Saturday, March 31, 2007


Spring finally arrives. Here at the farm this weekend where there is the annual blomming of the most glorious weeping cherry. Just had to share with you all. I don't think I've ever seen one this large anywhere else - it's got to be over fifty feet - it's taller than the house. It's an amazing tree - my favorite. Click on the photos to see them larger than life. Enjoy!

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Full Armor of God?

BB NOTE: When I first saw the front cover art for the UK edition of Harry Potter and the Darkly Hallows, this scripture came to mind:

Ephesians 6:13-18 (NIV)

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Do you see all the armor in this cover art? Coincidence?

Let your yes be no and your no be no?

BB NOTE:The Presiding Bishop came out of the House of Bishops whistling a new tune - the "fast" is over, no more talk about structural "containers" and she can cancel the Nixon Trip to China. But just to recall only last month:

Remember this?

It's the recording of the PB's talk with the 815 staff right after she got back from Tanzania in February. She still had her Tanzania tan. Interesting that the ENS article no longer contains text when you go here. How weird is that? Could it because ENS wrote this on Feb. 23 (thanks StandFirm for saving it!):

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on February 23 told the community of people who work at the Episcopal Church Center in New York that the new structures asked for by the primates in Dar es Salaam, and the clarifications they want about the Episcopal Church’s stance on blessing same-gender relationships and partnered gay and lesbian priests becoming bishops, can be a “container” in which the Anglican Communion can continue to discuss issues that many Anglicans would rather avoid..

So her she's talking about structural containers - i.e.,the Pastoral Council (doesn't use the word "scheme" here because she wants 815 to buy it, calls it a "container" instead). We're going to listen to the original recording again tonight (join us - it's posted above). It will be interesting to compare what she said then to what she's saying now. But as I recall, she was supporting the new Anglican structure like the Pastoral Council as being akin to what she herself had proposed. She did support the Communique and that was clear when she came home. It was clear that no one left until they were all in agreement. Now she's telling a diferent story. Now she's pulling a Griswold. And yes, the ENS story of her original talk to the 815 staff is still blank. Check it out for yourself.

Here's the Church of England Newspaper article from today, March 30, 2007, that focuses on the About Face of Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Row over Schori's Primates Satement

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has qualified her support for the Primates’ Dar es Salaam communiqué, telling reporters her endorsement did not connote agreement,but signified her intention to act as the Primates’ messenger to the US House of Bishops.

Row over Schori's Primates Satement -
The Church of England Newspaper Electronic Edition

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has qualified her support for the Primates’ Dar es Salaam communiqué, telling reporters her endorsement did not connote agreement,but signified her intention to act as the Primates’ messenger to the US House of Bishops.

In a March 21 conference call with reporters, Bishop Jefferts Schori said she backed the US House of Bishops’ decision to reject the pastoral council. Asked whether this support served to revoke her signature on the Primates’ communiqué,she responded that she had not signed the Feb 19 Dares Salaam statement.

Her assent had been given orally, she said. Dr. Williams had gone around the room asking each primate if they could live with this agreement. The Presiding Bishop said she told the primates: “I would bring this back to the House of Bishops’ and “explain it” to them, and “seek the will of the House.” Asked to clarify her comments, she said the “best way to gain a consensus” among the Primates in Tanzania had been to support the communiqué, however,“ she was not able to speak for the whole House of Bishops.”

Recollections of events from the final session of the primates meeting differ. Speaking with The Church of England Newspaper shortly after the meeting,one participant stated Bishop Jefferts Schori said “I accept,” in response to Dr Williams’ query whether she could live with the agreement.

The communiqué represented the “feeling of the meeting as a whole” Dr Williams’ told a Feb 19 press conference in Dar esSalaam, while Archbishop Andrew Hutchison told the Anglican Journal of Canada he had endorsed the communiqué after Bishop Jefferts Schori said she wouldsign it. “I told her, ‘It’s all about you. If you decide not to sign, I won’t sign. I’ll be there with you’.”

Not signing the Primates communiqué, Bishop Jefferts Schori told Archbishop Hutchison, would send the message “that at great expense and effort, we have accomplished nothing and we have nothing to say.”

The Presiding Bishop’s comments come at the moment of the American church’s sharpest divide,with some warning of impending schism, while others arguing all is well. Bishop Jefferts Schori explained the rejection was “not a final decision,” but are commendation by the Bishops to the church’s Executive Council. The Episcopal Church’s formalresponse to the communiqué would not come until September, after a series of town-hall style meetings and consultations acrossThe Episcopal Church,she said.

The Primates needed to “hear concerns around our polity”, she said, noting“ other parts of ocurred. Colorado Bishop Robert O’Neill told his diocese the bishops did not “close any doors or cut off the serious and substantive discussion that is necessary to respond fully and appropriately to the Primates’concerns.”

What the bishops’ rejection had accomplished was “to make a statement which self-differentiated ourselves as The Episcopal Church while protecting the polity of our church. This means no outside interference which would violate our Canons or Constitution,” Rochester, NY Bishop JackMcKelvey said.

Conservative leaders were less sanguine.“Appeals to ‘our polity’ would be more convincing if we actually took our polity seriously,” the Bishop of Dallas James Stanton observed. The consequences of the bishops’ rejection were grim, others argued. “It now appears that a divorce maybe unavoidable,” Bishop Jeffrey Steenson of the Rio Grande told his diocese. Now “there is clearly no place left for conservative Christians within the Episcopal Church’s official structures,” Dr Ephraim Radner of the Anglican Communion Institute stated, while Dr Paul Zahl, the Dean of Trinity School for Ministry, the Episcopal Church’s flagship evangelical seminary, lamented: “It is time for all of us to give up,” and “give up unconditionally.”

In a brief statement released through the Anglican Consultative Council, Dr Williams noted the results had been “discouraging,” showing the “need for further discussion and clarification.” A spokesman for Lambeth Palace told The Church of England Newspaper Dr Williams would release a detailed statement in the coming days.

At the close of the Primates’ meeting however, DrWilliams stated, “these are the terms that have been put” to the US House of Bishops. “I think it would be rather difficult if there were a response in other terms.” If the US church were unable to give the “reassurances” requested by the primates, “then in fact the damage is not repaired, and that has to affect some of the consideration we would want to give about the organs of the Communion,” Dr Williams said on Feb 19.

The leaders of the GlobalSouth coalition of primates were caught off guard by the US decision. Many were traveling or conducting visitations when the news broke, and have not had an opportunity to gather as a group to offer a collective response.

However, South American Archbishop Gregory Venables stated: “It is not possible to maintain a relationship when one party unilaterally and coldly departs from previously agreed foundations,” adding “now we must move to separation as quickly and as gracefully as possible.”

Archbishop Carlos Touche Porter of Mexico argued rejection of the pastoral council by the US was inevitable. There was “no other response” to the primates “that could have come out of the House,” he said.

From the Church of England Newspaper via Latimer.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Week That Was ...

The Episcopal Church Crisis continues to implode; the cover art of all the editions of the upcoming seventh book in the Harry Potter series is released to the public; Bob Dylan goes back on tour and is reunited with his guitar; Bono is made an honorary knight by Queen Elizabeth II; the daytime temps hit 80 degrees; good news from a distant land; and I add one more candle to the birthday cake - all in one week. Heading to the Farm this weekend - heard the giant cherry tree is in bloom and photos will be coming soon. And that was the week that was.

Dylanologists Take Note: He's Back on the Guitar - finally!

In the world of YouTube, Dylan fans are recording pieces of his concerts and putting them up on YouTube, almost in real time. This is just small bit from his concert in Stockholm where he surprises everyone and returns to the guitar after years of stepping back behind the electric organ. It's almost like he's been hiding in the shadows and is now ready to return to center stage. When I saw him for the very first time he was shoved over in the corner, back stage right and never looked at the audience, just at the band and one got the feeling the audience was evesdropping on a band rehearsal. Oops. The next time he had switched sides and moved his electric piano a little closer, but now on back stage left. That time he did steal glances into the audience and had started to dance more from behind the keyboards. He's come out to a mic at center stage to do the harmonica-thing, but never really looked out. Still had the Oscar taped to his amp, though.

Late last year was the most animated and fun I'd ever seen him - and I'm still rather new at this. At George Mason he appeared to be really having fun and enjoying himself and did look out into the crowd and respond to what he was seeing. It was an entirely different experience. Got to see the Oscar again.

But here he is in this very short clip taken just this past Tuesday night in Stockholm, back to his old place at the real center stage and back on the guitar. Yeah.

NOTE: If you click on the headline above, you can see part of "All Along the Watchtower" from last night with Dylan on the electric organ. Cool arrangement, slightly sea sick though - but hey, it was last night in Sweden!

FYI - the photo above was taken Tuesday night.

Bishop Hertzog "in full communion" with Roman Catholic Church

BB NOTE: I know Dan Herzog as a fellow Alpha Regional Advisor with Alpha North America. It wasn't until later that I found out he was the Episcopal Bishop of Albany (I hosted a gathering of ARAs at Truro a few years ago and Dan came and I realized then that he was a bishop because he was wearing the shirt!). He retired earlier this year and this breaking news is that he has left the Episcopal Church for the Roman Catholic Church. It's stunning news and comes just weeks after the announcement that his Suffragan Bishop, David Benna, left the Episcopal Church to be a bishop in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. Something is happening here, do you know what it is?

From The Living Church:

Bishop Herzog Joins the Roman Catholic Church

The Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, has appealed for unity following news that his predecessor has entered into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

The Rt. Rev. Daniel Herzog retired as Bishop of Albany Jan. 31. Bishop Love said he learned of Bishop Herzog’s decision in a letter dated March 19 which he received upon his return from the spring retreat of the House of Bishops.

“The recent retirement and subsequent departure of both Bishop Dan [Herzog] and Bishop Dave [Bena] from The Episcopal Church can’t help but have a major impact on each of us and our diocese,” Bishop Love stated in a letter. “One of my greatest concerns as your new bishop is that others in the diocese are also struggling with the current issues that threaten to divide the Church. Please know that I am here for you as we work through these issues.

“As your bishop and brother in Christ, I appreciate and give thanks to God for you and every member of our diocesan family. I need you as we move forward.”

In his letter to Bishop Love, Bishop Herzog stated that his decision was based on more than three years of focused prayer and study.

“My sense of duty to the diocese, its clergy and people required that I not walk away from my office and leave vulnerable this diocese which I love,” he wrote. “I believed that it was my responsibility to provide for a transition to the future. Your subsequent election and consecration discharged that duty and has given me the liberty to follow my conscience, and now resign my orders and membership in the House of Bishops.

“It is certainly no reflection on you or your ministry which Carol and I both admire and respect and for which we pray daily. Needless to say, we have only fondness and appreciation for you and the diocese in whose ministry Carol and I have invested the past 35 years of our lives.”

Bishop Herzog’s departure comes less than a month after it was revealed that before his retirement, Bishop Herzog had agreed to transfer the canonical ministry license of Bishop Suffragan David Bena to the Anglican Church of Nigeria. Bishop Love said both former bishops remain “good friends” and will continue to be welcome at all diocesan functions.

Click Here: Senator Smith says it best.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cartoon Night at the BabyBlueCafe

BB NOTE: It's never a good time to lose your head, even if you are pumpkin.

A Safe Place?

Who used to use the Safe Place Defense to justify their actions in American History? You may be surprised to find out.

Just because we are "safe" does not mean we are free.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galations 5:1) He doesn't mention anything about being safe. It's hard to be safe when one is carrying around a cross. Or out on a battlefield. Or when sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ inside hostile territory where Anglican Christians are chopped up and sent home to their families. Let's get real.

HP Book VI (Deathly Hallows) Cover Art Released!

US Edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

UK Edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Adult Edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Front and Back Cover of US Edition.

Front and Back Cover of UK Edition.

We think the internet is about to explode. It's hard to get these photos to come out - probably because a kabillion people all over the planet are trying to download them at the same time. WOW! Christmas in March!

There is more but we just can't get onto the Leaky Cauldron server right now. But that art from the back cover too. For those of us who are looking for clues, this is a major contribution to the sluething now under way until July. We love our Bishops - but some things are just way more fun. Happy Sluething!


Ephraim Radner: What Way Ahead – Part Two

BB NOTE: Should have known there would be a reason why we had to don our tinfoil hats again last week after our friend and cafe patron from from across the Potomac started up the "IRD Is Out To Take Over the World As We Know It" conspiracy theories and tossing Fr. Radner into the epicenter would be for a reason. Now Fr. Radner is no longer the progressives favorite orthodox darling (John Howe, please take note) now that he's vocalizing the truth of the reality on the ground (that just doesn't go over well with the tea and crumpets, don't you know). Now he's viewed as "emotional" and one must wear their tinfoil hats because of the company he keeps (so much for full inclusion!) - ah, but the times they are still ironically a-changing:

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'

Here we have a must-read from Ephraim Radner of the Anglican Communion Institute. Two highlights are below, but read the whole thing here:

"We must now choose our way with respect to the Communion, and choose it in a manner that can be evaluated rather clearly according to the Communion’s own calling. This is so because the Communion has moved through very important, articulated and clear phases of reflection and action, especially most recently at Dar es Salaam. For that we are profoundly grateful ..."

..."Some have wondered if I am counseling us to “leave” the Episcopal Church. There are certainly ways to do this that are unambiguous, and I am not in a position to judge those who take such an unambiguous path. However, for those like myself who are committed to the Communion path outlined above, “leaving” is not as clear as it may seem. We have not moved; last week, our bishops as a House have moved.

"In such a situation, the readjusting of relationships will, as I have said, engage an inevitable conflict. This could well “feel” like leaving to some, I have no doubt. It will certainly be filled with anguish, as I feel every day. But steadfastness in this course is not flight or abandonment of anyone. We can respect the choices of our House of Bishops as choices made openly and honestly.

"But our own choices can likewise be made with integrity, precisely as they remain consistent with the vows we have all taken to “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship” and the “heritage” of the Great Church God would have rise up again the sight of all the world."

The battle for Helm's Deep is over.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More reasons to pray ...

Closer to Home: Urgent Prayer Request

For those of us who are regular patrons here at the Cafe, we all know Kevin and his great and consistent posts. Could you just stop right now and pray for him and his family? The Lord knows what's before Him and if you could just pray for Kevin and his family right now, right where you are, that would be so good. Feel free to post prayers on his behalf or scriptures or anything that comes to mind. The Lord knows the need and I just ask Him to pour out His love and care abundantly. Once I find out if it's okay to post the specific prayer request here, I will, or Kevin may drop by. But in the meantime, please pray for our brother Kevin.

"Lo, I will be with you always, even to the ends of the world."
Matthew 28:20

Long Distance Dedication: For An Old Friend

A man may see how this world goes with no eyes. Look with thine ears: see how yond justice rails upon yond simple thief. Hark, in thine ear: change places; and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief?

King Lear, Act IV, Sc. VI

Monday, March 26, 2007


BB NOTE: Choose any song above and then right click on the headline above or right click here and then read Bishop Howard of the Diocese of Florida's letter. You can see what happened here at the Cafe when we were done reading.

Key Phrases to Watch

The good thing about Bishop Lee's fascinating letter was that it offered some clues of key phrases to watch:

pastoral scheme
not divided
foreign prelates.
foreign primates
foreign anything

See how many ways you can use the words in a sentence. Truth and Accuracy are optional.

For example: the "Pastoral Scheme" usage is particularly noteworthy. The word "scheme" in British English means "visionary planning" or "concrete ideas for the future," or simply "a plan." In American English "scheme" means "a plot of betrayal." A 'scheme" is nasty. Nice people don't have "schemes." Nice people have "plans." The American bishops have done nothing to explain or define to American Episcopalians in the pews the meaning of that word. We see the word "scheme" being employed over and over by the Episcopal leadership and I hope the Archbishop of Canterbury has been finally briefed that this word has a very different meaning in America and the American Episcopalian leadership is doing nothing to help him out. I hope he's paying attention to how many American Episcopal leaders and bishops are using that word because they are sending him a very clear message every time the word "scheme" instead of "plan" is used. Take note.

Another fascinating phrase that has suddenly popped up in the lexicon is: "foreign prelates." For those of us who have spent any considerable time in the South - we know what the connotations of that phrase is and let's just say those connotations aren't very nice. Flannery O'Connor, call your office. To use a phrase like "foreign prelates" also hints to the same sort of whispers that were around John F. Kennedy when he ran for president. Southern Protestants in particular were quite concerned that he would be ruled by a certain Foreign Prelate and it seems that tactic is back at work today.


Voice of America: US Episcopalians Move Away from Tanzania Communique

US Episcopalians Move Away from Tanzania Communique
By Howard Lesser
Washington, DC
26 March 2007
Voice of America

Listen to Bishop Martyn Minns here.

American Episcopalian bishops are resisting terms to head off a greater split with the Anglican mother church that were hammered out at a conference in Tanzania last month. Rejection by the end of September and an American reaffirmation of principles welcoming homosexual clergy and same sex marriages boost chances that the Anglican Communion will try to expel some two-point-three million American Episcopalians from the 77 million member Anglican arm of the Church of England.

Bishop Martyn Minns is the Missionary Leader of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), an initiative of the Anglican Church of Nigeria. He says that to Anglican communities in African countries, the American clash is not so much cultural, but centers more around issues of faith and a struggle over Church authority.

“I think the whole thing right now is a very understandable development because the African church is coming of age and that’s hard for folks who’ve had the power for much of the life of the Communion and now have to share it. I think this is a very understandable struggle to figure out a new set of relationships with the African churches now that are growing, and in fact are taking the lead in terms of spreading the gospel,” he said.

Bishop Minns points to the internal struggle still being waged among US Anglicans over the endorsement of homosexual practices and says that despite the prevailing view advocated by Episcopalian bishops, American divisions are still running deep.

“There are a lot of folks in this country who really don’t believe that we should change the basic understanding of the Scriptures, and there’s not unanimity at all. I think I would say that what we actually believe is that what we’ve been given in the Scriptures is timeless, and so therefore it’s not a matter of going back. But it has taken the truth that has been tested and proven for thousands of years and is applying it to our lives today. But all the Communion seems to see in the American development is actually rejecting some of that in a way that they can’t accept,” he said.

Although he says it is too soon to predict whether American Anglicans will fully reject February’s Tanzania Communique, Bishop Minns readily points out the determination of the US church to stick by its stands in the face of international Anglican opinion.

“My instinct is that those presently in control of the Episcopal Church are really pretty much determined to go their own way. Now whether or not they will take the whole church with them or how much they will separate is yet to be determined,” he surmises.

Right now, US church authorities continue to see themselves as uniting against foreign interference in the policies of their church. However, Bishop Minns remains hopeful that by the September deadline for compliance with international Anglican prescription, there will be some movement on the actual theological and sexual divisions that are contributing to the rift.

“I’m a Christian, so I live with hope,” he says. “Right now, they seem pretty intransigent, so I don’t know. That’s the big question. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Amazing Grace

Went to see the film Amazing Grace last night. It had followed a meeting of the Anglican District of Virginia where we met the new bishop for the ADV, the Rt. Rev. David Benna, retired Suffragan Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany and now a BIshop in CANA. It was a great afternoon of sharing and catching up and touching base with everyone.

So followed up that meeting with my first viewing of the film, Amazing Grace. It was extraordinary. I had heard that the filmmakers had downplayed Wilberforce's strong evangelical and orthodox faith - so was surprised to see how much was still in. What a change from the usual wink and nod sarcasm and satire of evangelicals in film. This was completely different - this was a committed Christian, who believed in having a personal relationship with the Lord and who translated that faith into politics. It was also inspiring - there is a great moment when Wilberforce brings up his bill to abolish the slavetrade yet again and the opposing forces call for "study" - perhaps so that they can engage in some listening process until they wear Wilberforce down. Some thing just don't change.

It's an extraordinary film. You can read more about it here.

It's also a great family film - and I was also surprised to see that the showing I went to was as good as sold out. The word is out. Drop what you're doing, change your plans, and go see it. Albert Finney as John Newton alone is worth the price of a ticket. I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see.

Here's a preview:

Here's Richard Kew's review here.

"I know only two things, that I am a great sinner and Christ is a great savior."

Bob Gets Ready to Hit the Road - First Stop: Stockholm, Sweden (March 27)

Sunday, March 25, 2007
Dylan back at Bardavon for rehearsals

For the second time in 14 months, rock and folk music icon Bob Dylan spent a week rehearsing in private at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie, Bardavon Executive Director Chris Silva said today.

Dylan spent Tuesday through Saturday at the former Vaudeville theater, playing to a closed house as he rehearsed for an upcoming European tour, Silva said. Dylan and his touring band rehearsed about four hours a day, with the former Woodstock resident entering the theater, each day, heading right to the stage and leaving as soon as the band was done.

Dylan's week of rehearsals comes a little more than a year after he spent a week at the Bardavon, rehearsing and writing songs for his latest album, "Modern Times," which was released last August. Silva said the same band backed Dylan both times.

Silva said Dylan played acoustic and electric guitairs and keyboards. Silva watched every rehearsal and said song standouts included "Cold Irons Bound" and "Nettie Moore."

"It was a blast," said Silva, a long-time Dylan fan who spent 12 years pursing Dylan for a concert at the Bardavon before landing last year's week of rehearsals.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Party time! Chai and Butterbeer and all the pancakes and chocolate chip cookies are all on the house today. Try to keep it all to a dull roar and don't break the china. Cake will be out soon.

Video: Bob Dylan in Sydney, Australia circa 1986. Queen Esther where ever you are - happy birthday to you too.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Bishop Peter James Lee writes to the Diocese of Virginia

A Letter from the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop of The Diocese of Virginia

Dear Friends,

The meeting of the House of Bishops this week at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas may prove to be an historic turning point in the life of the Anglican Communion. The Bishops overwhelmingly rejected a “Pastoral Scheme” that was proposed by the Primates of the Anglican Communion at their February meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. By doing so, the bishops reaffirmed that the Episcopal Church is a self-governing, autonomous church, and that it is not divided. We also served notice that we cannot accept intervention in the governance of our Church by foreign prelates.

In addition, we affirmed very strongly our passionate desire to remain in communion with other Anglican churches across the world, and we adopted a unanimous resolution, introduced by the Rt. Rev. John Howe, the Bishop of Central Florida and leader of the more conservative bishops, asking the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Steering Committee of the Primates to meet face to face with our House of Bishops at the earliest opportunity. We believe that many foreign primates do not have an accurate sense of the Episcopal Church and we think such a meeting is imperative.

We believe that the bonds of affection which tie us to churches all across the world remain strong even if they are strained, especially with some churches in the global south. But even with those churches, we have many points of contact and shared ministry.

Differences among Episcopalians are ours to resolve, and the spirit of the House of Bishops was respectful of differences. But we are also united in protecting the integrity of the Episcopal Church as an independent, autonomous and undivided Church.

I ask you to continue to pray for our Church, for the Anglican Communion, for the Primates, for those who suffer oppression, for the poor, the needy and for all who seek the redeeming love of Christ.

Faithfully yours,

Peter James Lee

BB NOTE: Funny, he doesn't mention that he voted against Resolution #1 and Resolution #3. Foreign prelates? I have never, in all my years of knowing Bishop Lee, ever hear him use a phrase like that. It doesn't even sound like him. IN fact, this entire "letter" doesn't sound like him. But foreign prelates? Is he really calling the Archbishop of Canterbury a "foreign prelate?" Is the Archbishop of York a "foreign prelate" too? Is the Presiding Bishop of Scotland also a "foreign prelate" too? After all, we got our own bishops through Scotland. Oops. And guess what - the Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was one of those who gave thumbs up to the Communique. Is she a "foreign prelate" too? Why go write communiques with foreign prelates - did she think it was just for tea and crumpets? In fact, wasn't she was telling her staff at 815 quite a different story when she got back from Tanzania than she's telling now? What's up with that? More later ... Got to catch a train.

LATER: The more we look at this so-called letter from the Bishop of Virginia, the more we think it's actually a legally-crafted document and has nothing to do with reality but with crafty legal strategy. This letter doesn't even sound like the Bishop Lee I've known for twenty years - and it's interesting how the letter namechecks a good friend here, what's that all about?

Furthermore, the Episcopal Church says in its own constitution that it is "The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, otherwise known as The Episcopal Church (which name is hereby recognized as also designating the Church), is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer. "

The constitution does not say The Episcopal Church is autonomous - it says that it is "a constituent member of the Anglican Communion." What does "constituent" mean? It means "Serving as part of a whole; component; one of the portions into which something is regarded as divided and which together constitute a whole." The Windsor Report defines TEC as having "torn the fabric of our communion at its deepest level." That's what happens when one acts unilaterally.

We are not "a self-governing, autonomous church...that it is not divided." We are an element, a section of a whole that is the Anglican Communion. We are not independent - together we should constitute a whole - interdependence - but that wholeness is being torn asunder by the belligerent and unilateral actions of the Episcopal Church. Bishop Lee knows this - it appears he voted his conscience at the House of Bishops meeting. Why did he come home then and write this thing? Who is running the Diocese? David Booth Beers?

This letter is not for the Diocese, make no mistake about it. No wonder Ephraim Radner is grieved.
Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.

From: My Back Pages, by Bob Dylan, 1964

March 31, 1995, London

Why should Rowan Williams trust The Episcopal Church leadership?

Quote of the day from The Living Church:

Asked whether her support for the actions taken by the House of Bishops served to revoke her signature on the primates’ communiqué, Bishop Schori responded that she had not signed the communiqué in Dar es Salaam. Her assent had been verbal, she said. Archbishop Williams had gone around the room asking all the primates if they could live with the agreement. Bishop Schori said she told the primates, “I would bring this back to the House of Bishops," “explain it” to them, and “seek the will of the house.”

Asked to clarify her comments, the Presiding Bishop said the “best way to gain a consensus” among the primates in Tanzania was to support the communiqué, however, “she was not able to speak for the whole House of Bishops.”

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tonight at the BabyBlueCafe!

BB NOTE: Things are getting a bit sullen and sad around here at the Cafe - and some folks are hitting the secret stash of Ogden's Old Firewhiskey (you know who you are). So look what we have on tap tonight! They've just come through the Cafe's own Guardian of Forever. Don't worry - the Butterbeer is on the House and Buckets of Popcorn are on their way! Dancing Shoes are optional.

LATER: Is it just us, or doesn't the dancing remind us just a bit of the dancing in this?

A Time to Tear ... Radner and Kew write TEC's decision to Go Their Own Way ...

A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak ...
-Ecclesiastes 3:6-7

Ephraim Radner has been a voice crying in the wilderness, one of the remnant who continued to call orthodox Episcopalians to work within the system. I was one of those who dedicated a long time working within the system and was devastated when colleagues and friends - close friends - took off for AMiA after General Convention Denver 2000. There comes a point for those of us who work with the system, within the institution when we have that epiphany and friends, it is not a happy moment. It's difficult to know when that moment will come (and I do believe that there will be those God calls to stay in TEC and we should not point our fingers at them but pray and stand alongside as best as we can - if there is any hope of reconciliation it will be through the roots of their ministries). Ephraim Radner appears to have had his moment and his piece, published here at TitusOneNine is both insightful, full of stuff to discuss and mull over, and finally sad. Here is an excerpt:

As for reality: There is clearly no real place left for conservative Christians within TEC’s official structures. It is obvious to me that, not only are the vast majority of the denominations leaders personally hostile to conservative commitments, but they have reached a point where they are quite open and brazen in their exclusion of conservative presence and influence within the councils of TEC. It is increasingly less likely that appointments of conservatives are made to diocesan, provincial, and national committees (the only way, for a long time now, that such a presence has even been possible); and it is certainly no longer likely that conservatives will be voted, by diocesan or national conventions, onto decision-making councils. Most of our seminaries apply, openly or surreptitiously, the gay-test (and probably do so in both directions, depending on the school). God forbid one should actually have a paper trail that marks one's views. When conservatives are appointed to Communion committees and councils, they are subjected from within TEC to howls of protest and to negative campaigns, engaged in not simply by concerned individuals, but by bishops and diocesan representatives.

This is true - has been true for a long time. But to witness his clarity of understanding of the truth - the honest truth - is still devastating. This meeting of the House of Bishops was that watershed moment and it's clear that Fr. Radner gets it. It doesn't make me celebrate to read his piece, it makes me quite sad.

Richard Kew, another long time worker in the structural vineyard (and the brainstorm behind the 20/20 campaign that TEC took hold of while dropping him off at the nearest bus stop) has also written a heartbreaking piece which we hope to post here later on. This is not a happy moment but it is a necessary moment.

In fact, we have a long-distance dedication to the TEC House of Bishops. This seems to be it.

That's it.

LATER: Here's Richard Kew's letter:

Dear Friends,

I have been ordained more than thirty-eight years, and have served as a faithful priest of the Episcopal Church for nearly thirty-one of them. During that time I have had wonderful opportunities to be a servant of Jesus Christ, but I have also received all the usual insults that get thrown at folks who share my theological, biblical, and ethical presuppositions, despite the fact that these are rooted and grounded in the rich soil of historic Anglicanism.

Given what I have known about the individuals who have made many of these accusations, I have always had a shrewd suspicion on these occasions that there is a strong degree of projection in play here.

I am in New Orleans at the moment with members of my congregation doing something that is inspiring, uplifting, and intensely satisfying at a time when much of church life leaves a sour taste in your mouth. Yet even we cannot ignore the offering coming from the House of Bishops, this latest bounty which, if I understand it correctly from my limited perusal is the majority of that little club saying, despite syrupy words, that they really don't care one whit if they remain part of the Anglican Communion or not.

There is a dog-in-the-managerness about this because it is their mindset that they want to prevent me from being part of the Anglican Communion too. So we have now have hanging on the tree the full fruit of what we saw developing in the Eighties and Nineties. This says "We want our conscience to be respected despite the fact that it is not part of the continuity of what the Church has always believed, while at the same time over our dead body will we allow you the expression of your conscience because we don't like what your conscience is about."

In the late Nineties I was at a gathering about reconciliation where a lesbian priest from the Diocese of Newark made it very clear that once they got their way there would be "no Port St. Lucie." This is a reference to the deal that was struck by the House of Bishops in 1977 to enable those of their number who had problems with the ordination of women to be able to respect their consciences.

And so it is that there is no place for tolerance for folks who share biblical convictions. Indeed, such people and their archaic beliefs are considered expendable. In the American church the left has its own way and is acting much like their kin around the world is asserting that they are right and woe betide those who out of conscience get in their way -- look at the way the British government has behaved regarding the Catholic church and adoption agencies.

What is fascinating is that those functioning in this way have let go of the philosophical and worldview apparatus that allows right and wrong and are chasing radical relativism. In other words, we are relativists when it suits us, and absolutists when it suits us. There can only be tears for everyone as a result of this depressing episcopal edict.

I suspect charges brought against faithful priests will multiply on trumped up charges, and there will be lawsuits galore which will very rapidly strip the Episcopal Church of its assets, both real and monetary. What a wonderful Christian face to show a watching world that, whether it realizes it or not, craves the message of salvation that is focused on the Cross.

For my part I am deeply grieved that my ministry is drawing to a close with the church I have sought to serve faithfully spitting in hundreds of thousands of faces, which all the time committing suicide.

I personally cannot accept the House of Bishops' determination to be Anglican only on their own terms. I remain an Anglican in the fullest and historic sense of the word, and if those who are trampling on the conscience of the likes of me want to come after me for affirming my conscience then let them do so.

In Christ,
Richard Kew

From the 20/15 list.

Washington Post: Episcopal Bishops in U.S. Defy Anglican Communion

BB NOTE: There are lots of articles online with coverage of the House of Bishops. This is one, from Alan Cooperman of The Washington Post:

Episcopal Bishops in U.S. Defy Anglican Communion
By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 22, 2007; A03

The nation's Episcopal bishops have rejected a key demand from the larger Anglican Communion, saying a plan to place discontented U.S. parishes under international leadership could do permanent harm to the American church.

The rejection increases the likelihood that Anglican leaders will seek in the coming months to demote or expel the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church from the 77 million-member, worldwide family of churches descended from the Church of England.

But U.S. bishops, though divided on underlying issues of theology and sexuality, described themselves yesterday as increasingly united against foreign interference in the internal governance of their church.

The plan to put conservative parishes under an international "pastoral council" would replace local governance with "a distant and unaccountable group of prelates" for "the first time since our separation from the papacy in the 16th century," the U.S. bishops said in a written resolution. "We cannot accept what would be injurious to this Church and could well lead to its permanent division."

The bishops did not respond to other demands issued in Tanzania last month by the primates, or heads, of the Anglican Communion's 38 constituent churches. But three formal resolutions, passed overwhelmingly by the American bishops after five days of private discussion and prayer in Navasota, Tex., were politely defiant.

"We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church," one of the resolutions said.

Instead of accepting or rejecting the primates' call for the U.S. church to stop blessing same-sex couples and refrain from consecrating any more gay bishops, the American bishops requested an urgent, face-to-face meeting with the Anglican Communion's highest officials, including Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

The presiding bishop of the U.S. church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, told reporters yesterday that during the Tanzania meeting she invited Williams to visit the United States this year, and that he said his schedule was full.

That answer "did not sit well" with the U.S. bishops, said Washington Bishop John B. Chane, who noted that the resolution asking for an urgent meeting with Williams was written by a conservative bishop, John Howe of Central Florida, and received unanimous approval.

Williams did not immediately respond to the request. "This initial response of the House of Bishops is discouraging and indicates the need for further discussion and clarification," he said in a brief statement. "Some important questions have still to be addressed. No one is underestimating the challenges ahead."

Tensions within the Episcopal Church, and between the Episcopal Church and other parts of the Anglican Communion, have mounted since Episcopalians in New Hampshire elected V. Eugene Robinson, a priest living openly with another man, as their bishop in 2003.

More than 100 congregations, including 15 in Northern Virginia, have voted to separate from the U.S. church in the past four years. Many view the consecration of a gay bishop as the culmination of a liberal theological shift that goes back to the 1970s, when the church began ordaining women and revised its Book of Common Prayer.

The divisions in the U.S. church coincide with a huge demographic change in the communion, which has seen explosive growth in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Conservative primates in such countries as Nigeria and Uganda have sympathized with U.S. conservatives and taken some American parishes under their wing.

In Tanzania, the primates gave the U.S. bishops until Sept. 30 to meet their demands or face unspecified "consequences," which could include not being invited to the next worldwide gathering of Anglican bishops at Britain's Lambeth Palace in 2008.

Jefferts Schori joined the other primates in issuing the Tanzania communique. But she said yesterday that her agreement consisted only of a promise to bring it back for consideration. She described the bishops' action as a recommendation to the entire U.S. church, and noted that the bishops will meet again in September.

Chane, who is widely viewed as a liberal bishop, said the primates' demands "galvanized" his colleagues. "I think the primates underestimated how the bishops would respond, because until now we've been rather passive," he said. "My personal feeling is, they overplayed their hand."

Martyn Minns, bishop of a Virginia-based mission of the Church of Nigeria and a leading U.S. conservative, said that after Tanzania, "I thought there was some genuine hope that we'd find a way forward, and this has upset that quite significantly."

Staff writer Michelle Boorstein contributed to this report.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

House of Bishops Releases Statement

From: The House of Bishops: Message to God's People
March 16-21, 2007

...We represent fifteen sovereign nations, the fifty United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, and Micronesia bearing witness to the Gospel of Our Lord and the wonders of Christ's redeeming work in the world. We were reminded of the health and vitality of our Church as our new Presiding Bishop recounted her travels. We have experienced a sense of identity, clarity, and purpose in fulfilling our vocation as bishops. We were blessed by the presence of the Primate and the House of Bishops of the Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico. ...BB NOTE: Make no mistake about it, this is the New And Improved Episcopal Communion. Who needs all those Old Worlders and Third Worlders when one has it's own Global Communion. The message is loud and clear. One wonders if they hung up the flags again as they did at General Convention in Columbus.)

...It is our strong desire to remain within the fellowship of the Anglican Communion. The Primates' Communiqué, however, raises significant concerns.

First among these is what is arguably an unprecedented shift of power toward the Primates, represented, in part, by the proposed "Pastoral Scheme." This proposed plan calls for the appointment of a Primatial Vicar and Pastoral Council for The Episcopal Church whose membership would consist of "up to five members; two nominated by the Primates, two by the Presiding Bishop, and a Primate of a Province of the Anglican Communion nominated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to chair the Council."

We believe this proposal contravenes the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. Moreover, because it is proposed that this scheme (BB NOTE: The word "scheme" in Britain has a different meaning then it does in America. In Britain it means "plan" and in America it means "plot." It is very interesting that TEC emphasizes the word "scheme" as it rejects it - for the implication is that TEC does see it as a plot and not as a plan - one does wonder if Rowan knows that the word has a completely different meaning in America. We remember having to point this out during Alpha meetings at Holy Trinity Brompton many years ago when the Americans nearly fell out of their chairs hearing HTB folks talk about "schemes" and we finally had to take them aside and ask them, please, use the word "plan" whenever talking to Americans. Looks like KJS forgot to mention this to Rowan) take immediate effect, we were compelled, at this March meeting, to request that the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church decline to participate in this aspect of the Communiqué's requests. Nonetheless, we pledge to continue working to find a way of meeting the pastoral concerns raised by the Primates that are compatible with our own Church's polity and canons (BB NOTE: Which means that SSUs and non-celibate homosexual ordinations will continue - make no mistake about it).

We should note that our recommendation to Executive Council not to participate in the Pastoral Scheme, though not unanimously endorsed by this House, came at the conclusion of long and gracious conversation. (BB NOTE: God forbid anyone spilled the tea and crumpets!)

Finally, we believe that the leaders of the Church must always hold basic human rights and the dignity of every human being as fundamental concerns in our witness for Christ. We were, therefore, concerned that while the Communiqué focuses on homosexuality, it ignores the pressing issues of violence against gay and lesbian people around the world, and the criminalization of homosexual behavior in many nations of the world. (BB NOTE: SLAM Archbishop Akinola. Some much for the MDGs. Game Over.)

The Theology Committee of the House of Bishops was charged with the responsibility of developing a teaching guide for consideration of both the Primates' Communiqué and the proposed draft Covenant for the Anglican Communion. We anticipate this guide will be available by late May for use by bishops and dioceses in preparation for the September meeting of the House of Bishops. BB NOTE: TinFoilHat Alert!

The bishops unanimously affirmed a Mind of the House Resolution inviting the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Primates' Standing Committee to meet, at a time of their choosing, with the House of Bishops. (BB NOTE: Oops, forgot to mention that the House of Bishops, aka TEC, will pay for everyone to fly over and be wined and dined by the TEC bigwigs until they realize that the money card is going to be played bigtime - but oh well, check your pledges.)...

BB NOTE: What did Rowan Williams say today?

"This initial response of the House of Bishops is discouraging and indicates the need for further discussion and clarification. Some important questions have still to be addressed and no one is underestimating the challenges ahead."

Discouraging. Who will he being having further discussion and clarification with? He doesn't say, does he? Nope. "Some important questions have still to be addressed," he says but doesn't say what they are (dwell on that for a while). It's obvious that the worst is yet to come. Not a happy day. But we must say that this letter and the resolutions that accomplany it are far more in line of the general view of the Episocpal Church. It is clear - from the beginning of this document - that they think the Anglican Communion is bluffing and Money Talks, but just in case, they have their own Episcopal Communion and a Legion of Lawyers. And oh, by the way, their hauling and 80+ year old bishop into eccelesiastical trial for ordaining and confirming Christians in an Anglican Church - that is far worse than anything the Bishop of Connecticut or the Bishop of Pennsylvania has done.

Where is the Chai? Time for a cup of chai.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Breaking News: StandFirm Reporting that TEC House of Bishops Rejects the Major Communique Requests

Go to StandFirm where Matt Kennedy is reporting on breaking news from the House of Bishops. It looks like we won't even have to wait until September. It looks like the bishops reject the pastoral council (and with it, the Primatial Vicar) and it appears that they reject the Communique. No wonder they are heading to court. The Episcopal Church House of Bishops has defiantly said no to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion. Wow - they aren't even going to try. It's over.

LATER: The Living Church has now released this article:

Bishops Reject Primates' Ultimatum

The House of Bishops has declined to participate in a pastoral initiative designed by the primates to care for congregations and dioceses which for reasons of conscience cannot accept the episcopal ministry of their bishop or primate.

“We understand that the present situation requires intentional care for those within our Church who find themselves in conscientious disagreement with the actions of our General Convention,” the bishops said. “We pledge ourselves to continue to work with them toward a workable arrangement. In truth, the number of those who seek to divide our Church is small, and our Church is marked by encouraging signs of life and hope.”

The rejection was contained in one of three resolutions approved by the bishops on March 20. The resolutions were debated as part of a business session during the bishops’ annual spring retreat held March 16-21 at Camp Allen near Houston.

The bishops noted several times in the three resolutions that they desired to remain full members of the Anglican Communion. Only General Convention, however, can make decisions which are binding on The Episcopal Church. In their Feb. 19 communiqué, the primates asked the House of Bishops to respond on behalf of The Episcopal Church no later than Sept. 30. The bishops deferred the Church's response on the pastoral council to Executive Council.

The bishops listed five reasons why they considered the pastoral council and primatial vicar to be a bad idea. The pastoral council violates the canons which contain no provision for the primate to delegate authority. It would change the character of the “Windsor process.” It harkens back to a period of Colonialism from which The Episcopal Church was liberated. It replaces local rule by laity with a curial model.

“Most important of all it is spiritually unsound,” they said. “The pastoral scheme encourages one of the worst tendencies of our Western culture, which is to break relationships when we find them difficult instead of doing the hard work necessary to repair them and be instruments of reconciliation. The real cultural phenomenon that threatens the spiritual life of our people, including marriage and family life, is the ease with which we choose to break our relationships and the vows that established them rather than seek the transformative power of the Gospel in them. We cannot accept what would be injurious to this Church and could well lead to its permanent division.”

In the first resolution, the bishops said only General Convention can define the Church's relationship toward the Anglican Communion. In the second resolution, the bishops restated their desire to continue to participate in the life and work of the Communion and requested an urgent meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the primates standing committee.

“We believe that there is an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the primates’ standing committee, and we hereby request and urge that such a meeting be negotiated by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the earliest possible opportunity,” they said. “We invite the Archbishop and members of the primates’ standing committee to join us at our expense for three days of prayer and conversation regarding these important matters.”

Minneapolis 1992

New York Times: Money Looms in Episcopal Rift with Anglicans

BB NOTE: The money-issue is now on the table. This article comes out while the House of Bishops are meeting. The fact of the matter is, the Episcopal Church is wealthy - very very rich. It probably figured that all of it's progressive innovations would not cause much of a stir in the communion because money talks - and the ACC is bascially bankrolled by TEC. The ACC institutionally continues to be the lobbying arm of TEC in the Anglican Communion. The political abilities of TEC leaders to deal with the Communion are legendary - and perhaps they took it for granted that the poor would never fight against the rich. Perhaps it's time for the annual reading of Yertle the Turtle.

Here's the NYT article. What do you think? Notice how on one hand TEC says it will continue to pay the bills (so remember who pays them) and then on the other hand says the money is up in the air. Nice little threat, it goes so well with the tea and the crumpets.

Money Looms in Episcopalian Rift With Anglicans

As leaders of the Anglican Communion hold meeting after meeting to debate severing ties with the Episcopal Church in the United States for consecrating an openly gay bishop, one of the unspoken complications is just who has been paying the bills.

The truth is, the Episcopal Church bankrolls much of the Communion’s operations. And a cutoff of that money, while unlikely at this time, could deal the Communion a devastating blow.

The Episcopal Church’s 2.3 million members make up a small fraction of the 77 million members in the Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest affiliation of Christian churches. Nevertheless, the Episcopal Church finances at least a third of the Communion’s annual operations.

Episcopalians give tens of millions more each year to support aid and development programs in the Communion’s poorer provinces in Africa, Asia and Latin America. At least $18 million annually flows from Episcopal Church headquarters in New York, and millions more are sent directly from American dioceses and parishes that support Anglican churches, schools, clinics and missionaries abroad.

Bishops in some foreign provinces that benefit from Episcopal money are now leading the charge to punish the Episcopal Church or even evict it from the Communion. Some have declared that they will reject money from the Episcopal Church because of its stand on homosexuality.

But church officials say that their donations continue to be accepted in every province but Uganda, and that they do not intend to shut off the spigot.

“The American church is not a pariah to everybody — some people still like us,” said the Rev. Lisa Fishbeck of Carrboro, N.C., in the Diocese of North Carolina, which is setting up a program with a diocese in Botswana. “They think we’re nutty, but they still like us.”

Episcopalians are now grappling with an ultimatum issued last month by leaders, or primates, of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces demanding that they promise not to ordain any more openly gay bishops, or to approve any more church blessings for gay couples. If the Episcopal Church does not agree by Sept. 30, the primates threatened “consequences” that will affect the Episcopal Church’s participation in the Communion.

But whether the Episcopal Church will comply, and whether its decision puts at risk its financial arrangements with the rest of the Anglican Communion remain up in the air.

Canon James M. Rosenthal, director of communications for the Anglican Communion Office in London, said no one in the Episcopal Church has threatened to cut off money.

But Canon Rosenthal said, “Any default on the total amount of money needed would have serious implications for the Anglican Communion and its work, especially when you are talking about 30 percent or more of its budget.”

Many Episcopalians say they have spent years forming relationships with Anglicans throughout the world and would be loath to cut off support, especially for programs that support the developing world’s poor.

“I think we need the Communion, and I think most of the Communion would say it needs us,” said Margaret Larom, director of Anglican and global relations for the Episcopal Church.

Work at the Episcopal Church’s headquarters is so intertwined with the rest of the Anglican Communion that shutting off the flow of money would put a stop to much of the church’s mission and evangelism.

Officials estimate that collectively, a quarter of the church’s budget goes to international programs. There are ministries for women, for young people and for peace and justice that collaborate with Anglicans overseas, acting as host to and paying for delegations visiting the United States and going abroad.

In addition, Episcopal Relief and Development, a semi-autonomous agency with its own budget, sends $15 million overseas each year to relieve hunger, provide health care and respond to disasters — mostly by collaborating with Anglican and other churches abroad, said Rob Radtke, its president.

“In places the government can’t reach, the church has an infrastructure and delivery system that is second to none,” Mr. Radtke said. “We certainly are in partnership with people who disagree with us, and that’s just fine. We give out our money based on the need, and not on the basis of some theological discussion.”

At least 80 of the 110 dioceses in the Episcopal Church are partnered with one or more foreign dioceses, sending aid, and exchanging priests, lay teachers and missionaries, said Brother James Teets, who runs this “Companion Diocese” program at church headquarters.

After the Episcopal Church consented to the ordination in 2003 of Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who lives with his gay partner, bishops in the African provinces declared that their churches would no longer accept money from the Episcopal Church. (One province that would not have been affected by this is Nigeria, whose archbishop has been the most outspoken opponent of the Episcopal Church’s approach to homosexuality. The church in Nigeria, the largest in the Anglican Communion with 17 million members, is largely self-supporting, Anglican officials said.)

So far, the archbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi, is the only primate who has actually turned down money from the Episcopal Church, many church officials said in interviews.

In 2004, Archbishop Orombi’s edict led to the shutdown of a community development program financed by Episcopal Relief and Development that worked with families affected by H.I.V./AIDS.

“We were just devastated by that,” Mr. Radtke said. “No one won, and everyone was a loser.”

But this rupture was the rare exception, and most financing is still getting through. For example, the diocese of Oklahoma has continued supporting three secondary schools and 10 health centers in its companion diocese in Uganda by sending the money to a separate organization, said the Rev. Canon Charles Woltz, assistant to the Oklahoma bishop.

The Rev. Titus Presler, professor of mission and world Christianity at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, in New York, said, “It is very striking that in the midst of all these tensions, the missionary relations and Companion Diocese relationships have been able to flourish.”

The Rev. Bill Atwood, the general secretary of the Ekklesia Society, a theologically conservative aid organization in Texas, accused the Episcopal Church of using its money to buy off opponents in poor countries. “It’s a pretty lousy thing to do: to try and use money to weaken the philosophical position of people overseas,” Dr. Atwood said.

Ekklesia also disburses grants overseas and has helped to finance strategy meetings between conservative Episcopalians and their foreign Anglican counterparts, but Dr. Atwood would not divulge any financial information and it is not publicly available.

Conservative Episcopalians in the United States who disagree with their church’s course have set up their own smaller aid agency parallel to Episcopal Relief and Development. The Anglican Relief and Development Fund has disbursed $2.7 million in grants in the last two and a half years, said its executive director, Nancy Norton.

American resentment at their role as the Communion’s deep pockets emerged last year when the Episcopal Church’s executive council was asked to increase its contribution to the Anglican Consultative Council, the Communion’s central coordinating body, by 10 percent each year for the next three years from $661,0000 in 2007.

At the council’s last meeting, in England in 2005, the Episcopal Church’s representatives were asked to look on as observers, and not participate in decision making — a measure promoted by some conservative primates.

Mrs. Larom, the Episcopal Church’s director of Anglican relations, said some members of the executive council bristled at the budget request, saying, “ ‘Why should we give money when we’re not at the table?’ ” Nevertheless, the executive council approved the 10 percent increase and the Episcopal Church gave the money out of loyalty to the Communion, she said.

One of the most urgent questions ahead is whether the Americans will continue to underwrite the Lambeth Conference in London, the large gathering of Anglican bishops that happens every 10 years. The next one is in 2008. In past conferences, each American bishop who attended has paid the expenses of a bishop from overseas who needed help, Mrs. Larom said.

Anglican officials said that they were not assuming the Americans will contribute at the same rate for the 2008 conference, and that they were now looking for alternative sources.

BB NOTE: This article is a "between-the-lines" classic. Why is it that Marlon Brando springs to mind?

Also, note this quote from Rev. Katherine Grieb's who spoke to the House of Bishops this week on the Covenant. She told the House of Bishops, "I suggest that we enter a five-year period of fasting from full participation in the Anglican Communion to give us all time to think and to listen more carefully to one another. I think we should engage in prayerful non-participation in global meetings (in Lambeth, in the Anglican Consultative Council, in other Communion committee meetings) or, if invited to do so, send observers who could comment, if asked, on the matter under discussion. We should continue on the local level to send money and people wherever they are wanted. (This is not about taking our marbles and going home.) We need to remain wholly engaged in the mission of the church, as closely tied as we are allowed to the See of Canterbury and to the Anglican Communion as a whole. But we should absent ourselves from positions of leadership, stepping out of the room, so that the discussions of the Anglican Communion about itself can go on without spending any more time on our situation which has preoccupied it."

What we wonder is what does she mean by "local level?" That sounds like no more money from 815 for five years (including Lambeth, which one wonders would include no American bishops sending money to foreign Anglican bishops - as mentioned so prominently in the article above, and no mention of chicken dinners since those are TEC bishops doing the funding - to go to Lambeth when they themselves will not?), but that local parishes (or perhaps dioceses) could continue sending money to the Sudan or something, but "local level" does not mean 815. I would see this as another shot across the bow. There's a Bob Dylan song that springs to mind, but is so full of it we do not wish to quote it at this time. Let's just say there's more blowin' in the wind here. Or perhaps it's writing from DC where reading between the lines is an artform.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Oh dear ...

BB NOTE: We're working on a Video Podcast of the retreat and while it's downloading to the BabyBlueCafe main website, we decided to venture back out into the world and discovered this new development. Is this the moment when Rod Serling steps out of the shadows?

From The Living Church:

Bishop Howard Rejects Panel of Reference Plan in Florida

The Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard, Bishop of Florida, has rejected a “good neighbor” episcopal ministry plan proposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference. The report, which required almost two years of “hard and painstaking work,” was in response to an appeal made by the rector and vestry of Church of the Redeemer in Jacksonville.

The report, which was released to the public on March 16, called for Church of the Redeemer to return to the oversight of Bishop Howard and to active participation in the fiscal and corporate life of the diocese. In return, Bishop Howard was asked to lift canonical sanctions against the clergy, end litigation, and permit alternate episcopal oversight for the parish from a neighboring Episcopal bishop acceptable to both the parish and the diocese.

As a sign of good faith in the panel recommendations, a scheduled court appearance before a judge could be cancelled, said the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. He proposed the idea in a letter to both Bishop Howard and the Rev. Neil Lebhar, rector of Redeemer.

“If, after study of the panel report and after mutual consultation, you made the decision for both of your parties to suspend litigation, then you would bring hope for the future, not only locally, but for the Communion as a whole,” Archbishop Williams stated.

Bishop Howard rejected the panel recommendations and the proposal to cancel the court appearance.

“In order to accept the authority of the diocesan bishop, one must necessarily be in communion with the bishops and the other 30,000 members of the diocese,” Bishop Howard said in a letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams March 1. “Until Fr. Lebhar and his parishioners are willing to be in communion with the Diocese of Florida and The Episcopal Church, they remain by their own choice outside the Church and we see no point at this time in discussing further implementation of the panel’s recommendation.”

On Aug. 13, 2005, six Florida congregations -- Redeemer, Jacksonville; Grace Church, Orange Park; Calvary, Jacksonville; All Souls’, Jacksonville; St Luke’s Community of Life, Tallahassee; and St Michael’s, Gainesville -- petitioned Archbishop Williams for relief, saying they were in “serious theological dispute” with Bishop Howard, and found it “impossible in all conscience to accept his direct ministry.”

Grace Church withdrew from The Episcopal Church on Jan. 1, and was received by the Primate of Rwanda, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini. Bishop Howard responded on Jan. 9 by filing a cross claim with Canterbury, charging Rwanda had violated Florida’s diocesan boundaries.

Bishop Howard subsequently inhibited the clergy from all six congregations for “abandonment of communion” after the six variously affiliated with the churches of Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda. In March 2006, the diocese initiated litigation against Redeemer after it declined to vacate its building.

Ten months after the petition was forwarded to the Archbishop of Canterbury, it was passed to the Panel of Reference for review. However, all but Redeemer had withdrawn their petitions by September 2006 when retired Archbishop Maurice Sinclair of the Southern Cone and attorney Robert Tong of Sydney visited Florida to meet with the two sides.

Archbishop Sinclair and Mr. Tong submitted their report to the panel’s chairman, retired Archbishop Peter Carnley of Australia, by year end, and copies of the final report were given to the diocese and Redeemer on Feb. 28.

The panel stated its goal was to seek a “pastoral accord” between the diocese and congregation without compromising the litigants’ “Christian conscience.”

The panel suggested a “good neighbor Episcopal ministry” program whereby Bishop Howard would delegate his authority to a nearby bishop of The Episcopal Church who was “acceptable to both the diocese and the parish.” This “neighbor” bishop’s oversight would “include effective and necessary sharing of decisions with regard to clergy appointments for the parish and ordination process.”

Licensing of Redeemer’s clergy and the “ordination process” for candidates proposed by Redeemer would “require the signature of the neighbor bishop together with that of the diocesan bishop.”

In return, Redeemer would “unambiguously come under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Florida” and would commit to “full, generous and sustained support” of its ministries.

In a Feb. 28 e-mail to Chris Smith, the archbishop’s chief of staff, the Rev. Canon Kurt Dunkle, canon to the ordinary for the Diocese of Florida, inquired whether full communion between the bishop and parish was part of the panel recommendations.

“This matter of communion is central to the bishop’s analysis of the panel’s recommendation,” Canon Dunkle said.

“The issue of communion was at the heart of the reason we asked for another bishop in the first place, and is still a major question for the larger Communion,” Fr. Lebhar said in a response to Mr. Smith. Noting that the panel report did not directly address the issue of communion, Fr. Lebhar added, “I assume that its not being addressed meant that it would remain part of a reconciliation process, not a prerequisite for it.”