30 June 2006

"Remember Thou The Sabbath Day."

From the latest Crisis.

"Growing up on a tobacco farm in Marion, South Carolina, during the 1960s, one abiding memory I have is of attending my father’s African Methodist Episcopalian Church on the first and third Sunday of every month, while attending my mother’s Pentecostal Church of worship on the second and fourth Sundays. My seven brothers, two sisters, and I worked so hard on our parents’ 200-acre estate from sunup to sundown that we were always weary from theendless chores of farm life. We awoke every day by 5 a.m. to gather for morning prayer as a family. Then the work of the day was set before us. My father believed that physical labor was good for the spirit; so whether it was slopping hogs, tending cattle, cropping tobacco, harvesting fruits and vegetables, or just picking cotton, we worked in every season. On school days we would have tended chickens, milked the cow, or done any number of other chores before we ever saw the school bus. When we came home, there was yet more work, which would often last until 8 p.m. This was a constant, Monday through Saturday.

But on Sunday, everything stopped. Sundays were days for physical, spiritual, and emotional renewal. Growing up, the only thing required of us as a family on the Sabbath was that we attend church together for a few hours and have a family dinner—that was its beauty. My father would leave us alone the rest of the day to play, have fun, and do the things that we wanted to do. Other children, I remember, would spend most of Sunday in church. My father felt that church was important, but so was play. We never had to do any chores on Sunday...

Here's the whole thing.

29 June 2006

"The Love of Christ Controls Us."

It was the fashion – and still is in some places, I suppose – for Episcopal priests to connect all three Scripture lessons and the psalm in their Sunday sermons. This was the big creative, homiletic task, to find a common thread and expound it (in the days of the old prayer books, prior to the current revision, that thread was normally the theme of the Collect of the Day – but that’s another story) – or, too often, to preach about whatever one wants and then take a few glancing swipes at the lessons to give the illusion of Scriptural support. In any case, I am just not up to preaching three lessons and a psalm all at once (and the many of you who think I preach too much and too long already will be glad I don’t try!). Instead, I try to take one of the lessons and show how “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Cor. 13.14) – all of which is ultimately one thing in the mystery of the Holy Trinity – in its goodness and severity is revealed in the text, and then to make some application of it to our lives, calling myself and all of us to turn again to the Lord. I want to make a passage of Scripture clear, because the Spirit speaks to us there. I want to preach the Bible, not my own ideas. After all, my own personal thoughts about “life, the universe, and everything” are fascinating (at least to me), but honestly, who cares? In any case, that’s what I’m trying to do up there in the pulpit each Sunday, and may I take this opportunity to say that I rely on your prayers for my success?

All of that is a long introduction to saying that preaching a single text often means making a hard choice between the lessons assigned in the lectionary. So, for instance, on the last Sunday in June I had to pass by with a wistful glance the epistle lesson from 2 Corinthians where St. Paul writes to that troubled church, “the love of God controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that all who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (5.14,15). Were I writing a sermon, and not a newsletter article, I would want to spend some time wrestling with that phrase of the Apostle’s, “the love of Christ controls us…” Grammatically, I understand that “the love” is the subject of that sentence – it is what “controls us.” But that subject is modified by a “genitive” which is just as ambiguous in St. Paul’s original Greek as it is in the English translation above. Is St. Paul saying “our love for Christ controls us” or “Christ’s love for us controls us”? Grammatically it could go either way, though most of the English translations which make a choice go with “Christ’s love” (so, for instance, the New International Version in our pews).

But why? I would like to hold out the possibility that St. Paul used an ambiguous phrase because perhaps he meant both things at the same time. We are controlled by Christ’s love in the sense that, as much as we might wish to turn our backs on someone who has offended us, we dare not turn away from one for whom, as for us, Christ died. On the other hand, our love for Christ controls us in the sense that we actively, really love Christ by loving others, especially those in the household of the Church.

But all of that leads to the question, what is it that “controls” us? Is it the “love of Christ” (one way or the other), or is it something else? Ambition, fear, self-preservation? Something will control us; as Bob Dylan sang, “you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” Our task then is to yield ourselves more and more to Christ, coming to love him who first loved us – or as St. Paul has it, “he died for all, that all who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Loving Christ begins with the realization that he loved us, and the greater our realization of that love, the more we will love – and be controlled by love, a slavery better than all others, a “service” which, as the Prayer Book says, is “perfect freedom.”
*This article is from the July issue of our parish newsletter.

There Goes Central Florida.

Add the Diocese of Central Florida to the roll below:

"The serious consequences of the actions, inactions and errors of the 74th and 75th General Convention have resulted in a constitutional crisis within The Episcopal Church with respect to its stated status as “Constituent Member of the Anglican Communion”. The Episcopal Church has signaled to the faithful within the Episcopal Church a desire to “walk apart” from not only the Anglican Communion but also the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ to which this Diocese has acknowledged its allegiance to be due. We declare that we are a diocese in protest over these errors and the leaders who support them.

It is our firm intent to remain a diocese with constituent member status in the Anglican Communion. Our membership in the Anglican Communion Network has offered us much solace, knowing that we are in communion with the entire Anglican Communion. Now, in the past week, at least four of these dioceses have done what we believe we must also do. We hereby appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the panel of reference, and the Primates of the Anglican Communion for immediate alternative primatial oversight. We understand that none of our actions violate the canons of the Episcopal Church."


A Matter Of Church Discipline.

Commentary re ++Rowan Williams' statement from Anthony Sacramone of First Things:

"So has the Episcopal Church in the United States strayed so far from Anglican principle (putting aside procedure) in the whole Gene Robinson business? Anglicans have suffered agnostics and Unitarians as bishops—John Shelby Spong has spent his entire career mocking and denying every single tenet of historic Christianity—now suddenly the election of an openly gay bishop in Gene Robinson or a woman presiding bishop in Katharine Jefferts Schori breaks the back of the Anglican Communion? I think the question is less one of whether a denomination can agree on what “born of the virgin Mary” means, as opposed to, once this is accepted as an article of faith, what to do with those in ministry who do not believe it and openly teach against it. That then becomes a matter of church discipline..."


"Opting In" To The Communion...

...and out of the Episcopal Church?
Pittsburgh's statement is here, San Joaquin's here, Ft. Worth's here, Quincy's here, and South Carolina's below:

June 28, 2006
Irenaeus of Lyon

The Members of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina have received with great thankfulness the clear statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury issued to the whole Communion on June 27, 2006 in which he states that disagreements over human sexuality must be settled on the basis of “Holy Scripture and Historic Teaching” and not through “social and legal” considerations. The Archbishop makes it very plain that the dignity and worth of every person is not the question under discussion. Prejudice and bigotry are clearly wrong, and must be exposed and rejected. The rhetoric of “inclusion” has, however, often been used to obscure the Communion’s teaching that, on the basis of Holy Scripture, the Church cannot bless same sex unions, nor can we ordain those engaged in homosexual practice.

For this reason, the consecration of Eugene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 created a crisis in the Communion. The election of a new Presiding Bishop who supported his consecration, and who has advocated and permitted same-sex blessings in her diocese is another painful complication. Archbishop Williams has given his conclusion that the actions of our recent General Convention have not produced a complete response to the challenges of the Windsor Report.

The Archbishop envisions a future for the Communion, through a covenant process, in which full membership will require adherence to those commonly held values found in Holy Scripture and the Sacred Tradition of the Church. Churches unable to agree to the terms of the covenant will be reduced to some kind of “affiliate” status. This work will begin immediately, but will take time for all the details to emerge. As this process unfolds, we wish clearly to number ourselves among the dioceses and parishes that seek full constituent membership in the Anglican Communion.

We also have a mandate to reassure the people of the Diocese of South Carolina that the status quo is now impossible. We have watched with great sadness as the Episcopal Church has, year after year, taken actions and adopted teachings which further and further distance it from the Faith of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We are grieved that relationships have now been so strained that we are no longer in impaired, but rather broken communion. For that reason, we do hereby request of Archbishop Williams that he, in consultation with the Primates of the Communion and the Panel of Reference, speedily provide alternative Primatial oversight for the Diocese of South Carolina. In a spirit of humility, we acknowledge our own imperfection and sin. We renew our commitment to the Great Commission, to the Holy Scriptures, Creeds and Sacraments of the Church Catholic, and to the reconciliation of the Anglican Family of Churches by means of the full implementation of the Windsor Process.

Fr. M. Dow Sanderson
President of the Standing Committee

In the news:

As ever, thanks to TitusOneNine for the round up.


28 June 2006

Goodbye, Babies?

"In the most modern parts of the modern world, three aspects of fertility do seem historically unprecedented and clearly important. First, there is no stigma attached to being childless; a woman's worth, in this life or the next, is not judged adversely if she chooses never to have children. Second, children are no longer economic assets, as they generally were in rural and early industrial societies; rather, they are economic burdens, voracious consumers who produce virtually nothing until their late teens or early twenties. Third, fertility control is now both uneventful and virtually absolute. Those who want to avoid having children can easily do so--without restraining their natural sex drive, without putting themselves at physical risk, and without resorting to infanticide or abortion.
Children are thus culturally optional, economically burdensome, and technologically avoidable. Still, having the option to avoid children is not a reason to avoid them, and for many, clearly, the economic burdens seem bearable enough. So the question remains: why do so many men and women in the most affluent societiesin history seem to want so few offspring?"
Here's the whole thing.
Via the EPPC.

27 June 2006

Ahhh, Art.

To lighten the mood, this latest bit of fatuosity from the art world:

"In this year's summer show at London's Royal Academy of Arts, "Exhibit 1201" is a large rectangular tablet of slate with a tiny barbell-shaped bit of boxwood on top. Its creator, David Hensel, must be pleased to have been selected from among some 9,000 applicants for the world's largest open-submission exhibit of contemporary art. Nevertheless, he was bemused to discover that in transit his sculpture had gotten separated from its base. Judging the two components as different submissions, the Royal Academy had rejected his artwork proper--a finely wrought laughing head in jesmonite--and selected the plinth. "It says something about the state of visual arts today," said Mr. Hensel. He didn't say what. He didn't need to..."

Here's the whole thing.

Bishop Duncan Responds.

"Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of the Anglican Communion Network and bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, welcomed Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ recent statement on the future of the Anglican Communion.

“Archbishop Williams has clearly recognized the immediate need to stabilize the Communion according to agreed theological understandings and mutual submission. Further, for the first time, the Archbishop himself is acknowledging that some parts of the communion will not be able to continue in full membership if they insist on maintaining teaching and action outside of the received faith and order. Finally, the Archbishop clearly understands that the fault lines in the communion run not only between provinces, but through them, and that there may well be a need within provinces for an ‘ordered and mutually respectful separation,’ between those who desire to submit to the Communion’s teaching and those who do not,” said Bishop Duncan..."

Here's the whole thing.


"What has the Episcopal Church Become?"

This today from R. Andrew Newman over on NRO.

"There remain faithful Christians in the pews of the Episcopal Church, behind the altars, even a handful in miters, but the church itself appears to have left the fold. Does ECUSA remain, in any real sense, a Christian church?
I say this not to shock, not to gloat, not to cast stones, for, in my heart, I suspect I’m as much an Anglican now as before I officially left the denomination nearly eight years ago. It pains me to watch the church morph into something … what, exactly, I’m not sure.
None of this started yesterday; nor in the last decade. And if any doubt remained as to the state of the Church’s soul, if any hope lingered for renewal and reformation within the body, General Convention 2006 should have extinguished hope and doubt alike. The convention, which ended last week in Columbus, Ohio, underscored in the brightest of reds that the Episcopal Church no longer recognizes any authority outside of these triennial conventions


A Reflection from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today: A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion.
The Anglican Communion: A Church in Crisis?
What is the current tension in the Anglican Communion actually about? Plenty of people are confident that they know the answer. It’s about gay bishops, or possibly women bishops. The American Church is in favour and others are against – and the Church of England is not sure (as usual).

It’s true that the election of a practising gay person as a bishop in the US in 2003 was the trigger for much of the present conflict. It is doubtless also true that a lot of extra heat is generated in the conflict by ingrained and ignorant prejudice in some quarters; and that for many others, in and out of the Church, the issue seems to be a clear one about human rights and dignity. But the debate in the Anglican Communion is not essentially a debate about the human rights of homosexual people. It is possible – indeed, it is imperative – to give the strongest support to the defence of homosexual people against violence, bigotry and legal disadvantage, to appreciate the role played in the life of the church by people of homosexual orientation, and still to believe that this doesn’t settle the question of whether the Christian Church has the freedom, on the basis of the Bible, and its historic teachings, to bless homosexual partnerships as a clear expression of God’s will. That is disputed among Christians, and, as a bare matter of fact, only a small minority would answer yes to the question.

Unless you think that social and legal considerations should be allowed to resolve religious disputes – which is a highly risky assumption if you also believe in real freedom of opinion in a diverse society – there has to be a recognition that religious bodies have to deal with the question in their own terms. Arguments have to be drawn up on the common basis of Bible and historic teaching. And, to make clear something that can get very much obscured in the rhetoric about ‘inclusion’, this is not and should never be a question about the contribution of gay and lesbian people as such to the Church of God and its ministry, about the dignity and value of gay and lesbian people. Instead it is a question, agonisingly difficult for many, as to what kinds of behaviour a Church that seeks to be loyal to the Bible can bless, and what kinds of behaviour it must warn against – and so it is a question about how we make decisions corporately with other Christians, looking together for the mind of Christ as we share the study of the Scriptures.
Anglican Decision-Making
And this is where the real issue for Anglicans arises. How do we as Anglicans deal with this issue ‘in our own terms’? And what most Anglicans worldwide have said is that it doesn’t help to behave as if the matter had been resolved when in fact it hasn’t. It is true that, in spite of resolutions and declarations of intent, the process of ‘listening to the experience’ of homosexual people hasn’t advanced very far in most of our churches, and that discussion remains at a very basic level for many. But the decision of the Episcopal Church to elect a practising gay man as a bishop was taken without even the American church itself (which has had quite a bit of discussion of the matter) having formally decided as a local Church what it thinks about blessing same-sex partnerships.

There are other fault lines of division, of course, including the legitimacy of ordaining women as priests and bishops. But (as has often been forgotten) the Lambeth Conference did resolve that for the time being those churches that did ordain women as priests and bishops and those that did not had an equal place within the Anglican spectrum. Women bishops attended the last Lambeth Conference. There is a fairly general (though not universal) recognition that differences about this can still be understood within the spectrum of manageable diversity about what the Bible and the tradition make possible. On the issue of practising gay bishops, there has been no such agreement, and it is not unreasonable to seek for a very much wider and deeper consensus before any change is in view, let alone foreclosing the debate by ordaining someone, whatever his personal merits, who was in a practising gay partnership. The recent resolutions of the General Convention have not produced a complete response to the challenges of the Windsor Report, but on this specific question there is at the very least an acknowledgement of the gravity of the situation in the extremely hard work that went into shaping the wording of the final formula.

Very many in the Anglican Communion would want the debate on the substantive ethical question to go on as part of a general process of theological discernment; but they believe that the pre-emptive action taken in 2003 in the US has made such a debate harder not easier, that it has reinforced the lines of division and led to enormous amounts of energy going into ‘political’ struggle with and between churches in different parts of the world. However, institutionally speaking, the Communion is an association of local churches, not a single organisation with a controlling bureaucracy and a universal system of law. So everything depends on what have generally been unspoken conventions of mutual respect. Where these are felt to have been ignored, it is not surprising that deep division results, with the politicisation of a theological dispute taking the place of reasoned reflection.

Thus if other churches have said, in the wake of the events of 2003 that they cannot remain fully in communion with the American Church, this should not be automatically seen as some kind of blind bigotry against gay people. Where such bigotry does show itself it needs to be made clear that it is unacceptable; and if this is not clear, it is not at all surprising if the whole question is reduced in the eyes of many to a struggle between justice and violent prejudice. It is saying that, whatever the presenting issue, no member Church can make significant decisions unilaterally and still expect this to make no difference to how it is regarded in the fellowship; this would be uncomfortably like saying that every member could redefine the terms of belonging as and when it suited them. Some actions – and sacramental actions in particular - just do have the effect of putting a Church outside or even across the central stream of the life they have shared with other Churches. It isn’t a question of throwing people into outer darkness, but of recognising that actions have consequences – and that actions believed in good faith to be ‘prophetic’ in their radicalism are likely to have costly consequences.
Truth and Unity
It is true that witness to what is passionately believed to be the truth sometimes appears a higher value than unity, and there are moving and inspiring examples in the twentieth century. If someone genuinely thinks that a move like the ordination of a practising gay bishop is that sort of thing, it is understandable that they are prepared to risk the breakage of a unity they can only see as false or corrupt. But the risk is a real one; and it is never easy to recognise when the moment of inevitable separation has arrived - to recognise that this is the issue on which you stand or fall and that this is the great issue of faithfulness to the gospel. The nature of prophetic action is that you do not have a cast-iron guarantee that you’re right.

But let’s suppose that there isn’t that level of clarity about the significance of some divisive issue. If we do still believe that unity is generally a way of coming closer to revealed truth (‘only the whole Church knows the whole Truth’ as someone put it), we now face some choices about what kind of Church we as Anglicans are or want to be. Some speak as if it would be perfectly simple – and indeed desirable – to dissolve the international relationships, so that every local Church could do what it thought right. This may be tempting, but it ignores two things at least.

First, it fails to see that the same problems and the same principles apply within local Churches as between Churches. The divisions don’t run just between national bodies at a distance, they are at work in each locality, and pose the same question: are we prepared to work at a common life which doesn’t just reflect the interests and beliefs of one group but tries to find something that could be in everyone’s interest – recognising that this involves different sorts of costs for everyone involved? It may be tempting to say, ‘let each local church go its own way’; but once you’ve lost the idea that you need to try to remain together in order to find the fullest possible truth, what do you appeal to in the local situation when serious division threatens?

Second, it ignores the degree to which we are already bound in with each other’s life through a vast network of informal contacts and exchanges. These are not the same as the formal relations of ecclesiastical communion, but they are real and deep, and they would be a lot weaker and a lot more casual without those more formal structures. They mean that no local Church and no group within a local Church can just settle down complacently with what it or its surrounding society finds comfortable. The Church worldwide is not simply the sum total of local communities. It has a cross-cultural dimension that is vital to its health and it is naïve to think that this can survive without some structures to make it possible. An isolated local Church is less than a complete Church.

Both of these points are really grounded in the belief that our unity is something given to us prior to our choices - let alone our votes. ‘You have not chosen me but I have chosen you’, says Jesus to his disciples; and when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we are saying that we are all there as invited guests, not because of what we have done. The basic challenge that practically all the churches worldwide, of whatever denomination, so often have to struggle with is, ‘Are we joining together in one act of Holy Communion, one Eucharist, throughout the world, or are we just celebrating our local identities and our personal preferences?’

The Anglican Identity
The reason Anglicanism is worth bothering with is because it has tried to find a way of being a Church that is neither tightly centralised nor just a loose federation of essentially independent bodies – a Church that is seeking to be a coherent family of communities meeting to hear the Bible read, to break bread and share wine as guests of Jesus Christ, and to celebrate a unity in worldwide mission and ministry. That is what the word ‘Communion’ means for Anglicans, and it is a vision that has taken clearer shape in many of our ecumenical dialogues.

Of course it is possible to produce a self-deceiving, self-important account of our worldwide identity, to pretend that we were a completely international and universal institution like the Roman Catholic Church. We’re not. But we have tried to be a family of Churches willing to learn from each other across cultural divides, not assuming that European (or American or African) wisdom is what settles everything, opening up the lives of Christians here to the realities of Christian experience elsewhere. And we have seen these links not primarily in a bureaucratic way but in relation to the common patterns of ministry and worship – the community gathered around Scripture and sacraments; a ministry of bishops, priests and deacons, a biblically-centred form of common prayer, a focus on the Holy Communion. These are the signs that we are not just a human organisation but a community trying to respond to the action and the invitation of God that is made real for us in ministry and Bible and sacraments. We believe we have useful and necessary questions to explore with Roman Catholicism because of its centralised understanding of jurisdiction and some of its historic attitudes to the Bible. We believe we have some equally necessary questions to propose to classical European Protestantism, to fundamentalism, and to liberal Protestant pluralism. There is an identity here, however fragile and however provisional.

But what our Communion lacks is a set of adequately developed structures which is able to cope with the diversity of views that will inevitably arise in a world of rapid global communication and huge cultural variety. The tacit conventions between us need spelling out – not for the sake of some central mechanism of control but so that we have ways of being sure we’re still talking the same language, aware of belonging to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ. It is becoming urgent to work at what adequate structures for decision-making might look like. We need ways of translating this underlying sacramental communion into a more effective institutional reality, so that we don’t compromise or embarrass each other in ways that get in the way of our local and our universal mission, but learn how to share responsibility.

Future Directions
The idea of a ‘covenant’ between local Churches (developing alongside the existing work being done on harmonising the church law of different local Churches) is one method that has been suggested, and it seems to me the best way forward. It is necessarily an ‘opt-in’ matter. Those Churches that were prepared to take this on as an expression of their responsibility to each other would limit their local freedoms for the sake of a wider witness; and some might not be willing to do this. We could arrive at a situation where there were ‘constituent’ Churches in covenant in the Anglican Communion and other ‘churches in association’, which were still bound by historic and perhaps personal links, fed from many of the same sources, but not bound in a single and unrestricted sacramental communion, and not sharing the same constitutional structures. The relation would not be unlike that between the Church of England and the Methodist Church, for example. The ‘associated’ Churches would have no direct part in the decision making of the ‘constituent’ Churches, though they might well be observers whose views were sought or whose expertise was shared from time to time, and with whom significant areas of co-operation might be possible.

This leaves many unanswered questions, I know, given that lines of division run within local Churches as well as between them - and not only on one issue (we might note the continuing debates on the legitimacy of lay presidency at the Eucharist). It could mean the need for local Churches to work at ordered and mutually respectful separation between ‘constituent’ and ‘associated’ elements; but it could also mean a positive challenge for Churches to work out what they believed to be involved in belonging in a global sacramental fellowship, a chance to rediscover a positive common obedience to the mystery of God’s gift that was not a matter of coercion from above but of that ‘waiting for each other’ that St Paul commends to the Corinthians.

There is no way in which the Anglican Communion can remain unchanged by what is happening at the moment. Neither the liberal nor the conservative can simply appeal to a historic identity that doesn’t correspond with where we now are. We do have a distinctive historic tradition – a reformed commitment to the absolute priority of the Bible for deciding doctrine, a catholic loyalty to the sacraments and the threefold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons, and a habit of cultural sensitivity and intellectual flexibility that does not seek to close down unexpected questions too quickly. But for this to survive with all its aspects intact, we need closer and more visible formal commitments to each other. And it is not going to look exactly like anything we have known so far. Some may find this unfamiliar future conscientiously unacceptable, and that view deserves respect. But if we are to continue to be any sort of ‘Catholic’ church, if we believe that we are answerable to something more than our immediate environment and its priorities and are held in unity by something more than just the consensus of the moment, we have some very hard work to do to embody this more clearly. The next Lambeth Conference ought to address this matter directly and fully as part of its agenda.

The different components in our heritage can, up to a point, flourish in isolation from each other. But any one of them pursued on its own would lead in a direction ultimately outside historic Anglicanism The reformed concern may lead towards a looser form of ministerial order and a stronger emphasis on the sole, unmediated authority of the Bible. The catholic concern may lead to a high doctrine of visible and structural unification of the ordained ministry around a focal point. The cultural and intellectual concern may lead to a style of Christian life aimed at giving spiritual depth to the general shape of the culture around and de-emphasising revelation and history. Pursued far enough in isolation, each of these would lead to a different place – to strict evangelical Protestantism, to Roman Catholicism, to religious liberalism. To accept that each of these has a place in the church’s life and that they need each other means that the enthusiasts for each aspect have to be prepared to live with certain tensions or even sacrifices – with a tradition of being positive about a responsible critical approach to Scripture, with the anomalies of a historic ministry not universally recognised in the Catholic world, with limits on the degree of adjustment to the culture and its habits that is thought possible or acceptable.

The only reason for being an Anglican is that this balance seems to you to be healthy for the Church Catholic overall, and that it helps people grow in discernment and holiness. Being an Anglican in the way I have sketched involves certain concessions and unclarities but provides at least for ways of sharing responsibility and making decisions that will hold and that will be mutually intelligible. No-one can impose the canonical and structural changes that will be necessary. All that I have said above should make it clear that the idea of an Archbishop of Canterbury resolving any of this by decree is misplaced, however tempting for many. The Archbishop of Canterbury presides and convenes in the Communion, and may do what this document attempts to do, which is to outline the theological framework in which a problem should be addressed; but he must always act collegially, with the bishops of his own local Church and with the primates and the other instruments of communion.

That is why the process currently going forward of assessing our situation in the wake of the General Convention is a shared one. But it is nonetheless possible for the Churches of the Communion to decide that this is indeed the identity, the living tradition – and by God’s grace, the gift - we want to share with the rest of the Christian world in the coming generation; more importantly still, that this is a valid and vital way of presenting the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. My hope is that the period ahead - of detailed response to the work of General Convention, exploration of new structures, and further refinement of the covenant model - will renew our positive appreciation of the possibilities of our heritage so that we can pursue our mission with deeper confidence and harmony.

26 June 2006

Summer Reading: Basilica

I've seen several positive notices for R. A. Scotti's Basilica, among which is the following:

"Basilica takes a modern glance back into Church history, but it is neither a Gospel of Judas nor a DaVinci Code. Instead, it is a fair and fascinating examination of the splendorous and scandalous events that occurred from 1505 to 1667, during the building of St. Peter’s Basilica — an edifice of paradox, Scotti argues, that sparked the Protestant Reformation and, later, became a focus of unity for the Roman Catholic Church.

Though a dramatic storyteller — her experience as a novelist clearly influences the narrative — Scotti understands that the story of the Church needs no excessive dramatization: no cast of sinners and saints to create, no comic or tragic moments to force. The true story of St. Peter’s and the colorful lives of the people who shaped it — such as Pope Julius II, Michelangelo, Bramante, Raphael, Pope Sixtus V, and Bernini — are sufficiently captivating.

Scotti does, however, sate our baser appetite for scandal. The reader discovers that one cardinal and patron of Leonardo da Vinci “paid one hundred ducats, three times the average yearly salary, for a parrot that could recite the Apostle's Creed,” and that Pope Alexander VI had a mistress by whom he fathered several illegitimate children. In a chapter Scotti titles “Salvation for Sale,” she describes how the Medici pope Leo X kept his promise to “enjoy the papacy” by funding lavish parties with the Vatican treasury—which he emptied in only two years. In order to remedy this financial crisis he instituted the sale of indulgences; this abuse was one of the major grievances that sparked Martin Luther’s revolution...


25 June 2006

God & The Genome.

One researcher discerns God's fingerprints on the human genome:

“When you make a breakthrough it is a moment of scientific exhilaration because you have been on this search and seem to have found it,” he said. “But it is also a moment where I at least feel closeness to the creator in the sense of having now perceived something that no human knew before but God knew all along.

“When you have for the first time in front of you this 3.1 billion-letter instruction book that conveys all kinds of information and all kinds of mystery about humankind, you can’t survey that going through page after page without a sense of awe. I can’t help but look at those pages and have a vague sense that this is giving me a glimpse of God’s mind.”

Here's the whole thing. Via Mere Comments.

24 June 2006

Dried Up.

Scott Lake, the waters of
my youth, is gone - drained down possibly four sinkholes.

More from the Lakeland Ledger,
here, here, and here. And a photo gallery here. Here's some video.

I tossed a lot of evidence in that lake in my teenage years - makes one nervous.


Bishop Salmon Speaks.

A pastoral letter to the Diocese of South Carolina:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
I write in sadness to tell you that the General Convention of the Episcopal Church taken as a whole did not respond adequately to the plea of the Anglican Communion as expressed in the Windsor Report. A number of bishops in the Church of England and Primates throughout the Anglican Communion have agreed with this assessment


23 June 2006

From Bishop Duncan.

23rd June, A.D. 2006
A Pastoral Letter from the Moderator
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
A new day is dawning. It is a new day for all of us who understand ourselves to be faithful and orthodox Anglicans, whether within the Episcopal Church or gone out from it. It is with sadness, but also with anticipation, that I write to you now that the General Convention of the Episcopal Church has provided the clarity for which we have long prayed. By almost every assessment the General Convention has embraced the course of “walking apart.”
I have often said to you that the decisive moment in contemporary Episcopal Church and AnglicanCommunionhistory occurred at General Convention 2003. At that time, in the words of the Primates, the Episcopal Church took action that would “tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level.”
Since that time, the tear has widened. While we had hoped that this Church would repent and return to received Faith and Order, General Convention 2006 clearly failed to submit to the call, the spirit or the requirements of the Windsor Report. The middle has collapsed. For that part of the Network working constitutionally within ECUSA as over against the dioceses represented by the thirty progressive bishops who issued their Statement of Conscience, we are two churches under one roof. Even before the close of Convention, Network and Windsor bishops began disassociating themselves from the inadequate Windsor resolution, and thus far one Network diocese has formally requested alternative primatial oversight.
More initiatives are underway. Pastoral and apostolic care has been promised without regard to geography. All I can tell you is that the shape of this care will depend on a very near-range international meeting. Other actions will follow upon continuing conversations with those at the highest levels of the Anglican Communion. Over the course of the month of July, many of the things we have longed for will, I believe, come to pass or be clearly in view for all.
The Anglican Communion Network has never been more united. We are gaining strength, both domestically and internationally. This is the time for biblically orthodox Anglicans to hang together, supporting one another in solidarity, in prayer and with expectancy. My prayers are with you all, especially those whose plight is most difficult and whose patience is most worn. Pray for me and for all the leadership in Network, Episcopal Church, and Anglican Communion, and most especially for the Archbishop of Canterbury in this crucial moment in modern Anglican history.
Again I say to you that a new day is dawning.
Faithfully in Christ Jesus,

The Rt. Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan
Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network

Gandhi On Sex.

From Godspy:

"It’s no surprise then—when you consider the sway that secular liberals have over the ideas generated by the media and the academy—that of the thousands of articles and websites you can find on the internet about Gandhi’s life and his pacifist teaching, few say anything at all about his views on issues of human sexuality. That’s because Gandhi’s positions on sex and marriage are not what you would expect from a hero of the Left. What's worse—from a secular liberal perspective—nothing more clearly reveals Gandhi’s deeply conservative understanding of human sexuality and the relationship between a man and a woman—and only a man and a woman—than does his stance on artificial contraception..."


"The Language of Prayer."

Re the new RC mass translation:

"Last week the U.S. Catholic bishops overwhelmingly approved changes to the wording of the Mass that will significantly affect how Roman Catholics pray. Instead of an expected split vote, the bishops deliberated for only 20 minutes before deciding 173-23 in favor of a new English translation of the Latin Order of the Mass.

The bishops' decision follows decades of displeasure with the current English translation. Drafted in 1970 by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy and in use ever since, the translation has been criticized as banal, uninspiring and inaccurate (one fastidious Latinist counted over 400 errors in the ordinary parts of the Mass alone). A rather straightforward response such as "and with your spirit" (et cum spiritu tuo) was rendered, "and also with you," while entire phrases were omitted or even inserted. In the Roman canon, for example, "a pure Victim . . . a spotless Victim" was ignored and "We come to you Father with praise and thanksgiving" added, the effect being that even the holiest part of the Mass seems more focused on us than on the Sacrifice...

Here's the whole thing.

22 June 2006


Just up on the web is a site for Salvo, the print organ of the Crux Project, and, somehow, sister publication of Touchstone, apparently for the young and pop culturally-hip, as opposed to the mainly young fogies (c'est moi!) who subscribe to Touchstone. Anyhow, looks to contain some interesting stuff, declaring its mission thusly:

Blasting holes in scientific naturalism, marveling at the intricate design of the universe, and promoting life in a culture of death.
Critiquing art, music, film, television, and literature, interrupting mass media influence, and questioning the sanity of our consumerist lifestyle.
Countering destructive ideologies, replacing revisionist fictions with undeniable facts, and paring away political correctness.
Debunking the cultural myths that have undercut human dignity, all but destroyed the notions of virtue and morality, and slowly eroded our appetite for transcendence.
Recovering the one worldview that actually works.

Apparently, they are not making the content of the first issue available on the website, but the Crux Project site gives a taste.

From The Anglican Communion Institute.

"The Windsor-related resolutions coming out of General Convention today require, as the Archbishop of Canterbury has noted, some time for study before their significance and import can properly be evaluated. Such study, furthermore, must be done in the context of the wider Communion, and not simply from the limited perspective of our individual circumstances. However, a few initial observations can be made..."


21 June 2006

Important Elisions.

Yesterday's Daily Office (see sidebar for links) epistle lesson was Romans 1.16-25. Today's is Romans 1.28-2.11. Where'd those two verses go? Any guesses as to what your churchly betters don't want you to read about?

Canterbury Speaks.

Archbishop of Canterbury: statement at the conclusion of deliberations on the Windsor Report and the Anglican Communion at the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America:
“I am grateful to the Bishops and Deputies of the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church (USA) for the exceptional seriousness with which they have responded to the request of the Primates of the Anglican Communion that they should address the recommendations of the Windsor Report relating to the tensions arising from the decisions associated with the 74th General Convention in 2003.
“There is much to appreciate in the hard and devoted work done by General Convention, and before that, by the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, in crafting the resolutions. This and the actions taken today show how strong is their concern to seek reconciliation and conversation with the rest of the Communion.
“It is not yet clear how far the resolutions passed this week and today represent the adoption by the Episcopal Church of all the proposals set out in the Windsor Report. The wider Communion will therefore need to reflect carefully on the significance of what has been decided before we respond more fully.
“I am grateful that the JSC of the Primates and ACC has already appointed a small working group to assist this process of reflection and to advise me on these matters in the months leading up to the next Primates’ Meeting.
“I intend to offer fuller comments on the situation in the next few days. The members of Convention and the whole of the Episcopal Church remain very much in our prayers.”
Archbishop's Press Office
Lambeth Palace
London SE1 7JU

On The Other Hand, Bp. Chane & Friends...

June 21, 2:45 pm
A Statement of Conscience
We, the undersigned Bishops of this 75th General Convention, in the confidence of the Gospel and out of love for this great Church, must prayerfully dissent from the action of this Convention in Resolution B033 (on Election of Bishops). We do so for the following reasons:
* The process used to arrive at Resolution B033 raises serious concerns about the integrity of our decision-making process as a Church. In particular we note that we discussed a resolution, A162 , on Tuesday, but were never given an opportunity to act upon it. Instead, we were presented with a different resolution this morning, and were given only 30 minutes for debate and discussion. This resolution bears great consequences both for the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church and unfortunately was not adequately discussed.
* Our conversation has been framed in a flawed paradigm, forcing us to choose between two goods—the full inclusion in the life of the Church of our brother and sister Christians who happen to be gay or lesbian and our full inclusion in the life of our beloved Communion.
* The process that brought about the reconsideration of this matter failed to honor the integrity of the House of Deputies by bringing undue pressure to bear on that body.
* Our witness to justice has been prophetic in this nation and in the wider Anglican Communion on the issues of the full inclusion of people of color and persons who are differently-abled. For more than 30 years women been permitted to be included in the councils of this Church as lay deputies to this Convention and as deacons, priests and bishops. This witness to full inclusion has borne the fruits of the Spirit and is incarnate in the faces and lives around these tables and throughout the Church. The language of this resolution too much echoes past attempts by the Church to limit participation of those perceived to be inadequate for full inclusion in the ordained ministry.
* Any language that could be perceived as effecting a moratorium that singles out one part of the Body by category is discriminatory. We are absolutely committed to the future of this Communion and the process of healing the strain that we readily admit and regret exists, and has been exacerbated in our own house by events today. We must participate in this process with our own integrity intact and thus we are obliged to make this dissent. We intend to challenge the rest of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion to honor the promise to include the voices of gay and lesbian in the conversations about the future of the Communion. We pray for the Church, for our Communion, and for our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters.
This statement is being distributed by Mike Barwell from the diocese of New Hampshire. He reports that at least 20 bishops supported the sentiments expressed in this statement, but he is not sure how many actually signed.

The Network Bishops Speak.


June 21, 2006
We, the undersigned, Bishops of the Episcopal Church make the following statement:

In the wake of the action by this House granting consent to the consecration of Canon V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, many of us in this House made an appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Anglican Communion "to intervene in the pastoral emergency that has overtaken us." That appeal was heard and the Archbishop called for an extraordinary meeting of the Primates on 15-16 October, 2003. The Primates spoke forthrightly and unanimously about the consequences that would ensue across the Communion in the event that the consecration went forward, warning that it would "tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level." They also called for the formation, under a mandate given by the Archbishop, of the Lambeth Commission on Communion. This General Convention has now given its response to the recommendations of the work of that Commission, known as the Windsor Report.

Now, once again, we find the need to speak candidly. The responses which the Convention has given to the clear and simple requests of the Lambeth Commission, the clear and simple requests indeed of the Anglican Communion, are clearly and simply inadequate. We reaffirm our conviction that the Windsor Report provides the way forward for the entire Anglican Communion, the ecumenical relationships of the Communion, and the common life of a faithful Episcopal Church. Further, we have agreed to submit ourselves to the Windsor Report’s requirements, both in what it teaches and in the discipline it enjoins. We have not changed in our commitment.

Sadly, because of statements made by members of this House at this Convention, we must question whether this General Convention is misleading the rest of the Communion by giving a false perception that they intend actually to comply with the recommendations of the Windsor Report. We therefore disassociate ourselves from those acts of this Convention that do not fully comply with the Windsor Report.

It is our intention not only to point to the inadequacies of the General Convention’s responses, but to declare to our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the Communion that we continue as The Episcopal Church in this country who uphold and propagate the historic faith and order we have come to know through the Anglican heritage of apostolic teaching and biblical faith; who desire to be fully a constituent member of the Anglican Communion; and who are ready to embrace and live under the Windsor Report without equivocation. Accordingly, we repudiate the actions of the General Convention of 2003 which have breached the bonds of affection within the Communion. We bishops have committed to withhold consents for any persons living in same gender relationships who may be put forward for consecration as a bishop of the Church. And we have refused to grant authority for the blessing of sexual relationships outside Christian Marriage in our jurisdictions. We intend to go forward in the Communion confidently and unreservedly.

Our chief concern now is to fulfill our charge as bishops of the Church of God in the Anglican tradition to "guard the faith, unity and discipline" of the Church. Pastoral care and apostolic teaching must not only be given to our own dioceses, but to all the faithful in this country who seek apostolic oversight and support. We will take counsel together to fulfill our service on behalf of faithful Anglicans in this country, both clergy and laity, and to proclaim the Gospel and build up the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we seek the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates and Bishops of the Anglican Communion as we do so.

Signed . . .

[Signatures have yet to be finalized]

Wednesday, June 21, 2006
This message was sent by: Anglican Communion Network, 910 Oliver Building
535 Smithfield Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Quincy Speaks.

The Rt. Rev'd Keith Ackerman, Bishop of Quincy, writes to his diocese:

Beloved in Christ,

Here we are – the final day of General Convention, and still no response to the Windsor Report. This impasse is everything that the Presiding Bishop had hoped would not happen. In fact the legislative process was set up in such a way that he had hoped to have resolved the Windsor matters by Saturday, so that the election of a new Presiding Bishop could stand by itself. Clearly the Episcopal Church is in severe trouble. Many people have already gone home. There is even some question about whether we will have a quorum. As I have observed the bishops from overseas, including the Archbishop of York, I have seen signs of disbelief on their face. They had been assured that The Episcopal Church would be “Windsor compliant.” Indeed, the Presiding Bishop had only invited the most “leftward leaning” overseas bishops, but even they are clearly mystified. One said to me that the House of Bishops is devoid of any theological reasoning. It seems that years of anecdotalism and “sharing our stories” has brought the House of Bishops to a place of being unaware of how to express theological and biblical principles. Several communications from the Archbishop of Canterbury reveal a very deep fear that this could be the end of The Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion. The massive shrinkage of the Episcopal Church since the last General Convention is now so severe that it has been impossible for anyone to spin it otherwise. Even the theme “Come and Grow” was an attempt to focus on the fact that without growth there will be no Episcopal Church. In fact it was stated that the average age of an Episcopalian today is 59 years old! Moreover the election of a presiding bishop who permits homosexual marriage in her diocese, has only been ordained for 12 years has been a bishop for only 5 years, has never been the rector of a parish, and is the bishop of a diocese about the size of the Diocese of Quincy, with the majority of clergy not being seminary trained, has sent shock waves throughout the Communion.

This morning there will be an unprecedented joint meeting of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops due to the fact that the House of Deputies yesterday rejected Windsor Resolutions twice! The Presiding Bishop has even said there may be a “Mind of the House” statement from the House of Bishops if the House of Deputies does not pass a Resolution. This would be a huge mistake because the Presiding Bishop three years ago told the Primates that he could not respond, nor could the House of Bishops respond, to their outrage over the last General Convention. He said that only General Convention has that authority. A mind of the House Resolution would call into question the Presiding Bishop’s claims.

Again, I have seen the various news reports from ENS and the Convention Daily, and I wonder which Convention they are covering. The pall over this Convention has not made it into their reports. In addition, the Diocese of Fort Worth has announced that its Standing Committee has voted to request that the Archbishop of Canterbury provide Alternative Primatial Oversight. As one Lambeth observer opined, “This is just the beginning.”

I am very humbled to be with our people from the Diocese of Quincy. We gather daily for prayer. We attend Mass together, we eat together virtually every night, and we spend a great deal of time enjoying God’s presence among us. Some have had to go home. Bishop Parsons and Canon Ed Monk left yesterday as did Fr. Michael and Louisa Brooks. Today Tad Brenner and Canon Ed den Blaauwen will leave. Those of us remaining are Canon H.W. and Ginger Herrmann, Fr. John Spencer,Dean Robert, Chris, and Laura Munday, Lynn Funk, Joan Quigg, Toby and Sally Karlowicz, and Fr. Steven Lally. We are probably the most united group of people I have ever seen at the many General Conventions I have attended.

All of us are extremely grateful for your prayers for us and for this severely divided Church. And when I say I can’t wait to get home……………….I really mean it!

Blessings in His Holy Name,

Bp. Keith L. Ackerman, SSC


20 June 2006


Scott Lake in Lakeland, FL, upon whose shores I grew up and where my parents still live, is being sucked dry this week by, apparently, two sinkholes.

Here's an article from the Lakeland Ledger. For the record, our neighborhood was and is not gated (young boys guarding it with B.B. guns, yes - gates, no).
Photo credit: Dad.

Some Non-GC Reading.

Books & Culture has some interesting stuff up these days, none of which is related to the Episcopal General Convention. Herewith a few excerpts and links:

"Way back in the Sixties in a small, second-floor apartment in Nashville, a struggling singer-songwriter named Kris Kristofferson sat scandalized by a story he happened upon in the pages of Life magazine. It appeared that the lone white Baptist minister to sit alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., at the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (who'd also accompanied black schoolchildren past the screaming mobs of Little Rock in 1956) was now actively involved in ministry and friendship with members of the Ku Klux Klan. Will Campbell was his name, and he'd doubtless make for good songwriting material if nothing else. But the world took a stranger turn when Kristofferson realized that this controversial figure was the same unassuming minister who occupied the office immediately beneath his apartment. Kristofferson ran downstairs and expressed his astonishment without preamble. "What the hell kind of a place is this? You've got a preacher who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King and also ministers to members of the Ku Klux Klan. I'm a Rhodes Scholar, and I don't understand that."

"Maybe the reason you don't understand it is that you are a Rhodes Scholar," Campbell slyly replied.

This little anecdote came to me after years of being haunted by what I can only call the multipartisan witness of Will Campbell. I read about him in an issue of Rolling Stone when I was in college. I was pleased to discover that he was stationed only a few miles from me in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. And when I undertook some cross-community work in Northern Ireland upon graduating, neither party (Catholic or Protestant) knew quite what to make of my tales of the Klansman-loving, civil rights activist, Baptist preacher Will Campbell. I didn't either. But I was pleased to testify that the biblical imperative to "be reconciled" (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) was a more complicated, strange, and wonderful business than they, caught in their bloody, faith-based, sectarian strife, or I, as a white, American southerner, had begun to understand.

Goodbye, Blog, Alan Jacobs

"Whatever one thinks about the structure of the internet as a whole, it is becoming increasingly clear that the particular architecture of the blogosphere is the chief impediment to its becoming a place where new ideas can be deployed, tested, and developed. Take, for instance, the problem of comments.

The industry-standard blog architecture calls for something like this: a main area on the page where the blogger's own posts are presented, with the newest post at the top of the page; then, at the left or right or both, various supplements: links to other sites, personal information about the blogger, and so on. At the bottom of each post will be the hyperlinked word "comments," usually followed by a parenthesis indicating the number of responses to the post: click on the word and you get to see all those comments. That's where the real conversation is supposed to take place. And sometimes it does; but often it doesn't—or rather, the conversation just gets started and then peters out before it can really become productive. And this happens not because of inertia, but largely because the anatomy of a blog makes a serious conversation all but impossible.

God of the Latte, Lauren Winner

"A few weeks ago, I visited a church in a locale I'll call Levittown. The building was mid-century churchy: stained glass windows; deep, dark wooden pews;

prominent pulpit and altar; upright piano on a dais. But about twenty minutes into the service, something decidedly contemporary caught my eye: a giant (should I say venti?) Starbucks cup sitting proudly on the piano. How's that for contemporary iconography? I wonder if it was a paid product placement.

Starbucks is an icon of suburbia, of course, even if the great coffee institution did start in Seattle, and it is fashionable to decry suburban living. Indeed, one of the few things agrarians and urbanites share is their utter horror for the suburbs, whose gated communities and starter mansions are poison for the soul. Even suburbanites themselves often engage in anti-suburb diatribes, albeit a tad sheepishly.

Recovering Catholic, Christopher Shannon:

"Long before the current clergy sex abuse scandal, a significant portion of American Catholics had already come to identify themselves as survivors. Viewed rhetorically, the response to this all-too-real current crisis follows the script of an earlier abuse scandal of somewhat more questionable veracity: Catholic education. American Catholics who came of age in the 1960s like to identify themselves, for better or for worse, as the people who were beaten by nuns. As comedy or tragedy, this story has been American Catholics' chief contribution to late 20th-century American popular culture, as witnessed by the broad appeal of stage productions such as Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, St. Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, Nunsense, and Late Night Catechism.

In God and Man at Georgetown Prep, Mark Gauvreau Judge writes as a survivor not of abuse, but of neglect. Coming of age in the 1970s, Judge missed out on the gory/glory days of tough-guy priests and ruler-wielding nuns. Drawing on the theological spirit, if not the anglophile cultural posturing, of the conservative Catholic William F. Buckley's classic God and Man at Yale, Judge exposes and indicts the functional atheism that has shaped Catholic educational institutions in the decades following the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Judge's book is an unabashed plea for Catholics to recover the world they have lost and reclaim the birthright they have sold for the material comforts and cultural respectability of mainstream, middle-class American life.


19 June 2006

Life & Death.

The lack of outrage over the Episcopal Church's affiliation with the Religious Coaslition for Reproductive Choice has been surprizing to me. I spoke this morning with a General Convention delegate who said that, in that crowd, it just doesn't rise to the level of controversy - and this despite my own attempt to get the ball rolling. However, as one of our local clergy told me, for her this is an even deeper problem than the sexuality issues.
For some perspective, here's an article written by Fr. Shay Gaillard for the Diocese of South Carolina's newspaper, the Jubilate Deo:
“A Matter of Life and Death”
The Rev'd Shay Gaillard

In a recent conversation with Georgetown Deanery clergy, Bishop Salmon referred to the current clash over truth in our culture and in our church as “a matter of life and death.” Those words have echoed in my head and heart ever since that day. I immediately drew the connection between Bishop Salmon’s grave words and how true they are for the defenseless in this culture, particularly the unborn. Of all of the groups that are under assault to be judged and marginalized by this relativistic culture, the unborn are least able to organize and speak up for themselves. And yet in 2004 nearly 1.3 million abortions were performed in the United States; each one a tragedy for the Christian who affirms that all of life is a gift from God.
As our church plunges ever closer to the General Convention that will determine the fate of the Episcopal Church, is it not amazing that there is little to no talk of the rights of the unborn? We care for so many minorities. It is just another sign that we have abandoned the Biblical worldview. Remember the words of the Psalmist, “for you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb,” (Psalm 139:13). The divine “knitting” that occurs in the womb is just one of the many reasons that no one should take a life from the womb except the Author of life.
On the 12th of January, the Executive Committee of the Episcopal Church vote to formalize the relationship between ECUSA and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. This move effectively made the Episcopal Church a partner in abortion and promoting abortion rights.
This move not only contradicted the General Convention’s stated position on abortion (1994), but it did so without the “process” many seem to value when it is convenient. A former priest in this Diocese, The Rev’d. Patrick Allen protested this move on the floor of the Diocesan Convention of the Diocese of Tennessee. Since then, several Dioceses have passed resolutions concerning this unusual, irregular, and immoral affiliation.
I urge my friends and colleagues in the Diocese of South Carolina not to forget the unborn in your prayers and your teaching; I urge our deputies to General Convention to speak out and vote against any further movement away from Biblical truth; and I urge the Diocese of South Carolina to act in its next Diocesan Convention to disassociate itself fully from this decision of the Executive Committee. The sexuality debate has consumed the church for many years now. Abortion is every bit as serious a symptom of the same illness that we saw manifested at General Convention 2003. A Biblical worldview demands that we are balanced in our defense of truth and consistent in our love for the “least of these.”
Fr. Gaillard is newly parish priest at St. Peter's & St. John's (Charleston), father of my goddaughter, and connoisseur of fine art and cheesy comestibles.

"Deliberate Defiance...Scornful Indifference."

This today from Richard Johh Neuhaus:
"...Of course, the great and more recent commotion in ECUSA was sparked by the ordination of Gene Robinson, a practicing gay priest, as bishop of New Hampshire. A number of provinces of the Anglican Communion, notably in Africa and Asia, where the great majority of Anglicans are, have declared that they are no longer in communion with the American province. Thus the breakup of the Anglican Communion seems almost inevitable.
Facing that prospect, a commission of ECUSA some months ago issued the Windsor Report, which proposed that the ECUSA apologize to the Anglican Communion for difficulties caused by the election of Robinson and that a moratorium be declared on ordaining gay bishops and blessing same-sex unions. Bishop Schori was sharply critical of the Windsor Report, and her election is a decisive repudiation of its recommendations. Schori is an unequivocal supporter of Gene Robinson and of the blessing of same-sex unions. She is reported to be a friend and strong supporter of the retired Bishop John Spong, perhaps the most leftist of ECUSA bishops, who has long agitated against core doctrines of historic Christianity such as the inspiration of Scripture and the divinity of Christ.

At each step of the way, Rome pleaded with Anglicans to reject such grave departures from the orthodox Christian tradition. It may be that there will emerge from the breakup a new configuration of the Anglican Communion with which serious dialogue can be resumed. A few bishops of ECUSA and a larger number of clergy and parishes are involved in “continuing Anglican” movements and are working in tandem with the African and Asian provinces. A great deal depends upon how Canterbury, meaning the Church of England, positions itself in the rapidly advancing dissolution of what was the Anglican Communion. As of this week’s General Convention, however, one thing seems certain beyond doubt: The Episcopal Church in the U.S. has declared itself to be just another liberal Protestant denomination, in deliberate defiance of the Anglican Communion and in scornful indifference to a long history of hope for reconciliation with Catholicism. Yes, many, going back to John Henry Newman in the early nineteenth century, said that this would be the inevitable outcome of Anglicanism’s claim to be a “middle way” between liberalism and Catholicism, but it is nonetheless very sad to see it come to pass, and to see the self-congratulatory rejoicing of Episcopalians in celebratory assembly at the death of an honorable, if finally untenable, hope for greater Christian unity."
Thanks to Scott K for the heads up.

Update From Fr. Richardson.

From Fr. Freddy Richardson, one of our Diocese of Tennessee delegates:

"I apologize for not writing more often or giving more detail on what has been happening. The schedule has been intense, and all the significant stuff is just now coming out of committees or from the House of Bishops to the floor of the House of Deputies. I have a couple of hours break right now (the first such break other than sleeping 11:00 pm to 5:30 am each day!). But I’m not complaining :-).
Here’s the news:
As most of the world now knows, The House of Bishops yesterday elected Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada, as the next Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, with the House of Deputies concurring. Whatever your position on women’s ordination, it should be fairly easy to see that this election will prove controversial and a further strain on the bonds of affection within the Anglican Communion and our broader ecumenical relationships.
Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh had this to say: "While many of us have supported women in holy orders, … [f]or the Anglican Communion worldwide, this election reveals the continuing insensitivity and disregard of the Episcopal Church for the present dynamics of our global fellowship. This election asserts once again that it is our autonomy and revolutionary character that is most dear to us. Any words the General Convention might speak about compliance with the Windsor Report will have to be read in light of this election."
Bishop Schori is an advocate for openly homosexual persons to serve in holy orders and allows blessings of same-sex unions in her diocese. Her diocese passed a resolution in October of 2003, which says:
"[T]he 33rd annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada, desiring to support relationships of mutuality and fidelity which mediate the grace of God between those persons for whom the celebration and blessing of a marriage is not available, does hereby authorize that ceremonies to celebrate the relationships of such persons who are baptized members in good standing in this diocese maybe conducted by clergy in the diocese, with the approval of the bishop, respecting their pastoral discretion.
"Background and Explanation: The 74th General Convention [2003] passed Resolution 051, article 5 of which, ‘recognizes that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.’
This resolution addresses that adopted by our General Convention and makes particular application to the Diocese of Nevada. In the interest of promoting an informed discussion, you are invited to contact the Integrity Network with any questions about the resolution or to discuss this proposed resolution."
In other news, two significant pieces of legislation will come before us today.
1. "Gay & Lesbian Affirmation" – the first two resolves of this resolution are reaffirmations of previous resolutions at earlier General Conventions. The third resolve, however, takes us to the next level. It says that we "oppose any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions." As Elizabeth Kaeton, openly lesbian priest and deputy from the Diocese of Newark said in the committee hearing for this resolution, if we pass this resolution, we will in effect endorse civil marriage for same-sex partners.
2. "Election of Bishops and Public Rites of Same-Sex Unions" – this resolution is a combination of two resolutions in response to the Lambeth Commission’s Windsor Report, Primates’ Meeting of February 2005 Dromantine Communiqué, and Archbishop of Canterbury’s requests for us to exercise moratoria on further consecrations of openly homosexual bishops and blessing same-sex unions. The requests are clear – stop doing these things. The response, however, in the resolution that we will consider today is not.
It now reads – "we are obliged to urge nominating committees, electing conventions, Standing Committees, and bishops with jurisdiction to refrain from the nomination, election, consent to any bishop whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church…" "Obliged to urge…to refrain…" – What does that mean? That "you [the primates and Archbishop of Canterbury] are forcing us to do something that we don’t want to do. And we’re not doing what you asked us to do, but we’re trying to make it look like we’re doing what you have asked us to do."
On the issue of blessing same-sex unions, we have been asked to tell bishops to stop doing what Presiding Bishop-elect Schori, for example, has done and is doing.
Instead, the resolution now reads, "That this General Convention not proceed to develop or authorize Rites for the Blessing for same-sex unions at this time…" General Convention not doing it and telling bishops to stop doing it are not equal. If this resolution passes, we will not have done what has been asked of us.
One more thing – the committee hearing was today for a resolution sent in by our diocesan Bishop and Council, produced by Fr. Patrick Allen of St. Joseph of Arimathea, asking General Convention to rescind the affiliation of The Episcopal Church with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, action taken by the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church in January of this year. A similar resolution was submitted by Lorne Coyle of the Diocese of Central Florida. We both spoke for the resolutions, along with Georgette Forney, President of NOEL (an anti-abortion group of Episcopalians). After we spoke for the resolutions, a number of members of the committee hearing our testimony got up to speak against us.
Elizabeth Kaeton (openly lesbian priest from the Diocese of Newark) said that what I said was a lie, when I said that the RCRC advocates positions at odds with The Episcopal Church. I had simply used Fr. Allen’s statement at our last Annual Convention, which quoted directly from a General Convention 1994 resolution! Another member of the committee said that the Executive Council was merely confirming an affiliation that has been in place since 1986, an affiliation begun by staff at 815 on behalf of The Episcopal Church. Also, a similar resolution was defeated in 2003. I doubt that this one will get any further.
So, that’s life in Columbus. Please continue to pray for us.
Your servant in Christ,