Archive for July, 2012

Global South Primates Communiqué

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

from here
1. We, the Primates and representatives of 17 Global South Provinces, met in Bangkok, Thailand, from 18-20 July 2012, in conjunction with the Global South Conference on the Decade of Mission and Networking.
2.  The theme of Conference called the Church to “Be Transformed by the Renewing of the mind to Obedience of Faith for Holistic Mission in a Radically Changing Global Landscape”, offering our sanctified bodies and renewed minds as living sacrifices for our Lord’s glory.
3.  We are grateful to the Lord for the convivial fellowship, the insightful discussions and the spirit of unity that we enjoyed at this assembly. It is truly a demonstration of the Holy Spirit at work across diverse cultures and backgrounds to shape “a people belonging to God” (1 Peter 2:9) for His glory in the salvation of humankind.
4.  The Conference, with delegations from the Global South as well as orthodox Anglican churches in the West, explored the trends in mission in the 21st century amidst the post-1989 global landscape, and evaluated the effectiveness of Anglicans in missions. The challenges of the unfinished work of mission were intensively discussed in four tracks, namely Economic Empowerment, Emerging Servant Leaders, Theological Resourcing and Inter-faith Relations, as well as various regional networking sessions.
5.  We are committed to implement the recommendations of the Conference. In order to do so, we have appointed the following Task Forces to follow up the progress.
5.1   Economic Empowerment, coordinated by the Most Rev Dr Eliud Wabukala.
5.2   Theological Resourcing, coordinated by the Most Rev Bolly Lapok.
a)    Evangelism and Discipleship
b)    Mission
5.3   Emerging Servant Leaders, coordinated by the Most Rev Ian Ernest.
5.4   Inter-faith Relations, coordinated by the Most Rev Nicholas Okoh.
6.  We note with great sadness the passing of Resolution A049 at the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church which authorized a liturgy for blessing same-sex unions. This action confirms our disappointment that The Episcopal Church has no regard for the concerns and convictions of the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide.
7.  We stand in solidarity with our brethren in the Communion Partners who have dissented from this action. We uphold them in prayer and support them in fellowship as they continue in their commitment to the evangelical faith and catholic order of the Church, as expressed in their Minority Report known as The Indianapolis Statement.
8.  We also appreciate and support all the faithful in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as well as those in the Anglican Church in Canada who remain true to our biblical and historic faith.
9.  We deeply respect and appreciate our historical and spiritual relationship with the See of Canterbury. We have written to the Crown Nominations Commission with concerns from the Global South and important principles for consideration as it nominates candidates for the appointment of a new Archbishop of Canterbury.
10.  We have appointed a new Global South Primates Steering Committee (GSPSC) comprising:
10.1   The Most Rev Dr Mouneer Anis as Chairman
10.2   The Most Rev Nicholas Okoh as Vice-Chairman
10.3   The Most Rev Ian Ernest as Honorary Secretary
10.4   The Most Rev Bolly Lapok as Honorary Treasurer
10.5   The Most Rev Stephen Than as an Elected Member
10.6   The Most Rev Henri Isingoma as an Elected Member
10.7   The Most Rev Hector Zavala as an Elected Member
10.8   The Most Rev Dr Eliud Wabukala as an Elected Member
10.9   The Most Rev Daniel Deng as an Elected Member
11. We have also invited the Primates of the Provinces of West Africa and Melanesia to be co-opted members of this Steering Committee.
12. We deeply appreciate the Right Rev Dr John Chew who served as Secretary and Chairman of the last two Steering Committees respectively, especially for his untiring efforts in focusing the Global South on the vital tasks of missions and transformation of society through the Gospel of Jesus Christ culminating in this Conference.
13. We have the pleasure of nominating the Right Rev Peter Akinola and the Right Rev Dr John Chew to be Honorary Members of the Global South Steering Committee.
14. We also appreciate the Venerable Wong Tak Meng and the Rev Canon Terry Wong for their work in the Global South Secretariat.
15.  Now, as we launch the Decade of Mission and Networking, we seek God’s guidance and the power of the Holy Spirit to expand God’s kingdom.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Primates Present or Represented:
The Most Rev Dr Mouneer Anis, Primate of Jerusalem & the Middle East
The Most Rev Nicholas Okoh, Primate of Nigeria
The Most Rev Ian Ernest, Primate of the Indian Ocean
The Most Rev Bolly Lapok, Primate of South East Asia
The Most Rev Dr Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya
The Most Rev Stephen Tan, Primate of Myanmar
The Most Rev Henri Isingoma, Primate of Congo
The Most Rev Daniel Deng, Primate of Sudan
The Most Rev Bernard Ntahoturi, Primate of Burundi
The Most Rev Onesphore Rwaje, Primate of Rwanda
The Most Rev Valentino Mokiwa, Primate of Tanzania
The Most Rev David Vunagi, Primate of Melanesia
The Most Rev Joseph Kopapa, Primate of Papua New Guinea
The Right Rev Dr Johannes Seoka representing Southern Africa
The Right Rev Matthias Medadues-Badohu representing West Africa
The Right Rev Dr Chad Gandiya representing Central Africa
The Right Rev Peter Bartlett representing the Southern Cone

Sue Christians, Get a GTS Doctorate.

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Dear Reader,

There is certainly much to digest from General Convention, and before I do so I want to spend a post or two laying out my approach to these issues from an Evangelical Catholic perspective. While I am working on that, I’d like to share a wee bit of news and commentary that to my shock hasn’t appeared anywhere in the Anglican blogosphere. This will show just one of the symptoms of the underlying problems in our beloved Episcopal Church.

But first, the usual disclaimer: I am a priest of the Diocese of Dallas, which is a part of The Episcopal Church. I have not left TEC, and I do not advise others to do so. However, I do regard those who have left as faithful Anglicans, and most importantly my brothers and sisters in Christ. And of course, these opinions are mine alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Diocese of Dallas, our Title IV Intake Officer, or Mickey Mouse. Now then, onto it.

The photo above, from The General Theological Seminary, shows a familiar site, a seminary dean with those whom the seminary honored with honorary doctorates at this year’s commencement. So far so good. However, this picture also shows what I believe is a first in the history of all of our Episcopal seminaries. Three of the four recipients are being honored for some of the “usual reasons”: ecumenical work, seminary research and support, and teaching and writing ministry. One can read their citations and understand why the seminary would want to honor them in this way. One of the gentlemen, second from the left, is Mr. David Booth Beers, Esq., chancellor to the Presiding Bishop. He received an honorary doctorate for (and I quote from the GTS website, one really can’t make this stuff up):

David Booth Beers, Esq.  is a noted attorney and Chancellor to the Presiding Bishop. He is of counsel to the law firm Goodwin Proctor where he has an extensive national and international practice in the non-profit sector. He has led the legal effort of the Episcopal Church to safe guard the rights and property of the church, dioceses and parishes from the plans of those who have broken away from the church and yet attempted to take church property with them. He has worked closely for many years with the Church History faculty of the Seminary in his support of the church and enjoys wide and deep respect. He is an active layman in St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Washington. (Emphasis mine.)

That’s right, if one wants an honorary doctorate, one could spend a lifetime teaching and writing, or one could simply enable litigation against other Christians. It is shameful that one of our seminaries would hold up the work of violating the clear teaching of Scripture to settle Christian disputes outside of secular court as an example worthy of a seminary doctorate. We must remember I Corinthians 6:1-8 (Which I know is difficult, since it never comes up in the RCL!):

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! (Cited from the not-General-Convention-approved English Standard Version.)
Let me be clear, I’m not bashing Mr. Beers. He is a lawyer, and lawyers rightly provide counsel to those who wish to employ their services. Lawyers provide a necessary service, regardless of the guilt or innocence of their clients. No one should judge a lawyer poorly because he or she is willing to represent people who are doing fundamentally unchristian things.
However, I do judge that this action by one of our seminaries is incredibly shameful. Even if one believes it is proper to sue Christians who cannot in good conscience stay in The Episcopal Church, this sort of behavior should embarrass us all. If one thinks we should sue other Christians, one ought to at least have the decency to recognize it for what it is: a scandal against the whole Church (and I mean the Church Catholic, not just our tiny portion of it), demonstrative of an obsession with money and possessions, and a power play by those in power to impose their will on “those meddlesome traditionalists.” Suing other Christians is the kind of stuff for smoky back rooms and dark alleys, not something to be honored in the light of day. It is certainly not something to be held up as an example to the whole Church, including in the giving of honorary degrees.
Am I the only one who wonders what the state of Anglicanism in North America would look like if even whole dioceses weren’t afraid of litigation and loss of property for which they and there forebears paid? If the fear of losing property is the only thing holding us together, Lord have mercy upon us all. I remember Bishop Lawrence of South Carolina, saying that he never felt more like the Bishop of his people than he did on the day he issued quit-claim deeds to every parish in the diocese (with apologies to +Lawrence, I think that’s reasonably close, but I couldn’t find the link to the original). His point, as I read it, was that his episcopal relationship with his people was stronger, not weaker, once the fear of litigation and loss of property had been removed. I think the good bishop hit the nail on the head: that which ought to bind us together had better be stronger than the fear of losing one’s property.  If lawsuits and fear are what is holding us together, maybe it would be better if we splintered into oblivion.
Of course, I think there are many other things that can help hold The Episcopal Church together, including our Catholic heritage (if we will recover it), our shared worship (admittedly less common than the BCP once was), and the unique gift we have of offering sacramental worship within a portion of the church that was at least imagined to provide more comprehensiveness than either Rome or the East, the via media.
It is difficult, however, to see all of the good and potential good that remains, when the general church is leading a legal effort to drag other Christians into court to recover “their” property. How disingenuous does one need to be to seriously suggest that the 1,000 or so Fort Worth Episcopalians who remained in The Episcopal Church after their diocese (under +Iker) left TEC in 2008 could ever hope to sustain every parish, every piece of property in that diocese? Further, how disingenuous must one be to observe well over 90% of a parish leaving, and then to suggest that the 90+% are just individuals, and the tiny few that remain are the parish? We need to find equitable solutions to parishes, and even dioceses choosing to depart TEC. We need to part graciously so that all involved can be equipped for the ministry to which they are called. And we certainly do not need to be awarding honorary seminary doctorates on the basis of suing other Christians. Given the circus those around us see when looking at our beloved and embattled Episcopal Church, it comes as no surprise that we are not filling our pews, not bringing the lost into the presence of Christ, and failing to be a good witness to the world around us. Lord have mercy, indeed.
There will be more to follow in the coming days and weeks, as we strive with one another in charity and honesty. In all things, we ought to be continually in prayer for our parishes, dioceses, general church, and Anglican Communion, and especially for those with whom we most vehemently disagree. We will always have trouble in the Church, but let us pray that we will rebuild an Episcopal Church in which such shameful action as suing other Christians does not seem to merit a doctorate.
Blessings,
David+

Make Up Your Minds!

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Reformed Church in America pastor Kevin DeYoung, a solid and thoughtful evangelical, recognizes the reality that so many in the mainline churches do not want to come to grips with: the status quo on homosexuality is not sustainable. It is time to make a decision, and let the chips fall where they may. He writes at the Gospel Coalition:

There is no way, short of a miraculous and full-scale changing of hearts and minds, for North American denominations to survive the homosexuality crisis. Denominations like the PCUSA, ELCA, RCA, UMC, and Episcopal Church will continue. They won’t fold their tents and join the Southern Baptists (though wouldn’t that be interesting!). I’m not suggesting most of our old, mainline denominations will disappear. But I do not see how any of these once flourishing denominations will make it through the present crisis intact.

And the sooner denominations admit this sobering reality the better.

He describes the various options being pursued by liberals, conservatives, and moderates (or middle-of-the-roaders, or compromisers, denominational institutionalists, whatever), and concludes:

I understand that many good Christians love their denominations deeply. I love mine too. I don’t want to see the RCA crash and burn, or fall apart. I recognize that many Christians are loathe to consider any option that involves anything less than staying together no matter what. They want to hope against hope that everything will work out and there will be some way for everyone to get along. But it is no virtue of Christian hope to trust God for contradictions. He cannot make circles to simultaneously be squares. We are not losing confidence in our almighty God if we admit that many of our denominations face intractable problems. We can’t “unify” our way out of this mess or press people to stop having mutually exclusive convictions for the sake of our institutions, pensions, or pride. The fact is there is no third way, no fourth way, no tenth way out of this controversy that leaves all the pieces in the same places they are now. Groups will split. Bodies will rearrange. Parts will realign. Maybe not this year. Maybe not on your watch. But soon enough.

So my plea is for these denominations to make a definitive stand. Make it right, left, or center, but make one and make it clearly. Insist that member churches and pastors hold to this position. And then graciously open a big door for any pastor or church who cannot live in this theological space to exit with their dignity, their time, and their property. Because sometimes the best way to preserve unity is to admit that we don’t have it.

Read it all for the details. I think DeYoung is spot on: denominations need to decide, and then act in a gracious and loving fashion toward those who disagree, particularly if they decide to leave. The current reality, in which the mainlines are in the process of destroying any witness they might have left with never-ending infighting and court battles over property, can only result in their ultimate demise.

Bishop Mark Lawrence’s Letter to the Diocese of S.C. to be read in all parishes this morning

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Some of you have actively followed the decisions of the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Others have been blissfully unaware that our denomination even had a General Convention. We have. And the actions taken mark a significant and distressing departure from the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.

In conversations with clergy, and from the emails I have received, I know there is much uneasiness about the future. Some of us are experiencing the well-known stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. And, of course, I must acknowledge there are those for whom the recent decisions are a cause for celebration. For me there are certainly things about which I was thankful at the convention in Indianapolis. I might even have taken encouragement from the resolutions that were passed regarding needed structural reform, and for the intentional work in the House of Bishops on matters of collegiality and honesty. Unfortunately, these strike me now as akin to a long overdue rearranging of the furniture when the house is on fire. Why do I say this?

Read the rest of this entry »

GC2012: Statement of the Albany Bishops and Deputation

Monday, July 16th, 2012

The Episcopal Diocese of Albany
July 12, 2012

On July 10th, 2012 the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church authorized A049, the Resolution to Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships. Bishops William Love and Daniel Herzog and the Albany Deputation to General Convention were united in voting against this Resolution. By both our vote and the testimony we sought to graciously oppose this resolution while at the same time speaking the truth in love as the Church has received that truth. (Ephesians 4:15).

The Diocese of Albany, through its Bishops and Deputation, sought to uphold the biblical and traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In doing so, we were obedient to Holy Scriptures, The Book of Common Prayer, The Episcopal Church Constitution and Canons, and own our Diocesan Canons. It is important to note that the new rites are not to become part of the Book of Common Prayer or any other liturgical publication of the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Love and other bishops, traditional and liberal, worked to include provisions in the resolution that protect bishops and priests who cannot for the sake of conscience authorize or use the liturgy. Dean David Collum was able to speak to the resolution in the House of Deputies before the limited debate was terminated by pre-arranged parliamentary rules. In his comments Dean Collum offered that, among other theological problems created by the resolution, its adoption by the General Convention would further divide the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion and compromise our ecumenical relationships.

On July 11th, 2012 a group of bishops including Bishop Love and Bishop Herzog issued a statement which was read on the floor of the House of Bishops. This same statement was read from the floor of the House of Deputies on July 12th, 2012. Those deputies who supported the statement stood in place as it was read. The statement is available http://www.albanyepiscopaldiocese.org/.

For over a decade the Diocese of Albany has been working to persuade theological traditionalists to remain in the Episcopal Church and to persuade theological liberals to remain in the Anglican Communion. We remain committed to these efforts, though they are made much more difficult by the adoption of Resolution A049. We ask you to join us in prayer for God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

END

GC2012: Communion Partner Bishops Issue Minority Report

Friday, July 13th, 2012

The Indianapolis Statement

The following statement was read from the floor of the House of Bishops on the final day of the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis:

The 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, in passing Resolution A049, has authorized the provisional use of a liturgy for blessing same-sex unions. The purpose of this statement is to record our dissent from this action.

1. At our ordination as bishops of the Church, we have all taken a solemn oath: “I solemnly declare that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church.” We remain committed to that oath. Our commitment to the biblical witness includes its teaching on sexuality. We believe that the Scriptures clearly teach that God’s vision for sexual intimacy is that it be exercised only within the context of marriage between a man and a woman.

2. We serve in a Church whose Book of Common Prayer offers clear teaching on Holy Matrimony. The opening address in the marriage rite (BCP, p. 423) summarizes that teaching and affirms that marriage is a “union of husband and wife”; that God established marriage in creation; that our Lord “adorned this manner of life” during his earthly ministry; and that marriage points beyond itself to the “mystery of the union of Christ and his Church.”

3. The liturgy entitled “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” is for all practical purposes same-sex marriage. It includes all of the essential elements found in a marriage rite: vows, an exchange of rings, a pronouncement, and a blessing. We believe that the rite subverts the teaching of the Book of Common Prayer, places The Episcopal Church outside the mainstream of Christian faith and practice, and creates further distance between this Church and the Anglican Communion along with other Christian churches.

4. Our dissent from this action of the 77th General Convention is thus rooted in the teachings of our own Church; in the historic biblical and theological witness upon which those teachings rest; and in the wider context of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church and our conviction that no part of the Church is free on its own to alter basic Christian teaching.

5. We are grateful that the rite, as approved by General Convention, contains provisions that protect diocesan bishops and parish priests who cannot for the sake of conscience authorize or use the liturgy.

6. We are committed to the gay and lesbian Christians who are members of our dioceses. Our Baptismal Covenant pledges us to “respect the dignity of every human being” (BCP, p. 305), and we will continue to journey with them as together we seek to follow Jesus.

7. We reaffirm our commitment to the Anglican Communion of which The Episcopal Church is a constituent member, and to the historic See of Canterbury with whom we are in communion. We will honor the three moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and will do all in our power to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

We invite all bishops who share these commitments to join us in this Statement, as we seek to affirm our loyalty to our beloved Church even as we dissent from this action. +John Bauerschmidt, Diocese of Tennessee

+Gregory Brewer, Diocese of Central Florida

+Dan Herzog, Diocese of Albany (resigned)

+Paul Lambert, Diocese of Dallas Suffragan

+Ed Little, Diocese of Northern Indiana

+Bill Love, Diocese of Albany

+Daniel Martins, Diocese of Springfield

+Ed Salmon, Diocese of South Carolina (resigned)

+Michael G. Smith, Diocese of North Dakota

+James Stanton, Diocese of Dallas

+Bruce MacPherson, Diocese Western Louisiana

Episcopal Church deputies Vote came Silently on Same-Sex Blessings

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

By Mary Ann Mueller
Special Correspondent
www.virtueonline.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The House of Deputies’ afternoon vote on A-049 came in silence, the result of modern technology.

When the House of Bishops voted to approve same-gender blessings each bishop was called by name and with their own voice they were required to vocalize their vote – yea or nay.

Electronic voting was the rule of the day in the House of Deputies. Each Order – lay and clergy, were called to vote using their hand-held electronic voting devise.

The laity was called to vote.

“The vote is open.” Silence followed. “The vote is closed.”

The clergy were called to vote.

“The vote is open.” Silence followed. “The vote is closed.”

Silence … the waiting began.

To pass the time the candidates for the Vice President of the House of Deputies were nominated from the floor.

Silence … the waiting continues.

Finally, out-going House of Deputies’ President Bonnie Anderson announced the results: Lay yes votes – 86; lay no votes – 19; lay divided votes – five. Clergy yes votes – 85; clergy no votes – 22; clergy divided votes – 4.

“A-049 passes with a 78% in the lay order and 76% in the clergy order,” a tired House of Deputies’ president confirmed.

And with that same-gender blessings received the blessing of General Convention and became a part of the fabric The Episcopal Church.

Bonnie Anderson then dismissed the House of Deputies.