Wednesday, February 28, 2007




We were here at 6:30 a.m. AST [All Saints Time] ... between 30 and 40 folks in the Forum sleepily sipping coffee and grateful for the muffins that had materialized while we waited for the music from Trinity Wall Street to end and the webcast to begin.
You can still watch the telecast here yourself -- thanks to the marvels of modern technology and Trinity Wall Street. And ENS has a transcript of her opening remarks here -- the rest of the broadcast was answering questions from emails, call-ins and the studio audience.
And here are some of the "reviews" coming in:
Here's AP's Rachel Zoll's take: Appearing on a live webcast, the Episcopal Church's presiding bishop began the painful task Wednesday of persuading members to roll back their support for gays — at least for now — so the denomination can keep its place in the world Anglican fellowship. The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, who personally supports ordaining partnered gays, told a studio audience, callers and those who submitted questions by e-mail that they should make concessions that Anglican leaders are seeking to buy time for reconciliation.
Reuter's Michael Colon had different perspective: Anglican church leaders and others demanding the U.S. Episcopal Church harden its stand on gay issues may be yielding to unwarranted impatience instead of waiting for divine guidance, the head of the U.S. church said on Wednesday... "We are being pushed toward a decision by impatient forces within and outside this church who hunger for clarity," she said in a conference broadcast over the Internet from New York to church members worldwide, who were allowed to pose questions. "That hunger for clarity at all costs is an anxious response to discomfort in the face of change," she added. "The impatience we are now experiencing is an idol, a false hope that is unwilling to wait on God for clarity, an idol that fails to ... expect that the spirit will lead us."
An ENS article offers "views and reviews" including Maori Anglican theologian Dr. Jenny Plane Te Paa, the "ahorangi" or dean of Te Rau Kahikatea (College of St. John the Evangelist) in Auckland, New Zealand. Te Paa said afterward that she was impressed with the "grace and dignity and clarity" she thought Jefferts Schori showed during the webcast.
She said she was glad that the Presiding Bishop had also brought those qualities to the Primates' Meeting. Speaking as a member of another province of the Anglican Communion, Te Paa said Jefferts Schori "is a gift to us all," in part because of her urgency in calling Episcopalians and all Anglicans to God's mission.
And then there are the blogs:
Daily Episcopalian has two comments: One Disputing the Diagnosis and the other In Defense of Anxiety. And for all that I'm supposed to be giving up the bread of anxiety for Lent, I appreciated Jim's analysis: It is not helpful when people who have power tell people who do not have power to dial down their anxieties, move beyond their fears, etc. Expressing our anxieties is often the only way we have of communicating with leaders who otherwise might not hear us, and might be willing to sacrifice our continued membership in the Church in order to achieve their own aims.) And Stand Firm had kind of a "live blogging while the PB talked" thread going (read comments at your own risk)
And What did I think? Hmmm ... I thought she did a brilliant job of fielding questions and staying on her message. I thought she came across as fiercely bright and gracefully faithful. I thought that "fasting for a season" sounds a lot like "justice delayed" which equals "justice denied." And I thought that her job as Presiding Bishop is to try to represent the whole church and my job as President of Integrity is to try to represent the LGBT faithful and I thought I am REALLY GLAD that I have my job instead of her job!

On "not trifling with the Communion"

Colleague Jim Naughton over at Daily Episcopalian has ventured into a most interesting dialogue with Kendall Harmon of titusonenine fame. You can read Jim's "My Response to Kendall Harmon" here and Kendall's original post here. In a nutshell, the dialogue was engaged over the issue of interpretation. Not the interpretation of Holy Scripture -- that's a different blog -- but the interpretation of the Tanzanian Communique.

It's an interesting dialogue and I commend it to you but what I want to comment on here these concluding words from Kendall's post: "I want to plead with you to consider that the Anglican Communion is not something to be trifled with as if it were some kind of a game, as if it all came down to what the meaning of the word is is."

And I couldn't agree with him more.

You read that right. Agree. With Kendall Harmon. Couldn't agree with him more.

The Anglican Communion is not something to be trifled with. The noble experiment of holding together the tensions of catholicity and protestantism incarnated in a world wide communion of churches sharing bonds of mutual affection that transcend national, cultural and thelogical differences is the precious inheritance we claim as Anglicans. And it is an inheritance that is in danger of being squandered as surely as the Prodigal Son squandered his by those who doggedly insist not only that their criteria for being in communion is being agreed with but that their criteria trumps centuries of Anglican comprehensiveness.

If we succumb to the pressure from a percentage of petulant primates to abandon those bonds of affection that have traditionally bound us as a communion in favor of a new confessionalism requiring conformity of belief as a critera for communion we will be abandoning historic Anglicanism and reducing its spirit of comprehensiveness to a footnote in the history of the Church of God. I believe with all my heart that the marginalization of the gay and lesbian faithful grieves that heart of God and that anything less than the full inclusion of ALL the baptized falls short of God's will for God's church.

AND the issue on the table is much greater than any gay bishop or lesbian wedding. The issue is what will we do with this inheritance of ours. The quesion is what kind of church will we be. And, as Kendall Harmon says so wisely, this is not something to be trifled with. It is NOT some kind of game -- although it is being played like one. And it is being played to win.

Last year I had the privilege of standing on Capitol Hill and speaking against the Federal Marriage Amendment -- a transparently manipulative effort by the secular conservative fringe to introduce (yet again) the "wedge issue" of gay marriage in order to polarize the electorate and energize their base. The effort failed -- both on Capitol Hill and in the voting booth.

But what failed on Capitol Hill is succeeding in Canterbury and the Episcopal Church ignores the parallel to its peril. The at-least-a-decade-old-strategy of exploiting differences over human sexuality into divisions that can be used to split apart this church they could not create in their own image by the conservative fringe within the Episcopal Church is close to succeeding.

Reducing the lives, vocations and relationships of the gay and lesbian faithful to bargaining chips in the game of global Anglican politics threatens not just the gay and lesbian families on the firing line but the very essense of who we are as Anglican Christians.

And like Kendall Harmon said: This is not something to be trifled with.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Prayer Shawl Sunday at All Saints Church

Sunday was an amazing day of worship and celebration at All Saints Church. Ed Bacon preached (to standing ovations at both principle services) an amazing sermon entitled "Choosing Life-Giving Power Over Destructive Power" which you can read here ... and which we expect to be available here in video by Wednesday. Here's a quote:

Whenever oppression is going on, whenever abuse is going on, it is an act of choosing destructive power over life-giving power to be in either the role of abuser or to be in the role of the abused. That is the perverse nature of the temptation to abuse. You can choose destructive power in the active role or in the passive role. It is an act of complicity in a situation of abuse and oppression to participate in the abusive power by agreeing with it and complying with it and to internalize the abuse. Internalized oppression is just as real as external oppression and it takes place when you comply with abuse by being silent and by ceasing and desisting even for a season. Justice has no season; justice is for every season. You cannot, you should not, you must not fast from justice for Lent.

Nor are we to try forcing others to see the world as we see it. But relational, redemptive power rather than dominating power says what we at All Saints will continue to say and to do. We will say to everyone in the Anglican communion, "We love you. We love Jesus. We love Scripture as we use it critically, discriminatingly, and non-abusively. We love the Anglican communion. And we will continue to bless same-sex unions."

And then we -- everybody at all five services -- blessed a prayer shawl crafted by the All Saints Knitting Ministry [photo above of the 11:15 congregation courtesy Keith Holeman] -- and have sent it off to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori with a letter from the Rector "co-signed" by over 800 parish members.

Thanks to Hugo Schwyzer for his moving blog commentary on the blessing of the Prayer Shawl at our 5:00 Saturday service, which included this affirmation of the Spirit of the Living God present in the life and worship at All Saints Church:

"... what I love about All Saints is that under the leadership of an exciting and dynamic team of professional and volunteer youth ministers, an ever more explicitly evangelical message is being lived out with our children and teenagers. Our commitment to full inclusion for gays and lesbians, our sense that God’s view of sexuality is richer than we had once imagined, in no way vitiates the intensity of our faith in Christ. We can have Jesus and justice."

More from +Gene: A Response to "A Season of Fasting"

A Response to:
"A Season of Fasting: Reflections on the Primates Meeting, the Presiding Bishop’s message to the Church"

FROM: The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire

I have the utmost regard and respect for our new Presiding Bishop. Her leadership in these difficult times, not to mention her sheer courage, continues to inspire me. As I vowed at her investiture as Presiding Bishop, I will do everything I can to support her in this ministry.

That includes disagreeing with her views when I think it would build up the Body. What follows are my responses to those portions of her communication to the American Church dealing with the demands/threats made to The Episcopal Church related to those members of Christ’s Body who happen to be gay. Allow me to offer a different reading/critique of our Presiding Bishop’s words, and then propose a different way forward.

"What is being asked of both parties is a season of fasting – from authorizing rites for blessing same-sex unions and consecrating bishops in such unions on the one hand, and from transgressing traditional diocesan boundaries on the other."

I am reminded of the joke about the chicken and the pig, each asked to contribute to breakfast – the chicken’s eggs require a significantly smaller sacrifice than the pig’s bacon! Let us be clear: what is being asked of both parties is "a season of fasting from" accepting the Church’s gay and lesbian people as full members of the Body of Christ, a season of fasting from "respecting the dignity of every human being." If The Episcopal Church decides to do that, let’s call it what it is: a sacrifice borne most sacrificially by its gay and lesbian members.

[In citing the early church’s debate over dietary laws] "The needs of the weaker members, and the real possibility that their faith may be injured, are an important consideration in making the dietary decision."

If there ARE "needs of the weaker members, and the real possibility that their faith may be injured," they belong to the faithful members of the Church – in The Episcopal Church AND around the Anglican Communion – who are being denied full membership in the Body of Christ because of their same gender love. Is there even a single instance in which Jesus was willing to forego ministry, love and inclusion of the marginalized in order to protect the "sensitivities" of the Pharisees and Sadducees?! What would Jesus’ reaction have been to those same Pharisees and Sadducees if THEY had claimed to be the victims of Jesus’ insensitivity?

"The current controversy brings a desire for justice on the one hand into apparent conflict with a desire for fidelity to a strict understanding of the biblical tradition and to the main stream of the ethical tradition. Either party may be understood to be the meat-eaters, and each is reminded that their single-minded desire may be an idol. Either party might constructively also be understood by the other as the weaker member, whose sensibilities need to be considered and respected."

There are MORE than TWO parties here. I would maintain that NEITHER the Episcopal Church NOR the vast majority of the Churches represented by the Primates are the "weaker members." Rather I would say that the "weaker members" are those gay and lesbian members of the Church of Nigeria, whose Church is supporting the criminalization of all association between them in their country. The "weaker members" are the gay and lesbian members of the Episcopal Church, who have to go looking – sometimes in vain – for a congregation who will accept them as full members of the Body of Christ. The stronger/weaker dichotomy is NOT between The Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion, but between the Anglican Communion in all its manifestations and the gay and lesbian Christians around the world trying to find a place within it.

For the first time in its history, and at the hands of the larger Communion, The Episcopal Church may be experiencing a little taste of the irrational discrimination and exclusion that is an everyday experience of its gay and lesbian members.

"Each party in this conflict is asked to consider the good faith of the other, to consider that the weakness or sensitivity of the other is of significant import, and therefore to fast, or ‘refrain from eating meat,’ for a season. Each is asked to discipline itself for the sake of the greater whole, and the mission that is only possible when the community maintains its integrity."
I certainly believe Paul when he says that no part of the Body can say to another, "I don’t need you." On the other hand, I don’t ever recall Jesus saying that the "greater whole" is the be all and end all.

Doesn’t Jesus challenge the greater whole to sacrifice itself for those on the margins? Preaching good news to the poor, binding up the broken hearted, releasing the prisoners and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor involves SACRIFICE on the part of the greater whole. That’s part of what angered his own hometown synagogue when he preached these powerful words from Isaiah. Touching the leper required SACRIFICE of ancient and firmly held beliefs. Eating with sinners was a SACRIFICE of the greater whole’s sensitivities. I would humbly submit that such sacrifice is the only way that our "community maintains its integrity."

"Justice, (steadfast) love, and mercy always go together in our biblical tradition. None is complete without the others. While those who seek full inclusion for gay and lesbian Christians, and the equal valuing of their gifts for ministry, do so out of an undeniable passion for justice, others seek a fidelity to the tradition that cannot understand or countenance the violation of what that tradition says about sexual ethics. Each is being asked to forbear for a season."
Where is the "justice, (steadfast) love, and mercy" for the Church’s gay and lesbian people in this threat from the primates? While the vast majority of the Anglican Communion AND the vast majority of Episcopalians may be willing to "forbear for a season," the world’s gay and lesbian Anglicans long to hear the words spoken to Jesus at his baptism: "You are my beloved. In you I am well pleased." Who will speak those words to them, while the rest of the Church forbears for a season? How will we explain this "forbearance" to all those gay and lesbian Christians who have come to The Episcopal Church because, for the first time ever, they have believed that there is a place for them AT God’s table, not simply BENEATH it, hoping for fallen scraps? Are THEIR souls not worthy of salvation too? Does anyone relish the notion of trying to explain all this "forbearance" to GOD?

Allow me to offer an additional reading of scriptural references to "fasting." In addition to St. Paul's "pastoral" fasting, should we not also consider Isaiah’s notion of "prophetic" fasting?

Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

(Isaiah 58: 4, 6-7, NRSV)

Fasting that focuses only on the self is not, in Isaiah’s mind, the most pleasing to God. For the past many months, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion has spent far too much time and money and focus on this debate. I believe that the majority of us – certainly in The Episcopal Church, and possibly in the Anglican Communion as well – want to set this aside and get on with the work of the Gospel. What would it be like if we fasted in the way that God, through Isaiah, suggests: to fast from our internal squabbling for a season, and turn our focus to the world’s homeless, hungry and poor, in this and every land? What if we focused on what we say is our top priority – ministry to a world in pain through the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals – and simply fasted from this self-focus?

The changes in our polity proposed by the Primates can only properly and canonically be responded to by the laity, clergy and bishops gathered in General Convention in 2009. The Primates’ demands can be seriously, prayerfully and thoughtfully considered at that time. What if we stated, simply and calmly, that the Primates’ September deadline is impossible under our polity, and pledge ourselves to feeding, housing, and clothing the poor and binding up the physical and spiritual wounds of the world’s neediest for this season, until 2009? What if we gave up our internal squabbling for a season, took no precipitous action, and turned our focus to the world that Jesus Christ gave his life for?

This way forward may not be acceptable to many in the Communion who want this settled now, once and for all. So be it. Nothing we do will settle this once and for all. Does anyone believe that our full compliance with the Primates’ demands, our complete denunciation of our gay and lesbian members, or my removal as bishop would make all this go away?! We cannot determine what the response to our actions will be. We can only decide what our faithful response will be to the demands made of us.

If the response of the Archbishop of Canterbury to our prophetic fasting should result in our not being invited to the Lambeth Conference, then let us offer that denial as part of our fasting. Let us dedicate the diocesan and personal resources that would have been spent on Lambeth to projects involved in furthering the Millennium Development Goals.

During the debate over the consent to my election, I am told that the Bishop of Wyoming noted that not since the civil rights movement of the 60’s had he seen the Church risk its life for something. Indeed, I think he is right. This is such a time. A brief quotation hangs on the wall of my office: "Courage is fear that has said its prayers." Now is the time for courage, not fear.

I pray that in the days ahead, as the Executive Council meets in Portland, the House of Bishops meets in Texas, and the General Convention (the ONLY body which has the authority to respond to the demanded changes in our polity) meets in 2009, that we contemplate our call to "proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor" to those who have been denied it for so long and commit ourselves to the kind of fast that is pleasing to the Lord.

+Gene Robinson: A Word of Hope

A Word of Hope to my lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters in Christ:

From: +Gene Robinson

In light of the recent Primates Meeting and our Presiding Bishop’s communication to the Church, I received the following plea from a dear and trusted sister:

“Gene, I don't know how you are this night, or if you can summon a word of hope, but the eyes of many LGBT people and our faithful allies are looking to you, tuning the ears of our hearts to hear where you see the hand of God in what feels like deep, deep betrayal.”

After a good number of sleepless nights and prayerful days, let me tell you where this gay man and Bishop of the Church stands, with respect to our beloved Church and our trustworthy and faithful God:

Let’s remember that, for now, nothing has changed. The Episcopal Church has been bold in its inclusion of us, “risking its life” for us in dramatic ways over these last few years. Not perfect, but bold. Just because The Episcopal Church has been invited to subvert its own polity and become a Church ruled by bishops-only, a Church that is willing to sacrifice the lives and ministries and dignity of its gay and lesbian members on the altar of unity, does not mean that we are going to choose to do it. That is yet to be determined. Let’s not abandon hope simply because that is possible. The Primates have the right to make requests of us (nevermind the threatening tone of those requests). We do not have to accede to those requests in exactly the terms in which they are made.

Nothing is surprising in this development. None of us thought this issue was settled, did we? None of us expected our detractors to stop their efforts – whether their goals be genuinely about the authority of scripture and its playing out in our lives as Christians, or whether those goals have more to do with power and money and influence. (BOTH are represented in the actions taken.) We are fighting a larger battle here. As you have heard me say before, we are engaged in the beginning of the end of patriarchy. Did any of us believe that such a battle would be won without resistance? Did any of us believe there would be no more bumps in the road? Did any of us foresee smooth sailing into the future?

We still have countless allies. We are not engaged in this struggle alone. There are countless heterosexual members of this Church who now “get it.” They have heard our stories, felt our pain and taken up our cause as their own. There are countless heterosexual families who have joined The Episcopal Church (they are numerous in my own diocese) because they want to raise their children in such an inclusive Church. There are countless lgbt people who have come to our churches for the comfort and solace and grounding in Christ that we offer – and we dare not lose hope or momentum for them as well as ourselves.

Most importantly, God is still with us. And by “us,” I don’t just mean gay and lesbian people. God is still with God’s Church – frail, cowardly and misguided as it can sometimes be, human nature being what it is. The Church is not ours to save or lose – the Church belongs to GOD, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. I believe that we are meant to use the institution of the Church – yes, even boldy risk its existence – to further NOT our own agenda, but the agenda of God. I do not equate the two. Our vision of the Church is only partial; our grasp of what God wants is as susceptible to our self-focused distortion as anyone else’s. But we are called to witness to OUR vision of God’s will and combine it with all the other imperfect visions of God’s will (yes, even those of our detractors), and come up with as perfected a vision as we can muster. The Church has been wrangling over those different visions since its inception – and that will never change. The question for US, however, is: Will we continue to put forward faithfully and respectfully and tenaciously OUR vision into that mix, or will we be intimidated into doubting our own vision of God’s will for the Church – or worse still, leave?

God will continue to show forth God’s glory and God’s goodness in our lives. The reason that we have made progress with our brothers and sisters in the Church is that GOD has shown forth God’s glory and goodness in our lives so strongly, that God cannot be denied at work in us. Many of the faithful have changed their views on homosexuality because they see GOD showing up in our lives, our ministries, our relationships and our families. That is the witness we can and must continue to make to the Church – not pointing to ourselves, but to the God we know in our lives. As I have said before, and will continue to say: JESUS is our agenda – the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins, and the sins of the whole world, so that we might know God’s love and goodness in our lives. In the end, God will reign, and all will be well. I believe that with my whole heart.

Lastly, I give thanks every day to God for the fellowship we share. Part of what gives me relentless hope is my fellowship with YOU. What an honor and privilege it is to hold you in my heart as brothers and sisters in the faith, colleagues in ministry and faithful members of the Church. Can you imagine a more wonderful, fun and courageous group of “companions along the way?” Let our joy, our humor, our devotion to the Lord and to His Church be signs of the abundant life given to us in Christ. Let gay and lesbian people everywhere witness our joy, let them wonder how we can be so hopeful in the face of such overwhelming odds against us, that they want what we’ve got – a relationship with the living God that brings deep joy and abiding peace. Let us be ready to tell them the story of our own salvation at the hands of a loving God. And let us welcome them into our blessed fellowship, the Church.

I don’t know if this is the “word of hope” my friend asked for. It has little to do with events in Tanzania or even the Episcopal Church, and everything to do with God. But it is the hope that keeps me going. My faith is not in myself or in our “cause.” My faith is not in the House of Bishops or the General Convention to get it “right” anytime soon. It is, rather, the faith that people of countless generations and innumerable circumstances have found in our loving and trustworthy God. It is the faith Jesus said it was “blessed” to be persecuted for. It is the faith that Christians have always found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – and God’s desire, willingness and power to bring an Easter out of ANY Good Friday. It is the faith that in and through the Holy Spirit, God continues to fulfill God’s promise “to lead us into all truth.”

I may utterly fail; I will undoubtedly disappoint God in my inability to be the person God created me to be; I will predictably confuse my own will with God’s will. But whatever the next weeks, months and years may bring, whether the Episcopal Church “comes through” for us or not, GOD will not fail, GOD will never disappoint, and GOD will never cease to pursue God’s will for my life – and yours – and for the world.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Cloud of Witnesses

Words of hope, challenge and inspiration from a variety of sources today leave me giving thanks for the veritable "cloud of witnesses" that have surrounded me today!

From an email today from the Bishop of New Hampshire:

As I have said before, and will continue to say: JESUS is our agenda – the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins, and the sins of the whole world, so that we might know God’s love and goodness in our lives. In the end, God will reign, and all will be well. I believe that with my whole heart.

From a new blog recommended by Jim Naughton over at Daily Episcopalian:

To be talked ABOUT instead of talked TO is an abomination that I just can't stomach. If Bps. Duncan, Epting and McPherson went to Dar Es Salaam along with Bp. Jefferts-Schori, then why on earth couldn't Bp. Robinson have gone too? Are we homosexuals just that scary? How can you give witness to what's happening with God's gay and lesbian children if NOT ONE OF THEM GETS TO SPEAK?

And from the psalm appointed for Lent 2/Year C -- Psalm 27 -- which we prayed together at our Noon Eucharist here at All Saints Church today:

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom then shall I fear? *
the Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom then shall I be afraid?

2 When evildoers came upon me to eat up my flesh, *
it was they, my foes and my adversaries, who
stumbled and fell.

3 Though an army should encamp against me, *
yet my heart shall not be afraid;

4 And though war should rise up against me, *
yet will I put my trust in him.

5 One thing have I asked of the Lord;
one thing I seek; *
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days
of my life;

6 To behold the fair beauty of the Lord *
and to seek him in his temple.
7 For in the day of trouble he shall keep me safe
in his shelter; *
he shall hide me in the secrecy of his dwelling
and set me high upon a rock.

8 Even now he lifts up my head *
above my enemies round about me.

9 Therefore I will offer in his dwelling an oblation
with sounds of great gladness; *
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

10 Hearken to my voice, O Lord, when I call; *
have mercy on me and answer me.

11 You speak in my heart and say, “Seek my face.” *
Your face, Lord, will I seek.

12 Hide not your face from me, *
nor turn away your servant in displeasure.

13 You have been my helper;
cast me not away; *
do not forsake me, O God of my salvation.

14 Though my father and my mother forsake me, *
the Lord will sustain me.

15 Show me your way, O Lord; *
lead me on a level path, because of my enemies.

16 Deliver me not into the hand of my adversaries, *
for false witnesses have risen up against me,
and also those who speak malice.

17 What if I had not believed
that I should see the goodness of the Lord *
in the land of the living!

18 O tarry and await the Lord's pleasure;
be strong, and he shall comfort your heart; *
wait patiently for the Lord

Michael Hopkins offers "Further Thoughts ... "

Do "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest" Michael Hopkins' just-posted-to-his blog "Further Thoughts ..." piece (posted below) and give thanks with me for his ever faithful witness and ongoing commitment to the work of the Gospel.

Further thoughts on the Primates Commnique from Tanzania
The Rev. Michael W. Hopkins
Rector, the Church of St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene
Rochester, New York
Past President, Integrity

A week from the issuance of the Communiqué from the Primates of the Anglican Communion, a careful read and re-read of it, significant prayer and conversation, and listening to the audio of Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori’s presentation to the staff at the church center in New York, leads me to the following places:

It is very painful to be in a place of considering whether it is right to remain in the Anglican Communion or not. Being a part of the worldwide fellowship—in all of its diversity—remains important to me. I care enough about Anglicanism as a way of being Christian that I do not want to leave the conversation on its continuing development. I too, like the Presiding Bishop, “hunger for a vision of a world where people of vastly different opinions can sit at the same table and worship at the same table.” This is a true hunger for true communion.

Having said that, a state of some separation may be necessary for a time. It may be that only in that state of separation can the real conversation happen. It too much feels like we keep trying to get the other to say things about themselves that are not true in order for us to stay together. The one thing we might be able to agree on is that in any counseling situation that is a very bad place to be in, and no way forward. Separation is risky. Ironically enough, lesbian and gay folk know much about this dynamic.

Many of us either are separated from our families of origin or spent a significant amount of time separated from them. In my case it was the latter, and it was only in that period of separation that both the rest of my family and I were able to grasp our deep need of one another and able to clarify how we felt and thought (including being able to let go of constantly being in a reactive state). If we do have to let go of one another I hope it is in this sense and not in any kind of “I have no need of you.”

In any statements that the House of Bishops or the Executive Council or the General Convention makes in an attempt to state our desire to remain in Communion, I ask that the following three things be included as an honest statement of who we are (the inability to do this would signal that it was not actually a healing process that the primates had in mind, but an exercise in domination):

1 - A significant portion of our Church clearly does not receive the teaching of Lambeth 1.10 that “homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture” and we are unable to accept that it is “the standard of teaching” in the Anglican Communion even as we recognize that perhaps a majority of persons in the Communion hold it to be true.

2 - Baptized persons, including clergy, who are gay or lesbian, many of them living in same-sex relationships openly in our faith communities, are valued members of the Episcopal Church. That is a simple statement of who we are, even though we understand that a significant number of Anglicans worldwide do not understand how this can be so.

3 - The pastoral life of many of our parishes includes these persons and the fullness of their lives, something that we committed ourselves to in 1976 (a commitment that, in part, prompted the first call for dialogue on this issue by the Lambeth Conference of 1978). Conversation with this pastoral practice must be part of any Communion-wide listening process for it to have integrity for us. At the same time, we expect to have to be in dialogue with fellow Anglicans who absolutely disagree with us on this matter.

Right now I do not want to comment further on the structures being proposed for alternative oversight, although I remain deeply troubled by them. I have needed to focus on where the Communiqué most directly impacts my life and that of my local faith community.

Lastly, I continue to hear something that I first heard at our General Convention last summer, that there has to be some sacrifice on “this issue” if we are going to be able to continue to do mission with the truly suffering of the world. I would hope that this rhetoric would be taken off the table. It is degrading all around.

All of us want to do mission with the truly suffering of this world and all of us are doing it in varied ways. I trust that all of us will continue to do them even if for some reason we are cut off from official Anglican channels of doing so. My own suspicion (partly coming out of my own experiences in Africa) is that channels will remain open with Anglican partners even if official channels are closed.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lent I: Lead Us Not Into Temptation

I'm heading as far away from Anglican politics as I can get ... to a Santa Monica party celebrating St. Oscar of Hollywood Day. But before I do, wanted to commend Elizabeth Kaeton's excellent words from this morning: The First Temptations of Christ ... found here on her blog "Telling Secrets."

We have, like Jesus, been tempted to worship the false god of Unity, rather than the God who created the wondrous paradox of the diversity of humanity.

And let the church step away from that temptation. And let the church say "Amen."

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Quickly glancing at the blogosphere this morning (we're in the middle of our annual "Lent Event" weekend at All Saints Church with featured speaker Sister Helen Prejean so it's a been bizzy-bizzy-bizzyplace!) I found these couple of suggestions for "Next Steps" worth noting:

The Episcopal Majority has a "Call to Action" that includes:

There are a number of reasons to encourage our bishops to refuse to accept the September 30 deadline and to ultimately say “no” to demands of the Communique itself. These are of deep concern to us; I’m sure you will identify additional ones.

1 - The demand does not take into account our Constitution and Canons.
2 - The bishops should refuse to deal with the demands of the Communiqué until a Covenant is in place defining the limits of foreign intervention – especially the kind of intervention proposed by creation of the Pastoral Council.
3 - The bishops should make it clear that to accept the Communiqué at this time would usurp the process of the Covenant Design Group.
4 - The bishops should say “no” to any moratoriums on legal consecrations or clerical blessings carried out in this Church.

And Ann Fontaine (as quoted on Daily Episcopalian) suggests a "Fast From Lambeth" that makes all kinds of sense to me:

She writes, "I think we can say to the Primates –

1. We do not have official rites for same sex blessings

2. Consents are made according to our Constitution and Canons

3. We know our stance on the role of gays and lesbians (and women for most provinces) offends you, but we do not ask you to take our stance for your own.

4. We deeply appreciate your willingness to engage in the listening process and to take all this time about TEC in an era of global disaster.

5. We want to work with you to address the pressing needs of poverty, global warming, HIV/AIDS, malaria (more people dying every day than died in the tsunami btw)
6. If you do not want us at Lambeth 2008 - we accept that and will use all the funds we would have spent on that meeting for the relief of suffering around the world (including all that the dioceses will spend to send our bishops and our contribution to the ACC for this, as well as encouraging Compass Rose to donate their funds to relief and development too). This will be our communal fast.

7. If you decide that we are no longer a part of the Anglican Communion we will continue to work with churches around the world who wish to be companions on the Way with us. The bonds of our affection are rooted in Baptism and gathering at the Eucharist. We are brothers and sisters in Christ not through our own doing but because Christ has made it so."

Friday, February 23, 2007


It's been a busy day over at Schism Central AKA The Anglican American Council. First, David ("I like a good fight") Anderson (note that I'm giving up the "Canon" for Lent) called for Bishop Gene Robinson's "removal" in his response to the Primates Communique on the Anglican Mainstream website:

“It makes it so clear that Gene Robinson is unacceptable in his capacity as Bishop that he is going to have to go. He could either go gracefully and resign or he’s going to have to be removed. Otherwise, TEC cannot meet the demands of the communique.

“It is very difficult to say if he will go gracefully. He has been the poster boy for the gay and lesbian community. He might actually be at some risk from his own community if he steps down voluntarily. It might be better for him to be forced out than to step down voluntarily.“

"A case could be brought against him in an ecclesiastical court, based on his personal moral conduct. If the court was hand-picked, as many courts are, to find the verdict that was desired, he could be found guilty. Once a complaint was filed in the ecclesiastical system, Bishop Jefferts Schori would call an ecclesiastical court of bishops for a trial. That is how proceedings would be instigated. A complaint could be put in by a group of bishops, presbyters or laity.”

"Risk from his own community???????" I thought then that David had finally gone over the looney-ledge but then a Press Release hit from his AAC office which included this "breaking news":

In a related development, the AAC also announced this week its formation of a Communiqué Compliance Office, which will monitor TEC’s acts of compliance and non-compliance with respect to the primates’ requirements throughout the period leading up to the Sept. 30 deadline.

“As a non-ecclesial body, the AAC is in a unique position to function as a watchdog on TEC’s compliance with the demands of the Dar es Salaam communiqué,” Canon Anderson explained. “Over the coming months, the newly created office will continuously gather information from around the United States and provide monthly accountings to the primates so that there is no doubt where TEC stands when the clock runs out.”

The AAC asks that anyone with pertinent information on TEC compliance to the communiqué’s demands send that information to the AAC by email or U.S. Postal mail (visit for contact information).


I'm left with only one unanswered question: Will the Compliance Officers be issued Brown Shirts or Black and when can I expect the knock on my door in the night?


UPDATE: And because I COULDN'T make this stuff up if I tried here's even MORE evidence that David formerly-of-Newport-Beach-now-of-Nigeria has gone off the Deep End ...

Press Release: AAC Lifts Inhibitions
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 23, 2007

The American Anglican Council (AAC) announced today that the 21 recent Virginia inhibitions are null and void and declared them lifted. When the clergy from two of the three Episcopal dioceses in the state of Virginia were declared inhibited in January by the current bishop of middle and northern Virginia, the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, the clergy he acted against had already transferred to other Anglican jurisdictions.

Subsequently, Bishop Lee has defaulted on his agreed Protocol that he and other Diocese of Virginia representatives worked out with representatives of the churches investigating departure. With the filing of litigation against 11 churches by the bishop and Diocese of Virginia, the Protocol seems to have been unilaterally dishonored and abrogated, raising many questions about all agreements between the congregations and the diocese. In addition, Bishop Lee's failure to discontinue the litigation following the Anglican primates' specific request to do so in their recent Dar Es Salaam communiqué demonstrates even further a lack of respect for not only Anglicans within his own state but also for the Anglican Communion and its leaders world-wide.

AAC President Canon David C. Anderson announced today that, after a careful examination of the facts, the inhibitions imposed on the 21 Virginia clergy associated with the departing congregations were baseless and without jurisdiction, and therefore have been lifted.
Asked by what authority the AAC could lift the inhibitions, Canon Anderson replied: “By what authority did Bishop Lee attempt to impose the inhibitions on clergy belonging to Uganda and Nigeria? Those faithful clergy are now declared Uninhibited for Christ!”

But wait ... there's more ...

Think the Petulant Primates had reached the height of hubris with their Comminque demands that the American Church abandon its polity, its canons AND its gay and lesbian baptized? Think again ... now it's CANTERBURY who has been given a September 30th "deadline."

HELLO HOUSE OF BISHOPS!!!!!!!! When is Enough Enough???

Kenya: Anglican Bishops Warn of Split
The Nation (Nairobi)
February 23, 2007

[Nairobi] African Anglican bishops yesterday warned of a split among faithful unless the mother church stopped embracing homosexuality by September 30.

Led by Nigeria's Archbishop Peter Akinola and Kenya's Benjamin Nzimbi, the bishops said if Canterbury "does not come back to us by September 30, we will decide whether they will continue being with us or not."

"Let us know if they will have stopped celebrating same sex marriages and ordaining homosexuals," Bishop Akinola who is the chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa ...

Read it all here ... and forward it to anybody who thinks this "fasting for a season" is anybody's idea of a good idea!

Hail to the Chief!

House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson has issued her statement on the Primates Communique from Tanzania. Posted on the ENS website I recommend you read the text posted below while humming "Hail to the Chief."

As I read the Communiqué from the Primates' Meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I am deeply troubled by its implications for the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

I continue to offer the Primates my affection, prayer and companionship along the way of the Cross and I respect their leadership of our Communion. Their Communiqué, however, raises profound and serious issues regarding their authority to require any member Church to take the types of specific actions the Communiqué contemplates and whether they have authority to enforce consequences or penalties against any member Church that does not act in a way they desire. The type of authority for the Primates implicit in the Communiqué would change not only the Episcopal Church but the essence of the Anglican Communion.

The polity of the Episcopal Church is one of shared decision making among the laity, priests and deacons and bishops. The House of Bishops does not make binding, final decisions about the governance of the Church. Decisions like those requested by the Primates must be carefully considered and ultimately decided by the whole Church, all orders of ministry, together.
Some are asking whether the Primates can ask our House of Bishops to take certain actions and put a deadline on their request. Yes, they can ask. There are larger questions that need to be addressed, including: Is it a good idea for our House of Bishops to do what they have asked? Is the House of Bishops the right body within the Episcopal Church to respond to the Primates' requests?

Our baptismal promise to seek and serve Christ in all people must be very carefully considered when we are being asked as Episcopalians to exclude some of our members from answering the Holy Spirit's call to use their God-given gifts to lead faithful lives of ministry. Our promise to strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of all people binds us together. The Episcopal Church has declared repeatedly that our understanding of the Baptismal Covenant requires that we treat all persons equally regardless of their race, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities, age, color, ethnic origin, or national origin.

To honor all of the Primates' requests would change the way the Episcopal Church understands its role in the Communion and the way Episcopalians make decisions about our common life. Our church makes policy and interprets its resolutions and Canons through the General Convention and, to a lesser extent, the Executive Council.

As president of the 800-plus member House of Deputies, it is my duty to ensure that the voice of the clergy and the laity of our Church will be heard as the Church discusses and debates the Primates' requests and that that process will not be pre-empted by the House of Bishops or any other group. I have already begun to work toward that end.

All Anglicans must remember that the second Lambeth Conference in 1878 recommended that "the duly certified action of every national or particular Church, and of each ecclesiastical province (or diocese not included in a province), in the exercise of its own discipline, should be respected by all the other Churches, and by their individual members."

This has been the tradition of the Anglican Communion. To demand strict uniformity of practice diminishes our Anglican traditions.

Our tradition of autonomous churches in the Anglican Communion, that come together because of our love of Christ and our common heritage, has allowed us to focus on mission and evangelism to our broken world which is in desperate need of the Good News of God in Christ. In recent times, however, we have spent too much of our time, talent and treasure debating if we ought to deny some people a place at the table to which Jesus calls us all. Instead, we must listen to each other – really listen and not just read reports – so that we can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit moving through all of us and calling us to be more faithful.

And he told them a parable ...


When I was younger I was a meter reader for the electric utility company, often requiring entering customers' back yards to read the meter. Naturally there were many encounters with unfriendly dogs. When a dog came running out of the house or from a hidden corner of the yard, barking and snarling, it was nearly always the best tactic to stand my ground and say "No" with confidence and self-assurance.

In most cases the dog would just stand there, unhappy, but would let me read the meter and leave (although I was careful not to turn my full back to them -- always kept one eye on them). I might also add that the worst were the yappy little Poodles and Dachshunds -- they love to nip at your ankles. Perhaps surprisingly, I'm still a dog lover.


Thanks to Jim White, Diocese of Los Angeles, for this!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

And The Award Goes To ...

THE "YOU GO GIRLS" AWARD goes to two clergy colleagues here in the Diocese of Los Angeles who made their annual Valentine's Day pilgrimage to the County Registrar's Office to be denied a marriage license. Here's the profile article from last week's Ventura County Reporter.

THE "QUOTE OF THE DAY" AWARD goes to Ann Fontaine for this AP article: "We made our 'yes' to gays and lesbians," wrote the Rev. Ann Fontaine of the Diocese of Wyoming, in an examination of the Anglican demands. "Let it stand."
THE "PRESS RELEASE OF THE DAY" AWARD goes to Ed Bacon at All Saints Church for his "Response to the Anglican Primates": "As rector, I will reject all Episcopal invitations to "fast" from doing the justice work of embodying God's inclusive love. The fast to which Lent calls us is to foreswear acts of interpersonal and institutional bigotry and discrimination with which this communiqué is dripping."
THE "NEW BLOG TO WATCH" AWARD goes to "Walking With Integrity" which is featuring a round-up of reactions from bishops from round and about the Episcopal Church.
Which brings me to ...
THE "CROCODILE TEARS" AWARD goes to Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona for his "Special Message" dated February 21st: "I know that many who have worked so hard for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church will see this as another step backward. It is, and my heart breaks because of it."

I expected better from Kirk, a former clergy colleague here in Los Angeles and a long-time "straight ally" in the struggle for the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ -- which is what called me to send the following:


Dear Kirk,

Just a quick note to say how deeply disappointed I was to read your Pastoral Letter in response to the Primates Communiqué from Tanzania. While we are all grieved by the current state of affairs in the worldwide communion and pray for a vision of a way forward together, to allow ourselves as a church to be blackmailed by demands that we institutionalize what amounts to sacramental apartheid as the price for our inclusion at the Anglican Communion table is not the answer.

While I appreciate your heartbreak at sacrificing the vocations and relationships of the gay and lesbian baptized on the altar of global Anglican politics there is an even greater victim here: the spirit of Anglican comprehensiveness that is in danger of becoming a footnote in the history of the Church of God. This is indeed the season to remember who is the focus of our faith. It is NOT we ourselves -- but the One who didn't say one word about protecting the unity of the church but said many about liberating captives, freeing the oppressed and proclaiming good news to the poor.

Please know that you and your brother and sister bishops will be daily in our prayers as you prepare to gather at Camp Allen next month.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007


An Open Letter from Bishop Steven Charleston
(written to the community of the Episcopal Divinity School)

You'll want to read it all here ... but to get you started:

To everything there is a season. This is our season to make a witness to justice. I hope all of you will stand with me in doing this with integrity, honesty and dedication. Millions of our GLBT brothers and sisters around the world, both those who can speak openly of their lives and those who must hide for fear of their lives, deserve our visible and unequivocal support.

Enough is enough. It is time to make our intentions clear, come what may. I pray that you will help EDS carry that message to every corner of the Church, in humility and with an open mind, but carry it with a resolve that will not bend under pressure or falter under threats. This church is either truly open to all, or it is closed to the Spirit. We either stand for what we know is just and embrace our GLBT members, or we stand aside as justice is denied. There is no easy way out of this choice. There is only a gospel way forward. This school intends to walk forward and we are prepared for the fact that many may not want to walk with us. If the Anglican Communion must separate over this fundamental issue of human rights, then so be it. To everything there is a season. Perhaps this is the season for the growth of the gospel in truth and in love in ways that we could never have imagined.

An Acceptable Time, An Acceptable Fast

An Acceptable Time, An Acceptable Fast
Ash Wednesday, 2007

It is Ash Wednesday – the gateway for yet another 40-day Lenten journey toward Easter. We hear again the words as familiar as their outward-and-visible signs etched on our foreheads: “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” On this Ash Wednesday, as the liturgical season shifts from Epiphany to Lent, we are called to make a shift, too. During these weeks since Christmas our lessons have focused on the “epiphanies” of those who encountered Jesus along the way and knew somehow, at some point, in some perhaps indescribable way, that they had experienced the holy

And now our focus shifts, as it does every year at this time, from stories about those outward manifestations of God's presence among us to a more interior place as we journey with Jesus on the road we know leads to Golgotha – to the cross – and ultimately, to the resurrection. And so, on this Ash Wednesday, here is my annual advice for the journey ahead: Let us not give up epiphanies for Lent.

Let us not become so inwardly focused that we forget to notice – to give thanks for – to respond to – those encounters we can and will have with the holy in the next 40 days. Let us not become so focused on our own “journey with Jesus” that we forget that as long as there are still strangers at the gate, walking humbly with our God is not enough: let us not forget that we are also called to do justice. Let us do an even bolder and more prophetic job of claiming “justice doing” as essential to our identity as Christian people – as Lenten pilgrims. Let us, by all means, pray silently to our Father who is in secret, but let us at the same time proclaim loudly to those who would dismiss our activism as “agenda driven” that our agenda is a GOSPEL agenda: that our call to act with compassion, to reach out with pastoral care, do justice is rooted deep in the roots of our history as a people of God – in these words of the prophet Isaiah:

Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say,
Here I am.

“Here I am,” our God promises – ready to lead us through whatever wilderness we face: to accompany us wherever the journey goes. On this Ash Wednesday 2007, I wonder if part of the wilderness we are being called into is labeled “post-Katrina stress syndrome” as we see on this Day-After-Mardi Gras a city still laid waste by the twin disasters of a hurricane that ripped it apart and the racism that continues to tear it apart long after the waters have receded.

And I wonder if part of the wilderness we are being called into is labeled “The Iraqi Surge” as an administration prepares to sacrifice yet more Iraqi and American lives in its quest for a military solution to an increasingly un-winnable war.

And I wonder if part of the wilderness we are being called into is labeled “Anglican Politics” as the Right Wing of the Episcopal Church comes every closer to achieving the schism they have been working to pull off here in the American Church while the Anglican Primates issue a Communiqué that paints the American Episcopal Church into a corner where it is faced with the “Sophie’s Choice” of choosing the inclusive Gospel over inclusion in the Anglican Communion.

These are the wildernesses that make up the landscape of our Lent. If we are to choose the fast Isaiah offers us this Lent, we must continue to undo the thongs of the yoke of racism that holds this country and this church in its grasp. If we are to be a people who have bread to share with the hungry we must challenge those who would spend all our resources on arms for an immoral war that continues to kill Iraqi citizens and take American lives. If we are to serve the God whose fast is “to let the oppressed go free” we must speak out when gay and lesbian families are in danger of becoming sacrificial lambs on the altar of church politics.

Now IS the acceptable time. May the God who calls each of us into this wilderness be with us and bless us on our individual Lenten journeys. May the Risen Lord inspire His church to follow in His footsteps and resist the temptations before it: to resist compromising our call to compassion, pastoral care and justice for the whole human family. And may the Holy Spirit give us the grace to recognize the difference between a fast acceptable to the Primates and a fast acceptable to God.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

From the Mouths of Bishops

Here's a little "round up" of which miter is saying what:

The Right Reverend J. Neil Alexander, Bishop of Atlanta

The Right Reverend Andrew Smith, Bishop of Connnecticut
The Right Reverend Marc Andrus, Bishop of California
The Right Reverend Mark Sisk, Bishop of New York
The Right Reverend Jack Leo Iker,
Bishop of Fort Worth
The Right Reverend James L. Jelinek, Bishop of Minnesota

Today's "Breaking News"

Click here for today's NewsHour Interview
with Kendall Harmon and Susan Russell
And click
here for the Presiding Bishop's ENS interview
Here for her disappointing "Reflections on the Primates Meeting"
And click here for a more encouraging statement from
Bishop Marc Andrus, California
The inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the full life of the Church is a matter of justice: as we are all part of the world, and the kindom of God is like a net laid over that same world. All on the earth are connected by this net, whether perceived or not. Actions of justice and injustice reverberate throughout the whole, promoting either integrity, remembering, and shalom, or diabolic isolation.
Click here for the Washington Post article du jour:
"Yes, I would accept schism," said Bishop Steven Charleston, president of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. "I would be willing to accept being told I'm not in communion with places like Nigeria if it meant I could continue to be in a position of justice and morality. If the price I pay is that I'm not considered to be part of a flawed communion, then so be it."
Here for the New York Times:
“Being part of the Anglican Communion is very important to me,” said Bishop Mark S. Sisk of New York. “But if the price of that is I have to turn my back on the gay and lesbian people who are part of this church and part of me, I won’t do that.”.
More commentary later ... off to Shrove Tuesday Pancake Land!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Primates Choose Bigotry Over Baptized

Just issued Integrity Press Release:

"The primates of the Anglican Communion have utterly failed to recognize the faith, relationships, and vocations of the gay and lesbian baptized," said Integrity President Susan Russell, responding to the communiqué released today from Dar Es Salaam.

"Let us pray it doesn't take another hundred years for yet-unborn primates to gather for a service of repentance for what the church has done to its gay and lesbian members today, as they repented in Zanzibar yesterday forwhat it did to those the church failed to embrace as full members of theBody of Christ."

The Rev. Michael Hopkins, immediate past President of Integrity had thisreaction: "Jesus weeps, and so do I. If the House of Bishops (or any other body with actual authority in this church) capitulates to these demands and sacrifices gay and lesbian people to the idol of the Instruments of Unity, it will have become the purveyor of an "anti-Gospel" that will (and should) repel many."

Integrity encourages its membership and allies to directly contact their bishops --urging them to reject the demands of the primates. Our leadership will seek an immediate meeting with the Presiding Bishop to express our deep concerns and encourage the Executive Council to insist on the inclusion ofall orders of ministry in the ongoing process of discernment on Anglican Communion issues.

The Rev. Susan Russell, President
714-356-5718 (mobile)
626-583-2741 (office)

Mr. John Gibson,
Director of Communications
917-518-1120 (mobile)

Primates' Communique Finally Released ...

Just posted to ACNS: The Communiqué Of the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam

While I commend the whole document to you -- and I have only scanned it so far myself -- these three items toward the end strike me as where some rubber meets some road:
31. Three urgent needs exist. First, those of us who have lost trust in The Episcopal Church need to be re-assured that there is a genuine readiness in The Episcopal Church to embrace fully the recommendations of the Windsor Report.
32. Second, those of us who have intervened in other jurisdictions believe that we cannot abandon those who have appealed to us for pastoral care in situations in which they find themselves at odds with the normal jurisdiction. For interventions to cease, what is required in their view is a robust scheme of pastoral oversight to provide individuals and congregations alienated from The Episcopal Church with adequate space to flourish within the life of that church in the period leading up to the conclusion of the Covenant Process.
33. Third, the Presiding Bishop has reminded us that in The Episcopal Church there are those who have lost trust in the Primates and bishops of certain of our Provinces because they fear that they are all too ready to undermine or subvert the polity of The Episcopal Church. In their view, there is an urgent need to embrace the recommendations of the Windsor Report and to bring an end to all interventions.

1 - We were told that ENS would have a statement with quotes from +KJS out at 1:40am Tanzanina time but that was over an hour ago ...

2 - Jim Naughton has a nice compilation of "early reactions" over at Daily Episcopalian.

3 - Kendall Harmon "has his hat off" to all who worked so hard ... which is, frankly, never good news for those invested in the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ.

4 - My email inbox is full of messages that start, "How could she ..." and "What does this mean ..." and "Why would I stay in a church that ..."

And at the moment, I don't have a single answer for a single one of them.

Tick Tock

(An "update from the front" from the Telegraph's Jonathan Petre
on the hold up in releasing a communique from Tanzania.)

Anglican crisis talks 'to last into the night'
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent, in Dar Es Salaam
The worldwide Anglican Church was struggling to reach a consensus tonight about how to resolve its bitter dispute over homosexuality.
The Church's primates, who are meeting in Tanzania, were deadlocked over key areas of their final communiqué, which is supposed to reflect the views of the whole gathering. Embarrassed officials had to postpone a press conference at which they had intended to unveil the communiqué, explaining that talks were expected to go on into the night.

One said that if the primates failed to resolve their differences tonight, they may not release a communiqué at all, a development that would be regarded as signalling a profound split.

It was believed that the Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, is leading a rearguard action by a rump of hardline conservatives. They were deeply unhappy with early drafts of the communiqué because it fails to rebuke the liberal American Episcopal Church for bringing Anglicanism to the brink of schism by consecrating its first openly gay bishop in 2003. They are also concerned that it does not provide sufficient protection for American conservatives who have rejected the leadership of their liberal Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Archbishop Akinola demonstrated his growing distance from many of his colleagues by failing to make the trip to the island of Zanzibar on Sunday for a service in the Anglican cathedral at which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, preached.

Although he told officials that he was suffering from a bad back, he has since been seen walking around, apparently in no discomfort. It is believed, however, that he used the time to plan his strategy and draw up a dissenting minority statement for the conservative group which they may issue if the impasse cannot be broken.
My response? "Bad back" my foot. When is the rest of the Communion going to step up and "call bullshit" (as my kids would say) on this continuing saga of holding the whole work of the church hostage to the bigotry of a handful of petulant primates? Enough, already!

The ABofC's Sermon from Zanzibar

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams preached
at Christ Church Cathedral in Zanzibar with help from a Swahili interpreter.
[photo credit: Scott Gunn]

There's a link to the text of the Archbishop's sermon here -- and here's some commentary from yesterday's NYTimes:
Facing a possible church fracture over the issue of homosexuality, the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion reminded bishops of the need for humility as church leaders gathered Sunday for services on the island of Zanzibar.
“There was a great saint who said God was evident when bishops are silent,” the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, told hundreds who packed a 173-year-old stone cathedral. “There is one thing a bishop should say to another bishop; that I am a great sinner and Christ is a great savior.”
Nearly three dozen leaders of the world’s 77 million Anglicans have gathered in Tanzania in an attempt to resolve the long-simmering conflict over homosexuality. The most conservative archbishops, led by Archbishop Peter J. Akinola of Nigeria, are demanding that the group take firm action against the Episcopal Church of the United States, which consecrated a gay bishop in 2003 and has not banned blessings of same-sex unions.
On Friday, Archbishop Akinola and six other archbishops refused to celebrate the Holy Eucharist with Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of 2.3 million members of the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the Anglican Communion. To celebrate communion with Bishop Jefferts Schori, who supports gay clergy and church blessings of same-sex unions, “would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding,” said a statement on the Nigerian church Web site.
Some observers interpreted Archbishop Williams’s sermon as an implicit rebuke of those archbishops. If so, though, Archbishop Akinola was not there to hear it. [Read the rest here]

Report from the Anglican Covenant Design Group

The Report from the Anglican Covenant Design Committee was released today. You can read it here ... (I have so far only skimmed it) ... and below are some what-I-found-to-be interesting commentary from around the blogosphere.

And in case you need to refresh your memory about "where 'we' stand" on the whole Covenant issue here's a link to A166 -- the resolution we passed in Columbus regarding the Anglican Covenant. Do note the language "... support the process of the development of an Anglican Covenant that underscores our unity in faith, order, and common life in the service of God’s mission." While I remain unconvinced that this "covenant" process is an authentic expression of our traditional Anglican ethos it is of interest to me that this long expected report is falling so short of the hopes of our neo-Puritan brothers and sisters and going too far for the rest of us.

Here are some other opinions:

The Stand Firm folks stand firmly convinced that the report is more "Anglican Fudge;"

Jim Naughton offers an overview including this helpful contextual comment: [I] think that this formulation gives too much power to the wrong group of people. I expect others inside and outside of our Church will raise similar concerns. Also, as a resident of our nation's capital, I can't help pointing out that the smaller the group that wields power, the fewer people special interest groups have to impress with their generosity in order to get their way.

Dan Martins has this to say on his blog Confessions of a Carioca:

I have not yet read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested it. But I have given it a couple of looks, as well as monitored some of the initial reactions. The chorus at Stand Firm is, as one might imagine, overwhelmingly gloomy in its assessment. To some extent, I think it's because they were expecting a dog and what they got is a cat, and now they're upset because the cat won't bark ... A "dog" would have been a doctrinal covenant that clearly addresses the currently present issue: sex. I won't get too deeply into the quagmire of whether Anglicanism is a "confessional" movement. I have always been under the impression that it's not, but my ecclesiological formation has always been on the Catholic end of the Anglican spectrum. In any case, what we have to consider now is a relational covenant--a set of ground rules for how the autonomous provinces are accountable to one another interdependently.

John Kirkley asks some great questions about what that "relational covenant" looks like on the ground: (see also: What About the Other Three Orders of Ministry????)
If we are going to have a global Anglican Church, rather than a Communion of Anglican Churches, then why not have the ACC be the final arbiter, as it is the only representative body within the Communion that includes laity, clergy, and bishops? If, as Archbishop Williams noted in a recent sermon that "God is present when bishops are silent," perhaps this is so as to allow other voices to be heard. I'm sure that other voices will be heard at General Convention in 2009, as well as in other synodical meetings around the Anglican Communion. The Covenant process has only just begun.

And Fr. Jake sums it up thusly:
The Primates officially get the authority they've been attempting to grab over the last few years. The buck will stop with them. There's some other parts that cause me to hesitate (the 39 Articles and the 1662 BCP?), but all in all, nothing terribly draconian in this, it seems to me.

And finally, the ever erudite Mark Harris concludes: This set of ground rules seems relational, but it is relations as determined by "the instruments of unity", which he calls the 4IU. What that gives us, friends, is not a relational covenant, but a power determined covenant. Lost in all this is the power of the voices of the widow and her mite, the poor or oppressed, the unloved and the wounded, the left out and the outcasts. This is relational between the haves only.