Tag Archives: Episcopal

Is Anyone Happy with B033?

So everything has panned out pretty much as expected. The Americans pulled together a last minute motion, B033, that reads as follows:

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, that the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report’s invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it further

Resolved, that this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on the communion.

However, nobody really seems happy about it. The Diocese of Washington has published a ‘Statement of Conscience‘, essentially distancing themselves from the resolution because firstly it was only briefly discussed, and secondly because it discriminates. Father Jake, as would be expected, has a much more direct and forthright response.

Looking on the other side of the rift, the Anglican Communion Network published this statment describing the measure as inadequate. Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria was quick with a response too.

There is even comment from a participant in the General Convention who believes that the motion was the centre ground speaking. However if you read further, even he isn’t happy with the result.

So could it have been any different? Could there have been a solution that would make everybody happy? I think not. Nothing short of the removal of the Bishop of New Hampshire, and a legal block on any similar appointments (something I don’t think was even possible under the canon law of the church in a single convention) and the most pitiful, grovelling statement – the verbal equivalent of crawling through the streets in sackcloth and ashes would have satisfied the conservative side. Equally, any move that can be seen as in any way discriminatory would be unacceptable to the liberal wing. Essentially, the only solution would be one that made one group or another happy, not both. What they finished up with was one which pleased nobody, too wishy-washy for the conservatives, and a perceived slap in the face to the liberals.

So what should have happened? Reading the discussion, I was reminded of John Shelby Spong’s call for a new reformation. In a similar way to Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg in 1517, Spong published 12 theses online, and in his book “New Christianity for a New Worldâ€?, the twelfth of which is:

All human beings bear God’s image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one’s being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.

Maybe, rather that being, well Anglican about it all, the Episcopal General Convention, realising that no compromise that they would produce would satisfy the conservatives, gone with what they believed, and have backed at previous conventions, and effectively kicked off the new reformation proposed by Spong. Instead, the resolution has alienated and offended parts of the church, without doing anything more than postponing the inevitable break-up of the Anglican Communion. To be frank, the beliefs expressed by both groups are so deep seated that neither is ever going to be happy unless the other moves their position, and since the conservative group isn’t happy for the liberal to be in the same Church (although in general the liberal group seem to be happy to include the conservatives), it seems better that they separate. (This of course will get on to another whole load of terribly earnest but totally tedious and irrelevant arguments over who is the ‘true’ Anglican church. To be honest, who cares?) At least then the two groups can actually get back to doing what the church is called to do, rather than arguing amongst themselves.

Don’t You Just Love Christians…

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I’ve already posted briefly on the appointment of Katherine Jefferts Schori as primate of the US Episcopal Church, however, Dave Walker’s cartoon in response to a quite stunning post from Andrew Carey, son of the former Archbishop George Carey, has prompted me to post again. Most of Andrew Carey’s post actually reads as quite positive, certainly he doesn’t seem to think that her sex is much of a problem, and that her desire to be a reconciler may well be a breath of fresh air for the Episcopal Church. However the real jaw dropping point that inspired Dave is saved for number 4, and is as Dave says, at least honest…

We found out in the Church of England that when some evangelicals attacked the appointment of Dr Rowan Williams because of previously held views that this backfired spectacularly on them. The first response of network and AAC leaders, in my view, should be that of welcome, prayer and a desire to meet with her. The rough stuff can come later.

The BBC has opened a comment page for responses to the election, which is largely predictable, and is following the same pattern as almost every other discussion relating to Anglicanism recently, although the low-light of the discussion has to be the comment from someone who said that after having elected a gay, and now a woman, they’d probably appoint a child molester next. Don’t you just love Christians…

Robert Pigott, the BBC religious affairs correspondent writes about the now inevitable split, highlighting how at this conference the two groups wouldn’t even share the same service – something highlighted by Father Jake on Saturday.

In terms of official reaction, Rowan Williams has issued a pretty positive statement. On the other side the Bishop of Pittsburgh has issued a statement, and the Bishop of Fort Worth is asking for alternative oversight for those dioceses like Fort Worth that do not ordain women.

In amongst all of the drama from across the pond, you might have missed that over the weekend, Ekklesia issued a discussion paper on marriage proposing that the Church wedding, and legal marriage should be split from the religious commitment, effectively having marriage being a commitment in Church, and then a legal civil partnership. The idea behind the paper is that this then focuses a Church wedding as a purely religious statement, and doesn’t force a Christian idea of marriage onto a secular public, who are wanting equivalent legal rights for cohabiting couples and same sex couples. You can read the full paper on the Ekklesia site. The other important point they make is that the separation would remove the state influencing the religious definition of a marriage, and equally the Church influencing the state definition:

The church cannot expect to define what marriage is for everyone (believer or not). Nor should the state or the government get to determine the religious meanings and impact of marriage and commitment within faith communities. It works both ways.

The article certainly makes some interesting points, and although I can’t help but think that to some extent the article is largely playing with words, It is essentially highlighting that civil marriage and a Church marriage, though whilst they share the same legal basis, are not the same thing. As a number of clergy have pointed out in Church weddings I have attended, in a Church wedding you are making a positive commitment to include God in the relationship. So in effect the paper it is proposing to change the name of the civil version to something else. However, as the frequency with which civil partnerships are called marriages, despite them legally not being so, I doubt changing the name of the legal arrangement would make much of a difference anyway!