Tuesday, July 14, 2009

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N.T. Wright: The Americans Know This Will End In Schism

Support by US Episcopalians for homosexual clergy is contrary to Anglican faith and tradition. They are leaving the familyTom Wright
In the slow-moving train crash of international Anglicanism, a decision taken in California has finally brought a large coach off the rails altogether. The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States has voted decisively to allow in principle the appointment, to all orders of ministry, of persons in active same-sex relationships. This marks a clear break with the rest of the Anglican Communion.

Both the bishops and deputies (lay and clergy) of TEC knew exactly what they were doing. They were telling the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other “instruments of communion” that they were ignoring their plea for a moratorium on consecrating practising homosexuals as bishops. They were rejecting the two things the Archbishop of Canterbury has named as the pathway to the future — the Windsor Report (2004) and the proposed Covenant (whose aim is to provide a modus operandi for the Anglican Communion). They were formalising the schism they initiated six years ago when they consecrated as bishop a divorced man in an active same-sex relationship, against the Primates’ unanimous statement that this would “tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level”. In Windsor’s language, they have chosen to “walk apart”.

Granted, the TEC resolution indicates a strong willingness to remain within the Anglican Communion. But saying “we want to stay in, but we insist on rewriting the rules” is cynical double-think. We should not be fooled.

Of course, matters didn’t begin with the consecration of Gene Robinson. The floodgates opened several years before, particularly in 1996 when a church court acquitted a bishop who had ordained active homosexuals. Many in TEC have long embraced a theology in which chastity, as universally understood by the wider Christian tradition, has been optional.

That wider tradition always was counter-cultural as well as counter-intuitive. Our supposedly selfish genes crave a variety of sexual possibilities. But Jewish, Christian and Muslim teachers have always insisted that lifelong man-plus-woman marriage is the proper context for sexual intercourse. This is not (as is frequently suggested) an arbitrary rule, dualistic in overtone and killjoy in intention. It is a deep structural reflection of the belief in a creator God who has entered into covenant both with his creation and with his people (who carry forward his purposes for that creation).

Paganism ancient and modern has always found this ethic, and this belief, ridiculous and incredible. But the biblical witness is scarcely confined, as the shrill leader in yesterday’s Times suggests, to a few verses in St Paul. Jesus’s own stern denunciation of sexual immorality would certainly have carried, to his hearers, a clear implied rejection of all sexual behaviour outside heterosexual monogamy. This isn’t a matter of “private response to Scripture” but of the uniform teaching of the whole Bible, of Jesus himself, and of the entire Christian tradition.
Entire article available here.

BREAKING: C056 Hits HOB- Live Blog by Matt Kennedy

Chair: I want to start with an apology. I apologize that the editor TEC newspaper got it wrong. Inaccurate headline, we will get it fixed


PLM: Committee 13 C056: Recommend adopt this is a sub.

Smith: we had in our committee a number of issues around blessing and SSM and we put them together for our consideration and this is now an omnibus resolution

Whalon: Let us postpone until we consider B012.


Motion fails

If this passes can we dispense with B012?

Chair: If that is the decision of the House

Ely: Many of us believe that what is contained in this resolution would satisfy our concerns and especially those that were part of B012. It is worth our support.

Lee: I support this. We worked hard on it with an ear to concerns expressed in this house. It calls for creation of rites and pastoral response and it addresses our need to remain engaged. It defines us and helps us stay in relationship.

Wolf: I rise to speak in favor of this but I want to make this observation from yesterday’s discussion. Sometimes it takes little to take a proposal that we can all agree on to something that divides us. Let us express a generous orthodoxy. Sometimes we give our brothers and sisters very little room to operate. I would ask that this majority which is substantial use great care in using its authority.

Raab: I propose an amendment to the third resolve and it is word for word Bishop Parsley’s minority report

Raab: I believe the minority report echoes my own concerns and it is clearer. The resolution opens a wider door than we are ready to do at this time.

Charles: this limits us to only celebrating these things where it is legally possible. The amendment limits our ability to respond pastorally. In my state, people came from all over the country to avail themselves of the legal rights we enjoyed. The same will happen with this. People will come from all over and then return to your diocese so you will feel it yourselves.

Mathes: We had a really unique thing if we were really lucky there was a period of time we you could get married. This is not a generous amendment

Adams: Does “pastoral” include or contain liturgy?

Smith: the committee considered including the term “liturgical responses” only. We chose to include only “pastoral” thinking that would allow for a broad range of responses

Robinson”: I would speak against the amendment. By using the word “may” it implies that a particular bishop does not have to do anything. This is a reality coming to a diocese near you soon. So I am arguing that all of us are about providing generous pastoral responses to those we serve and would agree with Mathes that pastoral response has no boundaries

Howard: the propose d amendment recognizes the special needs and occasions where SSU's are now legal and many of us who do not agree with bishops in these diocese are appreciative of the needs these changes in law require. What we do not need is a res instructing us to be pastorally generous or implying that there would be times when we would not be. We recognize that the reason for this amendment is to give dioceses breadth to do what is necessary so I support it

Sauls: I oppose the amendment. It relies implicitly on a bishops reading of the rubric on pg 13 of the BCP. There is a preferable amendment in my opinion that will address these concerns

Andrus: I oppose the amendment. We as bishops will be making pastoral responses to those people who were married and then had the right to marry taken away. I would like to have your support in doing that

Maryland: I rise against het amendment. I am reticent to speak in contradiction to my brother from Maryland. People wonder how we can disagree and still be colleagues. Hopefully we model that. Generosity for a few, however, is not generosity. All the rules should apply to all of us

Theuner: The confusion here is that the clergy serve as officers of the state. This subjects clergy to the state and we don’t want to get involved in that.

Missed speaker

Question called

Debate ended.

Voting on amendment:

The amendment fails--one abstention

Debate continues on original res

Scott: I would like to make an amendment. Clergy under the direction of their bishop may provide continuous pastoral responses...

…refers to D039

Chair: that will be difficult to respond to previous resolutions--why don’t you resubmit it when written

Smith: We specifically chose not to refer to earlier legislation that had been a cause of division among us.

????: today as bishop of SE Florida I get many who come to SE Florida for refuge and they are married in other places and I really back this res because it deals with a problem I face all the time. I am tired off discriminating against my people

Whalon: Offers amendment to delete certain words. We have passed a resolution in which we will converse with a number of scholars to get ourselves ready to pass such rites. We are not ready at this point. A lot of theology over the last thirty years has been done by liturgists and not by wider theological consideration. So my amendment would call for a collection of same sex resources. Collecting is a good way to go so they may be considered but not formally. If we pass this we will be short-circuiting our own process. This is something that needs to happen as a teaching office

Jalineck: I rise to oppose this amendment. Given that the BCP is het most theological document that we have that we agree on and since we are shaped by it. I think we do not know what we believe until we try to pray for it. That is when we become clearer on what we think in larger ways. Lex orandi, lex credenti.

Alexander: I also rise to speak against the amendment. We did not wait for the theological committee to finish its work before celebrating communion. This resolution has a good balance between theological work and liturgical action. When we do theological analyses we generally begin with the actual texts of the rites we are going o perform. The great thing is we can do both at the same time.

Missed speaker

Chane: I speak against this amendment. When we gathered in MN two GC’s past, it was difficult for us to move forward in the creation of liturgies. We have not done that. It is now the right time to have these formal discussions and present before GC in three years the kind of discussion we must have

Rowe: I call the question

Debate ended

Voting on Whalon’s amendment

Amendment fails

Scott: the resolve amendment I was going to offer is: Resolved that clergy under bishop may generous pastor res to meet needs of members of this church who seek support of Gods blessing n their marriages and other relationships….reading too fast.


Scott: this relates to the issue that was in our conversations when we were talking about B012 and the canonical concerns about that--that takes away the idea of the bishop promulgating this.

Fry: the KJV says that agag walked delicately before being hewn assunder. I am walking delicately but in this amendment are we not talking about fiddling with the Prayer book definition of marriage. How can we do that in violation of the prayer book which is a constitutional manner? We have deposed bishops for this. How can we permit people to do these things by resolution?

Love: If I could have clarification on the amendment: Could this mean that clergy could do this only at the permission of the bishops and otherwise they could not

Chair: well the bishop is the ordinary

Someone moves to postpone discussion of amendment

Motion passes

Back to the original

Daniels: in light of what wolf said about the tyranny of the majority, I believe we need to hear every voice and not an ominous silence from those who disagree. I need your voice so that I can be informed before I vote

P. Beckwith: I appreciate what my brother said. I rise in opposition to the whole mater. And I was thinking, why waste my time. Why waste your time. I was thinking it was a pearl and swine thing. I believe this is another clear instance that we are allowing our church to be shaped by the secular culture rather than our God-give mission to shape culture. Since I believe this takes us further apart from Windsor I would call for a roll call vote.

More than 5 support this call
Sauls: 36 yrs ago our church responded to secular culture by allowing divorced persons to be remarried even though it contradicted what we believed the teaching of the bible and of Jesus, We did so even though it contradicted our understanding of sexual ethics at the time. We refrained these last six years out of grace. Our gays and lesbians are asking nothing more than grace and mercy. I know for a fact that the vast majority of Anglicans around the world enjoy the same pastoral exception we do--that divorced persons may marry. It is true in Canterbury and in Nigeria. I agree that scripture is our final concern. The one that concerns me is that the scribes and Pharisees tie heavy burdens for others to bear but are not willing to lift a finger to help them. It is time to lift the hypocrisy

Alabama: I move to postpone the entire matter until we have the enter thing before us

Motion carries. We will take it upon when we have the text…

BREAKING CO01 PASSES [adding transgender to canons] -- Live from the Morning Session of the HOD

A deputy has moved to bring D025 to the floor of the HOD rather than sent back to committee for further work.

It is slated to come up the first of the afternoon session in the HOD.

Another deputy wants to know when we might have the results of the vote -- taken late yesterday -- on the Transgender legislation that was a vote by orders.

Right now, they are working through votes for various offices.


Lay Order
82 yes votes
21 no votes
6 deputations divided

C061 carries by 75% in the lay order

Clergy Order
72 yes votes
28 no votes
9 deputation divided
C061 carries by 66% in the clergy order

Alabama -- lay no, clergy divided
Alaska -- clergy divided
Albany -- clergy no, lay no
Arkansas -- clergy divided
Central Florida -- lay no, clergy no
Central Gulf Coast -- no divided
Dallas -- clergy no, lay no
Florida -- no
Fond Du Lac -- clergy no, lay no
Fort Worth -- clergy no
Georga -- lay no
Haiti -- lay no, clergy no
Hawaii -- clergy divided
Honduras -- lay no, clergy no
Louisiana -- lay no, clergy no
Mississippi -- clergy divided
North Dakota -- clergy no
Northern Indiana -- lay yes, clergy no
Northwestern Pennsylvania -- clergy no
Oklahoma -- clergy no
Pittsburgh -- lay divided, clergy no
Quincy -- clergy no
Dominican Republic -- lay no, clergy no
Rio Grande -- lay no, clergy no
South Carolina -- lay no, clergy no
South Dakota -- lay no
Southern Virginia -- clergy no
SW Florida -- clergy no
Springfield -- lay no, clergy no
Taiwan -- lay no, clergy no
Tennessee -- lay no, clergy no
Texas -- lay divided, clergy no
Upper South Carolina -- lay no, clergy no
Virgin Islands -- lay divided, clergy no
Virginia -- lay no
West Tennessee -- clergy divided
West Texas -- lay divided, clergy no
Western Kansas -- lay divided, clergy no
Western Louisiana -- lay no, clergy no
Western Massachusetts -- clergy divided
Navajo -- lay divided, clergy divided


Currently debating an amendment to A098 which passed the HOB without debate.

Deputy Swan -- points out that some of the people being added who were enemies of the church and denounced Christianity.

Deputy: Wants to change the definition of sainthood and expanding it

Deputy Mendina -- opposes amendment

Wyoming -- moves question on amendment and motion

Motion passes.

A deputy protests that this is an important question to discuss.

Amendment fails.

Voting on main motion proceeding.

A098 has passed.

We are now debating A095 on the Liturgical Calendar Commemorations.

Ashley, Massachusetts -- offer an amendment

Moving through A096 -- additional commemorations:

Resolution passes.

Now introducing ecumenical visitors and interfaith visitors -- I took down the churches they represented to the best of my ability.
United Methodists, California
National Council of Churches
Moravian College
World Council of Churches
International Council of Community Churches
Armenian Church in America
African Methodist Episcopal
Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Christian Church, Disciples of Christ
United Church of Christ
Archdiocese of Los Angeles [RC]
Philippine Independent Church

American Jewish Committee
Board of Rabbis, Southern California
Council for Parliament of Liberal Religions

D090 To Be Heard In HOB Today

Heads Up: D090 set to be heard in HOB today.

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That this 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church recommends and encourages all bodies of The Episcopal Church to utilize all available resources to revise and adapt forms to be fully inclusive of all people: by including lines not only for one's legal name, but also for one's preferred name as well as one's gender identity and pronoun preference.

Fulcrum Press Statement On HOB Passing D025

Fulcrum Releases Press Statement:
The decision, by a 2-to-1 majority, of the House of Bishops of TEC to pass D025 represents a further determined walking apart by the American Church and must have significant consequences for the relationship of TEC to the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.
Their decision to support, with a minor amendment, the resolution previously passed by the House of Deputies:
Ignored the repeated requests by all the Instruments of Communion, most recently the Anglican Consultative Council, to uphold the Windsor moratoria
Disregarded the explicit request of the Archbishop of Canterbury during his visit to General Convention when he stated “Along with many in the Communion, I hope and pray that there won't be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart”.
Failed to heed the Archbishop of Canterbury's warning at General Synod that “it remains to be seen I think whether the vote of the House of Deputies will be endorsed by the House of Bishops. If the House of Bishops chooses to block then the moratorium remains. I regret the fact that there is not the will to observe the moratorium in such a significant part of the Church in North America but I can’t say more about that as I have no details”.
Overturned the recommendation of the bishops serving on the World Mission committee who asked the House not to support the resolution, explicitly citing such reasons as that passing the resolution amounted to a rejection of the process commended by Windsor and jeopardizes the covenant, would not reflect hearing the concerns of the Communion and disregards Lambeth I.10
Withdrew the assurances given by the House of Bishops to the wider Communion in September 2007 in response to the Dar Primates' Meeting.1

It is important to recognise the multiple levels at which the resolution disregards the mind of the Communion both in relation to human sexuality and the nature of life together in Communion as expressed in the Windsor Report and the Anglican Covenant. It:

selectively quotes from Lambeth I.10 and affirms only the Listening Process but not the teaching and practice of the Communion consistently reaffirmed by the Instruments since 1998 which is the framework within which the Listening Process should occur.
contradicts the teaching of Scripture and the Communion by reaffirming that same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect and careful, honest communication display “holy love”.
recognizes that “gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst” despite the clear statement of Lambeth I.10 rejecting ordination of those in same-sex unions.
reaffirms they were right to consent to the election of Gene Robinson and proceed to his consecration by affirming “that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church” despite Windsor's request for a statement of regret for that action.
asserts their right autonomously to determine the suitability of candidates for ordination “through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church” without reference to the discernment of the wider church or the requested moratorium.

In relation to the Anglican Communion and the Windsor and Covenant Processes, the Windsor Continuation Group stated that “A deliberate decision to act in a way which damages Communion of necessity carries consequences. This is quite distinct from the language of sanction or punishment, but acknowledges that the expression and experience of our Communion in Christ cannot be sustained so fully in such circumstances. A formal expression of the distance experienced would therefore seem to be appropriate” (Para 45). General Convention's actions clearly reject the Windsor Process and are incompatible with the affirmations and commitments agreed by ACC in the proposed covenant. A formal expression of distance, with consequent limiting of involvement in Communion counsels, must now follow if the Windsor and covenant processes are to retain credibility in the wider Communion.
In relation to the Church of England, it has recently been reaffirmed, with regard to the Church of Sweden, that “the teaching and discipline of the Church of England, like that of the Anglican Communion as a whole as expressed in the Lambeth Conference of 1998, is that it is not right either to bless same-sex sexual relationships or to ordain those who are involved in them” and that “changes in the understanding of human sexuality and marriage” will lead to impairment of relationships and limit the inter-changeability of ordained ministry.2 These consequences must now logically follow in relation to those bishops within TEC who have voted to support D025. They could be expressed by such means as actions under the Overseas Clergy Measure and a decision that the Church of England not be represented at future TEC consecrations.
Over coming weeks, in discerning a proportionate response to this latest development it is important that
a clear differentiation is made between the majority in TEC who voted for the resolution and those – centred on the Communion Partners – who upheld the mind of the Communion within TEC. We hope that many Church of England bishops will clearly reaffirm their continued full communion with those TEC bishops who voted against the resolution.
similar disregard for the moratoria in a significant number of dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada are not ignored
critical attention also be given to the relationship of both the Communion and the Church of England with the Anglican Church in North America.
As that discernment occurs and General Convention continues to meet and discuss other resolutions that would represent a further tearing of the fabric of the Communion we pray the words of this week's collect

Almighty and everlasting God,by whose Spirit the whole body of the Churchis governed and sanctified:hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,that in their vocation and ministrythey may serve you in holiness and truthto the glory of your name;through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,who is alive and reigns with you,in the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, now and for ever.

1Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention
The House of Bishops concurs with Resolution EC011 of the Executive Council. This Resolution commends the Report of the Communion Sub-Group of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion as an accurate evaluation of Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention, calling upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees "to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."[1] The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains.

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2Letter from Bishops of Chichester and Guildford to the Archbishop of Uppsala

Update on Stand Firm website and liveblogging