fact is that the bishops who declined to come to Canterbury this year represent over 30 million of the 55 million churchgoing Anglicans. Most of their congregations are in Africa and other parts of the global south. They are opposed outright to the ordination of practicing homosexuals, but have differing approaches to the ordination of women; some do and some do not.

The innovators argue that these differences should be set aside or overlooked because of our common faith and traditions of inclusiveness. But this misstates both the principles of our faith and our traditions.

The Anglican Communion is a family of 38 provinces around the world linked by a common confession of faith and historical antecedents that both preceded and followed British colonialism.

The first Anglicans insisted that Scripture be read and services be held in the language of the culture, English. But they did not require people to believe traditions or follow practices that were not required by Scripture or to forswear practices on which Scripture was silent. This led to a diversity of religious and cultural practices in the church, expressed in the maxim: "In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, and in all things charity."

This practice of "comprehensiveness" - allowing the Church to embrace the national culture where possible - was very appealing to people forming churches for the first time in African cultures, especially following the post-colonial period in the 1960s.

But the idea of comprehensiveness has now been erroneously expanded to mean that the church is inclusive of everyone. In the American branch, The Episcopal Church, USA, Holy Communion, a celebration that Jesus held with his disciples only, is now often offered to anyone of any faith on the grounds of inclusion. The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts-Schori, commented on the opening sermon at Lambeth on Sunday: "It's what the Church is today. It is inclusive - even those who don't agree with the message, it includes them too."

This means that you are included even if you do not want to be. Moreover, this liberal practice, laudable as it might appear in print, is highly selective, even illiberal.

In the United States, those who disagree with her have found themselves excluded: One hundred priests have been deposed and 200 congregations have been exiled from their church buildings for not accepting the liberal Episcopal Church's position.

For the 230 bishops who declined to attend the Lambeth Conference, the problem is that the American church has blessed people in their disobedience to God. In response to a plea by English evangelical bishops to attend the conference, representatives of these conservative bishops wrote that some of their co-religionists in the United States who had objected to the consecration of V. Gene Robinson "have been charged with abandonment of communion. Their congregations have either forfeited or are being sued for their properties by the very bishops with whom you wish us to share Christian family fellowship for three weeks."

"To do this is an assault on our consciences and our hearts. How can we explain to our church members that while we and they are formally out of communion" with the Episcopal Church, "we at the same time live with them at the Lambeth Conference as though nothing had happened? This would be hypocrisy."

The fundamental question is this: What allows for religious freedom and religious choice? An Anglican faith that adheres to the teaching of Scripture, calls people to choose to follow Jesus and all that he teaches, welcomes all to hear the gospel but is clear where the boundaries are. Or a so-called inclusive Anglicanism that seeks to improve on the Bible, observes no boundaries, and claims to welcome all - as long as you do not disagree.

Dr. Chris Sugden is executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream, an network of orthodox Anglicans in Britain, and canon of St. Luke's Cathedral, Jos, Nigeria.