Monday, December 31, 2012

Auld Lang Syne ...

What a year it has been - and what a year it may be.  It amazes me how heartbreak and hope may be juxtaposed so close to one another, so dear, so deep, for so long.

So this is for all who know such things.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tonight at the Cafe: Get Together

Fiscal Cliff Countdown ...

Yes, yes, we do have the Redskins vs the Cowboys Sunday night here in Washington.  But the real explosions (or fizzles) await us all on Monday.  Here is the countdown - and a chance to vote!


Will the President and Congress: free polls 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Anglican TV brings us the Nor'Easter Live

Yes, a Nor'Easter is headed for New England and AnglicanTV is on it - watch it live here:

West Granby Road, Granby, Connecticut circa 1968.
We used to see some amazing snowstorms when I was a child and we lived in Connecticut.  One morning we got up after a particularly memorable blizzard and couldn't get the front door open.  That took some shoveling.  But it was a great day for sledding!

Here is the house - of course I was about seven or eight and so my memory is that the snow was a lot taller! But it does seem to be true that we couldn't get the front door open.  We lived on West Granby Road in Granby, CT.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The weary world rejoices ...

O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night
Of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt His worth
A thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine, oh night, oh night divine

Chains shall He break
For the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy
In grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord, let ever ever praise Thee
Noël, Noël
Oh night, Oh night divine
Noël, Noël
Oh night, Oh night divine
Noël, Noël
Oh, oh night, oh night divine

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tonight at the Cafe: Lift Your Hearts

A quiet evening at home.

And this:

The Loss of the Innocents

Ross Douthat writes in the New York Times:

When you live in a hectic, self-important city, it’s easy to romanticize a town like Newtown, and maybe imagine escaping there someday, children in tow. The last time we drove through was more than a year ago: it was a summer dusk, and there were families out everywhere — kids on bikes, crowds around the ice cream stand, the images of small town innocence flickering past our car windows like slides on a carousel.

Any grown-up knows that such small-town innocence is illusory, and that what looks pristine to outsiders can be as darkened by suffering as any other place where human beings live together, and alone.

But even so, the illusion has real power, not least because the dream of small-town life makes the whole universe seem somehow kinder and homier. If only a Bedford Falls or Stars Hollow or Mayberry existed somewhere, we tend to feel — in New England or Nebraska, the present or the past — then perhaps there’s some ultimate hope for the rest of us as well. Maybe the universe really was meant to be a home to humanity, and not just a blindly cruel cosmos in which a 6-year-old’s fate is significant to his parents but no more meaningful in absolute terms than the cracking of a seashell or an extinction of a star.

But if the ideal of the Good Place, the lost Eden or Arcadia, can stir up the residue of religious hopes even in hardened materialists, the reality of what transpired in the real Newtown last week — the murder in cold blood of 20 small children — can make Ivan Karamazovs out of even the devout.

Read it all here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Anglican Global South recognizes Bishop Mark Lawrence and Diocese of South Carolina

It is interesting to note that the majority of the worldwide Anglican Communion is found in the "Global South."  The Steering Committee of the Primates of the Global South have now formally written Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina assuring him and the diocese of their support and recognition of their Orders as Anglicans.

Pageantmaster over at T19 writes:
This is not just the statement of seven Global South Primates, but it is a statement from those Primates in their capacity of Primates serving on the Steering Committee of the Global South Provinces, and the Global South movement which bears its name. They write for and on its behalf. It includes the whole of the Global South Movement including the Gafcon Movement and the non-Gafcon Provinces of the Global South which comprise the majority of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion.
In addition Steve Noll comments as well at T19 that the primates "are using 'recognition' as the means of establishing communion among Anglican churches, in line with Orthodox practice (see also Lambeth 1930)."

While this does seem to be the trajectory, what appears to be happening now is what the Supreme Court of Virginia could not yet find two years ago when it overturned the lower court's ruling awarding all the property to the former Episcopal churches that voted to separate in 2006 and 2007. While the court was able to identify that the Episcopal Church had suffered a schism, they did not see such schism yet in the Anglican Communion (which they apparently identified as the Church rather than the denomination for the purposes of the Virginia statute - which must alarm TEC at some level, especially now that the Supreme Court refuses to revisit the lower court's ruling that the Denis Canon does not apply in Virginia).

 Here we may see more evidence of a formal rupture in the Anglican Communion not longer based on old affinities with the British Empire or current relationships in the British Commonwealth (that is, a political relationship), but one founded on doctrine.

 That much of the Commonwealth encompasses the Global South must be troubling to the Church of England. In addition, in this letter we see a coalition of primates once aligned with Rowan Williams and the Anglican Covenant and those aligned with GAFCON, in other words The Covenant coalition that the retiring Archbishop of Canterbury cobbled together has collapsed.

That being said, there still exists in the United States and Canada a strong affinity with the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Therefore the recent appointment of Justin Welby could prove most interesting.

Here is the statement:

Our Dear Bishop Mark,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

We, the Steering Committee of the Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion, were very sad to hear that the Presiding Bishop of TEC has interpreted your address to the Diocesan Convention on 17 November 2012 as a renunciation of your ordained ministry.

We want to assure you that we recognize your Episcopal orders and your legitimate Episcopal oversight of the Diocese of South Carolina within the Anglican Communion.

You and your Diocese of South Carolina are in the thoughts and prayers of all our congregations and our colleagues in the Global South.

Please be assured of our prayers and support.

May the Lord bless you!

Yours in Christ,

The Most Revd Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East
Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
Chairman, Global South Primates Steering Committee

The Most Revd Nicholas Okoh
Primate of All Nigeria
Bishop of Abuja
Vice-Chariman, Global South Primates Steering Committee

The Most Revd Ian Ernest
Primate of the Indian Ocean
Bishop of Mauritius
Hon. General Secretary, Global South Primates Steering Committee

The Most Revd Datuk Bolly Lapok
Primate of South East Asia
Bishop of Kuching
Hon. General Treasurer, Global South Primates Steering Committee

The Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo
Primate of Myanmar
Bishop of Yangon
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

The Most Revd Dr. Eluid Wabukala
Primate of Kenya
Bishop of Nairobi
Member, Global South Primates Steering

The Most Revd Hector “Tito” Zavala
Primate of the Southern Cone
Bishop of Chile
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

Read it all here.  

Note, I linked to an earlier statement (see here) and have now updated this post with the most recent statement.  The most-recent statement is not yet up on the GlobalSouth website.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Late Night at the Cafe: Ain't Talkin'

As I walked out tonight in the mystic garden
The wounded flowers were dangling from the vines
I was passing by yon cool and crystal fountain
Someone hit me from behind
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Through this weary world of woe
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
No one on earth would ever know
They say prayer has the power to help
So pray from the mother
In the human heart an evil spirit can dwell
I'm trying to love my neighbor and do good unto others
But oh, mother, things ain't going well
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
I'll burn that bridge before you can cross
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
They'll be no mercy for you once you've lost
Now I'm all worn down by weepin'
My eyes are filled with tears, my lips are dry
If I catch my opponents ever sleepin'
I'll just slaughter them where they lie
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Through the world mysterious and vague
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Walking through the cities of the plague
The whole world is filled with speculation
The whole wide world which people say is round
They will tear your mind away from contemplation
They will jump on your misfortune when you're down
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Eatin' hog-eyed grease in hog-eyed town
Heart burnin' – still yearnin'
Someday you'll be glad to have me around
They will crush you with wealth and power
Every waking moment you could crack
I'll make the most of one last extra hour
I'll avenge my father's death then I'll step back
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Hand me down my walkin' cane
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Got to get you out of my miserable brain
All my loyal and much-loved companions
They approve of me and share my code
I practice a faith that's been long abandoned
Ain't no altars on this long and lonesome road
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
My mule is sick, my horse is blind
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Thinkin' ‘bout that gal I left behind
It's bright in the heavens and the wheels are flying
Fame and honor never seem to fade
The fire's gone out but the light is never dying
Who says I can't get heavenly aid?
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Carrying a dead man's shield
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Walkin' with a toothache in my heel
The suffering is unending
Every nook and cranny has its tears
I'm not playing, I'm not pretending
I'm not nursing any superfluous fears
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Walkin' ever since the other night
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
Walkin' ‘til I'm clean out of sight
As I walked out in the mystic garden
On a hot summer day, hot summer lawn
Excuse me, ma'am I beg your pardon
There's no one here, the gardener is gone
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Up the road around the bend
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
In the last outback, at the world's end
Bob Dylan 2006

Friday, December 14, 2012

The iconic and inscrutable voice of Bob Dylan

Fascinating perspective on Bob Dylan and his voice.  

From here:
Bob Dylan's voice is at once one of the most recognizable and most polarizing sounds in Western music, simultaneously iconic and inscrutable. More even than his words, Dylan's voice is the most potent material signifier of his mercurial persona. As an early Columbia Records advertising campaign put it, "Nobody sings Dylan like Dylan." But does he even sing like himself? Over the last five decades Dylan has adopted a bewildering range of voices, from laconic dust-bowl drawl to smooth country croon, from gospel shout to guttural Delta-blues bark. What is Bob Dylan's "real voice"? And why does this problematic question seem to have such urgency in his case? This talk considers these questions by surveying Dylan's diverse voices, illustrating some of their differences through spectrographic imaging and speculating on their stylistic and physiological origins. The talk also considers the ways in which his voices act as agents of meaning and identity, bringing his celebrated words—and equally celebrated personae—to sonic presence. 
Steven Rings is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Music at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on transformational theory, phenomenology, popular music, and questions of music and meaning. Animating all of his work is an abiding interest in the relationship between music theory and broadly humanistic inquiries into music as a cultural practice.

20 Children Among 27 Dead In Elementary School Massacre

NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – Twenty children are among 27 people who were killed Friday morning after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
State Police Lt. Paul Vance said 18 children and 6 adults were pronounced dead at that scene. Two other children later died at the hospital.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tonight at the Cafe: "The Rose"

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina responds to Presiding BIshop Schori's attempts to take over the diocese

From these three statement we learn who is the legal identity of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, we learn the legal and corporate history of the diocese and how the presiding bishop is assuming authority she does not have (she is not an archbishop by design - she "presides" over a house not over the church as we heard over and over again at last summer's General Convention).  House of Deputies take note (oops, you're not in session - funny how that happens).

The Presiding Bishop has announced she is taking steps to visit take over the diocese in January while the Mere Anglican Conference is going on up the street, as it were.

You know what is really sad?  To see how far the Episcopal New Service has fallen.  Remember when journalists ran the shop?

From here:

The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence
14th Bishop
Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

“They are certainly free to gather and meet, but they are not free to assume our identity. The Diocese of South Carolina has disassociated from the Episcopal Church, we’ve not ceased to exist. We continue to be the Diocese of South Carolina – also known, legally as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina and as the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, of which I remain the Bishop. We are eager to get on with the ministry of Jesus Christ to a broken world! I suggest that the Steering Committee of this new group will want to do the same. A good first step for them would be to select a new name or choose another Diocese with which to associate.”

The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis
Canon to the Ordinary
Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

“I would like to make a point of clarification for those who think we became a new entity upon our disassociation. A brief history lesson seems in order. We were founded in 1785 (prior to the founding of the Episcopal Church). We were incorporated in 1973; adopted our current legal name, “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” in 1987; and we disassociated from the Episcopal Church in October of 2012. We did not become a new entity upon our disassociation. A new entity will need to be created by those who choose to leave the Diocese and re-associate with the Episcopal Church.”

The Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Harmon
Canon Theologian
Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

“They insist on what others must do yet there is no written standard to support them, and at the same time they run roughshod over their own constitution and canons. They have created a tails we win, heads you lose world where the rules are adjusted according to their desired outcomes--no wonder we dissociated from a community like that.”

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Schori prepares hostile take-over of the South Carolina diocese

Yes, it is hostile.  Sure gives new meaning to the Advent Season, doesn't it?

Read it all over at Anglican Ink.  Here's a tune to read by:

Some things just don't change in six years.

Meanwhile, this bit of satire is making the rounds out of England.  If this is the perception (and it is) anyone think England will have female bishops any time soon?  What a disaster.

Would some reasonable person please tell her to stop?

Friday, December 07, 2012

Breaking News: Church of England defends Christian Marriage as between one man and one woman

Saying that he does not want people"excluded from a great institution," The British Prime Minister declared today that he supports gay marriage in England's churches.  ""I'm in favor of gay marriage, because I'm a massive supporter of marriage, and I don't want gay people to be excluded from a great institution," he said.  

His public statement was greeted by a swift official rebuttal from the Church of England, stating "To remove from the definition of marriage this essential complementarity is to lose any social institution in which sexual difference is explicitly acknowledged. To argue that this is of no social value is to assert that men and women are simply interchangeable individuals."

Here is the statement from the Church of England:

It is important to be clear that insistence on the traditional understanding of marriage is not knee-jerk resistance to change but is based on a conviction that the consequences of change will not be beneficial for society as a whole. Our concern is for the way the meaning of marriage will change for everyone, gay or straight, if the proposals are enacted. Because we believe that the inherited understanding of marriage contributes a vast amount to the common good, our defence of that understanding is motivated by a concern for the good of all in society.

The proposition that same-sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues is not in dispute. To that extent, the Prime Minister’s claim that he supports same-sex marriage from conservative principles is readily understandable. However, the uniqueness of marriage is that it embodies the underlying, objective, distinctiveness of men and women. This distinctiveness and complementarity are seen most explicitly in the biological union of man and woman which potentially brings to the relationship the fruitfulness of procreation.

To remove from the definition of marriage this essential complementarity is to lose any social institution in which sexual difference is explicitly acknowledged. To argue that this is of no social value is to assert that men and women are simply interchangeable individuals. To change the nature of marriage for everyone will be divisive and deliver no obvious legal gains given the rights already conferred by civil partnerships.

We believe that redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships will entail a dilution in the meaning of marriage for everyone by excluding the fundamental complementarity of men and women from the social and legal definition of marriage.

Given the absence of any manifesto commitment for these proposals - and the absence of any commitment in the most recent Queen’s speech – there will need to be an overwhelming mandate from the consultation to move forward with these proposals and make them a legislative priority. In our view the Government will require an overwhelming mandate from the consultation to move forward with on these proposals and to make them a legislative priority.
Read it all here.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Tonight at the Cafe: O Holy Night

Yes, we're still a few weeks away from that Holy night, but things as they are, it may be never be too early.

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent Farewell

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, writes an Advent Letter of farewell to the primates of the Anglican Communion.  From here:
Your real life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory!’ (Colossians 3.4)

Rowan Willaims bids farewell.
St Paul writes as though the reality of Christ’s life in his people never completely becomes visible in this life, in this world: the deepest truth of who we are in Jesus Christ is hidden.  When we try to pretend that the holiness of Jesus is triumphantly visible in the Church, we are in danger of turning our minds away from the fact that the enduring power that sustains the Church is Christ alone, not our measures of success or coherence.

But it is still true that – as Paul can say elsewhere, in II Corinthians, for example – the glory of the future can be seen from time to time in lives that are fully turned to the face of Jesus.  As we advance into Advent, we need to keep both these insights in our minds: the treasure of the gospel is in earthenware pots, yet the glory of Christ can be seen in human faces.  We have not arrived at the end of all things, but we long for it because we have seen something of its radiance and joy in the life of the Christian community and its worship and service.

In the past ten years, these things have become more and more clear to me in my involvement in the Communion’s life.  Our Communion has endured much suffering and confusion, and still lives with this in many ways; yet we are still privileged to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in different ways within our common life, and so are reminded by God’s grace that it is still Christ who lives secretly at the heart of our fellowship, and renews it day by day.

Rowan Williams joins Henry Orombi and Bob Duncan at a conference.
Despite many questions about how our decisions about doctrine and mutual responsibility are made in the Communion, and some challenges to the various ‘Instruments of Communion,’ the truth is that our Communion has never been the sort of Church that looks for one central authority.  This doesn’t mean that we are not concerned with truth or holiness or consistency.  It simply acknowledges that all forms of human power and discipline can become corrupted, and that in the Church we have to have several points of reference for the organising of our common life so that none of them can go without challenge or critique from the others.  Our hope is that in this exchange we discover a more credible and lasting convergence than we should have if someone or some group alone imposed decisions – and that the fellowship that emerges is more clearly marked by Christlikeness, by that reverence for one another that the Spirit creates in believers.

Another way of saying this is that (to use the language of a great Anglican theologian of the early twentieth century, J.N. Figgis) we are a ‘community of communities’.  And perhaps in our own time we could translate this afresh and say we are a ‘network of networks.’  Certainly this language has something to recommend it in an age when, so we’re told, networks are the decisive social fact for most younger people, often networks that are maintained through the new electronic media.

Rowan Williams presided over William and Kate's wedding.
But what has brought this alive for me is the experience at two successive ACC meetings of how the official networks of the Communion function to keep our relations alive.  In our recent meeting in New Zealand, I was deeply struck by how important the networks had become, and how they were increasingly shaping the possibilities and hopes of our provinces, almost without exception.  In the work done around evangelism, healthcare, the environment, the rights and dignities of women and children and of indigenous peoples and many more areas, what drew people together was this halfway formal model of a global community of prayer and concern maintained by deep friendship and common work.  This is where you are probably most likely to see the beauty of the face of Christ in the meetings of the Communion; this is where the joyful hope of Christian believers is most strongly kindled.  And this also reminds us most forcefully of the fact that what we aspire to as Anglicans is not to be a federation of loosely connected and rather distant relatives who sometimes send Christmas cards to each other, but a true family and fellowship in which we share our hopes and know that we are responsible for each other’s well-being and integrity before God.

As I said at that meeting in New Zealand, we should never think that we are allowed to put off the work of the Kingdom until we have settled our differences and solved our problems.  God’s call to us is always for today.  Sorting out our large-scale worldwide structures, our decision making and mutual accountability, is important; but this should not give us an excuse for turning our eyes away from what is actually done by the help of God through these less formal, more relational ways of connecting us.  And the truth is that we shall never sort out the bigger questions without the humble practical work represented by the networks, and the way they build trust and love among often unlikely partners.

Rowan Williams with his wife, theologian Jane Williams.
As I leave office at the end of the year, there will of course be some self-questioning for me at the thought of much left undone and unresolved; but more importantly there is also a great sense of thanksgiving and celebration for the many moments when the hidden Christ has shown his face for an instant in the holiness, the common witness, the service or the suffering of faithful Anglicans in so many places.  In saying goodbye as Archbishop of Canterbury, I want also to say thank you to God for these moments and the friendships that surround them, and thank you also to all with whom I have had the privilege of ministering in this decade in every province of the Communion.

I thank God also that we now have as my successor such an outstanding servant of God as Bishop Justin Welby, and I know that you will hold him and his family in your prayers as he prepares to take up this ministry early in the New Year.

To all of you, as you prepare to celebrate the coming of the Lord, I wish every blessing and the ‘crown of uprightness’ promised to ‘all those who have longed for his appearing’ (II Timothy 4.8)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Breaking News: Schori kicks another bishop out

Bishop Schori has gathered the minions and tossed another bishop out.  You can read the sorry mess here.  And please note carefully who is NOT listed as responsible for this sad state of affairs.

Meanwhile, Anglican TV has an excellent interview up with the Pièce de résistance.

Note that Tobias Haller is asking if the PB has "jumped the gun," writing, "while I believe that Mark Lawrence has abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church, I do not think he has renounced his ministry, at least in the manner laid out by Canon III.12.7, which requires a 'written declaration' to the Presiding Bishop expressing a 'desire to be removed.' "

We are wondering here at the Cafe not only whether she has jumped the gun, indeed, but whether she has also jumped the shark.

UPDATE: Bishop Lawrence has released a letter to the Diocese of South Carolina that he has not renounced his orders, that in fact, "the Diocese of South Carolina has canonically and legally disassociated from The Episcopal Church." One wonders what the Presiding Bishop's endgame is, especially now that she is a lame duck. 

What this fiasco has been successful at doing is drawing attention away from the crisis facing the Presiding Bishop and the Episcopal Church over structural and financial reorganization directives that came out of this past summer's General Convention.  In fact, 815 put out a press release this week listing the handpicked members of the Structure Task Force.  Note the dioceses represented on the Task Force, or better yet, note the dioceses NOT included. Shhhh ... let's keep this under out hats.

From here:

“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”  2 Corinthians 4:5

The Presiding Bishop called me this afternoon to inform me that she and her council of advice have “accepted my renunciation of ordained ministry.” I listened quietly, asked a question or two and then told her it was good to hear her voice. I did not feel any need to argue or rebut. It is the Presiding Bishop’s crossing of the T’s and dotting of the I’s—for their paper work, not my life. I could point out the canonical problems with what they have done contrary to the canons of The Episcopal Church but to what avail?   TEC will do what they will do regardless of canonical limitations. Those canonical problems are already well documented by others and hardly need further documentation by me. She and her advisers will say I have said what I have not said in ways that I have not said them even while they cite words from my Bishop’s Address of November 17, 2012. 

Quite simply I have not renounced my orders as a deacon, priest or bishop any more than I have abandoned the Church of Jesus Christ. As I am sure you are aware, the Diocese of South Carolina has canonically and legally disassociated from The Episcopal Church. We took this action long before today’s attempt to claim a renunciation of my orders,  thereby making it superfluous.
So we move on—onward and upward. As I write these words in the vesper light of this first Wednesday of Advent, the bells of the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul ring in the steeple beside the diocesan office, and I remain the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina. We shall continue to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ in Word and Deed to a needy world, as well as  ourselves. We need to experience afresh its power to set us free from sin, death, guilt, shame and judgment and to transform our lives  to be like Christ’s from one degree of glory to another. As the Apostle has written: “The Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

I am heartened by the support of the vast majority of those within this Diocese as well as that of the majority of Anglicans around the world and that of  many in North America who have expressed in so many ways that they consider me to be an Anglican Bishop in good standing and that this Diocese of South Carolina is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. 

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.