Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Greetings from the AB of C

This just in: Text of a greeting from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, given to the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies of the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America meeting in Colombus Ohio. The message was read by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

"Greetings to you all in Christ's name as you meet to pray and deliberate about the life and witness of your church and the demands of God's Kingdom. May God grant you discernment as you meet and listen to each other in patience and love.

As all those involved will be acutely aware, this General Convention takes place in a climate of intense and perhaps rather oppressive attention worldwide. At the meeting last week of the Bishops of the Church of England, we recognised the pressure under which you meet, and committed ourselves to praying more deeply and more constantly for allof you during these days. Please be assured of our loving concern for the Episcopal Church and our hopes that we in the Anglican Communion may learn again to walk with each other more trustfully.

The recommendations of the Windsor Report will be much in your minds and your deliberations, and I appreciate the work your Commissions and Committees have done in responding to the Windsor Process. I hope that the theological vision there set out in the Report of the ground and character of our communion in Christ will be clearly before you. We cannot survive as a Communion of churches without some common convictions about what it is to live and to make decisions as the Body of Christ; Windsor is not the end of the story, but it sets out a positive picture of what that might imply as together we strive to serve the mission of God.

We thank God for all that the Episcopal Church has contributed over the years to our fellowship and commend you to the One "who is able to establish you according to...the proclamation of Jesus Christ” (Rom.16.25).

Grace be with you all.


Anonymous said...

A solemn warning. Is General Convention listening? I pray it is.

Chip Webb said...


No province, diocese, or even local parish is "autonomous," but part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. What one church does affects the worldwide body, even if we cannot see how it may.

Paul warned us in several passages of the need to consider the entire body of Christ in any decisions we make.

Peace of Christ,

Chip Webb said...


Actually, the Roman Catholic Church arguably is far better at recognizing that fact than any Protestants.

Peace of Christ,

Catherine said...

Ok, Chip, then Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, and a few other ultra-orthodox dioceses in Africa and elsewhere have got some explaining to do regarding their unjust treatment of the baptized--gay and straight, double quick.


Milton said...

I recommend an article by + N. T. Wright just posted on Titusonenine. It is rather lengthy but well-written. Here's the link:


The money quote from the article:

"The report quotes the preamble to Windsor 134 (see (5) above), but never quotes the recommendations themselves. The reason for this, sadly, becomes all too clear: the Commission clearly had the Windsor Report before it throughout, and decided to decline Windsor’s request and to do something else instead, using some words and phrases which echo those of Windsor while not affirming the substance that was asked for. This, with real sadness, is my basic conclusion: that unless the relevant Resolutions are amended so that they clearly state what Windsor clearly requested, the rest of the Communion is bound to conclude that ECUSA has specifically chosen not to comply with Windsor."

Jeff, WR was not meant as "the end of the story" but it is, in the eyes of the Communion, a absolute necessity as a beginning, a deal-breaker if not complied with. It seemed like TEC's Commission has chosen to strain at gnats (actual compliance with WR as worded) and swallow camels (offer things not asked for and ignore plainly worded conditions).

Milton said...

Jeff, the point is not whether you or I agree. The WR was produced to work out a way to find the highest degree of communion possible among the provinces of the Anglican Communion. Why no urgency before +Robinson's consecration? Because promptly after signing off on the Primates emergency meeting in Oct 2003 (stating agreement that +Robinson's consecration would be an act that would "tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level")PB Griswold was the leader at +Robinson's consecration. And the problem was not that ECUSA/TEC (now that the "proper" acronym has been changed) did not consult sufficiently with the Communion. The Instruments of Unity warned us not to do this, TEC's own Commission on Theology(?) urged against such a move only a few months before GC03. TEC's leadership simply chose to disregard these consultations and go their own "prophetic" way, and has not ceased to express amazement at the consequences following, despite many pleas and warnings beforehand.

The resolutions on the table were not supposed to address "the spirit of Windsor" but the actual wording of the requests therein, without subtle changes or finesse. If you will plow through N.T. Wright's admittedly lengthy article with the WR to refer to for the actual wording and plain intent I think you will see that he does prove his point. How TEC's resolutions will in fact be received post-GC06 remains to be seen, but our opinion of their compliance or non-compliance is moot. What counts is how the rest of the communion receives them, expressed by the provinces and the 4 IUs.

Nigeria was not called on to take action by WR. They took no action that "would tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level" Were any "border crossings" taking place before GC03 and the subsequent inhibitions, depositions and vestry and building takeovers from congregations simply wishing to adhere to the faith held in common for most of 2000 years? Even the so-called "higher criticsm" of Scripture is a historically recent phenomenom, for the last 150 years or so.

If TEC had felt any urgency to comply with WR with plainly-worded direct responses followed by clear actions, then such convoluted "painstaking efforts" would not be necessary. As it is, we seem like a rebellious teenager laying out a doctoral thesis on why he shouldn't simply carry out a parent's simple request.

Hiram said...

Jeff says, "We are doing exactly what Windsor asks of us."

So -- did Gen Con 06 decide on a moratorium on consecrating same-sex partnered bishops UNTIL the Anglican Communion comes to a consensus on the topic? I have not heard of it doing so. The one-year moratorium on any consecrations was indeed a moratorium, but it had nothing to do with what the Dromantine Communique requested. And have all bishops forbidden any blessings of same-sex couples? Not if Rev Susan is any indication.

The Dromantine Communique (the official statement by the Primates, after having reviewed the Windsor Report) asked nearly the same things as the WR, but there was a change regarding visiting bishops -- bishops of the Global South were not forbidden from responding to requests for pastoral care and oversight, but only from initiating such visits themselves.

The greetings from the Archbishop of Canterbury are telling us that ECUSA needs to comply with the requests as written, not as ECUSA "fudges" them. Compliance with the WR/DC is how ECUSA takes part in the "Windsor process." The WR/DC requests are not up for negotiation; rather, they are the starting point for further discussion and action.

If ECUSA chooses not to comply with the WR/DC requests, then the remaining members of the Anglican Communion can and almost certainly will choose to see the failure as a decision to "walk apart." ECUSA does not get to determine the conditions of being in the Communion; the Communion itself does.

Anonymous said...


The "process" as you call it is straightforward. Comply with Windsor or continue your walk apart, ECUSA.

It is the moment for the decision that must be made: will we comply or not?

That "process" involves ECUSA answering that question. The Primates are listening for the response.

On the ECUSA side, the question is will we answer yes or walk apart as we have begun.

Very simple. No room for fudge. Let your answer be yes or no.