Friday, May 28, 2010

Following Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles Consecration, Archbishop of Canterbury calls for first steps toward disciplinary action

BB NOTE: Timing, my friends - it's all about timing.

Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, calls for provinces formally breaking the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion to no longer officially represent the Anglican Communion in ecumenical affairs (such as on the IASCUFO - you can read their communique here, which was released prior to Glasspool's consecration when the Episcopal Church was requested to stand down from it's intention to make her a bishop). This will particularly affect The Episcopal Church, which formally did break the moratoria at the Los Angeles consecration of Mary Glasspool, officiated by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.  

Make no mistake about it, Rowan Williams timing in releasing his call now follows in the wake of the Glasspool consecration two weeks ago.

Dr. Williams writes, ""Although attitudes to human sexuality have been the presenting cause, I want to underline the fact that what has precipitated the current problem is not simply this issue but the widespread bewilderment and often hurt in different quarters that we have no way of making decisions together so that we are not compromised or undermined by what others are doing. We have not, in other words, found a way of shaping our consciences and convictions as a worldwide body."

Here is another excerpt from his official Pentecost letter, where he outlines the first consequences:
We began by thinking about Pentecost and the diverse peoples of the earth finding a common voice, recognising that each was speaking a truth recognised by all.  However, when some part of that fellowship speaks in ways that others find hard to recognise, and that point in a significantly different direction from what others are saying, we cannot pretend there is no problem.

And when a province through its formal decision-making bodies or its House of Bishops as a body declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard (as noted in my letter to the Communion last year after the General Convention of TEC) to see how members of that province can be placed in positions where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole.  This affects both our ecumenical dialogues, where our partners (as they often say to us) need to know who it is they are talking to, and our internal faith-and-order related groups.

I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged.  I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members.  This is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice.  It does not alter what has been said earlier by the Primates’ Meeting about the nature of the moratoria: the request for restraint does not necessarily imply that the issues involved are of equal weight but recognises that they are ‘central factors placing strains on our common life’, in the words of the Primates in 2007.  Particular provinces will be contacted about the outworking of this in the near future.
BB NOTE: We can see some movement toward working within the communion structures at the last Global South meeting in Singapore when the leaders of the ACNA and the leaders of the Communion Partners came together to speak to the gathering. Efforts are underway to continue to build bridges between the ACNA and the Communion Partners, both formally and informally, as well with the Church of England which, in an extraordinary action in February recognized the ACNA's desire to remain Anglican at the Church of England Synod. Other efforts are underway as well which have not yet been made public.  It will be interesting to watch if The Episcopal Church will change course as well and stand down from it's formal insistence to break the moratoria established in the Windsor Report.

Here is the letter in full:

Renewal in the Spirit

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost Letter

to the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion

1.

‘They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak’ (Acts 2.4). At Pentecost, we celebrate the gift God gives us of being able to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ in the various languages of the whole human world. The Gospel is not the property of any one group, any one culture or history, but is what God intends for the salvation of all who will listen and respond.

St Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit is also what God gives us so that we can call God ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8.15, Gal. 4.6). The Spirit is given not only so that we can speak to the world about God but so that we can speak to God in the words of his own beloved Son. The Good News we share is not just a story about Jesus but the possibility of living in and through the life of Jesus and praying his prayer to the Father.

And so the Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of ‘communion’ or fellowship (II Cor. 13.13). The Spirit allows us to recognise each other as part of the Body of Christ because we can hear in each other the voice of Jesus praying to the Father. We know, in the Spirit, that we who are baptised into Jesus Christ share one life; so that all the diversity of gifting and service in the Church can be seen as the work of one Spirit (I Cor. 12.4). In the Holy Eucharist, this unity in and through the self-offering of Jesus is reaffirmed and renewed as we pray for the Spirit to transform both the bread and wine and ‘ourselves, our souls and bodies’.

When the Church is living by the Spirit, what the world will see is a community of people who joyfully and gratefully hear the prayer of Jesus being offered in each other’s words and lives, and are able to recognise the one Christ working through human diversity. And if the world sees this, the Church is a true sign of hope in a world of bitter conflict and rivalry.

2.

From the very first, as the New Testament makes plain, the Church has experienced division and internal hostilities. From the very first, the Church has had to repent of its failure to live fully in the light and truth of the Spirit. Jesus tells us in St John’s gospel that the Spirit of truth will ‘prove the world wrong’ in respect of sin and righteousness and judgement (Jn 16.8). But if the Spirit is leading us all further into the truth, the Spirit will convict the Church too of its wrongness and lead it into repentance. And if the Church is a community where we serve each other in the name of Christ, it is a community where we can and should call each other to repentance in the name of Christ and his Spirit – not to make the other feel inferior (because we all need to be called to repentance) but to remind them of the glory of Christ’s gift and the promise that we lose sight of when we fail in our common life as a Church.

Our Anglican fellowship continues to experience painful division, and the events of recent months have not brought us nearer to full reconciliation. There are still things being done that the representative bodies of the Communion have repeatedly pleaded should not be done; and this leads to recrimination, confusion and bitterness all round. It is clear that the official bodies of The Episcopal Church have felt in conscience that they cannot go along with what has been asked of them by others, and the consecration of Canon Mary Glasspool on May 15 has been a clear sign of this. And despite attempts to clarify the situation, activity across provincial boundaries still continues – equally dictated by what people have felt they must in conscience do. Some provinces have within them dioceses that are committed to policies that neither the province as a whole nor the Communion has sanctioned. In several places, not only in North America, Anglicans have not hesitated to involve the law courts in settling disputes, often at great expense and at the cost of the Church’s good name.

All are agreed that the disputes arising around these matters threaten to distract us from our main calling as Christ’s Church. The recent Global South encounter in Singapore articulated a strong and welcome plea for the priority of mission in the Communion; and in my own message to that meeting I prayed for a ‘new Pentecost’ for all of us. This is a good season of the year to pray earnestly for renewal in the Spirit, so that we may indeed do what God asks of us and let all people know that new and forgiven life in Christ is possible and that created men and women may by the Spirit’s power be given the amazing liberty to call God ‘Abba, Father!’

It is my own passionate hope that our discussion of the Anglican Covenant in its entirety will help us focus on that priority; the Covenant is nothing if not a tool for mission. I want to stress yet again that the Covenant is not envisaged as an instrument of control. And this is perhaps a good place to clarify that the place given in the final text to the Standing Committee of the Communion introduces no novelty: the Committee is identical to the former Joint Standing Committee, fully answerable in all matters to the ACC and the Primates; nor is there any intention to prevent the Primates in the group from meeting separately. The reference to the Standing Committee reflected widespread unease about leaving certain processes only to the ACC or only to the Primates.

But we are constantly reminded that the priorities of mission are experienced differently in different places, and that trying to communicate the Gospel in the diverse tongues of human beings can itself lead to misunderstandings and failures of communication between Christians. The sobering truth is that often our attempts to share the Gospel effectively in our own setting can create problems for those in other settings.

3.

We are at a point in our common life where broken communications and fragile relationships have created a very mistrustful climate. This is not news. But many have a sense that the current risks are greater than ever. Although attitudes to human sexuality have been the presenting cause, I want to underline the fact that what has precipitated the current problem is not simply this issue but the widespread bewilderment and often hurt in different quarters that we have no way of making decisions together so that we are not compromised or undermined by what others are doing. We have not, in other words, found a way of shaping our consciences and convictions as a worldwide body. We have not fully received the Pentecostal gift of mutual understanding for common mission.

It may be said – quite understandably, in one way – that our societies and their assumptions are so diverse that we shall never be able to do this. Yet we are called to seek for mutual harmony and common purpose, and not to lose heart. If the truth of Christ is indeed ultimately one as we all believe, there should be a path of mutual respect and thankfulness that will hold us in union and help us grow in that truth.

Yet at the moment we face a dilemma. To maintain outward unity at a formal level while we are convinced that the divisions are not only deep but damaging to our local mission is not a good thing. Neither is it a good thing to break away from each other so dramatically that we no longer see Christ in each other and risk trying to create a church of the ‘perfect’ – people like us. It is significant that there are still very many in The Episcopal Church, bishops, clergy and faithful, who want to be aligned with the Communion’s general commitments and directions, such as those who identify as ‘Communion Partners’, who disagree strongly with recent decisions, yet want to remain in visible fellowship within TEC so far as they can. And, as has often been pointed out, there are things that Anglicans across the world need and want to do together for the care of God’s poor and vulnerable that can and do go on even when division over doctrine or discipline is sharp.

4.

More and more, Anglicans are aware of living through a time of substantial transition, a time when the structures that have served us need reviewing and refreshing, perhaps radical changing, when the voice and witness in the Communion of Christians from the developing world is more articulate and creative than ever, and when the rapidity of social change in ‘developed’ nations leaves even some of the most faithful and traditional Christian communities uncertain where to draw the boundaries in controversial matters – not only sexuality but issues of bioethics, for example, or the complexities of morality in the financial world.

A time of transition, by definition, does not allow quick solutions to such questions, and it is a time when, ideally, we need more than ever to stay in conversation. As I have said many times before, whatever happens to our structures, we still need to preserve both working relationships and places for exchange and discussion. New vehicles for conversations across these boundaries are being developed with much energy.

But some decisions cannot be avoided. We began by thinking about Pentecost and the diverse peoples of the earth finding a common voice, recognising that each was speaking a truth recognised by all. However, when some part of that fellowship speaks in ways that others find hard to recognise, and that point in a significantly different direction from what others are saying, we cannot pretend there is no problem.

And when a province through its formal decision-making bodies or its House of Bishops as a body declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard (as noted in my letter to the Communion last year after the General Convention of TEC) to see how members of that province can be placed in positions where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole. This affects both our ecumenical dialogues, where our partners (as they often say to us) need to know who it is they are talking to, and our internal faith-and-order related groups.

I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members. This is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice. It does not alter what has been said earlier by the Primates’ Meeting about the nature of the moratoria: the request for restraint does not necessarily imply that the issues involved are of equal weight but recognises that they are ‘central factors placing strains on our common life’, in the words of the Primates in 2007. Particular provinces will be contacted about the outworking of this in the near future.

I am aware that other bodies have responsibilities in questions concerned with faith and order, notably the Primates’ Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Standing Committee. The latter two are governed by constitutional provisions which cannot be overturned by any one person’s decision alone, and there will have to be further consultation as to how they are affected. I shall be inviting the views of all members of the Primates’ Meeting on the handling of these matters with a view to the agenda of the next scheduled meeting in January 2011.

5.

In our dealings with other Christian communions, we do not seek to deny our diversity; but there is an obvious problem in putting forward representatives of the Communion who are consciously at odds with what the Communion has formally requested or stipulated. This does not seem fair to them or to our partners. In our dealings with each other, we need to be clear that conscientious decisions may be taken in good faith, even for what are held to be good theological or missional reasons, and yet have a cost when they move away from what is recognisable and acceptable within the Communion. Thus – to take a very different kind of example – there have been and there are Anglicans who have a strong conscientious objection to infant baptism. Their views deserve attention, respect and careful study, they should be engaged in serious dialogue – but it would be eccentric to place such people in a position where their view was implicitly acknowledged as one of a range of equally acceptable convictions, all of which could be taken as representatively Anglican.

Yet no-one should be celebrating such public recognition of divisions and everyone should be reflecting on how to rebuild relations and to move towards a more coherent Anglican identity (which does not mean an Anglican identity with no diversity, a point once again well made by the statement from the Singapore meeting). Some complain that we are condemned to endless meetings that achieve nothing. I believe that in fact we have too few meetings that allow proper mutual exploration. It may well be that such encounters need to take place in a completely different atmosphere from the official meetings of the Communion’s representative bodies, and this needs some imaginative thought and planning. Much work is already going into making this more possible.

But if we do conclude that some public marks of ‘distance’, as the Windsor Continuation Group put it, are unavoidable if our Communion bodies are not to be stripped of credibility and effectiveness, the least Christian thing we can do is to think that this absolves us from prayer and care for each other, or continuing efforts to make sense of each other.

We are praying for a new Pentecost for our Communion. That means above all a vast deepening of our capacity to receive the gift of being adopted sons and daughters of the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It means a deepened capacity to speak of Jesus Christ in the language of our context so that we are heard and the Gospel is made compelling and credible. And it also means a deepened capacity to love and nourish each other within Christ’s Body – especially to love and nourish, as well as to challenge, those whom Christ has given us as neighbours with whom we are in deep and painful dispute.

One remarkable symbol of promise for our Communion is the generous gift received by the Diocese of Jerusalem from His Majesty the King of Jordan, who has provided a site on the banks of the Jordan River, at the traditional site of Our Lord’s Baptism, for the construction of an Anglican church. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of blessing the foundation stone of this church and viewing the plans for its design. It will be a worthy witness at this historic site to the Anglican tradition, a sign of real hope for the long-suffering Christians of the region, and something around which the Communion should gather as a focus of common commitment in Christ and his Spirit. I hope that many in the Communion will give generous support to the project.

‘We have the mind of Christ’ says St Paul (I Cor. 2.16); and, as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has recently written, this means that we must have a ‘kenotic’, a self-emptying approach to each other in the Church. May the Spirit create this in us daily and lead us into that wholeness of truth which is only to be found in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus.

I wish you all God’s richest blessing at this season.


+Rowan Cantuar:


Lambeth Palace
Pentecost 2010


Read it all here and here.

55 comments:

1662 BCP said...

Is that a Gin bottle?

Anonymous said...

So does the ABC mean what he says?

In particular, is he going to remove the CoE?

provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion

Could someone please explain how this does not breach the moratorium on recognising gay blessings?

Church of England General Synod extends pension rights for gay partners

oldmiler said...

CofE can easily extend pension rights to gay partners as long everybody is polite and sufficiently closeted. Something TEC is not. The difference between Glasspool or Robinson and the thousands of GLBT clergy throughout the AC is that simple, ours are out.

Anonymous said...

Um, you know is means the boarder crossers are out too, right? And by extension the ACNA.

Anonymous said...

I agree - this is not just aimed at TEC. Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda are also breakers of moritoria. TEC may agree to do this, but no way the border crossers do.

Also, ACNA was already out.

BabyBlue said...

Anon, Uganda has all ready turned all their parishes over to ACNA. CANA is also preparing for dioceses to form within the ACNA. ACNA is recognized by the Church of England (including Rowan Williams) in its identity to remain Anglican, the "border-crossings" are all ready passing away. The letter is strategically placed in juxtaposition to the LA consecration. I don't see any evidence that TEC is going to suddenly marginalize its non-celibate gay and lesbian members from participating in all offices of the church - do you?

bb

1662 BCP said...

BB,
Are you saying that CANA will turn all of its parishes over to ac/na? Are all the African Provinces prepared to do that now? I will believe it when all the new colonialists have left the scene.

Dale Matson said...

bb
Your comments remind me of the punch line, "There has to be a pony in there somewhere"

Dale Matson said...

1662 BCP,
"Is that a Gin bottle"? I don't know why that comment struck me as so funny but it is the hardest I have ever laughed at a blog comment. When does drawn out resolution simply become torture?

Anonymous said...

"I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged"

Sorry, this means you too.

BabyBlue said...

The point is - one group is taking steps (except for AMiA) to move toward Canterbury's wishes while another group is doing anything but. That's the point here - I happen to agree with Rowan on this. The ADV is preparing to join ACNA directly and not through CANA. That is going to continue and Rowan's letter is a great encouragement in this effort.

bb

Anonymous said...

Prepare ye to be hoist upon your own petard.

And where's the smart money on the upcoming ruling? BB - I hope you'll let us know how you see the outcomes and their likelihood. Two weeks away, right?

Anonymous said...

What's the difference between CANA and ADV? I get so lost trying to understand the alphabet soup. Is the AAC still in business? What's its role?

Anonymous said...

The point is - you're still not the legitimate province, and are still operating in another province. And if you separate from Nigeria, or wherever, you no longer can lay serious claim to being a real part of the Anglican Communion. I don't see a win here. Or even encouragement.

BabyBlue said...

Official Resolution of the Church of England Synod, February 2010:

That this Synod, aware of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada,

“(a) recognise and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family;

bb

Anonymous said...

"Affirming a desire" sounds an awful lot like the Executive Board "receiving the Protocol" of yesteryear.

1662 BCP said...

Dale,
I just happened to think of that line in Animal House when John Belushi turned to the guy whose brother's car had just been totaled and advised him to "drink heavily".

Allen said...

Being disinvited to participate in what is clearly just a nominal committee hardly seems like a step. More like clearing of the throat.

We clearly do not have Rowan's attention.

Anonymous said...

One of the key rationales of the lower court ruling in the Virginia church property cases was that CANA was a "branch" of the Anglican Communion and that the Anglican Communion was a "church" within the meaning of the Virginia division statute. I think both those conclusions are factually in error, but let's set that to one side for a moment. If CANA were to be absorbed into ACNA at a time when it cannot be argued that ACNA is an integral part of the Anglican Communion, it would undermine the lower court's reasoning. I think CANA has to hope that ACNA's place within the Anglican Communion is made more clear before it can dismantle or integrate itself into ACNA in order to protect the trail court's rationale. Of course, we're within days of getting the Virginia Supreme Court's views on this, so my take on the lower court decision may be undone by later events.

Scout

BabyBlue said...

The problem with that rationale, Scout, is that it does not take into consideration the very argument TEC is making when it comes to the consecration of non-celibate gays and lesbians for the episcopate, namely, that it's none of Rowan's damn business what they do. He can advise - but he has no authority, which frankly, Rowan respects and has not sought to take a "kingly" role which ironically conservatives have found frustrating.

To follow your rationale when it comes to CANA - a legitimate canonical constitutional diocese in the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion would mean that Bishop Gene Robinson is not REALLY a bishop because he is not recognized enough by Rowan Williams to be invited to Lambeth.

Rowan has been shrewd in writing a "letter" - there is no canonical or authoritative directives in this letter as we might get if we had papal oversight (which us low-churches rejoice over). The reality remains that CANA is a legitimate and official diocese of the Church of Nigeria and the willingness of the Church of England to recognize ACNA knowing that CANA is a full partner in the ACNA speaks volumes.

bb

BabyBlue said...

The problem with that rationale, Scout, is that it does not take into consideration the very argument TEC is making when it comes to the consecration of non-celibate gays and lesbians for the episcopate, namely, that it's none of Rowan's damn business what they do. He can advise - but he has no authority, which frankly, Rowan respects and has not sought to take a "kingly" role which ironically conservatives have found frustrating.

To follow your rationale when it comes to CANA - a legitimate canonical constitutional diocese in the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion would mean that Bishop Gene Robinson is not REALLY a bishop because he is not recognized enough by Rowan Williams to be invited to Lambeth.

Rowan has been shrewd in writing a "letter" - there is no canonical or authoritative directives in this letter as we might get if we had papal oversight (which us low-churches rejoice over). The reality remains that CANA is a legitimate and official diocese of the Church of Nigeria and the willingness of the Church of England to recognize ACNA knowing that CANA is a full partner in the ACNA speaks volumes.

bb

Anonymous said...

Sorry BB, I'm not following you. I was not aware that C of E had recognized ACNA. Somehow I missed that entirely. I thought the last run at that in Synod resulted in nothing more than a watered-down resolution that made some reference to recognizing that ACNA sure would like to be part of the Communion, or something to that effect. If ACNA is now in, you're right that my reasoning about CANA doesn't make sense. But I think I would have stumbled over that fact somewhere.

I don't understand the Gene Robinson references. To the extent I have a glimmer, I think you are tending to align with my point that the Anglican Communion is not a "Church" in any sense that the drafters of the Division Statute might have understood. Yes, we can all agree that an ABC with some kick-butt authority might be very handy in times like these. But I don't think anyone has any disagreements about that.

Scout

BabyBlue said...

Recognize that we want to REMAIN Anglican - a major event in Feb. All - and I mean all - commentators of any weight thought this was a folly attempt for recognition that was coming too early. TEC was very slow to understand what was happening, sending the Presiding Bishop to London the week before Synod with the goal of squashing the resolution before it ever got out of committee. That effort failed.

The overwhelming passing of the resolution is significant step toward becoming a province recognized by the Church of England. Hardly the language of discipline - it offers hope and encouragement that are taking major steps in line with the Windsor Report recommendations.

Remember, Rowan Williams at the same meeting called for ways in which we could find ways to come together and avoid litigation. Those efforts continue even at this late hour in the Diocese of Virginia. It is clear TEC has worried that at some point we would negotiate, filing separate lawsuits outside of the Diocese with separate council. Still kinda wonder about that.

Again, this letter is release in juxtaposition to the events of two weeks ago in Los Angeles. One group is working hard to align with the Anglican Communion, the other is taking steps of walking apart. If we think that CANA is at risk because it's a part of the Church of Nigeria, then we also must say Robinson is at risk because he is not recongized by the Archbishop of Canterbury. We have seen that both provinces have waved Canterbury off - which is troubling, no way around it.

What is encouraging is that the ACNA is formed and growing and that those in the "lifeboats" are rowing toward the "shore" of the ACNA. The Church of England's bold recognition of this fact is greatly encouraging.

bb

Anonymous said...

I don't think CANA is at risk because it's a part of the Church of Nigeria. Even though the Nigerian tie was just a stratagem to support division while maintaining some semblance of an argument that the new CANA parishes had not left the larger Anglican Communion (an argument Judge Bellows bought into), CANA is in a slightly better position vis-a-vis the Anglican Communion than is ACNA, which, as a new entity within an established province (or two provinces if one includes Canada), is in limbo (not using that term theologically, mind you) in terms of its relationship to the Cjurch of England or the larger Communion.

CofE may have been prudent, but there certainly there was nothing bold about their action. It consciously sidestepped doing anything about ACNA. I'm surprised anyone would call that "recognition" in any sense than it was a recognition of the reality that there is such a thing as ACNA. The resolution passed was an exercise in jogging in place. I don't know whether the resolution got neutered because of TEC's opposition or whether that would have happened in any event. Certainly, a number of people within the Synod recognized the resolution as originally introduced to be, at least in part, a ploy to enhance church grabs by some departing groups and were reluctant to be used that way.

Perhaps ultimately the centrifugal tendencies of TEC, as manifested by something like the Glasspool consecration, and the efforts of ACNA to displace TEC as the recognized provincial authority or share in dual recognition will have a formal impact, but we aren't there yet.

Glasspool's elevation to the episcopacy was indeed a sharply divisive event. I view it as more significant (in a negative way) than the Robinson issue. The Diocese of Virginia recognized it as such and voted against her consecration. The Archbishop's letter doesn't surprise me at all. It is clear and I hope it will be effective in causing more dioceses within TEC to oppose, as did Virginia, this self-destructive (in terms of Anglican unity) acting out. Even if one had no theological reservation about non-celibate unmarried individuals becoming bishops ( I remain convinced that even within TEC, a heterosexual openly living in a non-celibate, unmarried relationship with a member of the opposite sex could not be ordained or consecrated), the Glasspool event was untimely and unproductive for TEC in its overall relationships with the rest of the Church.

Scout

Scout

BabyBlue said...

Obviously, Scout, The Episcopal Church did not share your sentiment and took the resolution very seriously, sending none other than the Presiding Bishop herself to lobby for it's dismissal. It was not expected to be taken seriously and even conservatives and traditionalist commentators were taken by surprise at it's overwhelming endorsement. This is the first step toward provincial status. If the resolution had failed it would have been devastating. That's what made it so bold.

bb

Anonymous said...

A lot of spin, there, BB. What PB lobbied against was not the resolution that was passed. The resolution did fail. Something else that was virtually meaningless was substituted in its place. When we look back in fifty years (actually I will not be looking back in fifty years, but I'm speaking abstractly here), I suppose we might say, if ACNA has achieved something resembling provincial status, that even the diluted resolution was the "first step." But ACNA will not achieve provincial status within the AC unless TEC acquiesces or, as you and other suggest, TEC effectively withdraws itself through these kind of wilfull and misguided flare-ups like the Glasspool nomination. That the latter happened certainly doesn't allay anyone's fears that, ironically, ACNA's status may be more in the hands of TEC's leadership than anywhere else.

Scout

Anonymous said...

BB. I am bewildered by your encouragement by the watered down CofE resolution. I can not see how anybody would not concur that it is the "desire" of ACNA to "remain" Anglican. It is my desire to be 5'10", but that does not make it so. I am intrigued by Scout's references to the Bellows decision and 57-9. I believe he is quite correct that Bellows bought the communion argument. CANA attys argued that there were two "branches" of the communion (seen by Bellows clearly as Religious Society or Church as defined by the statute. CANA attys argued that one was led by Nigeria and the other by Canterbury. If CANA/ADV is abandoned by Nigeria and joins ACNA which is not a "branch" of the communion, how would CANA's and the ADV's legal argument be affected? If ADV moves to join ACNA before CANA, how either both affected in terms of the legal arguments raised.

My own thinking was always that it was a toss up in Virginia courts as to the division statute and the trial court's ruling. I was not surprised at the Court's ruling on 57-9. I suspect the real issue would be a US Constitutional one. There has been much criticism, particularly from conservatives, regarding lawsuits as essentially unchristian. As I look at the pattern of these, it appears that those who sue are those not in possession of the property. It is their only way to get it back if they feel entitled to it. This is why TEC sued. It is also the case of why St. James' Newport (previously Ugandan?)is filing its new Petition and why Pittsburgh, which lost in round one, is appealing. Both lost to TEC; TEC was given possession, therefore St James and Pittsburgh are returning to court to get it back.

Virginia is complex. I would appreciate enlightenment here as to who the parties would be vis-a-vis CANA ADV etc. if Nigeria decides to cut either one lose? Since Nigeria has removed any reference to Canterbury from its constitution, the question may be irrelevant if CANA stays with Nigeria? But if ADV goes to ACNA, --a branch of nothing, will this development be considered by the appellate court or will the appeal be considered only on the trial court record? EmilyH

Anonymous said...

"If the resolution had failed it would have been devastating. That's what made it so bold."

Man, that's a hilarious statement.

Anonymous said...

The court will not consider ongoing machinations by ACNA/CANA/ADV in their decision. This is all coming too late to be considered.

Bewildered at BB trumpeting a watered down resolution? Really? See BB's trumpeting of the "receiving" of the infamous (and DOA) protocol as having been "accepted."

BabyBlue said...

The CoE Resolution is one of the highlights of this year. It is a major step forward that the ACNA is filled with people who want to remain Anglican and is a step toward becoming a province. It was not expected to pass, much less come to the floor as it did. During the committee hearings the room is SRO and the testimonies were not what the Synod delegates expected either. It was a transformative moment and has led to other initiatives now underway between the ACNA and the CoE, some of which are not yet public.

bb

Londoner said...

Hi BB Sadly, I think you expect the CofE and ABC to be as honest as you are...... but, sadly, since 2003, the record of Williams is one of doing what was needed to avoid the will of the Primates where it affected revisionist TEC's place in the AC...... just look at Lambeth invitations - Williams knew most Anglicans' bishops would not attend as a result of his decision but he did not let TEC down. He never has.

Now, he writes a letter. Contrast his wishes with 1 Cor 5-7. Apostolic teaching says expel those who will not repent ) and apostolic teaching says have nothing to do with those in the church who will not repent (Williams says those who have done that have broken a moratoria....) Katie and Kearon are pleased with their old mate Rowan ...... thakfully, the GS (and ACNA are not dependent on the ABC or the AC for their salvation or their wisdom)

Anonymous said...

EmilyH : you ask a number of good questions. I think that at least some of them will be answered in the next two weeks, as we are approaching the due date of the state Supreme Court's decision in its review of Judge Bellows decision. The decision may address the constitutional issues, but several people whose judgement I respect have suggested that the content of the oral argument indicated an unwillingness of the panel to pursue constitutional dispositions and that, instead, it seemed more likely that the panel might project its own analysis on the issue of whether the Division Statute actually applies in this situation.

The question of who sued whom is not very interesting or important to me, and I agree with you that, with departing congregations occupying the premises, the only recourse the Diocese had was to the courts. However, in point of fact, it was the seceding groups who went to court with petitions to secure title under 57-9 that opened the litigation phase of these proceedings. The Diocese (and the national church) responded and counter-claimed. In those proceedings, the Diocese is a defendant, not a plaintiff. This is, in my mind, not very important, but is worth noting when attacks are raised against the Church for un-Christian reliance on litigation. If the departing groups had gone off somewhere and then asked the diocese for permission to use the premises, I don't know what kind of response they would have received (it might have varied from parish to parish), but I doubt that there would have been litigation, at least in Virginia. I'm less familiar with the situations in Texas and Pennsylvania. California I have followed fairly closely. The unifying theme seems to be that in all cases where people left the church, they didn't leave the buildings, and it seems to me that the secular courts are, short of total acquiescence or fisticuffs (the first a gross breach of the obligation of stewardship and totally unfair to those who did not depart, the second at least as un-Christian as reliance on the courts), the only place anyone could get this straightened out.

BB - it is a good personal trait that you can take such strength and comfort from such a small thing. Objectively, however, the resolution was a compromise through dilution. You are quite right, however, to note that we don't know the ultimate end of the story, and that, if ACNA does ever achieve provincial status, you could say in retrospect that the resolution was a starting point for that process. If ACNA doesn't achieve provincial status, then I can say, See- it didn't mean much. It might be quite some time before we know the answer.

Scout

BabyBlue said...

Wrong again, Scout - we've been through this over and over. The voting parishes filed their VOTES with the court according to 57-9 which was understood by the protocol. The Bishop of Virginia, Peter James Lee, drew up a Standstill Agreement that affirmed that the filing of the vote petitions was NOT a hostile act. Your assertion, "it was the seceding groups who went to court with petitions to secure title under 57-9 that opened the litigation phase of these proceedings" is FALSE.

Here is the relevant part of the Standstill yet again:

2. The congregations:

a. will not initiate any transfer or conveyance of their property.
b. will not initiate any civil legal action against The Diocese/TEC, but may report their congregations determinations by filing a petition/report with the relevant VA Circuit Courts pursuant to Va. Code 57-9 without violating the agreement. The congregations' Va. Code 57-9 filings will state that notice has been provided to The Diocese/TEC. The congregations will not take any further steps to bring the Va. Code 57-9 filings to judgment. Upon the Diocese's request, the congregations will seek a stay of their Va. Code 57-9 filings. If the Diocese seeks to intervene in the Va Code 57-9 filings, the congregations will not oppose such intervention and upon the Diocese's request will jointly with the Diocese move to stay the filings. In not opposing the intervention, the congregation of course reserve the right to contest the Diocese/TEC's alleged interest in the property.

Shall we quote that again? "but may report their congregations determinations by filing a petition/report with the relevant VA Circuit Courts pursuant to Va. Code 57-9 without violating the agreement. " Is that clear?

That's what we did - it was the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church that filed lawsuits against all the voting churches rather than follow through on Bishop Lee's promise to work through his property committee.

There is a reason that the Diocese of Virginia STILL has not posted the Standstill Agreement on its litigation pages on their website - and it seems clear from Scout's posting that to do so will illustrate to the people of the Diocese that the non-hostile method of coming to the table so that we could remain in as close a communion as possible was abandoned (I believe under extreme pressure from 815) in favor of filing lawsuits that included suing personally nearly 200 lay volunteers.

Would you put the Standstill Agreement up on the front page of the Diocese of Virginia website at this point? What do you think the people of the diocese would say if they read it?

bb

Anonymous said...

Scout and BB are both right. The petitions did begin litigation, i.e. a party went to court seek a result from the court over a property issue. At the same time, it didn't violate the Standstill Agreement. The Standstill Agreement does not render the petition a non-litigation event - filing a petition is a litigation event. The Standstill Agreement simply carved out doing so as permissible while negotiations went forward. (Those negotiations were DOA, as the protocol was never approved by the Standing Committee, the Executive Board, or 815.)

The first thing the Diocese did in court, in fact, was intervene in the petition actions. Then, afterwards, the Diocese filed suit under a different cause of action, the Division Statute actions having already been triggered by CANA's petitions.

The Supreme Court of Virginia heard on April 13 the appeal from the case that began with the CANA congregations' petitions, not the Diocese's case. (That case lies in abeyance depending on the result of the appeal.)

Facts is facts.
-Winters

Lapinbizarre said...

"....those who have done that have broken a moratorium", Londoner.

Anonymous said...

Scout and BB are both right. The petitions did begin litigation, i.e. a party went to court seek a result from the court over a property issue. At the same time, it didn't violate the Standstill Agreement. The Standstill Agreement does not render the petition a non-litigation event - filing a petition is a litigation event. The Standstill Agreement simply carved out doing so as permissible while negotiations went forward. (Those negotiations were DOA, as the protocol was never approved by the Standing Committee, the Executive Board, or 815.)

But the first thing the Diocese did in court, in fact, was intervene in the petition actions. Then, afterwards, the Diocese filed suit under a different cause of action, the Division Statute actions having already been triggered by CANA's petitions.

The Supreme Court of Virginia heard on April 13 the appeal from the case that began with the CANA congregations' petitions, not the Diocese's case. (That case lies in abeyance depending on the result of the appeal.)

Facts is facts.

-Gardner

Londoner said...

rabbit - sometimes people have to go with what scripture says (eg 1 Cor 5-7 or Titus 1 etc) - even if that means breaking institutional moratoria (when they are ill-conceived).....principles matter

keeping all the institutional rules can be the wrong thing to do, rabbit, but not always....TEC has broken some club rules and its pews are so full as a result, right? or is it TEC's prophetic whatever which is emptying the pews so disastrously?

Anonymous said...

BB - although Winters has said it clearly enough, the standstill agreement recognized that departing congregations could file the 57-9 petition without violating the pact against initiating litigation. That isn't because the petition wasn't litigation. It simply recognizes that the departing crowd was intent on doing that and was required to do so in a certain amount of time. However, and importantly, the agreement (which was of 30 days duration following the congregation votes and which was not renewed by the Diocese on the expiration of those 30 days), the agreement also acknowledged that the Diocese would and could, if the secessionist groups filed such petitions, have the right to intervene in opposition in those petition cases, and that for them to do so would not be considered a violation of the agreement with regards to litigation. My point is not whether it was or was not a good idea to have the standstill agreement in effect (I have very strong views on the subject of actions and inactions of the Bishop and the Diocese leading up to the votes, but they are not relevant here), my point was that once that litigation (and it was litigation) commenced, there was no possibility or even choice but for the diocese to oppose the petitions. Both sides contemplated it and made provision for it. By the way, there is no difficulty finding the text of the Standstill agreement. I looked it up on-line to be sure my memory of its terms was correct.

Scout

Lapinbizarre said...

My only point, Londoner, concerned the use of the Latin plural when the singular form was called for.

BabyBlue said...

Wrong again!! The ONLY lawsuits that have been filed have been by the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church. The voting congregations FILED their VOTES - at NO TIME was there ANY petition filed to TRANSFER property. The idea was that we were going to Bishop Lee's Property Committee as was demonstrated in the test case of All Saints Dale City. We NEVER filed anything to transfer property. The first hostile action came from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese after Bishop Lee abandoned the Standstill and the Protocol following a visit from David Booth Beers from 815.

It is clear that the Diocese is worried that if they put up their own Standstill Agreement on the diocesan website - and it was bishop's standstill - it will change the nature of how the lawsuits were filed. I just hope Bishop Johnston has read it carefully.

bb

Anonymous said...

This is not about whether the ACNA is going to be a province in the Anglican Communion. This is about whether Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Southern Cone, and with them the majority of membership in the current nominal Anglican Communion, are going to remain a part of the Anglican Communion. The are the ones against whom the charge of border crossing has been trumped up.

Clearly there are two branches of the Anglican Communion already. The question is whether the global south branch is about to be lopped off.

London-er said...

give yourself a carrot, rabbit....but still, I am grateful for the opportunity to point out that principles matter and we should avoid yet more expediency in the AC - it costs everyone their integrity.

Anonymous said...

BB - "Wrong again!! The ONLY lawsuits that have been filed have been by the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church. The voting congregations FILED their VOTES - at NO TIME was there ANY petition filed to TRANSFER property."

So then what appeal did the SCV hear last month?

You work in a law firm - you should ask a lawyer.

Anonymous said...

BB -

The CANA petitions didn't seek a transfer, they sought a declaration. That's what one seeks from the court when ownership of property is contested. The petition sought to "quiet title" following the votes.

It. Was. A. Lawsuit.

Steven in Falls Church said...

Here for reference is a link to the Standstill Agreement:

http://truro.timberlakepublishing.com/files/LIT_Standstill%20Agreement.pdf

Instead of going back and forth over "who was sued," perhaps we could get our TEC partisan friends to answer some very simple questions:

(1) If the CANA petitions were a lawsuit, why would the Diocese have expressly consented to their filing as it did in Para 2(b)?

(2) If the CANA petitions were a lawsuit, why would the Diocese have expressly agreed in Para 1(a) "not [to] initiate any attempt to take possession of the congregations' property"?

(3) Doesn't use of the term "initiate" in Para 1(a) mean the commencement of a legal action in court? If not, what does that term mean?

(4) In Para 3(a) the Diocese agreed to "seek in good faith to negotiate with [the CANA parishes] an amicable resolution of their differences concerning property and clergy status." The Bishop called off negotiations before party representatives met, however, and proceeded to court. Does it reasonably meet the definition of good faith negotiation to refuse to meet with the other side?

(5) What specifically would have caused the Diocese to refuse to negotiate less than 30 days after agreeing to negotiate?

(6) Is it consistent with Christian principles to agree expressly to negotiate in good faith with someone, and then refuse to negotiate?

BabyBlue said...

I am very sorry, Anon, but that is incorrect. All the voting parishes did was file the votes, which was done on the Monday following the voting. We did NOT take the step of doing anything about the property - quiet or loud or shout it from the housetops - because our agreement with Bishop Lee is that we would go to his Property Committee to negotiate. We did not take that step in goodwill because we believed Bishop Lee would carry through on the Property Commmittee, and he did - asking us to appoint two members from each church - until David Booth Beers entered the diocese and had a closed door meeting with him.

At no time did we sue anyone, we filed our votes which was seen by the standstill as non-hostile.

What happened was that TEC and the Diocese filed lawsuits. It was the Fairfax Circuit Court that decided to lay aside the Episcopal Church lawsuits and deal with the 57-9 issue first. That was the court's decision and that is why the appeal is now before the Supreme Court. The court has even gotten to the lawsuits yet (except to strongly urge the Episcopal Church and the diocese to drop suing personally 200 lay volunteers which it did, but with prejudice), which will be moot if the appeal is not successful.

But let's be clear, the voting parishes FILED votes and did not take any next step - quiet or loud - because we believed we were following the All Saints Dale City model.

bb

Anonymous said...

BB - I am utterly puzzled by two things about your tenacious death grip on the idea that the seceding elements have not engaged in litigation:

1. How is it that a legal action in which the secessionist congregations are petitioners (i.e. plaintiffs) and the Diocese is a respondent (i.e., defendant), filed in a court, with a judge adjudicating the outcome, taken on appeal to the Supreme Court, is not litigation? You must be the only person in America who doesn't think an opposed court proceeding is not litigation. You say that the departing elements only "filed the vote". I've been in and around all levels of courts for a good many decades and I wouldn't know how to "file a vote" if my life depended on it. I've never heard of such a thing.

2. Why does it matter? I certainly don't attribute any particular importance to who filed what when. My point is that, as someone who considered it a mistake and ill-advised to leave the church over the Robinson issue, and who voted not to do so, I would have been mighty annoyed if my bishop had simply acquiesced in the idea that those who leave get to stay in the buildings and I have to leave. I have no problem with people moving on for whatever reason, even if they just find a congenial place of worship that has a better nursery or is five minutes closer to home, but I don't think they get to take pieces (or the entirety) of the church with them. Once the petitions were filed, the Diocese had a solemn obligation to oppose.

Scout

BabyBlue said...

Scout, we're talking about the sequence of events. The votes were taken and filed according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Bishop Lee sets up his Property Committee as was planned (we all ready were discussing that we would offer a financial settlement - did you know that??). Bishop Lee requested that we appoint two members per church to his Property Committee, which we did.

This was to take at least through March and the bishop drew up the Standstill to guide us through the process. It was expected to be renewed as we continued through the process.

That all changed when the Standstill was suddenly not renewed and lawsuits were filed FIRST by the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia. These were the same kind of lawsuits as have been filed around the country by TEC.

It was then that the voting congregations turned to the court to decide on the 57-9 issue - only AFTER the lawsuits were filed by the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia.

Do you see what I mean?

The Episcopal Church and the Diocese did not want the 57-9 petitions to be heard at all and filed with the court that we had abandoned our property and should be removed as trespassers. The court rejected that motion.

It was the Circuit Court's decision to deal with the 57-9 petitions first, but the lawsuits which sued 200 people personally as well as the trustees and rectors were actually FILED first. The only thing the voting parishes did was record the votes with the court, nothing else.

That is the point I am trying to make. The point is this litigation was not to happen - we were trying to follow Bishop Lee's idea to remain in as close a communion as possible and I pray even at this late hour that Bishop Johnston's will pick up where Bishop Lee left off before the new Presiding Bishop intervened. Believe me, the former Presiding Bishop was informed of the process before Schori took over and his view was that this was a diocesan matter.

What I don't understand is why the diocese doesn't post their own Standstill Agreement. Why is that???

bb

Anonymous said...

I think the standstill agreement isn't posted because it hasn't been in effect since mid January 2007. As you have confirmed, the agreement was of 30 days duration, subject to termination by either party on 7 days notice to the other. The Diocese chose not to renew it, gave notice to the secessionists and that's that. It has no relevance to anything that happened after its termination.

I don't think any leader of either Truro or the Falls Church had any legitimate reason to believe the Diocese could let those properties go the way of All Saints. They used that argument to convince parishioners that they could vote for secession without risk of loss or sacrifice, but anyone who talked to the Diocesan officials in the summer of 2006 clearly understood that the Diocese viewed All Saints as a special case, or at least as a quite different circumstance than All Saints.

If your point is that the Diocese's actions leading up to the votes were incredibly (in my view naively) patient and gentle, I take your point.

I also accept that you think the sequencing has some importance and that I don't.

Scout

Steven in Falls Church said...

I think the Standstill Agreement has been disappeared because it is embarrassing for the Diocese per my comment above, in particular Questions 4 and 6.

Anonymous said...

I think we should note that the leadership of the Diocese today is largely, even dramatically, different in personnel than it was in 2006. What do you think they will do come opinion day, win or lose? BB, you know lots of them still, right? Scout? You both seemed pretty well informed - make some predictions for the rest of the cafe!

- Stonewall

Anonymous said...

I ask, because the leadership of the ADV churches has continuity from 2006. The dioceses' leadership has changed so much.

- Stonewall

Anonymous said...

It's an interesting question, Stonewall. My own view is that the current Bishop is made of sterner stuff than Bishop Lee (for whom I have great personal affection, but who was, in my opinion, constitutionally not up to the challenge of the 2002-2006 period). I think Bishop Johnston, had he been in office, unlike Peter Lee, would have started relieving clergy of their duties in various parishes immediately when he got the scent that decisions to depart had been made, and that vestries and clergy were hanging on for months, if not years, after they had crossed their personal Rubicons about departure to pave the way for property grabs and to incite departures by parishioners.

My guess is that even a win for the Diocese will not resolve the matter immediately and that the most that can be hoped for is that Episcopalians who have been unable to worship in their churches since the departure of their brethren for CANA will be given access on some sort of condominium basis until appeals and remands are exhausted. Given what I view to be an inevitable period of uncertainty following the decision, I would hope that both sides might re-evaluate all elements of the situation and look for less expensive (and inherently wasteful) outcomes (e.g., departing elements making use of the larger properties for a period until they can acquire new facilities, division of properties (for compensation of course) that can be readily sub-divided, etc.) . It would be so nice to be able just to get back to worship and mission. I think the question after the decision will be which side, if either, gets an enhanced bargaining position to engage in those kinds of talks.

Scout

Anonymous said...

What of his advisors, and what of the other committees that would have to sign off on such agreements?

-Stonewall

Anonymous said...

I think he has enough strength and intelligence to call the shots. But I concede it's a fairly abstract discussion until we know what comes out of the Court.

Scout