From the Network Bishops.
At the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2003, just moments after consent was given to the consecration of V. Gene Robinson to be bishop of New Hampshire, over twenty bishops stood in the House of Bishops and made this declaration:
“The bishops who stand before you are filled with sorrow. This body, in willfully confirming the election of a person sexually active outside of holy matrimony, has departed from the historic faith and order of the Church of Jesus Christ. This body has denied the plain teaching of Scripture and the moral consensus of the Church throughout the ages. This body has divided itself from millions of Anglican Christians around the world, brothers and sisters who have pleaded with us to maintain the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage and sexuality.
“With grief too deep for words, the bishops who stand before you must reject this action of the 74th Convention of the Episcopal Church.”
They went on to say that they made this declaration as “faithful Episcopalians, and members of this House.”
The Bishops of the Anglican Communion Network reaffirm this statement in its entirety.
As the Primates of the Anglican Communion warned in October of 2003, if the consecration given consent by the action of General Convention proceeded, it “will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level.” Sadly, this very thing has happened.
It is important to understand that the issues of sexuality are not alone, or even primarily, the cause of this rupture. Rather, a crisis of faith runs deep in the Episcopal Church over the uniqueness of Jesus as Savior and Lord, the sacred authority of the Apostles’ teaching in the Holy Scriptures, and the responsibility Christians have to act in charity and accountability with each other. All these have been relativized and, in turn, this “accommodation” to the culture of North American individualism has been the context in which division has already occurred and may yet continue.
What is now to be done?
The issue for the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in June 2006 is whether the 2003 decision can be reversed and the tear in the fabric of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion can be repaired. Failing this reversal, the state of impaired or broken communion among those formerly together in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion can be expected to become permanent. We, the Network Bishops, are prepared to be part of the efforts to reverse the situation, precisely because we are committed both to the Anglican Communion and the Constitution of the Episcopal Church, and because we long to be instruments of healing and reconciliation in the face of division.
To that end, we unanimously support the recommendations of the Windsor Report as the basis on which our divisions may begin to be mended. We pledge to work with all bishops of this Church and of the Communion who also support the Windsor report, and the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates in particular, in working toward greater unity and mutual responsibility under Scripture and within the Anglican heritage.
The Rt. Rev. Keith Lynn Ackerman, SSC, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of Quincy