Ed's Blog

Anglicanism, Bikes, and Random Observations

Wow! Things are getting complex in Ohio.  First this morning a substitute motion was moved and defeated.  This motion was a very clear statement of solidarity with the Windsor Report.  It was offered as an amendment.  When it failed the House of Deputies voted on the resolution as it came out of committee.  It was defeated.  There was a motion to reconsider, that is to bring it back and debate it and vote again.  A motion to reconsider must pass with a 2/3 majority to take effect.  The motion to reconsider passed, but with less than a 2/3s majority so it failed!

The word on the blogs is that conservatives and liberals alike voted down 161.  Liberals because they are opposed to it, and conservatives because it was a weak and muddled endorsement of the Windsor Report.  At the beginning of Convention at the first hearing on the motions, the one point on which there was widespread agreement was the desire to send a crystal clear message to the rest of the Anglican Communion.

What next?  Well the only hope now is that the House of Bishops will pass a reworked version of resolution 161 and send it to the House of Deputies for confirmation.  This must happen by Wednesday afternoon or the message to the Anglican Communion from this convention will be read clearly in the defeat of 161.

Today our General Convention addressed the first of the critical motions regarding the Windsor Report.  The report called for us to express our regret for “breaching” the bonds of affection.  The word “breach” is a hard word.  Many of the Primates have spoken about the tearing of the fabric of the communion at the deepest level.  “breach” softens this language somewhat.

The Convention decided that in 2003 we “strained” the bonds of affection but did not breach them.  This change in motion 160  means that our expression of regret falls far short of what was requested.  Standing by itself I do not believe it would be sufficient to keep the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion.  The motion will not stand alone.  I am hopeful that the Archbishop of Canterbury will consider this motion along with motion 161 that calls for a moratoria on consecrating bishops who are in same sex relationships and a moratoria on same sex blessings.  This motion is now being debated by the Convention.  Debate has ended for today but will begin again on Tuesday morning.

I am very impressed with the work of the committee working on the resolutions.  They managed to get Windsor compliant resolutions introduced.  This was far from an easy task, and I think they did a magnificent job.  The resolutions they crafted are far from perfect, but they are adequate and they are being debated.  The real question now is will the next resolution be passed in a form that remains Windsor compliant.  Pray hard!

I have been following with interest the reaction to the election of The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori as our next Presiding Bishop.  Some members within the Network oppose the ordination of women while most support it.  Members of the Network agree to live and let live on this subject, recognizing that the ordination of women is acceptable practice within the Anglican Communion.  From 1976 until 1997 this was the policy of the Episcopal Church as well.  No bishop or diocese was forced to ordain a woman to the priesthood.  Over all the policy worked quite well, as slowly each diocese came to embrace the ordination of women.  In 1997 the General Convention removed the “conscience clause” from the cannons of the church and now insists that all diocese adopt the practice.  As you might imagine this change in policy was not welcome in some diocese.  These diocese are now in an ackward position and will have to work out some arrangement with our new Presiding Bishop.  Most of the Network Bishops and Dioceses are personally comfortable with a woman as Presiding Bishop, as am I. 

My last bishop in the Diocese of Emonton, The Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews, was a candidate for Primate of Canada, and likely would have won had she not had to withdraw from the election due to health reasons.  She is now well and is rumored to be nominated again next year.  She is an outstanding bishop in many ways and would make I believe an excellent Primate. 

I echo the sentiment of Bishop Duncan who wrote of the election:

I want to assure Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop Elect, of my prayers for her, for her husband Dick, and for their family, as Katherine assumes the impossible task now assigned to her.

How impossible the task is will be made clear to us in the next day or two as the convention begins to consider the main resolutions that respond to the Windsor Report. 

I do not know Bishop Schori, but I have heard that she is an effective leader.  I have also heard that she wants to move the National Church headquarters out of New York to someplace nearer the center of the country.  This would be welcomed in the West.

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church began on Tuesday.  Extraordinary events have occurred.  N. T. Wright, one of the great biblical scholars of our age and one of the authors of the Windsor Report (WR) surprised the General Convention by sending an essay that highlights the shortcomings of the resolutions being considered by the convention as it seeks to respond to the WR.  It is thick reading.  You can read the entire document here or settle for this quote from his conclusion

Will ECUSA comply with the specific and detailed recommendations of Windsor, or will it not? As the Resolutions stand, only one answer is possible: if these are passed without amendment, ECUSA will have specifically, deliberately and knowingly decided not to comply with Windsor. Only if the crucial Resolutions, especially A160 and A161, are amended in line with Windsor paragraph 134, can there be any claim of compliance. Of course, even then, there are questions already raised about whether a decision of General Convention would be able to bind those parts of ECUSA that have already stated their determination to press ahead in the direction already taken. But the Anglican principle of taking people to be in reality what they profess to be, until there is clear evidence to the contrary, must be observed. If these resolutions are amended in line with Windsor, and passed, then the rest of the Communion will be in a position to express its gratitude and relief that ECUSA has complied with what was asked of it.

Another extraordinary occurrence is the presence of the Archbishop of York.  After the Archbishop of Canterbury, the ABoY is the most important bishop in England and arguably the second most important bishop in the Anglican Communion.  He is present and being quite vocal about the importance of complying fully with the WR in order to stay in the Anglican Communion.

Things got exciting on Wednesday with the first hearing on the key motions relating to the Windsor Report.  Kathey Crowe attended this meeting and talks about it on her blog.  As I was surfing for news on the convention I came across a “live blogger” named Matt Kennedy.  He is typing as fast as he can and putting up on his blog as much as he can of what people actually say.  Here is a link to what he wrote of this important first hearing. As Kathy noted in her blog, it looks like we are a deeply divided church. 

A surprise speaker was the Archbishop of York who read the important section 134 of the Windsor report and reportedly warned all who listened that the current motions fall short of what is required. In effect he powerfully echoed the thinking of N. T. Wright.  This is quite amazing.  Here for your convenience is section 134 of the Windsor report.

134. Mindful of the hurt and offence that have resulted from recent events, and yet also of the imperatives of communion – the repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ – we have debated long and hard how all sides may be brought together. We recommend that:

  • the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire, and for the consequences which followed, and that such an expression of regret would represent the desire of the Episcopal Church (USA) to remain within the Communion
  • pending such expression of regret, those who took part as consecrators of Gene Robinson should be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion. We urge this in order to create the space necessary to enable the healing of the Communion. We advise that in the formation of their consciences, those involved consider the common good of the Anglican Communion, and seek advice through their primate and the Archbishop of Canterbury. We urge all members of the Communion to accord appropriate respect to such conscientious decisions
  • the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges.

At this point everyone has heard load and clear that the current motions are an insufficient response to the Windsor Report.  It could not be made clearer. 

On Thursday Morning the Committee crafting the motions for consideration by Convention met again.  Here is where we should have seen some serious attempt made to amend the motions so that they meet the minimum standards of the WR.  Matt Kennedy was there as well.  Here is his love blog of the proceedings.  Interestingly they did not discuss the key motions, instead focusing on 165 which expresses a commitment to a listening process called for in the WR.  I expect there is a great deal of work going on behind the scenes.  On Friday we will get a first look at the reworked resolutions.

Today Motion A 159 passed.  While a nice statement of our intent to remain in unity with the Anglican Communion, it is not one of the key motions that will show whether or not we will comply with the WR.  The key motions are numbers 160, 161, and 162.  This page has a list of all the motions before General Convention.

At this point in the convention it is clear that there will be a rough landing for the church.  The division is very deep, too deep to hope for a win-win solution. 

On Sunday June 11th we had congregational meetings following each of the services to decide whether or not to join the Anglican Communion Network (ACN) prior to the National General Convention of the Episcopal Church that begins today.  This was a difficult meeting for many of our members.  I was very pleased that everyone felt free to speak their mind and did so in a respectful and caring way.  Following the final service the ballots were counted.  The count was

59 for joining the ACN
31 for not joining the ACN
2 abstentions

This vote seemed to reflect the opinions of those who spoke.  The most common reason given for joining was to send a message to the General Convention through our delegates that St. Edward’s wants to remain in the Anglican Communion.  Another reason given was to make plain our identity as an orthodox Episcopal Church, and to join with others who seek the renewal of the Episcopal Church. Many who spoke against joining wanted to wait until after the General Convention had opportunity to respond to the requirments of the Anglican Communion and hopefully avoid causing further division in our parish.  Some who spoke against joining were opposed to the goals of the ACN.

I am now communicating our decision to our diocesan delegates at the National Convention and pray they vote in ways that maintain the unity of the Anglican Community.  I am also praying for all who feel alienated by our decision.  I view taking the stand we have as a sad necessity. 

We will have a congregational meeting following each service on Sunday June 11th.  Having two gatherings has the benefit of including as many people as possible although it does mean that not everyone will hear all the comments that are made.  Members of St. Edward’s are welcome to attend either meeting or both, although I do ask that you only vote at one of the meetings. 

The purpose of our meeting is to decide whether or not to join the Anglican Communion Network prior to the begining of the Episcopal General Convention that begins on June 13th. I recently read a statment from 20 bishops that are part of the network.  Part of this statement resonates very strongly with me:

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.

The crisis facing the General Convention is very deep and divisive, and while it is now being experienced in terms of the blessing of same sex unions and the ordination of bishops in committed same sex relationships the greater issue is one of revisionist faith.  This crisis will still be with us even if the General Convention of 2006 does what is necessary to remain part of the Anglican Communion. 

The present crisis has had the good effect of prodding the “orthodox” within the Episcopal Church into action.  The Anglican Communion Network has brought together people from all over the country into an organization that is working to resist the revision of our faith.  I recently told another priest of the diocese that we “orthodox” tend to fly under the radar in the diocese.  It is easier to remain mute here than stand up and speak truth, when the consequence of speaking is to labeled “homophobic” or “fundamentalist”.

As we approach our congregational meeting on Sunday June 11th, I encourage us all to see the present crisis as part of something much larger and more important. 

On Monday May 22nd, St. Edward’s vestry met with Bishop Romero (Assisting Bishop), Ann Wright (President of the Standing Committee), and Nancy Cohen (Diocesan Chancellor).  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the possibility of St. Edward’s joining the Anglican Communion Network.(ACN)  I opened the meeting by welcoming our three diocesan visitors, and by inviting Bp. Romero to open the meeting in prayer.  We then took turns explaining how we came to this moment.  I spoke of the great impact that the General Convention of 2003 had on St. Edward’s and my determination that we would be prepared for the General Convention of 2006.  Bishop Romero spoke of his desire to be present as a diocesan witness to our decision making, and of his support for any decision we made with regard to joining the ACN.  Among his other comments, Bishop Romero pointed out that St. Johns Chapel  was part of the American Anglican Council, a group affiliated with the ACN.  Bp. Romero went on to say that he was comfortable with our joining the ACN, but wanted to be certain that the decision was made in a way that involved a majority of St. Edward’s parishioners.

The Meeting continued with each member of Vestry stating their feelings and thoughts about joining the ACN.  Several Vestry Members asked questions of the Bishop, and sometimes of me.  It was very clear to all present that a strong majority of vestry members favor joining the ACN.  After the round table, visiting members of St. Edwards, of which there were 18 were invited to share their thoughts or ask questions.  Those who took the opportunity to speak reflected the diversity of the parish.  Most who spoke were in favor of joining the ACN, some wondered about the timing, and one person spoke of her concern that joining the ACN sends a message that those who disagree are not welcome here.  Several people responded by sharing their experience that St. Edward’s is very welcoming to all, and their hopes that we will remain welcoming.  I see no conflict between joining the ACN and remaining welcoming.  Being welcoming is one of our core characteristics and would be difficult to change even if we desired to.

I went home greatly pleased by the quality of the meeting.  Our conversations were models of grace and kindness.  It was an exceptional meeting, and I hope that everyone went home feeling loved and valued.  On a personal note I was very grateful that our visitors went away with the clear impression that this initiative is not about me.  There was some fear in the diocese that I was somehow leading the parish in a direction it did not want to go in.  I think it is clear to everyone at Monday’s meeting that there is great support for this direction within St. Edward’s.  We are in a difficult time, and I pray that our future meetings reflect the grace that so characterized this one.

Yours in Christ,

Ed  

 

The actions of the Episcopal National General Convention of 2003 created the greatest crisis to ever face the Anglican Communion.  The Communion which has enjoyed centuries of natural development has had to intently reflect on the nature of Anglicanism and consider whether the Episcopal Church can still be considered part of the communion.  In order to help us understand the crisis and how we can best respond to it as a community I have written a paper entitled The Anglican River. After I wrote the document Kathey Crowe shared an article with me in The New Yorker entitled A Church Asunder. This is an excellent article that puts a human face on the theological division within the Episcopal Church that underlies the present conflict.  The American Anglican Council, a group dedicated to the reformation of the Episcopal Church, has published a document entitled Equipping The Saints, that explores this fundamental rift within the church in greater detail.  Many churches and dioceses have joined together in an association called The Anglican Communion Network in order to take a public stand for remaining Anglican.  In the event that the Episcopal General Convention of 2006 does not submit to the requirements of the Anglican Communion, The Network will likely become the way that congregations and diocese can remain within the Anglican Communion.  Joining the Network requires Vestry agreement with the Theological Charter of the Network.  The Windsor Report is shaping the future of the Anglican Communion and represents the Communion’s response to the actions of The General Convention of 2003.  It is long and important.  If you like reading primary material I commend it to you. 

My recomendation, and the majority opinion of our Vestry, is that we join the Anglican Communion Network prior to the National General Convention.  This action has a two fold purpose.  It sends a strong message to our diocesan representatives regarding our desire to remain Anglican.  It also publicaly identifies us as an orthodox Episcopal/Anglican parish that can be a comfortable home for bay area Episcopalians who feel increasingly alienated from the church they love.

Over the next several weeks we will be having many opportunities for people to discuss this painful situation.  Enjoy your reading.  I look forward to our discussion.

Your’s in Christ,

 Ed+