Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Church of England #Synod votes no on women bishops

Vote lost in the laity.

Breaking News: Church of England votes no on Women Bishops.  Vote is no in the laity.  "Walked it," in clergy and bishops.  The vote may have been as close as six votes in the laity. 


Earlier: Following #Synod on #Twitter as the Church of England Synod prepares to vote on women bishops.  You can follow the conversation on Twitter here at the cafe over in the right column.  Stay tuned for updates!

Statement from the Church of England:

The General Synod of the Church of England has voted to reject the draft legislation to allow women to become bishops.

Under the requirements of the Synod the legislation required a two-thirds majority in each of the three voting houses for final draft approval. Whilst more than two thirds voted for the legislation in both the House of Bishops (44-03) and the House of Clergy (148-45), the vote in favour of the legislation in the House of Laity was less than two-thirds (132-74). The vote in the House of Laity fell short of approval by six votes.

In total 324 members of the General Synod voted to approve the legislation and 122 voted to reject it.

The consequence of the "no" vote of terminating any further consideration of the draft legislation means that it will not be possible to introduce draft legislation in the same terms until a new General Synod comes into being in 2015, unless the 'Group of Six' (the Archbishops, the Prolocutors and the Chair and Vice Chair of the House of Laity) give permission and report to the Synod why they have done so.

Speaking after the vote the Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said:  "A clear majority of the General Synod today voted in favour of the legislation to consecrate women as Bishops. But the bar of approval is set very high in this Synod. Two-thirds of each house has to approve the legislation for it to pass. This ensures the majority is overwhelming. The majority in the house of laity was not quite enough. This leaves us with a problem. 42 out of 44 dioceses approved the legislation and more than three quarters of members of diocesan synods voted in favour. There will be many who wonder why the General Synod expressed its mind so differently.

"The House of Bishops recognises that the Church of England has expressed its mind that women should be consecrated as bishops. There is now an urgent task to find a fresh way forward to which so many of those who were opposed have pledged themselves."

The House of Bishops of the Church of England will meet at 08.30am on Wednesday morning in emergency session to consider the consequences of the vote.

Exact voting figures will be found here

What I am hearing is that there is indeed consensus in the Church of England to affirm women as bishops, but it is still not clear (or clear enough) on the procedures for "roll-out," as it were.  What will be the pastoral care provisions for traditionalists?  It is not clear if the provisions were communicated well (or well enough) to the local vestries and lay leadership (called Parochial Church Councils in England) prior to Synod.

One could see why those provisions might be kept on the quiet side.  Provisions for traditionalists have a way of inflaming those who see this issue as a basic human right rather than a sound biblical theological position.  How can the church make provision for those who oppose equality, they might ask and the discourse can become hostile quickly.  The traditionalist minority on the other hand need assurances that their historic view of the episcopate is respected and that perhaps was not affirmed.

That tension (affirming women in the episcopate while affirming provision for the traditionalist minority) has not bode well in The Episcopal Church and that witness has chilled many in the Church of England.  It might be wise for us all on this side of the Big Pond to pray earnestly - that this is not an issue of politics, of the church now following culture, but one based on sound biblical theology that includes a commitment to compassionate pastoral care for those that dissent.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Must be Santa?

There's been a lot of chatter in the recent days about "gifts" and what effect "gifts" had on the election outcome.  Mitt Romney kicked the whole thing off during a teleconference with his supporters when he explained his view on how Barack Obama achieved success on election day:
“What the president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote.” 
Of course, if we pause for a moment we realize that this is exactly the sort stuff lobbyists do when they are hired and head up to the Hill.  They aren't just marching around for their own peace of mind - they are hired to go get "gifts" from the government.

Someone actually pointed this out a couple of years ago.  The song came to mind as the "gift" chatter has turned to politicians acting out like Santa.  Well, guess who figured that out already.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A song for all who drop by the Cafe

This one is for you who drop in to the cafe - what a time we have had together all these years, trials and triumphs, tears and loss before the amazing spectrum of hope.  And this hope will not fail us.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:38-39

A Call to Prayer for the Diocese of South Carolina

The Bishop of South Carolina
UPDATE: Kendall Harmon is live blogging the special convention of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina here.  Bishop Mark Lawrence's address is here.


Kendall Harmon over at T19 writes, "I mean this--we NEED your prayers. Thank you."  Tomorrow is the Special Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina in Charleston.  Here are the details:

Date of Special Convention: Saturday, November 17, 2012
Location: Saint Philip’s Church, 142 Church Street, Charleston
Registration: 8:30 am – 9:45 am in the Parish Hall
Call to Convention: 10:00 am

Lent & Beyond has put up prayers and scriptures that are very helpful as we focus on prayers on this historic meeting on Saturday.  Included is the hymn St. Patrick's Breastplate:

Here are more songs to help focus prayer:

Looking at our broken and divided church it is so easy to be discouraged, but our hope is not in what we see but in what we cannot see.  We have hope not because we are right but because Jesus is risen.

Gracious Father, we pray for they holy Catholic Church. Fill it
with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt,
purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is
amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in
want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake
of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.

Everliving God, whose will it is that all should come to you
through your Son Jesus Christ: Inspire our witness to him,
that all may know the power of his forgiveness and the hope
of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every
good and perfect gift: Send down upon our bishops, and
other clergy, and upon the congregations committed to their
charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace: and, that they may
truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy
blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate
and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

O God, by your grace you have called us in this Diocese to a
goodly fellowship of faith. Bless our Bishops(s) N. [and N.],
and other clergy, and all our people. Grant that your Word
may be truly preached and truly heard, your Sacraments
faithfully administered and faithfully received. By your
Spirit, fashion our lives according to the example of your
Son, and grant that we may show the power of your love to
all among whom we live; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and
understanding, be present with those who take counsel
at the Special Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of 
South Carolina, for the renewal and mission of your Church.
Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide
us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to
pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Cafe Anthem: Time to Post Again

This cover from 1976:

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori targets conservative remnant in the House of Bishops

The Presiding Bishop
Fresh from charging the conservative South Carolina diocesan bishop Mark Lawrence with abandonment and attempting to take over his diocese, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schor turns her attention to the remnant of conservative bishops still in the Episcopal Church, reportedly charging them with fraud, financial misconduct and failing to inform on their fellow bishops  who held opinions on church order contrary to her own.  

Note the names :

  • The Rt Rev'd Peter H. Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield retired
  • The Rt Rev'd Maurice M. Benitez. Bishop of Texas retired
  • The Rt Rev'd John W. Howe, Bishop of Central Florida retired
  • The Rt Rev'd Paul E. Lambert, Bishop Suffragan, Diocese of Dallas
  • The Rt Rev'd William H. Love, Bishop of Albany
  • The Rt Rev'd D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana retired
  • The Rt Rev'd Daniel H. Martins, Bishop of Springfield
  • The Rt Rev'd Edward L. Salmon, Jr, Bishop of South Carolina retired
  • The Rt Rev'd James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas.

The list reads like a Who's Who of the primary leadership of conservative bishops over the last twenty years, in fact the remnant who courageously remained in the Episcopal Church.  

They are being charged with violating:
Canon IV.3.1
(a) knowingly violating or attempting to violate, directly or through the acts of another person, the Constitution or Canons of the Church or of any Diocese;
(b) failing without good cause to cooperate with any investigation or proceeding conducted under authority of this Title; or
(c) intentionally and maliciously bringing a false accusation or knowingly providing false testimony or false evidence in any investigation or proceeding under this Title. 
Canon 4: Of Standards of Conduct
Sec. 1. In exercising his or her ministry, a Member of the Clergy shall:
(c) abide by the promises and vows made when ordained;
(e) safeguard the property and funds of the Church and Community;
(f) report to the Intake Officer all matters which may constitute an Offense as defined in Canon IV.2 meeting the standards of Canon IV.3.3, except for matters disclosed to the Member of Clergy as confessor within the Rite of Reconciliation of a Penitent;
(g) exercise his or her ministry in accordance with applicable provisions of the Constitution and Canons of the Church and of the Diocese, ecclesiastical licensure or commission and Community rule or bylaws;
(h) refrain from: (6) conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; or (8) any Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Clergy.
And possibly: IV.4.Sec.1(h)(2): holding and teaching publicly or privately, and advisedly, any Doctrine contrary to that held by the Church.

This action of charging these bishops with such severe violations comes after Bishop Schori herself faced a vote by the House of Deputies this summer to sell her headquarters and her home at 815 Second Avenue in New York City.  Later modified by the House of Bishops at General Convention, she is still facing directives from General Convention to restructure the Episcopal Church as it faces massive financial shortfalls and attendance drops from dioceses all over the country.  

In addition, Bishop Schori has faced opposition to her budget proposals, causing the former House of Deputies President, Bonnie Anderson, to come armed with her own budget at a  meeting of the Executive Council of the Episcopal prior to General Convention.  The Executive Council was unable to agree on a budget and Bishop Schori showed up at General Convention and presented her own budget to the the triennial gathering in Indianapolis this past summer.

The crisis of restructuring the budget has split progressive coalitions that have long held a public face of unity while shepherding through innovations on marriage and ordination that has caused a severe "tearing of the fabric" in the worldwide Anglican Communion.  With that coalition alarmed by the possible implementation of a hierarchical structure in the reorganization, it is no wonder that she and her staff would take aim at those conservatives who also take the position that the Episcopal Church is not hierarchical in structure in a more Roman Catholic tradition, but rather consists of dioceses in a democratic General Convention.  She cannot attack her own constituency and it is doubtful at this juncture that her critics in the House of Deputies will be inclined to defend this list.

Her actions and attitudes in regards to her hierarchical view of the structure of the Episcopal Church has caused some longtime political allies to be openly critical of her leadership, with rifts becoming so deep that would cause the Presiding Bishop and the House of Deputies President to show up at an official meeting of the Episcopal Church with separate budgets.  The House of Deputies President later threw in the towel.

Read more about her charges against those who have stood for a historic view of the Episcopal Church and who also exercised their freedom as Americans to sign an amicus curiae brief - an action that has caused this present Presiding Bishop to to take such actions that must cause the founders of the Episcopal Church, born in revolution, to turn over in their graves.

Read it all here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Serious questions raised regarding the Episcopal Presiding Bishop's timeline and the unfolding events in South Carolina

Diocese of South Carolina Timeline:

  • 9/6 Bishop Schori, Bishop Lawrence, and Bishop Waldo agree to meet on Oct. 3rd in New York to discuss how to resolve tensions between Diocese of South Carolina and others in the Episcopal Church.
  • 9/18 The Disciplinary Board for Bishops certifies Bishop Lawrence's abandonment of the church.
  • 9/18 The Disciplinary Board formally issues its certification by letter to the Presiding Bishop.
  • 9/10 The Disciplinary Board assembles accompanying documents.
  • 9/22 Bishop Lawrence, in preparation for the scheduled 10/3 meeting, communicates to the Diocese of South Carolina, requesting patience and prayers.
  • 10/3 Bishop Schori, Bishop Lawrence and Bishop Waldo meet to discuss creative solutions. Bishop Schori agrees that“creative solutions” are desirable to avoid total war. Bishop Schori focuses on how long Bishop Lawrence plans to remain Bishop of the Diocese, asking him if five years is a reasonable assumption. Next meeting is set for October 11 (later changed to 10/22 due to funeral).
  • 10/10 Bishop Schori formally receives the Disciplinary Board's letter.
  • 10/15 Bishop Schori informs Bishop Lawrence of the certification of abandonment and restrictions on ministry.
  • 10/15 Abandonment Certification triggers two resolutions of the Diocese of South Carolina to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church and to call a special convention.
  • 10/17 Bishop Lawrence publicly releases abandonment certification and documents.
  • 10/18 Local S.C. parish discloses well-organized plan to remove and replace Bishop Lawrence and the elected leadership of the Diocese of South Carolina.
  • 10/18 Another website discloses that the well-organized plan to remove and replace the elected leadership of the Diocese of South Carolina originates from the Presiding Bishop Schori.
  • Oct. 20 Bishop vonRosenberg, appointed by Bishop Schori to replace Bishop Lawrence, meets with diocesan members.
  • 10/22 Bishop Schori, Bishop Lawrence, and Bishop Waldo plan to meet again to discuss creative solutions. Meeting later cancelled by Bishop Lawrence after learning of Bishop Schori's organized plan to take over the Diocese of South Carolina.
  • 11/3 Two South Carolina parishes aligned with Bishop Schori place ad in local newspaper under the official seal of the Diocese of South Carolina and claim they are the diocese.
  • 11/7 Email invitation sent to all the clergy under the official seal of the Diocese of South Carolina and pretending to represent the diocese requesting their attendance at a "Clergy Day" led by Bishop Schori's appointed replacement of the Bishop of South Carolina and to hear a "report" from the "steering committee." Location withdrawn after the rector of the host parish learns of the deception.
  • 11/7 Second public announcement released again under the official corporate seal of the Diocese of South Carolina listing names of a "steering committee" with at least one member appointed before 9/18.
  • 11/17 Diocese of South Carolina Special Convention.
What did she know and when did she know it?

From here:

A review of the developments in South Carolina over the last two months makes for depressing reading. The starting point is the agreement reached on September 6 among Bishop Lawrence, the Presiding Bishop and Bishop Waldo of Upper South Carolina to meet in New York on October 3 to discuss “creative solutions” to the longstanding tensions between the Diocese and others in the church. It was two weeks after this meeting was set, on September 18, that the Disciplinary Board for Bishops decided to reverse a decision it had made only last year and to certify Bishop Mark Lawrence for abandonment of the church. And still another two weeks passed before the meeting in New York occurred as planned on October 3. Yet Bishop Lawrence did not learn of the abandonment certification until October 15.
This raises troubling questions at the very outset of this process. How could the Board certify Bishop Lawrence for abandonment while he was trying to resolve these issues in good faith as Matthew’s Gospel commands through direct communication with the Presiding Bishop? How could the Presiding Bishop meet in good faith with Bishop Lawrence on October 3 without disclosing that the Board had certified abandonment two weeks earlier? Were there no communications between the Presiding Bishop’s office, including counsel, and the Board? In previous cases of abandonment, the documentary record has shown that there were frequent communications between the Presiding Bishop’s counsel and the Board’s predecessor—the Title IV Review Committee.
When the abandonment certification finally came to light, TEC described this sequence in selective detail:
[The Board] issued a letter dated September 18. Following the assembly of numerous documents, the Presiding Bishop received the letter in her Church Center office on October 10; the letter was received via U.S. Mail.
We are told when the letter was dated, but not when it was signed; we know when (and how) the letter arrived at the office, but not what the Presiding Bishop knew and when she knew it.
When Bishop Lawrence first learned of the abandonment certification on October 15, his chancellor was given an unsigned certification dated September 18 and the “numerous documents”—the “evidence”—in computer files dated September 19. It is customary in legal systems that provide due process to assemble the evidence before the verdict, not after. In any event, the three weeks between September 19 (“the assembly of numerous documents”) and October 10 (package received at the Church Center) is a long time, even for the U.S. Mail.
This sequence inevitably causes those without knowledge of the facts, including us, to suspect that the certification was not in fact signed on September 18 or mailed when the evidence was assembled on September 19, but only mailed, perhaps by mutual agreement, after the October 3 meeting. The Presiding Bishop should state categorically whether she was aware of the Board’s decision when she met with Bishop Lawrence on October 3; stating that she did not have the executed hard copy to hand is not enough.
At the October 3 meeting there was agreement to meet again, which was subsequently set for October 22. The Presiding Bishop requested that the fact of the meetings be kept confidential; Bishop Lawrence agreed for the time being, but noted that he would not be able to keep the meetings confidential for long. Bishop Lawrence presided over an anxious diocese. Shortly before the first meeting with the Presiding Bishop, he had asked the Diocese on September 22 for patience:
We announced last month on August 20th that the Standing Committee and I were in agreement on a course of action regarding the future of the Diocese of South Carolina and the challenges many of us face because of decisions by the recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church. However, for many reasons it was then and is now, imprudent to reveal that course of action. Things are progressing—we have not stopped or dropped the ball. Please know that I understand the level of anxiety and concern of many in the diocese. Nevertheless I must ask you all for your continued patience and prayers as we seek to deal wisely and carefully with a fluid situation that requires great discernment and sensitivity on a regular basis. I will communicate to you the details at the very earliest moment such a communication is prudent.
The “course of action” that he could not disclose was his agreement to meet with the Presiding Bishop in an effort to work out these “challenges” in a Scriptural manner. He had no inkling when he wrote this that the Board had already—and secretly—decided to try to expel him from the church.
When the Presiding Bishop advised Bishop Lawrence two weeks after their meeting that the Board had certified abandonment, she also advised him that she was restricting his ministry as the canon requires. She asked, however, that they proceed as planned with their scheduled second meeting the following week and that he keep the certification and restriction confidential in the meantime.Did the Presiding Bishop expect Bishop Lawrence to continue to perform his episcopal duties in TEC notwithstanding her restriction? Or did she expect him to give the Diocese a false explanation for why he could not do so?
On October 17 Bishop Lawrence advised the Presiding Bishop that he could no longer keep any of this confidential due to pre-existing resolutions of the Diocese. He then made all these developments and documents public. Less than 24 hours later the website of one of the pro-TEC parishes in the diocese disclosed that well-advanced plans were already laid to replace the diocesan leadership even down to the selection of the laity who would participate in the new structures:
However, soon an Interim Bishop will be appointed by the Presiding Bishop to carry on the liturgical work of Bishop Lawrence. Together with the National Church and diocesan “Transitional Committee” being formed (of which vestry person Erin Bailey will be a part), along with the avalanche of emotion that will erupt, we will continue as we have. (Emphasis added.)
Another website also posted the following almost immediately:
We all have questions but understand that a transition team has been put in place by the Presiding Bishop and that information will be shared, perhaps next week. It will serve everyone well to wait and hear from the Presiding Bishop. (Emphasis added.)
Within 48 hours, the apparent “Interim Bishop” Charles vonRosenberg was reported to be meeting with members of the Diocese. All this before the second meeting between the Presiding Bishop and Bishop Lawrence still scheduled at that time for October 22.
After learning of these developments, Bishop Lawrence declined to meet with the Presiding Bishop on October 22 as scheduled. Also, as telegraphed immediately on the parish websites, the prior plans of the “Interim Bishop” and “Transitional Committee” became public. On November 3, two of the TEC parishes placed an ad in a local paper using the diocesan seal and claiming that the “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina” “will continue” as part of TEC with “new leadership and a new Bishop.” Four days later an email was sent to diocesan clergy by an entity claiming to be “the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina,” using the diocesan seal and inviting them to a “Clergy Day” with Bishop vonRosenberg as preacher at which they would receive a report from “the Steering Committee.” The rector of the parish at which this was to be held was unaware of the nature of this meeting, which subsequently had to be moved to a different venue when he objected.
On November 11 a public statement was released using the Diocese’s name and seal to announce the formation of a “Steering Committee” to “reorganize” the Diocese and act as the body “that communicates with the Presiding Bishop during this period.” One of the officers is the laywoman whose selection had apparently been made even before the abandonment certification was announced. Two “Episcopal Advisors” to the Steering Committee were announced, Bishops vonRosenberg and Buchanan, who currently serves as the “Provisional Bishop” of the TEC diocese in Quincy.
One need not speculate as to the purpose of the actions to confiscate the Diocese’s name and seal. TEC has already followed the same path in Fort Worth. Their objective is to assume the legal identity of the departed diocese and then attempt to register that identity with the federal trademark office in Washington. This requires as a prerequisite a demonstrated use of the trademarks by the party seeking to register them. But all of this is mere groundwork for a subsequent trademark infringement action in federal court in which TEC attempts to litigate highly disputed issues of church polity in the unrelated context of trademark law. TEC tried exactly this litigation tactic in Fort Worth to circumvent the state court where TEC itself had initially filed suit, but the tactic failed when Bishop Iker successfully moved the federal court to stay the litigation pending the adjudication of the controlling state law issues.
This tactic is certainly doomed to failure in South Carolina. The diocesan name and corporate seal have long been the property of the South Carolina corporation that constitutes the Diocese, and they are registered in its name. Under South Carolina law, these misuses of the diocesan name and seal subject those responsible for the deception to serious civil liability, including treble damages. Indeed, if the seal were used in connection with the sale of goods and services such as church calendars, coffee mugs or posters or the rental of church facilities, the misuse of the corporate identity and seal could be a felony under South Carolina law.
All of this premeditated effort and deception has been unleashed, moreover, in a state where the Supreme Court has already ruled that issues of corporate control in South Carolina corporations, like the Diocese, are determined by neutral principles of law and that TEC’s Dennis Canon has no effect in the state. Is it too much to ask that TEC exhibit the same standard of good faith and fair dealing the law requires of all parties to ordinary commercial transactions?
To summarize: these facts raise important questions. When did the Presiding Bishop learn of the Disciplinary Board’s decision regarding Bishop Lawrence? Did she act deceitfully by feigning a desire for conciliation when she in fact had already made plans to replace him as bishop? These questions go to the heart of Christian integrity and episcopal credibility.

Be sure to read it all here.

The day we give thanks for veterans

Friday, November 09, 2012

Official Statements on the appointment of Bishop Justin Welby as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury

A Statement on the Appointment of
Bishop Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury

The Most Reverend Robert W. Duncan. Archbishop 
and Primate The Anglican Church in North America

On behalf of the College of Bishops, clergy and laity of the Anglican Church in North America, I greet Bishop Justin Welby and wish him God’s blessings and every success as he prepares to step into his new ministry as Archbishop of Canterbury. I assure him of our regular prayers as he assumes his new responsibilities in a time of significant challenge, tension and opportunity within our Anglican Communion.

Bishop Welby’s resume reveals a man who is devoted to God’s Word and responsive to the Holy Spirit. The Bishop’s heart for the poor, particularly as priest and bishop in England’s post-industrial North, is a heart with which we can readily identify. His experience and skill with mediation and conflict resolution should serve him well in his new office.

As Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, I look forward to getting to know Bishop Welby and to working with him. It has been very helpful to have the doors of Lambeth Palace open to us under his two immediate predecessors, and I trust that Bishop Welby and I will develop a good and open relationship as I commit to work with him and others for the good, and the good order, of all who call themselves Anglican.

With my colleagues of the GAFCON Primates Council and with all who are part of the movement which is the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, I share the conviction that submission to “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and to the prayers” is the surest course through the days ahead. May the Lord grant us all His grace and wisdom as we move forward in this new season together. 

I welcome the news that Bishop Justin Welby is to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury. I believe that his appointment should give hope to all of us who long to see renewal, reform and genuine unity.

Bishop Justin will bring to the Anglican Communion a special combination of gifts and experience. I know him as a deeply committed servant of Jesus Christ who honours the Scriptures as the Word of God and as a courageous peacemaker. I am confident that these qualities, together with his sustained involvement in business and finance, will enable him to articulate the Lordship of Christ to a watching world as well as to a Communion in continuing disorder.

After the Primates of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans met earlier this year in London, we said we were praying for a ‘godly leader of God’s people’ to emerge from the selection procedure for the next Archbishop of Canterbury and I believe our prayer has been answered.

However, it would be unfair and misleading to suggest that one man can resolve the crisis which has beset the Anglican Communion in recent years and we also stated our belief ‘that in the future development of the Anglican Communion the chair of the Primates Meeting should be elected by the Primates themselves’.

Our proposal, while not intended to deny the honour due to Canterbury as an historic see, is an expression of the truth we hold as vital, that our identity as Anglicans stems first and foremost from adherence to the faith we confess. It is this which gives substance and integrity to our bonds of affection and our efforts to relieve poverty and promote development.

As the Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, I eagerly look forward to working with the new Archbishop of Canterbury as a partner in the gospel to restore much needed conviction, confidence and unity to the deeply fractured Anglican family.

I assure him of the prayers of this Province and the global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans as he prepares for this great calling to serve the Church of England and the wider Communion.

The Most Rev’d Dr Eliud Wabukala
Archbishop and Primate of Kenya
and Chairman of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON)

A hard rain is a-fallin' in South Carolina ...

George Conger reports:

Fraudulent email sent  under diocesan seal.
UPDATE: Heavens to Betsy, a second invitation from a faction of "loyalists" has gone out, again unlawfully under the official seal of the Diocese of South Carolina.  George Conger has the scoop here.


On 7 November 2012, an email purporting to be from the “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina” and bearing the diocese’s seal was sent en masse to the clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina inviting them to attend the “Diocesan clergy day” to be held on 15 Nov at the Church of the Holy Communion in Charleston.

Amongst the activities planned was a sermon to be offered by Bishop vonRosenberg.

The Diocese of South Carolina responded the following day stating the email was a forgery. “The sender intentionally impersonated the diocese with an unauthorized use of our Diocesan seal and by stating that the sender was the Diocese of South Carolina.”

Speculation that the meeting called by the “loyal Episcopal priests” was a stalking horse for a pre-emptive strike by the national church and that Bishop vonRosenberg would be elected by the rump group as provisional bishop of South Carolina in union with the General Convention, is running high within conservative clergy circles in the diocese. However, a group of loyalist clergy have also been active in voicing concern over the secession.

A diocesan press statement released on 8 Nov further stated that the rector of the church that was to host the meeting said he had been “misled in offering to host this meeting, expecting it was for a small group of clergy who had already decided to reaffiliate with TEC. ‘Neither I nor anyone at Holy Communion sent that email,’ said the Rector. ‘I have notified the sender that we will not be hosts’.”

The diocesan statement further stated Bishop vonRosenberg had “no authority to convene or preside at any meeting in this diocese and to do so would put him in violation of TEC’s canons.”

Bishop von Rosenberg told Anglican Ink the diocesan statement misconstrued his role in the affair.

“A group of loyal Episcopal priests felt the need to gather, for mutual support. They asked me to offer a homily during the liturgy they will share. I had previously been licensed in this diocese by Bishop Lawrence. I certainly felt able to respond to the invitation affirmatively, and I look forward to being with that group,” the bishop said.

However, Bishop vonRosenberg said: “In terms of the ‘bigger picture’ regarding what is happening in this diocese, I imagine that things will become clearer soon. I hope so, because there is much confusion at this point.”

The approach taken by the loyalist faction, however, is cause for concern, the diocesan statement said. “Whoever called such a meeting had no authority to do so or to use the Diocesan seal in any fashion. All of this is further evidence of the necessity for the precautions this diocese has taken during the past several years. It seems TEC does not follow its own canons, while repeatedly insisting in the past that the Diocese of South Carolina do so. “

Bishop vonRosenberg said the loyalist meeting would go forward on 15 Nov, while the special convention of the Diocese of South Carolina is scheduled for 17 Nov at St. Philip’s Church in Charleston.

Read it all here.

And so while we're thinking of it, here's Bob and George:

BREAKING NEWS: Bishop of Durham Justin Welby appointed the Archbishop of Canterbury


I welcome the news that Bishop Justin Welby is to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury. I believe that his appointment should give hope to all of us who long to see renewal, reform and genuine unity.
Bishop Justin will bring to the Anglican Communion a special combination of gifts and experience. I know him as a deeply committed servant of Jesus Christ who honours the Scriptures as the Word of God and as a courageous peacemaker. I am confident that these qualities, together with his sustained involvement in business and finance, will enable him to articulate the Lordship of Christ to a watching world as well as to a Communion in continuing disorder.
After the Primates of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans met earlier this year in London, we said we were praying for a ‘godly leader of God’s people’ to emerge from the selection procedure for the next Archbishop of Canterbury and I believe our prayer has been answered.
The Most Rev’d Dr Eliud Wabukala
Archbishop and Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans

The Rt. Rev'd Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, is appointed the next Archbishop of Canterbury.  Here is the announcement from Lambeth Palace:

Reuters reports:

Justin Welby, 56, who has been bishop of the northern English city of Durham for barely a year, will replace incumbent Rowan Williams in December.

He is widely regarded as an opponent of gay marriage but in favor of the ordination of women as bishops, two of the most divisive issues facing the Church.

The BBC Reports:
The next Archbishop of Canterbury has set out his support for the ordination of women bishops as his appointment was officially confirmed. 
The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, 56, said his appointment as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury was "astonishing and exciting." 
He replaces Rowan Williams who is retiring in December after 10 years. 
He will take on the Church of England's most senior post at a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013. 
Commenting on the speculation that had preceded the announcement he told a press conference at Lambeth Palace: "Well, that was the best-kept secret since the last cabinet reshuffle." 
"It's something I never expected, and the last few weeks have been a rather strange experience, to put it mildly."

... Bishop Welby was educated at Eton and Cambridge University, and then spent 11 years in the oil industry before studying theology at Durham. He was ordained in 1992.

He became Rector of Southam in 1995 and was later appointed canon residentiary of Coventry Cathedral. He left the area in 2007 when he was appointed Dean of Liverpool.

He took up the post of Bishop of Durham in November 2011 and worked as Rowan Williams' special envoy to Africa, attempting to build unity between Christian and Muslim communities in Nigeria.

Bishop Welby is regarded by observers as being on the evangelical wing of the Church, closely adhering to traditional interpretations of the Bible with a strong emphasis on making the Church outward-looking.

Time Magazine has all ready posted a profile on the new archbishop:

Welby clearly has daunting task ahead, but many feel that if anyone is capable of uniting the liberal and conservative factions of the Communion, it’s him. Church insiders describe Welby as a people-person who’s skilled at seeing all sides of an issue and negotiating with both wings of the Church. He’s also traveled extensively in Africa and worked behind the scenes with many churches there, encouraging communication between them and more liberal churches in the West.

That’s not to say he hasn’t taken stands on certain issues. Welby is on the record as being in favor of ordaining women as bishops and he’s just as outspokenly opposed to gay marriage. And yet he has largely managed to avoid being characterized as either of the right or the left in the Church’s political spectrum. In business and as a leader in the Church, Welby is perhaps most commonly described as a mediator. Vivian Gibney, a former colleague of Welby’s, told the BBC that “one of his main strengths is to find the way forward in negotiation.”
Bishop Welby came from Holy Trinity Brompton, home of the Alpha Course and has been a strong supporter of the Alpha Course in his own ministry.

The London Telegraph reports:
There are two ways of looking at the decline of Christianity in England. One is to bemoan the relentless secularisation and the supposed decay of society in general. The other is to accept that being Christian in Britain now means being part of a minority, and that the Church’s mission is to explain the Word of God to people who have grown up having never heard it. Those who know Bishop Welby place him firmly in the latter camp, and say that his mission is evangelical, and that his approach to the task was summed up by his predecessor-but-six Archbishop William Temple: “The Church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of non-members.” 
This explains the relevance of Bishop Welby’s involvement in the Alpha course, one of the most successful innovations of modern British Christianity. It is a 10-week introduction to the faith, and an evangelical movement that has attracted two million Britons so far. It started at Holy Trinity Brompton, an influential church in west London, and now goes out to prisons and council estates, bucking the general trend of religious decline.

This is very encouraging news and it is a good day to pray for the new Archbishop and give thanks to God for the appointment of a strong believer and leader for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion and interceding on his behalf as he takes a position of leadership in the church when it is facing a global crisis over authority and revelation that is breaking the communion apart.  As Paul prays in his letter to the Ephesians:

I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

-Ephesians 3:14-21
The Church of England offers this prayer:
God our Father, Lord of all the world,
through your Son you have called us into the fellowship
of your universal Church:
hear our prayer for your faithful people
that in their vocation and ministry
each may be an instrument of your love,
and give to your servant  Justin
the needful gifts of grace;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Here is Justin Welby's statement this morning in London:

The Right Revered Justin Welby made this opening statement at a press conference at Lambeth Palace this morning:

The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby
“Let's be quiet for a moment and then pray. 
Come Holy Spirit to the hearts of your people and kindle in them the fire of your love. 
To be nominated to this post is both astonishing and exciting. It is something I never expected, and the last few weeks have been a very strange experience. It is exciting because we are at one of those rare points where the tide of events is turning, and the church nationally, including the Church of England has great opportunities to match its very great but often hidden strengths. I feel a massive sense of privilege at being one of those responsible for the leadership of the church in a time of spiritual hunger, when our network of parishes and churches and schools and above all people means that we are facing the toughest issues in the toughest place. 
I want to say at once that one of the biggest challenges is to follow a man who I believe will be recognised as one of the greatest Archbishops of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. He is some one with a deep love for Jesus Christ, an infectious spirituality, extraordinary integrity and holiness, immense personal moral and physical courage, and of course one of the world's principal theologians and philosophers. On the basis that you should only follow failures, this is a great mistake. To be fully serious, the church world wide owes him a great debt, more than it knows, and I shall be continuing to seek his advice and wisdom. I can only wish him, Jane and the family a wonderful end to his time atCanterburyand joy in their new roles. 
As I look back I am touched by the way in which so many people have contributed to who both Caroline and I have become. I learned a great deal from the companies in which I worked, above all from my bosses and my colleagues. We were nurtured and shaped as Christians in the churches inParisandLondon. I had the privilege of serving as a curate amongst wonderful people inNuneatonand making many mistakes as a rector in Southam. Coventry Cathedral opened my eyes to the church overseas and gave me a passion for reconciliation, andLiverpoolhumoured me, teased me and quietly taught me. Above all the providence of God has surrounded us in so many ways through tragedy and joy. Learning from other traditions than the one into which I came as a Christian has led me into the riches of Benedictine and Ignatian spirituality, the treasures of contemplative prayer and adoration, and confronted me with the rich and challenging social teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. 
Looking forward, I am very conscious of my own weakness and the great need I will have for advice and wisdom, especially from those who are senior amongst the bishops who see deeply into the issues that are faced by the Church of England, and amongst the Primates who guide the Anglican Communion in its present struggles. There are some things of which I am deeply confident. Our task as part of God's church is to worship Him in Christ and to overflow with the good news of His love for us, of the transformation that He alone can bring which enables human flourishing and joy. The tasks before us are worship and generous sharing of the good news of Christ in word and deed. 
How we do those things is, of course much more complicated. The work of the Church of England is not done primarily on television or at Lambeth, but in over 16,000 churches, where hundreds of thousands of people get on with the job they have always done of loving neighbour, loving each other and giving more than 22 million hours of voluntary service outside the church a month. They are the front line, and those who worship in them, lead them, minster in them are the unknown heroes of the church. I have never had demands on me as acute as when I was a parish priest. One of the greatest privileges of this role will the inspiration of so many grass roots projects that I will see around the country. We have seen the wonderful hospitality and genius of the people in this country inside and outside the church during this marvellous year of Jubilee and Olympics. 
Because of that vast company of serving Anglicans, together those in other churches, I am utterly optimistic about the future of the church. We will certainly get things wrong, but the grace of God is far greater than our biggest failures. We will also certainly get much right and do so already. Taking the right role in supporting the church as it goes on changing and adapting is the task where the collective wisdom of the bishops will be so important. The House of Bishops is very wise. I have had the great privilege of serving great bishops, Colin Bennetts inCoventry, James Jones in Liverpool and Archbishop Sentamu inYork. The Archbishop has great communication gifts, wisdom and deep understanding of the global church, and I am greatly looking forward to continuing to learn from him. 
The Anglican communion, for all its difficulties, is also a source of remarkable blessing to the world. In so many countries it is one of the main sharers of reconciliation and hope in Jesus Christ. Anglicans today stand firm in faith alongside other Christians under pressure in many places, especially in northernNigeria, a country close to my heart. I am very much looking forward to meeting the Primates of the Anglican Communion, and have sent them a message today. Many of them I know already, and again have learned from them and will learn more. 
Until early in the New Year I continue inDurham, and we have an Archbishop, so apart from the initial flurry I will just be doing what is in the diary already. 
One of the hardest things will be to leaveDurham. I work with a group of wonderful senior colleagues and remarkable clergy and lay people. It is an astonishing part of the country, one which as a family we were greatly looking forward to living in for many years. The people are direct, inspiring and wonderfully friendly. In many ways it has been the ancient cradle of British Christianity. It is a place of opportunity and an even greater future than its past. I will continue to do all I can to support the area. 
This is a time for optimism and faith in the church. I know we are facing very hard issues. In 10 days or so the General Synod will vote on the ordination of women as Bishops. I will be voting in favour, and join my voice to many others in urging the Synod to go forward with this change. In my own Diocese, and before I was a Bishop, I have always recognised and celebrated the remarkable signs of God's grace and action in the ministries of many people who cannot in conscience agree with this change. Personally I value and learn from them, and want the church to be a place where we can disagree in love, respecting each other deeply as those who belong to Christ. 
We also face deep differences over the issue of sexuality. It is absolutely right for the state to define the rights and status of people co-habiting in different forms of relationships, including civil partnerships. We must have no truck with any form of homophobia, in any part of the church. The Church of England is part of the worldwide church, with all the responsibilities that come from those links. What the church does here deeply affects the already greatly suffering churches in places like northern Nigeria, which I know well. I support the House of Bishop's statement in the summer in answer to the government's consultation on same sex marriage. I know I need to listen very attentively to the LGBT communities, and examine my own thinking prayerfully and carefully. I am always averse to the language of exclusion, when what we are called to is to love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us. Above all in the church we need to create safe spaces for these issues to be discussed honestly and in love.

I know these are major issues and will come back to them in due course, but I will not be saying any more about that today. I will stop there before this becomes a sermon, and am happy to answer some questions.”

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Now is the time to pray!

With the expected announcement coming tomorrow of the appointment of the new Archbishop of Canterbury - let us join together and take this day to pray.

Let us stand firm not on our hopes and dreams and expectations, but on the truth and life that comes from the best gift ever given - Jesus is risen!  The joy of the Lord is our strength.

COMING SOON: Bishop of Durham Justin Welby expected to be named tomorrow as the next Archbishop of Canterbury

The Rt. Rev'd Justin Welby
Worldwide attention is now focused on an expected announcement naming the new Archbishop of Canterbury tomorrow at an 11:00 a.m. (6:00 a.m. EST) press conference in London. It is now widely assumed that the next Archbishop of Canterbury will be the Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev'd Justin Welby.

The London Telegraph reports that the anticipated appointment "marks a meteoric rise for the former oil executive who has been a bishop for only a year, but insiders described Welby as 'the outstanding candidate.'"

John Bingham, and Jonathan Wynne-Jones of the Telegraph point to evidence that the new Archbishop of Canterbury is Bishop Welby after the bishop "pulled out at short notice from a planned appearance on the BBC Radio 4 discussion programme Any Questions due to take place in County Durham on Friday.

"He also cut short a retreat with diocesan staff and returned to the capital where it is understood his wife is travelling down to join him tomorrow..Earlier this week bookmakers stopped taking money on Bishop Welby after a flurry of bets on him being chosen," the Telegraph reports.

George Conger at AnglicanInk explains the process:

The Archbishop of Canterbury is appointed by the Queen. The process for selecting an archbishop has two phases: political and ecclesiastical. The political phase begins with the creation of a 16 member Crown Nominations Commission whose members are drawn from the General Synod of the Church of England, the Diocese of Canterbury and one representative from the wider Anglican Communion. 
The committee is tasked with selecting two names to present to the Prime Minister. A nominee must secure the support of two-thirds, or at least 11 members of the committee. After two names are selected the committee votes, by simple majority, to rank the candidates. 
Traditionally the prime minister then chooses from amongst the candidates, but in 2007 Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced he would accept the choice ranked first by the committee – a practice his successor David Cameron has followed.
The recommendation is then passed to the Queen, who then passes the recommendation on to the dean and canons of Canterbury Cathedral who then “elect” the new archbishop.

The BBC has a profile on Bishop Welby here.

Praying today!  If this is all true - and it sure looks like it is - this is really good news.

Friday, November 02, 2012

I remember the first time I saw Les Miserables on the stage - it was at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and I was riveted.  It quickly became my all-time favorite - nothing seemed to be able to come close to the power and inspiration - and yes, the truth of musical.  Later I saw it several times in London in Leicester Square and it never lost it's power - it's truly a spiritual experience.  These early images and vision of the film version seems to capture that same power.  Here's a background video focusing on the choice by the filmmakers to record the soundtrack during the filming, allowing the actors - as they do on stage - to interpret their character's voice and story in the music live.  It just looks remarkable.