Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Bishop of Durham announces retirement

via e-mail:

THE Bishop of Durham is to retire, it has been announced this morning.

The Right Reverend Tom Wright, will step down on August 31.

Dr Wright, who will be 62 this autumn, is returning to the academic world, and will take up a new appointment as research professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

"This has been the hardest decision of my life," said Dr Wright.

"It has been an indescribable privilege to be the Bishop of the ancient diocese of Durham, to work with a superb team of colleagues, to take part in the work of God's kingdom here in the North-East, and to represent the region and its churches in the House of Lords and in General Synod.

"I have loved the people, the place, the heritage and the work.

"But my continuing vocation to be a writer, teacher and broadcaster for the benefit (I hope) of the wider world and church, has been increasingly difficult to combine with the complex demands and duties of a diocesan bishop.

"I am very sad about this, but the choice has become increasingly clear."

Dr Wright, a lifelong Newcastle United fan who was born in Morpeth, Northumberland, has been Bishop of Durham since 2003.

BB NOTE: I agree with Grant LeMarquand, who writes at SF, "this is a matter of fulfilling a vocation. Tom believes that he has a few more things to say to the academy and the next generation of theological students and scholarts. He enjoyed being bishop of Durham and is very proud of the diocese and the work the clergy and people do there in one of the poorest parts of the UK, but he will be 62 this year and the big book series (the little books are great too, but the big set ‘Christian Origins and the Question of God’) may still have several volumes still to be born. The next violume is his magnum opus on Paul (actually it will be two volumes) and then at least a volume on the evangelists (as opposed to ‘the historical Jesus’)."  There are many ways to confront the crises facing the communion and a major one is raising up the next generation of theological and pastoral leadership.  Tom Wright appears to be making the decision to invest in the theological education - a great, great decision for the church.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Anglican Global South Release Statement saying that The Episocpal Church remains in defiance in its disregard of the mind of the Communion

Via e-mail, now posted here:

16. In contrast, we continue to grieve over the life of The Episcopal Church USA (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada and all those churches that have rejected the Way of the Lord as expressed in Holy Scripture. The recent action of TEC in the election and intended consecration of Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, as a bishop in Los Angeles, has demonstrated, yet again, a total disregard for the mind of the Communion. These churches continue in their defiance as they set themselves on a course that contradicts the plain teaching of the Holy Scriptures on matters so fundamental that they affect the very salvation of those involved. Such actions violate the integrity of the Gospel, the Communion and our Christian witness to the rest of the world. In the face of this we dare not remain silent and must respond with appropriate action.

17. We uphold the courageous actions taken by Archbishops Mouneer Anis (Jerusalem and the Middle East), Henry Orombi (Uganda) and Ian Ernest (Indian Ocean) and are encouraged by their decision not to participate in meetings of the various Instruments of Communion at which representatives of The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada are present. We understand their actions to be in protest of the failure to correct the ongoing crisis situation.

18. Some of our Provinces are already in a state of broken and impaired Communion with The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada. Their continued refusal to honor the many requests [1] made of them by the various meetings of the Primates throughout the Windsor Process have brought discredit to our witness and we urge the Archbishop of Canterbury to implement the recommended actions. In light of the above, this Fourth South-to-South Encounter encourages our various Provinces to reconsider their communion relationships with The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada until it becomes clear that there is genuine repentance.

Read it all here.  Americans (both Episcopalian Communion Partners and ACNA leaders) hold an extraordinary joint session to make remarks together at the Global South Summit.  Standing together, both the bishops of the Anglican Church of North America, and the Communion Partner Bishops of The Episcopal Church - this is answered prayer of unity of mission and hope.  Pay particular attention to the remarks of Episcopal Central Florida bishop, the Rt. Rev'd John W. Howe:





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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rowan Williams speaks to the Global South

Global South meeting in Singapore underway

There are lots of meetings in the Anglican Communion (so much for no structure, Heather) - but this one is important. Here is a list of those attending in person the 4th Anglican Global South to South Encounter meeting in Singapore. There are others there as well - but this is a list of the official delegations:

Province of Burundi, Africa

The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi, Primate

the Rt. Rev. Martin Nyaboho

the Rt. Rev. Sixbet Macumi

the Rev. Pedaculi Birakengana

the Rev. Yvette Inamahoro

Mr. Leonidas Niyongbo

The Province of Central Africa

The Rt. Rev. Albert Chama, Dean of the Province

the Rt. Rev. William Mchombo

the Rt. Rev. Godfrey Tawonezvi

The Province of the Congo

the Most. Rev. Henri Kahwa Isingoma, Primate

the Rev. Canon Sabiti Tibafa Daniel

the Venerable Muhindo Isesomo Adolphe

Hong Kong

The Rev. Peter Douglas Koon, Provincial Secretary General

the Rev. Fan Chun Ho

Samson Jeremiah

Indian Ocean

the Most Rev. Ian Ernest, Primate

the Rt. Rev. Samoela Jaona Ranarvelo

the Rt. Rev. James Wong

the Rev. Eugene Tsifanavy

Mrs. Baozoma Lucie Martine

Jerusalem & the Middle East

the Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis, Primate (also a speaker at this conference)

The Rt. Rev. Andrew J. Proud

the Rt. Rev. Azad Marshall

the Very Rev. Dr. Samy Fawzy Shehata

the Rev. Samuel Fanous

Mr. Mark Takki Senad

Kenya

the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala (Chair, Communique Drafting Team)

The Rt. Rev. Stephen Njihia

the Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood

Venerable Raphael Okumu

the Rev. Joseph K. Wanyioike

Miss Grace Madoka

Mr. James S. Mathenge

Melanesia

The Most Rev. David Vunagi, Primate

Mr. Alick Palusi

Myanmar

The Most Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo, Primate

the Rt. Rev. Saw Wilme

the Rev. Dr. San Myant Shwe

Mr Saw Edward

Mr. U San Iin

Mrs. Joy Hla Gyaw

Nigeria

The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate and Speaker

the Most Rev. Peter Akinola, Primate, retired and Speaker, Global South Standing Committee

The Rt. Rev. Dapo Asaju (Communique Drafting Team)

the Rt. Rev. Ikechi Nwosu

Venerable Michael Adebayo Farohunbi

Mrs. Ngozi Okeke

Mrs. Titi Maboguje

Mrs. Henshaw Aderemi Adetoye

Consolidated Churches of North India

The Rt. Rev. Sunil Singh

The Rev. Dr. Paul Swarup, Speaker

Rwanda

The Most Rev. Emmanuel M. Kolini, Primate

the Rt. Rev. O. Rawaje

the Rt. Rev. John Rucyahana

the Rt. Rev. Chuck Murphy

the Rt. Rev. Dr. Laurent Sanala

the Rev. Dr. Kevin Francis Donlon

Mrs. Freda Kolini

Mrs. Margaret Murphy

South East Asia

the Most Rev. Dr. John Chew, Primate, Speaker and Steering Committee

the Rt. Rev. Bolly Lapok

Te Rt. Rev. Datuk Albert Vun

the Rt. Rev. Ng Moon Hing, Speaker

Venerable John Yeo

the Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Poon

Datuk Stanley Isaacs, Communique Drafting Team

Mr. Richard Magnus

Mr. Benjamin Lim Chzen Wul

Southern Africa

the Rt. Rev. Dr. Johannes Seoka, Bishop of Pretoria, Deputation Chair

the Rt. Rev. Martin Breytenbac

he Rev. Keith De Vos

Mrs. Louisa Madiako Kojela

Dr. Sybil Nomathonya Elzabeth Seoka

The Southern Cone

The Most Rev. Greg Venables, Primate

the Rt. Rev. Tito Zavala, Bishop of Chile

Sudan

the Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Deng Bul Yak

the Rt. Rev. Francis Loyo

the Rt. Rev. Anthony Poggo

the Rt. rev. Alapayo Manyang Kuctiel

Tanzania

the Most Rev. Dr. Valentino Mokiwa, Primate and Communique Drafting Team

the Rev. Bethuel Mlula

Professor John Palamagamba Kabudi

Uganda

the Most Rev. Henry Orombi, Primate, Speaker and Steering Committee – still stranded in London. Please Pray!

the Rt. Rev. Stephen Kazimba

the Rt. rev. George Erwau

the Rev. Cann William Ongeng

the Rev. Canon Dr. Alson Barfoot

the Rev. Dr. Professor Stephen Noll

Mrs. Vicky Nankya

West Africa

the Most Rev. Dr. Justice O. Akrofi, Primate

the Rt. Rev. Dr. Festus Yeboah-Asuamah

Mr. George Amissah, Jr.

Mrs. Doris Sheba Drown

Mr. Michael Ntim

The West Indies

The Rt. Rev. Howard Gregory

Western Associates invited: Australia

the Most Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Driver, Archbishop of Adelaide

the Most Rev. Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney

Mr. Robert Tong

Church of England

all three stuck in London

New Zealand

the Rt. Rev. Richard Eliena, Bishop of Nelson

the Rev. Dr. Timothy Harris

Anglican Communion in North America

the Most Rev. Robert Duncan, Archbishop

the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey

the Rev. Phil Ashey

Mr. Hugo Blakingship

The Episcopal Church – Communion Partners Representatives

the Rt. Rev. John Howe, Central Florida

the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, South Carolina

Chaplain

the Most Rev. Datuk Yong Ping Chung, Archbishop of South East Asia, retired

Tip of the grateful Tin Foil Hat to Cheryl Wetzell of Anglicans United. Thanks Cheryl! You can read more here. Sadly, with the explosion of the volcano in Iceland, the Church of England reps are stranded in London.

Prayer

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Today at the Cafe: The Tale of Three Sons



A must-listen - if you should hear a sermon this year, this is it.
‘He, who is born not from human stock, or human desire or human will, but from God himself, one day took to himself everything that was under his footstool and he left with his inheritance, his title of Son, and the whole ransom price. He left for a far country… the faraway land… where he became as human beings are and emptied himself. His own people did not accept him and his first bed was a bed of straw! Like a root in arid ground, he grew up before us, he was despised, the lowest of men, before whom one covers his face. Very soon, he came to know exile, hostility, loneliness… After having given away everything in a life of bounty, his worth, his peace, his light, his truth, his life… all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom and the hidden mystery kept secret for endless ages; after having lost himself among the lost children of the house of Israel, spending his time with the sick (and not with the well-to-do), with the sinners (and not with the just), and even with the prostitutes to whom he promised entrance into the Kingdom of his Father; after having been treated as a glutton and a drunkard, as a friend of tax collectors and sinners, as a Samaritan, a possessed, a blasphemer; after having offered everything, even his body and his blood; after having felt deeply in himself sadness, anguish, and a troubled soul; after having gone to the bottom of despair, with which he voluntarily dressed himself being abandoned by his Father far away from the source of living water, he cried out form the cross on which he was nailed, ‘I am thirsty.’
-Pierre Marie Delfieux

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Washington Times reports on the Commonwealth of Virginia Supreme Court hearing in Richmond

RICHMOND | A group of conservative former Episcopal churches tangled with the Episcopal Church and its Diocese of Virginia before the Virginia Supreme Court on Tuesday over a unique state law that awards property to congregations that bolt their parent denomination.

The 90-minute session before a packed courtroom of 140 onlookers, plus more outside, appealed a Fairfax Circuit Court verdict that awarded about $30 million worth of historic property to the 11 churches that broke away from the diocese three years ago.

Five justices — three others had recused themselves from the case — grilled lawyers about the meaning and constitutionality of the state's division statute. The 1867 law allowed congregations — many of which had differed with their denominations over slavery — to leave with their property.

The justices at one point reduced the lead lawyer for the denomination to a stammer and made her opponent waste valuable minutes explaining the nature of the 77-million-member Anglican Communion, the parent body of the Episcopal Church.

The first lawyer, Heather Anderson, representing the Episcopal Church, was in the midst of explaining that the division statute did not apply to the 11 churches because the denomination had not experienced a "division" over the 2003 consecration of an openly gay Episcopal bishop: V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. A second gay bishop, Mary Glasspool of Baltimore, will be consecrated May 15 in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Instead, she said, the churches who left were merely a mission of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, which had set up a Convocation of Anglican Churches in North America (CANA) to shelter them.

One of the justices pointed out that the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and former Virginia Bishop Peter Lee had discussed CANA's existence at length, meaning that CANA had some stature in worldwide Anglicanism. Ms. Anderson dismissed this as "like-minded church leaders coming together for consultation."

"Are they a branch then?" the justice asked.

When Ms. Anderson dodged the question, Chief Justice Leroy R. Hassell Sr. demanded she respond.

"I don't have an answer," she said.

Read it all here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr. Jefferson

There were three things that Thomas Jefferson wanted to be remembered for: author of the Declaration of Independence, founder of the University of Virginia, and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom. How appropriate that today, on all days, the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Virginia chose to hear oral arguments on the appeal of The Episcopal Church to the Circuit Court victory of the Virginia churches that voted to separate from the Diocese of Virginia and join CANA in 2006.

It was a clear crisp morning in Richmond as I stood in line to get into the court building. Eventually, the courtroom would be so packed, a video feed was put into other rooms so that those left without a seat could watch the proceedings in the courtroom. Even before the courtroom doors open, I could see Bishop Martyn Minns, Bishop of CANA, and Bishop Shannon Johnston, the new bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, chatting amicably outside the courtroom doors. I also saw the rector of The Falls Church, John Yates, engaged in polite conversation with the priest-in-charge of the Episcopal congregation set up by the Diocese of Virginia. For many it was a chance to see old friends - and old collegues as the attorneys came in and filed toward the front to take their seats and wait their turn.

First up was George Sommerville, who said he was for The Episcopal Church but was actually for The Diocese of Virginia. Of all those who spoke - he probably was the least interrupted, at least at first. Once the orals got underway it was clear that the justices were not that interested in listening to presentations but to ask their own questions and in many cases grill the attorneys on both sides regarding the points of the case.

The questions were familiar ones - what is a separation, what is a branch, was are the neutral principles, has a separation occurred, and the justices grilled the attorneys on these points over and over again.

Heather Anderson was then up to speak for The Episcopal Church and she set out her ambitious outline for what she wanted to speak on, only to be interrupted - as George Sommerview was - on particular points by the justices. A highlight for me was when she asserted that there is no structure in the Anglican Communion. I guess that meeting in Jamaica was - what?

Gordon Coffee introduced Steffen Johnson who spoke for the Virginia churches that separated from the Episcopal Church and joined CANA. It wasn't long either before the justices were peppering him with questions as well.

Duncan Getchell, the Commonwealth of Virginia Solicitor General was impressive, speaking to the constitutionality of Statute 57-9, but also providing context for the justice questions. They seemed to give him more speaking room than the attorneys and he made some excellent points to the constitutionality of the statute as well as calmly and succinctly answering the justices questions. Very impressive.

And then it was over. It went so fast, it was hard to believe it was over - but the fact many of us on both sides had the run over by a truck expression on our faces. It was exhausting, sitting there listening intently, praying fervently, and mindful of old friends on the other side of the aisle.

Now the case is in the hands of the Supreme Court of Virginia. A ruling is expected around June 11th. Stay tuned for more. Heading back on the road now.

UPDATE: Was thinking in the car on the way home about Steffen Johnson's performance in front of the Supreme Court. If we were thinking that he would be able to make oral arguments like someone participating in a debate team - well, think again. It was clear that the justices had questions on their mind and that is what they wanted to spend the time doing. If I could describe Steffen's performance I would call it "grace under pressure." That was how Ernest Hemingway described courage and that was what Steffen demonstrated as he took volley after volley from the justices - grace under pressure.

One of the attorneys - who has clerked at the VA Supreme Court when he was first starting out in law - said that it's difficult to discern what the justices may be thinking by the questions they ask. Some of the questions asked by the justices were thoughtful, illustrating that they have read the briefs and they have read the decision and it's accompanying exhibits. Some seemed to be curious and asked curious questions.

One of the questions asked over and over had to do with defining a division. It was quite an interesting entry into the events of today, since the best illustration of division was sitting right in front of the justices, pouring out into other hearing rooms where the court hooked up live video feeds. How does one know there's been a division? The energy in the room - marked by well representation from all sides - was a leading indicator. If the Episcopal Church was serious in maintaining in front of the Supreme Court that there has been no division and what constitutes (and when questioned repeatedly about whether CANA was a branch from that division, Heather - representing The Episcopal Church - finally responded that she did not know) - it might have been better if all that energy coming from the Diocese's headquarters just a stone's throw from the court had stayed over at St. Paul's and out of the court room.

As it was, the energy in the room demonstrated why the lawmaker who first introduced VA Statute 57-9 was wise in finding a way to settle property disputes without warfare - by the simple democratic principle as a vote of the majority.

More time was taken on defining what constitutes a branch - perhaps illustrated best by what happens to a river when it "branches" off from the original river. It started from a common point and then branches off, becoming a separate entity though one can trace its origin to the first river. The Virginia congregations voted to separate, branching off from The Episcopal Church - it's point of origin - and joining with another branch of the Anglican Communion. It's connection remains as a point of origin of the Episcopal Church, again this was demonstrated by the remarkable extensions of hospitality outside the court room doors, but it is also clear that the Virginia congregations joined another branch of the Anglican Communion demonstrated by the presence of two American bishops in the Anglican Church of Nigeria - a fellow province as is The Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion.

It was remarkable that The Episcopal Church did not dare to speak the name "Anglican Communion." Heather waved it off, saying that there was no structure (despite the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury himself has indicated that he views "the Church" as the Anglican Communion and keeps attending these structural gatherings, such as the gathering of the Primates, the ACC, the Joint Board of Primates and the ACC (which is morphing into a Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion) and the gatherings of the Primates themselves.

In the next two months, it is probably the best idea just to keep this matter in prayer. There really are no winners in this litigation - and here at the Cafe we continue pray that we can mark the Archbishop of Canterbury's charge at the Church of England Synod this year to seek out and indeed find "the vehicles for sharing perspectives, communicating protest, yes, even, negotiating distance or separation, that might spare us a worsening of the situation and the further reduction of Christian relationship to vicious polemic and stony-faced litigation."

It's still not too late.

And so this is a dedication to the Episcopalians in the court room today. Yes, and Heather too - I saw her after the hearing and she was standing outside the court room door and I have to say - even though I strongly disagree with her assertions - she too gave a very brave performance.

And to all those who have been in the trenches together these many, many years - our fate is now in the hands of five men and women. But it is God who does the calling. May we hear His voice and follow Him - where ever He may lead.

What else can we do at this hour but pray?

Morning in Richmond

Monday, April 12, 2010

On the road again ...

The Richmond Dispatch: Defending the Faith and Church Property

An editorial from David Bena this morning, from the Richmond Dispatch:

It's certainly unfortunate that we've come to another round of church versus church, as the Virginia Supreme Court tomorrow will hear the appeal in the church property suit brought by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and Diocese of Virginia against nine faithful Anglican churches in Virginia.

Although we expected the appeal, it is unfortunate that this dispute has continued, and, for that matter, started in the first place.

Several years ago, our orthodox churches made a decision to remain faithful to the teachings of the Bible and the worldwide Anglican Communion after it became clear that TEC was on a wayward path. How did we come to that costly conclusion? TEC formally rejected the authority of Scripture. In its formal response to the Anglican Communion's call to return to the authority of Scripture, TEC said, "We cannot accept what would be injurious to this Church and could well lead to its permanent division."

The painful irony is that TEC's decision to reject the authority of God's Word has been gravely injurious, and has itself caused the very division that TEC's leaders claimed they sought to avoid. Once someone rejects Scripture, then they reject Jesus Christ and Christianity as a whole. It's as simple as that. We could not follow a national body that rejected the very Word of God.

Our Anglican churches (under the umbrella of the Anglican District of Virginia) attempted to resolve matters with the diocese and TEC graciously and out of court, following a process that we spent almost a year developing with diocesan representatives. But the diocese and TEC abruptly broke off discussion of settlement and instead launched a legal confrontation. They sued not only our churches, but also almost 200 individual clergy and volunteer board members.

The diocese and TEC have spent millions of dollars making this legal attack against our churches. And this has forced our churches to devote time, effort, and energy to raise millions of dollars for our legal defense -- all of which could and should have been used for spreading the love of God to our communities.

We opted to defend our churches because they are a great resource for doing the work of the Lord. We have seen TEC take over other church buildings from disaffiliating congregations, claiming that it was doing so to preserve some sort of "Episcopal legacy," only to then turn around and sell those buildings to non-Christian entities. In one recent case, the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York even sold a church building to an Islam awareness group rather than to the disaffiliating congregation that had offered to pay approximately three times as much to buy the property. Similarly, TEC Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori even admitted that she wouldn't have any objection to church property being sold for secular purposes. No doubt that was shocking to us.

Just last year, the Fairfax County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the orthodox churches by affirming our position that we could disaffiliate from TEC and keep our church property. In a series of landmark rulings during a thorough legal process extending over two years, the court acknowledged that there was indeed a division within TEC, the diocese, and the larger Anglican Communion; affirmed that we could invoke the Virginia Division Statute (Virginia Code 57-9) in our defense; ruled that the Virginia Division Statute was indeed constitutional; and concluded that the votes taken by our congregations were conclusive as to the title to and control of the property covered by our petitions under the Division Statute.

For our churches this issue is simple. We exercised our religious freedom by choosing to stay true to the Gospel, following long-established Virginia law in doing so. To resolve the property issues, there is no need for the Virginia Supreme Court to wade into issues relating to theology or doctrine. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has said that states can resolve church property disputes based on "neutral principles" of law, such as majority rule -- which is exactly what the Division Statute does.

The Division Statute wouldn't even come into play if the diocese or TEC held the titles to these properties. But in this case, the properties were built, maintained, and cared for over the years by the local congregations -- congregations that have been willing to take a bold stand for the truth of the Gospel in the face of intimidation and legal threats.

Going into tomorrow's appeal hearing, we continue to be confident in our legal position and in the more than 200 pages of well-reasoned rulings of the Fairfax County Circuit Court. And while we remain fully prepared to continue to defend ourselves, we are ready to put this litigation behind us so that we can focus our time, money, and effort on the work of the Gospel. Our doors have always been and will always be open wide to all who want to worship with us.

Bishop David Bena is the primary contact bishop for the Anglican District of Virginia, and is a suffragan bishop in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. The Episcopal Church has its opinion as well here. Obviously some denominations are quite worried that the Commonwealth respects the freedom of the people to voice their conscience regarding their own property held in trust and calls it "giving advantage to any congregational majority which can move their differences with their denomination into the realm of a "division" and muster a majority of parishioners to their side." Yes - I think that's called the freedom to vote.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

GAFCON Primates Council: "Season of gracious restraint in the Communion has come to an end" as Glasspool is elevated to bishop in The Episcopal Church

via e-mail:

COMMUNIQUÉ FROM THE PRIMATES COUNCIL OF GAFCON/FCA

Grateful for the gracious guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the leadership of the Most Reverend Peter J. Akinola, the Primates Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON/FCA) met in Bermuda from April 5 through 9, 2010.

The Primates Council consists of Primates (Senior Archbishops) of Anglican Provinces who met together in Jerusalem in June 2008 as part of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). Their determination to give witness to the life transforming gospel of Jesus Christ and the trustworthiness of the Bible led to the establishment of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA).

FCA is a movement defined by theology that delivers spiritual and practical outcomes to faithful Anglican Christians around the world. Together the Primates Council represents over thirty four million Anglicans more than half of the active membership of the Anglican Communion
In faithful obedience to the Great Commission the Primates Council devoted much of their meeting ensuring that those provinces presently members of the FCA would be strengthened in their witness to the whole Gospel through engagement in various development projects, the production of critical theological resources and participation in multi-national mission initiatives.

We gave thanks for the visionary and sacrificial leadership of our founding chairman, Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, retired Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). We are also grateful for his courageous stand for the Œfaith once and for all delivered to the saints and his leadership both of the Church of Nigeria and also within the wider Anglican Communion.

We elected the Most Rev'd Gregory Venables, Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, as the Chairman and the Most Rev¹d Emmanuel Kolini, Church of Rwanda, and the Most Rev'd Eliud Wabukala, Anglican Church of Kenya as the Vice-Chairmen. The Most Rev'd Peter Jensen, Diocese of Sydney, Anglican Church of Australia, continues as General Secretary.

We acknowledged that the issues that divide our beloved Communion are far from settled and that the election of the Reverend Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, as a Bishop in Los Angeles in The Episcopal Church (TEC), makes clear to all that the American Episcopal Church leadership has formally committed itself to a pattern of life which is contrary to Scripture.

This action also makes clear that any pretence that there has been a season of gracious restraint in the Communion has come to an end. Now is the time for all orthodox biblical Anglicans, both in the USA and around the world, to demonstrate a clear and unambiguous stand for the historic faith and their refusal to participate in the direction and unbiblical practice and agenda of TEC.

We recognise that the current strategy in the Anglican Communion to strengthen structures by committee and commission has proved ineffective. Indeed we believe that the current structures have lost integrity and relevance. We believe that it is only by a theologically grounded, biblically shaped reformation such as the one called for by the Jerusalem Declaration that God¹s Kingdom will advance. The Anglican Communion will only be able to fulfill its gospel mandate if it understands itself to be a community gathered around a confession of faith rather than an organisation that has its primary focus on institutional loyalty.

We committed ourselves once more to the Mission of Christ working collaboratively both with our friends in the Global South and throughout the Communion and look forward with anticipation to the FOURTH GLOBAL SOUTH TO SOUTH ENCOUNTER to be held later this month at St Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore.

We are also aware of the challenges that many of our sisters and brothers face in different parts of the world. In particular we are mindful of those who live with the threat of violence because of their Christian faith, such as Nigeria, Iraq and Sudan and those who live in places of deprivation and disaster such as Haiti and Chile. We also observe that there are a growing number of nations, such as Kenya, Uganda and now the United Kingdom where Christian views are marginalized or ignored. We stand with all those in such circumstances and assure them of our continued prayers.

Finally:

The Primates Council expressed its profound appreciation for the gracious hospitality shown it by the people of Bermuda and the faithful witness of Christians in this land for almost four hundred years. We are aware of some of their current concerns and tensions and are praying for God's guidance and wisdom for the leaders of both the churches and the government.

To God be the glory!

Present in Bermuda were:

The Most
Rev'd Peter J. Akinola, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
The Most
Rev'd Justice Akrofi, Archbishop, Anglican Province of West Africa
The Most
Rev'd Robert Duncan, Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America
The Most
Rev'd Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Rwanda
The Most
Rev'd Valentino Mokiwa, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Tanzania
The Most
Rev'd Gregory Venables, Presiding Bishop, Province of the Southern Cone
The Most
Rev'd Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya
The Most
Rev'd Nicholas Okoh, Archbishop, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
The Most
Rev'd Henry L. Orombi, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Uganda, represented by Bishop Nathan Kyamanywa
The Most
Rev'd Peter Jensen, Archbishop, Diocese of Sydney

Friday, April 09, 2010

Episcopal Bishop of Virginia and Standing Committee of the Diocese vote to decline consent for Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles

The new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, the Rt. Rev'd Shannon Johnston, has declined to endorse the election of a same-sex partnered woman, Mary Glasspool, as Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. The Diocese of Virginia' Standing Committee also voted to withhold consent. Here is Bishop Johnston's statement:

April 9, 2010

Dear Diocesan Family,

The Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool, a priest of the Diocese of Maryland and a partnered gay woman, was elected to serve as a bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles in December 2009. The consent process, a 120-day period, requires the receipt of consents from majorities of the Standing Committees throughout the Episcopal Church and from the Church's bishops with jurisdiction. On March 17, just before the opening of the House of Bishops meeting at Camp Allen, Texas, the presiding bishop's office announced that Canon Glasspool had received the number of consents required to proceed with her ordination and consecration as a bishop.

Along with several other bishops, I had been delaying my vote until the House of Bishops meeting so that we might confer with one another as to the implications of this episcopal election. As consent is a responsibility upon all diocesan bishops, I then sent in my ballot even though the process had already been decided. Understandably, the diocesan offices have received numerous inquiries as to how I voted. I write this to announce my decision for this particular process and to say something about what this means (and doesn't mean) for my leadership in the Diocese of Virginia.

Bishop-elect Glasspool's election has been both a source of celebration and of alarm for many in our diocese, just as in the Episcopal Church and our wider Anglican Communion. In my judgment, both "sides" make compelling arguments and have quite legitimate concerns. Personally, I am more torn by this decision than by any other decision I've yet faced, whether as priest or bishop. After deep prayer and thought, I voted to decline consent to the ordination of Bishop-elect Glasspool. This is not to reflect on Bishop-elect Glasspool herself (who, by all accounts, is indeed highly qualified and well suited for the ministry of bishop) but rather is about the circumstances of this case.

My decision was based on the unique context of this particular election. Under other circumstances, I would have voted differently. Frankly, I look forward to the time when I can. As it is, however, several points swayed my decision; taken together they presented what was to me an overwhelming weight.

First, as I have stated before, I believe that it is theologically inconsistent to ordain a partnered gay person as a bishop without provision for the Church's recognition and blessing of that partnership. (We would not do this with heterosexuals.) As things stand now, the cart is before the horse. To me, the controversy about partnered gay bishops would be moot if we dealt successfully with the blessings of monogamous gay relationships. I will continue to work for that result: first things first.

Second, immediately following last summer's General Convention, both the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies wrote to the archbishop of Canterbury (in letters made available to the Convention) stating that the Convention's actions did not overturn, and should not be interpreted as overturning the moratorium on the consecration of partnered gay and lesbian bishops. That moratorium had been in place since 2006. With statements from both presiding officers of Convention affirming that it remained, for the present, the policy of this Church, it seemed to me that a denial of consent to this election was necessary.

Third, the 2006 General Convention committed the Episcopal Church to participation in the work developing an Anglican Covenant for consideration by the Communion. My understanding is that we pledged to cooperate in those deliberations until the Covenant was either adopted for this Church or not. We gave our word, and I believe that we should live up to that word. To proceed with such a controversial move at the very time that the Covenant is under consideration is, I believe, contrary to the good faith necessary in our commitment to that work and ensuing discernment.

As I made clear when I was elected bishop for the Diocese of Virginia, I am committed to the Anglican Communion. The Communion is not some patched together entity; still less is it something merely abstract. Communion across international bounds and embracing the globe is nothing less than a gift of grace. This is why it must be held dear. I do not know just where this controversy will lead us, but as your bishop I will work to support and strengthen the unique witness that is the worldwide Anglican fellowship of faith.

At the same time, as I have stated clearly in a variety of settings, I am no less committed to the full inclusion of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in all areas of ministry in the Church's life. I understand that my vote to deny consent in this case could be interpreted as backing away from that commitment. Even so, I can only declare again my deep conviction that full inclusion is also a sign of grace-and we should be reaching to embrace it.

From this, it follows that I am both "pro-Communion" and "pro-inclusion." I reject completely any notion that these positions are mutually exclusive. I remain hopeful, even confident, that there is a way to be faithful to this "both/and" witness. Our history teaches us that we Anglicans-when we are at our best-have been able to hold perceived opposites in a creative and liberating tension that has room for everyone and gives birth to new answers. This is the time to reclaim our best yet again.

Faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston
Bishop

And here is the Statement of the Standing Committee:

Statement of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia has declined to consent to the election of the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool as bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles because, in the view of a majority of the Committee, her election is inconsistent with the moratorium agreed to by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. That majority believes that, at this time, failure by individual dioceses to respect the Church's agreement to the moratorium would be detrimental to the good order of our Church and bring into question its reliability as an institution. The committee found no other reason to withhold its consent to the election of Canon Glasspool.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

BIshop Schori writes a letter

An interesting piece of writing - it doesn't even sound like her. Her audience is the archbishops and presiding bishops of the Anglican Communion. And we wonder why Americans have such an image problem abroad. She takes no personal responsibility for the fact that she has encouraged this development and embraces it and thinks its darn swell. No, she writes as though she's forced to do this by the canons of the church and the hell with the communion. In fact, she doesn't acknowledge the pain these actions have caused - and continue to cause - to Christians around the world. In fact, she spends the entire letter emotionally, even spiritually removed, detached. Interesting. This is certainly not a letter to friends and brothers, no, it most certainly is not. And that says more than words.

March 2010

My dear brothers in Christ:

I write you because of developments in The Episcopal Church, about which you will soon hear and read. As you all know, the Diocese of Los Angeles elected two suffragan bishops in December, and the consent process for those bishops has been ongoing since then. One of those bishops-elect is a woman in a partnered same-sex relationship.

At this point, she has received consent from a majority of the bishops with jurisdiction, and a majority of the standing committees of this Church. According to our canons, I must now take order for her consecration. I will do so, and anticipate that both bishops-elect will be consecrated at the same service on 15 May. It has been my practice, since I took office, to preside at the consecration of new bishops, and I intend to do so in this case as well.

It may help you to know that our House of Bishops will continue to discuss these issues at our meeting later this month. The papers we discuss will be available publicly following that meeting, and we will endeavor to see that you receive copies. I would encourage you to engage in conversation any bishops whom you know in this Church, particularly those you came to know at Lambeth, whether in Bible study or Indaba groups.

Know that this is not the decision of one person, or a small group of people. It represents the mind of a majority of elected leaders in The Episcopal Church, lay, clergy, and bishops, who have carefully considered the opinions and feelings of other members of the Anglican Communion as well as the decades-long conversations within this Church. It represents a prayerful and thoughtful decision, made in good faith that this Church is ‘working out its salvation in fear and trembling, believing that God is at work in us’ (Philippians 2:12-13).

I ask your prayers for this Church, for the Diocese of Los Angeles, and for the members of the Anglican Communion. This part of the Body of Christ has abundant work to do, and God’s mission needs us all.

If you have questions about this decision or process, I would encourage you to contact me. I would be glad to talk with you.

I pray that your ministry may continue to be a transformative blessing to many. I remain

Your servant in Christ,

Katharine Jefferts Schori

Tip of the Tinfoil to SF. And now here's Bob:

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A Global Dedication



This is dedicated to all my friends at the Fresh Expressions church, Epiphany, the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life, and the communities of the Anglican Ecumenical Society, Dream Number Nine, and Fairhaven. God knows who are and I am blessed beyond measure to know you - may you know the love that we saw in this most extraordinary event we mark today, how long and wide and high and deep is the love of Christ for you. Many of you are wandering in the wilderness - and that wilderness is dark and lonely, but He is not far.

He is Risen!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Law Community turns its eyes to Richmond

From here:

The cruelest month gets off to an entertaining start, as the Supreme Court of Virginia releases its April argument docket. From April 12-16, the Court is set to hear six criminal cases, one VSB disciplinary board case, and 21 civil cases.

Of particular note, the Court will hear a pair of cases about the ownership of church property in Northern Virginia. I gather from the news coverage that the cases involve property held by parishes that left the Episcopal church, and challenge the constitutionality of Virginia's unique "division statute," Code Section 57-9(A). The Diocese of Virginia has put the briefs up on its website, but I am lazy I've been busy and have not yet had a chance to read them.

How cool are these cases? In one of them, George Somerville--he of standard-of-review fame--Troutman Sanders, and Professor Howard square off against . . . well, roughly everyone else with a law license. Here are the counsel in Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. Truro Church, et al., Record No. 090682:

  • For the appellant, Bradfute W. Davenport, Jr.; George A. Somerville; Mary C. Zinsner; Joshua D. Heslinga; A.E. Dick Howard; Troutman Sanders.
  • For the appellees, Gordon A. Coffee; Gene C. Schaerr; Steffen N. Johnson; Andrew C. Nichols; Scott J. Ward; George O. Peterson; Tania M.L. Saylor; Mary A. McReynolds; James A. Johnson; Paul N. Farquharson; Scott H. Phillips; James E. Carr; E. Andrew Burcher; R. Hunter Manson; Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, Attorney General; Charles E. James, Jr., Chief Deputy Attorney General; E. Duncan Getchell, Jr., State Solicitor General; Stephen R. McCullough, Senior Appellate Counsel; William E. Thro, Special Counsel; Winston & Strawn; Gammon & Grange; Peterson Saylor; Semmes, Bowen & Semmes; Carr & Carr; Walsh, Collucci, Lubeley, Emerick & Walsh.

And if that's not enought, amici abound; there's even a brief co-authored by Ken Starr.

Church and state? One-of-a-kind statutes? Publicly available briefs from a all-start lineup of advocates? It's all almost too good to be true.

Read it all here.

Guam tips over

More info here. And must-reading here.