Saturday, March 31, 2007

Gay Christians Vs Archbishop of Canterbury

Thursday 29 March, 2007

The Reverend Richard Kirker, Chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement is unimpressed with a statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury on making the Anglican Communion a "safe place" for lesbian and gay people.

"It is being kind to call this statement too late, too little and too vague." said Mr Kirker.

Only last week, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement took out a full page advert in the Church Times aimed at highlighting the plight of lesbian and gay people in the many countries where they are still executed, tortured and imprisoned. Kirker is appauled that the Anglican Church continues to turn a blind eye or in some countries, even bolsters homophobic legislation.

He said: "The fact is that the Anglican Church of Nigeria is the leading advocate of a new law there that will put you behind bars for five years just for supporting the rights of gay people. While the Anglican Church in Singapore is behind a current attempt to newly criminalised and imprison lesbians there."

Click here to read the rest.

Grace Episcopal's wedding fast draws praise, wrath

By Nick Grabbe
Staff Writer
Amherst Bulletin
Published on March 30, 2007

To some, the Rev. Robert Hirschfeld is a hero, a prophet, even a Gandhi.

Others call the rector of Grace Episcopal Church a demon, a moral anarchist, a promoter of eternal damnation.

Hirschfeld announced at a sermon March 11 that the church will take a "holy fast" from all weddings because Episcopal bishops do not allow marriages of gay and lesbian couples. He says he didn't know it would arouse such strong feelings and that he is uncomfortable with the extremities of praise and condemnation.

Click here to read the rest.

That gay ol’ religion

By Joe Pompeo
for The Brooklyn Paper
March 31, 2007

...while some Christian denominations, like the Episcopalians, have made significant strides towards eliminating discrimination within their churches, only two--the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ--have eliminated all barriers, including marriage, between gay and straight members.

Many Christians, both gay and straight, believe the Bible’s message of unconditional acceptance supports the notion of equality for homosexuals...

click here to read the rest.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Rice is asked to oppose draconian Nigerian bill

March 30, 2007
by Eric Resnick
Gay People's Chronical

Washington, D.C.--U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been asked by 32 members of Congress to oppose legislation in Nigeria that would criminalize gay and lesbian "relationships" as simple as having dinner together, as well as the mere act of witnessing a same-sex union. So far, Rice has been silent.

The letter was initiated by lesbian and gay Reps. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Barney Frank of Massachusetts. They were joined by Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, House Committee on Foreign Affairs chair Tom Lantos of California, and 28 other Democrats. The letter was also signed by one Republican, Chris Shays of Connecticut.


The nation’s Anglican bishop, Peter Akinola, leads an effort in the world Anglican Communion to make the Episcopal Church back away from its pro-gay stances or leave the communion.


"It’s important that the United States of America go on record opposing discrimination against LGBT people in Nigeria," said Baldwin.

"Human rights of life, liberty, and security of person should have no border and no nationality, and no exceptions for one’s sexual orientation and gender identity."

Click here to read the rest.

No schism among local Episcopal churches

As the rift over homosexuality splits the worldwide Anglican Communion to the brink of schism, that is not the case in Montclair [NJ].

The global divide has not fractured the wing of the Episcopal Church in the township, where religious leaders are keeping sanctuary doors open to the gay and lesbian community.

"All the Episcopal parishes in Montclair invite gay and lesbian people who are seeking to know God in Christ to come and be a part of the parish,' the Rev. John Perris, rector of St. James Episcopal Church, said last Thursday, two days after The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church USA acted to reject primates’ demands and affirm their support of gay clergy and religious leaders.

"I think that the position that our bishops took is a position for the gospel, which is that we are saved by grace and God loves everyone," said the Rev. Diana Clark, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church on Montclair Avenue...

Click here to read the rest.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Progress halted on same-sex bill in Nigeria


Progress halted on same-sex bill in Nigeria

Thursday, 29 March 2007

by Davis Mac-Iyalla

For immediate release

Many people have been asking whether the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2006 which was debated on 22 March by the Nigerian House of Representatives is likely to be lost if the Nigerian election takes place soon.

The Nigerian Federal elections are scheduled to be held on 21 April and the ceremonial opening of the new session of Parliament on May 29, 2007, which the constitution recognizes as the hand over date to a new government. reported on Sunday, 25 March 2007 that the House of Representatives will be prorogued on Wednesday, 28 March but this has not been confirmed by other sources. If the election takes place as timetabled, the present House of Representatives will be officially dissolved in May and the handover to the new House will take place.

The present sitting of the House has finished, and they asked the panel of Human Rights which continues to meet, to go and review the bill again. It is difficult to say categorically that the current House has been totally suspended because a lot of manoeuvring is taking place ahead of the election. It may be reasonably safe to assume the bill has been abandoned for now.

What we are hearing from CAN members in Anglican congregations in Nigeria is that the church leaders have been feeling big pressure on them and some are very angry because they expected the bill to be voted on prior to the end of this session. There are also rumours that money has exchanged hands, American money, and yet it has not proved easy for the Anglican Church leaders to push the bill through the House of Representatives. Corruption remains widespread at every level of Nigerian society.

It is also theoretically possible for the next government to reintroduce the bill. This would be unlikely to happen in the first term when they would be trying to satisfy many different expectations. It remains a possibility that the bill could be reintroduced in the next government’s second term.

Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, said today (29 March):

“Because of the continuing uncertainty, Changing Attitude Nigeria will not celebrate the defeat of the bill publicly until after May 29. We are quietly confident and feeling more happy, but there is still the potential for lobbying in favour of the bill to take place by the Church of Nigeria and for the Government to spring a surprise. However, if the Church was confident about the success of the bill, we think they would be issuing a confident public statement now, which they are not.”


Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria
Tel. Mobile: +2348025866133

Revd Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England
Tel. Office: 01380 724908
Mobile: 07770 844302

Obituary: Susan J. "Sue" Boulden

'Outspoken' human rights advocate, Episcopalian March 28, 1943 -- March 27, 2007

Thursday, March 29, 2007

By Steve Levin, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Susan J. "Sue" Boulden, who gained notoriety throughout the Episcopal Church and parts of the Anglican Communion for her outspokenness on human rights and religious issues, died Tuesday following open heart surgery at West Penn Hospital. She would have been 64 yesterday.

Ms. Boulden, of Oakmont, was a familiar figure at Episcopal gatherings, both in the Pittsburgh diocese and on the national scene. Wearing buttons boosting her favorite causes, she would corner clergy, laity and news media to ensure all were aware of not only what she believed, but why.


She was active in Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, or PEP, a group she helped form in the wake of the 2002 diocesan convention after a resolution was passed that declared the diocese would no longer accede to national church canon it felt contravened "the historic catholic faith."

She also was a key supporter of the national group Via Media USA that PEP was instrumental in forming.

In addition, Ms. Boulden was diocesan coordinator for Integrity/Pittsburgh, an advocacy group of gay and lesbian Episcopalians, and a contributing writer to Voice of Integrity, the group's national publication.

While she was a former member of the diocesan council and a member of the Episcopal Women's Caucus, she may have been best known for her opposition to Bishop Robert W. Duncan Jr.

Click here to read the rest.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

CNNNN | Holy Homosexuals

Don't miss this TV "interview" with Dr. Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney, by Australia's Chaser Non-Stop News Network. From what I gather, this originally ran on 23 October 2003.

Click here to watch it on YouTube.

Crew Responds to Cantuar

Re: Church must be safe for gays, Archbishop Williams says
from Louie Crew's blog du jour

Exxon and many of the other biggest polluters of the environment routinely pay huge advertisement fees to tell us on the evening news about how carefully they protect the environment.

Ask Jeffrey John how safe the church is for gays under Archbishop Williams' archepiscopric. Ask +Gene Robinson.

Or go to a town where you are not known and introduce yourself as LGBT to the local Anglican leadership. Move among them for a week incognitoand then ask yourself how safe Anglican space is. LGBT Anglicans have taken to the bank Lambeth's promise to dialogue dozens of times only to have the cheque bounce leaving us to pay -- some with unemployment, all with increased stigma -- the fee for the Communion's insufficient commitment to its promises.

Look at the price the Anglicans in Nigeria are asking LGBTs to pay in the church's vociferous support of fierce criminal penalties even for those whoadvocate on our behalf. Believe the Archbishop of Canterebury this time only when local LGBT Anglicans are heard with respect and kindness by Anglicans in Abuja, Kigalie, Kampala, Buenos Aires, Pershawar, Nairobe, Kitwe, Dhaka, Kinshasa, Antananarivo, Nicosia ...

The Archbishop of Canterbury himself has steadfastly refused to meet with lesbian and gay leadership in The Episcopal Church, against whom the primates have led major charges naming us anathema. Perhaps the Archbishop's promises this time will not be cheap windowdressing.

We live in hope.

Louie Crew, Ph.D., D.D., D.D., D.H.L.Founder of IntegrityChair of the Newark deputation to General Convention

Queen, Archbishop Confronted by Protester

A protester disrupted the solemn commemoration of the abolition of slavery in England yesterday, running up in front of Queen Elizabeth and the Archbishop of Canterbury and shouting the following.

"The Queen has to say sorry....the monarch and the government and the church are all in there patting themselves on the back."

Read more here.

Archbishop of Canterbury: Church must be 'safe place' for gay and lesbian people

ACNS 4272 | LAMBETH | 28 MARCH 2007

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has said that the churches of the Anglican Communion must be safe places for gay andlesbian people. His comments come in a welcome to an interim report on the Anglican Communion's Listening Process, a commitment to listen to the experience of homosexual people. Archbishop Williams warns that the challenge to create the safe space for their voices to be heard and for their dignity to be respected is based on a fundamental commitment of the Communion.

"The commitments of the Communion are not only to certain theological positions on the question of sexual ethics but also to a manifest and credible respect for the proper liberties of homosexual people, a commitment again set out in successive Lambeth Conference Resolutions over many decades. I share the concerns expressed about situations where the Church is seen to be underwriting social or legal attitudes which threaten these proper liberties. It is impossible to read this report
without being aware that in many places - including Western countries with supposedly 'liberal' attitudes - hate crimes against homosexual people have increased in recent years and have taken horrifying and disturbing forms.

"No-one reading this report can be complacent about such a situation, and the Church is challenged to show that it is truly a safe place for people to be honest and where they may be confident that they will have their human dignity respected, whatever serious disagreements about ethics may remain. It is good to know that the pastoral care of homosexual people is affirmed clearly by so many provinces."

In his statement, Archbishop Williams paid tribute to the work of Canon Phil Groves and the team at the Anglican Communion Office involved in coordinating the Listening Process. The interim report, comprising summaries of the Communion's 38 Provinces' progress on the issue, can be found at

The full statement follows: read it HERE

ACNSlist, published by Anglican Communion News Service, London, is
distributed to more than 8,000 journalists and other readers around
the world.

For subscription INFORMATION please go to:

Boston Globe | Openness in the Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church, in its deliberations, may come across to many as overly fractious as it grapples with what kind of faith community it will be in the 21st century, yet it is precisely within this tension that the best of our church is revealed.

Openness and transparency, including the airing of differences, is important to the life of faith lived in community and it is through this type of conflict and discussion that we understand how God is calling us into the future and how the church will respond to the contemporary world.

And so, in faithfulness to that tradition, the bishops approved resolutions affirming our desire to continue in the discernment process with the wider Communion about our church's place in it, but not at the expense of our polity, which is part of our church identity, and not at the expense of gay and lesbian members seeking full inclusion.

Click here to read the rest.

ACC | Anglican Theological Commission clarifies provenance of same-sex blessings resolutions

Mar. 29, 2007 -- The Primate's Theological Commission, a group appointed by the Anglican Primate to consult on theological matters, has released a clarification concerning resolutions on the blessing of same-sex unions approved earlier this month by the church's governing council.

The resolutions, approved by the Council of General Synod for the consideration of the church's General Synod this summer, have been described as dealing with The St. Michael Report. But in fact only one of them does, the commission says in its statement.

The St. Michael Report was produced by the theological commission as a result of the Anglican Primate, on direction from the General Synod, seeking its opinion on whether or not the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine. The commission, chaired by Bishop Victoria Matthews of Edmonton, concluded, in its report released in 2005, "that the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine but is not core doctrine in the sense of being credal."

(One of the reasons why the question of whether or not same-sex blessings is a matter of doctrine is important is that matters of doctrine require a more complex and lengthy process to change.)

The St. Michael Report has been widely studied across the church in advance of the General Synod next June.

Click here to read the entire article.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New York Times | Conservative Jewish Seminary Will Accept Gay Students - New York Times

Published: March 27, 2007

The Jewish Theological Seminary, the intellectual and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism, said yesterday that it would begin accepting openly gay and lesbian candidates into its rabbinical and cantorial schools.

The seminary’s announcement follows opinions in December by a panel of Conservative legal experts ending their movement’s ban on gay rabbis and on same-sex unions. Those opinions gave individual Conservative congregations and institutions, however, the theological latitude to stake out their own positions.

Click here to read the rest.

ACNS | Listening Process Summaries now on-line

Preparation of a Study Guide on Human Sexuality for the 2008 Lambeth Conference Announced

The culmination of months of work on what is known as "The Listening Process," a process begun in response to the mandate of Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution 1.10, and subsequent Primates Meetings, is now set out on the Anglican Communion website for use around the Anglican world. The Anglican Consultative Council, at their meeting in Nottingham, requested the appointment of a facilitator for this work.

Each of the summaries has been compiled in co-operation with the Primate of that Province. Facilitator Canon Phil Groves of the Anglican Communion Office said, 'The summaries have drawn upon public statements and further research. Each Primate has approved the final text.'

Each Province has sent reports, statements and papers. In addition the Facilitator has taken time to speak to Primates and their representatives form each of the Provinces and in order to produce these summaries. The primates asked for the summaries to be 'made more fully available across the Communion for study and reflection.'

In addition to the summaries, and the materials being formulated on our website, A Study Guide for use at the Lambeth Conference 2008 on: The Process of Listening to Gay and Lesbian people and Mutual Listening on Human Sexuality is underway. The facilitator requests contributions for the study guide, the full details are on the website.

The Primates also asked for ‘the preparation of material to assist the bishops at 2008 Lambeth Conference.’ The Facilitator for the Listening Process is asking for contributions to be used in the writing of a Study Guide.

The Revd Canon Phil Groves can be reached at the Anglican Communion Office in London. Email is, telephone +44 (0) 207 313 3917.

Summaries are available here:

Study Guide can be found here:

Bishop Alexander (Atlanta) Reflects on the HoB Meeting

Reflecting on a journey: 'Put mission first, join hands around God's altar'

posted Tuesday, March 27, 2007
by the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander

I have just returned from a visit to Africa and the spring meeting of the House of Bishops in Texas. It seems appropriate to offer some reflections on these travels as we continue our journey through Lent toward Holy Week and Easter.


I believe the position of the House of Bishops in response to the pastoral scheme proposed by the Primates is precisely on target, and I support it fully and without any reservations.

Click here to read the rest.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bishop Whalon on House of Bishops' Meeting

Reflections posted today to BishopBlogging -- the blog of +Pierre Whalon, Bishop of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe.

While celebrating the Annunciation (“the angel said unto Mary…”), I am also trying to finish my response to the recent meeting of the House of Bishops. Lots of other bishops have beaten me to the punch, but I think this is because my piece is (as usual) longer.

A few observations: it seems to be unanimous—best meeting ever. Kudos to Bishop Katharine, for letting the Planning Committee take responsibility for executing the meeting agenda; for making sure we understood that we were responsible for what we produced and that she was not going to interfere or “save” us (the savior job having been very adequately filled); and for running the business meeting with graciousness, humor and firmness.

One image I will always remember: a new bishop asked her to clarify her stand on the uniqueness of Christ. +Katharine replied that her view is similar to that of Vatican II (Nostra ætate, actually), namely that Jesus Christ is the final self-revelation of God in the world, but that salvation is possible outside of the Christian Church. He seemed dissatisfied with this reply. After adjourning the session, she went right over to him and they talked for fifteen minutes, alone in the meeting room.

This showed two things about the new Presiding Bishop. First, contrary to some reports, her Christology is orthodox. There have been some who have held that extra ecclesiam nulla salus—outside the Church there is no salvation. But this does not jibe with Jesus’ behavior toward Gentiles nor to Paul’s teaching about grace. What is essential, as the PB noted, is that Christians do not know how God saves people outside the New Covenant. Somehow Jesus Christ, through whom all things were made, makes provision, since through him all people are offered salvation.

The other aspect of this incident is that +Katharine Jefferts-Schori cares about people who do not agree with her. She did not know that I was standing outside the meeting room with two other bishops, chewing the fat, until we realized that the two of them were still talking in the room. So this was not for show.

By now it is well known that some conservative bishops switched their votes to put her over the top. “They even brag about it,” remarked one Anglican Communion official to me. All I have to say is—

“Thanks, guys.”

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Nigerian Legislation Delayed

From Jim Naughton at Daily Episcopalian
March 24, 2007

A hopeful delay in Nigeria?

Colin Coward of Changing Attitude emailed me this morning to say that the Nigerian legislature did not consider the hateful anti-gay legislation being supported by Archbishop Peter Akinola and the Church of Nigeria before adjourning yesterday. The legislature as currently composed does not reconvene until May, after the general election, and then only for one week.

If the bill doesn't pass in May, it can be reintroduced in a future session, but people who have been monitoring the situation for various human rights organizations have suggested that the election may alter political dynamics enough to make passage of the bill in its current form less likely.

In an earlier note a commenter writes:
Perhaps you could organize your people to email and/or write the Archbishop of Canterbury. His press secretary's email is:

Here is what I wrote:

Dear Archbishop Williams:

I am very disappointed that your office has not spoken out against the Nigerian legislation currently supported by Archbishop Akinola regarding freedom of assembly and homosexuals. This legislation totally contravenes Lambeth 1.10 and safety for homosexual persons. I hope you will use your position in the World Wide Anglican Communion to advocate for those who are in danger of prison and worse due to these proposed laws.

Thank you.

The Rev. Ann Fontaine

Friday, March 23, 2007

Vermont Deputies' Response to Communiqué

March 23, 2007

We commend the entire March 20 Mind of the House statement by the House of Bishops. We note especially the following: "We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion, and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their differences, often in the name of God. The Dar es Salaam Communiqué is distressingly silent on this subject."

Click here to read the rest.

Bishop McKelvey (Rochester) Reports on the HoB Meeting


I have returned home from The House of Bishops meeting at Camp Allen in the Diocese of Texas.

It was one of the best House of Bishops meetings that I can remember. There was more agreement about major and significant things than I have felt for a long time. Such things as agreement that we can disagree and yet be of one heart, and that we have not been diligent to keep our squabbles out of the way of our call to ministry in God's mission. There was considerable truth telling and an emphasis on listening. We have not always risked telling the truth about difficult things, however, that has changed.

Bishop Jefferts Schori encouraged us to take control of our own life as a House of Bishops and we did. Her leadership was welcoming, firm when it needed to be, and filled with humor.

We spent considerable time hearing speakers and having discussions about "God's mission and our ministry" particularly as it relates to The Millennium Development Goals. I am pleased that we have begun work emphasizing the MDGs under the leadership of the Rev. Dahn Gandell, and several of our churches have welcomed Scott Cicora's offer to speak on "Environmental Sustainability."

I am providing the link to the House of Bishops "Message to God's People" which well describes our six days together.

I am also providing the three statements found at under Bishops' "Mind of the House" resolutions which reflect the truth telling I spoke of earlier. I am proud and privileged to tell you that I was very involved in the development of the major "Statement to the Executive Council" and the shorter statement urging the Executive Council to "decline to participate in the `Pastoral Scheme'" suggested by the Primates in Tanzania.

Our struggle was to make a statement which self-differentiated ourselves as The Episcopal Church while protecting the polity of our church. This means no outside interference which would violate our Canons or Constitution.

Our worship together was well crafted and you can imagine how great the singing was! The final hymn of our closing Eucharist was "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Though I do not want to minimize in any way the struggles of our people of color in these United States, for whom this hymn is very special, I can say that the words: "...thou who has by thy might led us into the light; keep us forever in the path, we pray" spoke to me as we have come through some divisive, conflicting, threatening times into a new dawn. It feels good to be freer as a church than I can remember in several years.

Now it is onward to discover and rediscover our call to be active participants in God's mission. It is my sense that we are on the way.

In Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Jack M. McKelvey
VII Bishop of Rochester

HRC's Harry Knox on The Huffington Post

From today's Huffington Post -- reflections on the Episcopal House of Bishops by HRC Religion & Faith Program Director Harry Knox:

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church USA acted yesterday to resoundingly reject the demand of international Primates that the US denomination take a detour on the road to justice. The bishops calmly and prayerfully reiterated their firmly held beliefs in principles that have developed over time in the rough and tumble of democratic debate and in conversation with the provocative, persistent, even pesky Holy Spirit.

They stated clearly that women are ordained by God for full membership and leadership in the life of God's Church.

They stated unequivocally that lesbian and gay men are also so ordained.

And they reiterated the deeply held tenet that all God's people, including lay people, should have a voice in how the Church is run - that a few far-away Primates should not control local congregational practice.

The bishops have acted with great love for the Church and with a greater love for the justice God requires of all of us. They have reiterated their desire to remain in the larger Anglican Communion, but not at the expense of their lesbian and gay sisters and brothers in Christ. They have not abandoned women as sacrifices on the altar of an idol called the unity of the Communion. They have not given up their democratic principles in order to keep a false peace.

The bishops have responded to arrogance and spiritual violence with a reasoned and loving statement of belief that is no less radical because it is also gentle. In doing so, they have reflected the Christ they serve and have given great hope to us all - hope that the Church can stand strongly for what is right and model patience and community at the same time. I recommend their statement to you.

As Human Rights Campaign Religion Council member Rev. Susan Russell of Integrity has written, "It is long past time to abandon the fiction that the LGBT faithful demand the exclusion of the theological minority in the Episcopal Church who consider our lives, relationships and vocations unacceptable in the eyes of God. It is not and has never been true that the LGBT leadership in this church have ever made a criteria for our inclusion being agreed with."

The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson is also a member of the HRC Religion Council. In his pastoral letter to New Hampshire Episcopalians following the passage of the resolutions by the House of Bishops on March 20, he wrote, "We will NOT let these issues distract us from God's mission - to preach Good News to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to release those in captivity, to bring sight to the blind, and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. May God bless us richly in that ministry."

It has often broken my heart on Bishop Robinson's behalf to see news articles that attribute possible schism in the church to his election as bishop, as if it were somehow his fault or the fault of LGBT Episcopalians. No one loves the Church or its Christ more than Gene Robinson. It is clear now that his faithfulness and Susan Russell's community-oriented leadership and ministry have borne great fruit as the House of Bishops has moved to make clear that if schism happens it will be because those against full inclusion divided the House of God.

Susan, Gene and the House of Bishops continue to invite dialog in the spirit of what is best for the whole Anglican Communion without retreating from God's incessant call to justice for everyone. If you know anything about the Communion's devotion to conversation and consensus, you know it's downright Anglican of 'em.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

IGLHRC | Off the Map

Off the Map explores the ways in which HIV/AIDS stakeholders are denying a basic set of human rights to same-sex practicing people in Africa and potentially jeopardizing overall efforts to combat the AIDS epidemic. The report examines the ways in which same-sex desire and behavior have been simultaneously erased and criminalized in Africa and looks at the small, but important body of knowledge regarding same-sex transmission of HIV on the continent. The report shows that same-sex practicing men and women are at increased risk of contracting HIV not solely because of bio-sexual vulnerabilities, but as a result of an interlocking set of human rights violations that prevent access to effective HIV prevention, voluntary counseling and testing, treatment, and care. IGLHRC offers a set of detailed recommendations for African governments, foreign donors, international private voluntary organizations, and domestic AIDS service organizations designed to assist HIV/AIDS prevention and mitigation efforts among same-sex practicing people as well as in the broader community.

Click here to read the full report.

Another Update on the Nigerian Bill

It has been confirmed that the bill is indeed up for a final reading.

I was informed it is the same old version that was presented was never reviewed and no amendments were made.

The bill did not come up for voting because there was no consensus between some of the house committees.

Also the house of Representatives will officially go on recess today which give more time and room for lobbying.

+Akinola is said to be doing last meeting lobbying with Anglicans in the house and the government to make sure the bill is voted and passed.

Pray for Nigeria and all those working tirelessly to make sure that this bill should not pass.

Davis Mac-Iyalla
Changing Attitude Nigeria

On Faith | Another Step Out of the Closet

By Susan Russell

It is an ongoing process, this thing called "coming out." Any gay or lesbian person who has been through it can tell you that we don't just come out once – we do it over and over again.

And they can also tell you that along the way there are times when the temptation to climb back in the closet is a very real one. The pressure of family, cultural, political and religious voices can combine to make us question our own reality – our own experience – our own truth.

Coming out is hard work that takes both faith and courage – and a deep commitment to telling the truth.

And this week all of those elements were in place as the Episcopal Church took another step out of the closet with strongly worded statements issued from the meeting of its House of Bishops in Navasota, Texas.

The bishops faithfully and courageously offered an emphatic "No" to ultimatums issued in February by the Primates of the Anglican Communion that the Episcopal Church "repent" of its inclusion of gay and lesbian people or risk being voted off the Anglican Island.

It can be argued that the Episcopal Church came out in 1976 when it passed a resolution committed to offering its gay and lesbian members "full and equal claim," and again in 1994 when it added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination list, and again in 2003 when it recognized the blessing of unions and consented to the election of a bishop in a partnered relationship.

And now 2007 offers another step out of the closet with our bishops' statement: "We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participation in the life of Christ's Church."

Coming out is hard work that takes both faith and courage – and a deep commitment to telling the truth. We are stronger as a church for having the courage to tell the truth about who we are as people of God – and for refusing to be blackmailed into bigotry.

That's good news not only for gay and lesbian people but for the church enriched and enlivened by their lives, their vocations and their ministries. The Episcopal Church is out of the closet for good. That's very good news, indeed!

Rev. Susan Russell is senior associate for parish life at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Calif. Since 2003, she has served as president of Integrity USA. She also is a charter member of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion Council.

Chapman redux

Congratulations to the House of Bishops for their resolutions and statements. Especially for defending our polity from those who would tear it apart from inside and out.

It is amazing to read this memo again today. The 2003 Chapman Memo was leaked soon after it was distributed to those who would tear apart The Episcopal Church when they were unable to use the legitimate systems of governance to get their way.
It is interesting to see who was in on it and what they have been busy doing in the last 3 years.

Ann Fontaine

From the archives ofThinking Anglicans.
Today’s Washington Post carried this story:
Plan to Supplant Episcopal Church USA Is Revealed

The full text of the document mentioned in the story can be found below. It is also on the Washington Post website as a PDF document but is over 30 megabytes in size, so downloading is not recommended.

It may be worth mentioning that the website listed at the end as being “in Great Britain” is not in Great Britain but is part of a Canadian one. Close :-)

December 28th, 2003

Dear Friends,

I am Geoff Chapman, Rector of St Stephens Church in Sewickley, Pa. (Diocese of Pittsburgh). I am responding to you on behalf of the American Anglican Council and their Bishops’ Committee on Adequate Episcopal Oversight (AEO). Thanks for contacting us; we very much want to network with you in these difficult times and be of real help to you.

The AAC Strategy Committee has been working for months on AEO. In consultation with a wide circle of friends - inside this country and beyond - we have clarified our strategy and are now moving to implement it. I am serving as their response person for AEO, and I want to brief you on our progress. This document will get you up to speed on where we are going. Please keep this document confidential, sharing it in hard copy (printed format) only with people you fully trust, and do not pass it on electronically to anyone under any circumstances.

1) Our ultimate goal is a realignment of Anglicanism on North American soil committed to biblical faith and values, and driven by Gospel mission. We believe in the end this should be a “replacement” jurisdiction with confessional standards, maintaining the historic faith of our Communion, closely aligned with the majority of world Anglicanism, emerging from the disastrous actions of General Convention (2003). We believe this goal is now pressed upon us by the Holy Spirit as a result of the rejection of the historic Christian faith and the rejection of biblical and Communion authority by the leadership of ECUSA. We will lead our congregations and partners in making the adjustment to adopt this strategy. We seek to retain ownership of our property as we move into this realignment.

2) As an intermediate step, we will respond to the urgent pastoral need in our country by offering Adequate Episcopal Oversight to parishes or remnants of parishes who share our deeply held convictions, proceeding under the guidance of our Bishops and the Primates. Bp Griswold’s offer of “Extended Episcopal Care” is unacceptable, fundamentally flawed and disingenuous, and does not meet the needs of our parishes or the intentions of the Primates. Our AEO will maintain confidentiality in the application process, and seek transfer of Parish oversight across geographic diocesan boundaries to an orthodox bishop, the right of pastoral succession, liberty of conscience In financial stewardship (the right to “redirect” funds), and negotiated property settlements affirming the retention of ownership in the local congregation.

The implementation of Adequate Episcopal Oversight will normally follow a two-step, “Stage 1 Then Stage 2” process.

Stage 1 will feature “spiritual realignment” while remaining within the letter of current canons. Parishes would publicly announce that their relationship with their diocesan Bishop is “severely damaged” because of the events of the summer, and that they are now looking to one of the Primates or an AAC orthodox Bishop for their “primary pastoral leadership”. Announcements will need to be carefully phrased to avoid canonical violations.

During the months of Stage 1, we will begin to reform our relationships to build the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. We will move to initiate support structures for fellowship and strategy, We will act courageously and faithfully to support “at risk” parishes. We will creatively redirect finances. We will refocus on Gospel initiatives. We will innovatively move around, beyond or within the canons to “act like the church God is making us”. Stage 1 will enable congregations/clusters to keep clear use of their buildings for the foreseeable future, and would give critical time to strengthen our leadership circles for what promises to be a turbulent spiritual season.

Stage 2 will launch at some yet to be determined moment, probably in 2004. During this phase, we will seek, under the guidance of the Primates, negotiated settlements in matters of property, jurisdiction, pastoral succession and communion, If adequate settlements are not within reach, a faithful disobedience of canon law on a widespread basis may be necessary.

Some congregations have already proceeded to “Stage 2” because of local circumstances. While we cannot offer AEO under an AAC diocesan Bishop at this time, we do have non-geographical oversight available from “offshore” Bishops, and retired Bishops. We may also be able to offer oversight from special designated priests acting on behalf of our AAC Diocesan Bishops.

3) Our local strategy for developing AEO will have to keep our goal and current hostile circumstances in mind. We call it a “cluster strategy”, and it will closely sync with the establishment and spread of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. We are developing clusters of churches (3-30 churches per cluster) in 15-30 varying dioceses. These churches would join the Network and apply for AEO whenever possible as diocesan clusters. When they are prepared, we will sequence public announcements of their intentions to realign in successive weeks to build impact. These churches will need Clergy and Vestries who are unified, well networked, and ready for a season of conflict if necessary.

Smaller, isolated congregations that cannot connect with a supporting cluster will be welcome to apply, but encouraged to make a public announcement later in 2004. They will sail in the wake of the leadership of stronger clusters.

Parishes/clusters that go through this process in a “Stage 2” mode and Bishops who receive such parishes/clusters will be at risk of litigation and presentment, and should be prepared for such.

An AAC Bishop could be available to go with any parish/cluster to meet with the diocesan Bp, as needed. We think the presence of an AAC Bishop with a stated partnership with the Primates could change the dynamics of such a meeting.

This “Stage 1, Stage 2, Cluster Strategy” has several advantages: It will…

(1) build “rising orthodox network” DNA among the networked churches. Churches in the clusters would gain formative experiences of working together, depending upon each other, praying together, linking with the Global South, and if need be, suffering together. This would be invaluable for the months and years ahead.
(2) give us our best shot at a success. Any isolated parish that moves alone into the revisionist line of fire at this point is going to be in peril. Congregations moving in clusters have the advantage of leveraging their combined strength.
(3) generate significant public attention both within this country and among our world-wide partners.
(4) build “position” for any settlement talks in the future.
4) We are building a network of “Cluster Moderators” who will serve emerging clusters as they gather. These leaders should have a servant’s heart and a broad base of support in their own parishes that will enable them to come alongside conflicted or imperiled congregations. They must be able to bridge the lines of our coalition with genuine respect for the differences within the orthodox community. We will identify these key leaders as soon as possible.

5) We would cover everything in intentional, dependent Christ-centered prayer, seeking the Holy Spirit’s leading and provision at every point, Prayer support cells will be developed around the country and mobilized at critical moments.

Here are some “Frequently Asked Questions” :

1) What does it take to apply for AEO (Adequate Episcopal Oversight)? Normally we would ask for the signature of the Rector and a supporting vote of the Vestry. When you have reached this point of decision, send the application to the AAC office. There is no need to inform your Bishop yet of the application. We will inform him with you in due time. You can find the application and guidelines here:

2) Does AEO mean that the orthodox overseeing Bishop would have control of the call, licensing, and canonical residence of the clergy? We do not know the answers to that, but our Bishops will be exploring these issues as we move forward. The AAC bishops are not prepared to sign off on an arrangement that will leave a congregation in continuing high risk, and that means that issues of spiritual authority, pastoral succession and episcopal oversight must be solved, That Is the fundamental difference between Adequate Episcopal “Oversight” envisioned by Canterbury and the Primates and the Episcopal “Care” offered by Griswold. However, there are many details yet to be ironed out.

3) What legal liabilities would you face if you wanted to leave your current diocese? Recent litigation indicates that the local diocesan authorities hold almost all the cards in property disputes and clergy placement if they want to play “hardball”.

But we think that the political realities are such that American revisionist bishops will be reticent to play “hardball” for a while. They have just handed the gay lobby a stunning victory, but are being forced to pay a fearsome price for it. The opposition at home is far greater than they anticipated and the opposition overseas is serious and inflamed. ECUSA will certainly lose members and funds at a high rate over the next months, accelerating their decline. In one short summer they have managed to radicalize all the orthodox in our communion and take away the “middle ground” where so many of our members have hidden! This has put many (perhaps even most) parishes in conflict and made the survival of many smaller parishes a large and urgent question. No one is very happy about this inside ECUSA, and the American public is hardly cheering the events in New Hampshire.

ECUSA leaders know well how conservatives could quickly become the “victims” in the public mind. They also know that all of our AEO work will eventually find its way across the desk of the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC). All of this together will create pressure for them to cooperate with the ABC/Primate’s call for AEO. So we suspect that there will be a window of time before they return to “hardball” tactics.

The AAC has a new “Legal Resources” link on their home page, and if you or your new Vestry need help in this area, we would suggest contacting them.

4) Can we redirect our funds? This is happening on a widespread basis. There are several strategies to consider. Some parishes have used “donor intent” to trump diocesan canon. The argument goes something like this… “In these conflicted times we will offer our congregation pledge forms with options to indicate their preferred use of their funds. The options go… “Would you like to have a canonical portion of your gift sent (1) to the Diocese? (2) To the National Church? Or (3) To the Vestry for their judgment on whether to pass on funds to the Diocese or National Church? All redirected funds will go to Anglican missions who are committed to biblical faith, values and Gospel ministry?

The Vestry then informs the Diocese that they feel it important to allow their members to follow their conscience. Arguing for “freedom of conscience” and the honoring of “donor intent” is very difficult for liberals to oppose, regardless of the strength of your state law. And it should give your parish some breathing room as you seek to move through this difficult season together.

For a biblical/theological understanding of redirecting funds, look at John Guernsey’s talk from the Dallas Conference. You can find it here:

5) What is important over the next months? Here are some concrete suggestions for your consideration:
a. Join the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. Here’s some basic information:
Look to the AAC website for updates.
b. Form diocesan “clusters” with sympathetic churches. This is essential. An AAC chapter can be the seedbed for a cluster that is seeking realignment. Circle up, pick a moderator, and contact us at AAC headquarters.
c. Be careful of your language. Don’t declare yourself “out of communion” with your diocesan Bishop as such statements have been used as evidence for canonical action against clergy (“abandonment of communion” in Philadelphia). To say that your communion is “impaired” or “damaged” is a wiser response for the moment. Let the excommunications come from the Primates.
d. Prioritize your issues and pursue them in due order. Sort out the challenges you face and go after the most important first, while saving the least important till last. The issues you face could include securing new leadership, consolidating and educating your Vestry, building a network of support within your Diocese, stabilizing your, congregation, etc. Take first things first. Operate in God’s time. Don’t be stampeded to early and untimely actions. The Primates will move over the next months to build a growing and determined solution to the crisis. It will be good to follow their lead and that of the AAC Bishops.
e. Be measured, deliberate and courageous in your responses, “Wise as serpents and gentle as doves was Jesus’ phrase for it! This is a moment for courageous and clear leadership. Watch out for the spirit of anger or self-righteousness! It will kill fractured parishes.
f. Join and build the network of churches committed to biblical values and faith. There will be safety in numbers. See if there are other parishes in your diocese who could also apply for AEO. Work in partnership with us in the AAC. Either we hang together or we hang separately! And don’t forget (when it seems like you are all alone) that Christ himself has promised to walk with us through these times!
g. Familiarize yourself with the strategy affirmed in Dallas in October and talk and pray about how you can apply it locally. It can be found here:
h. Keeping close to Christ is essential. Read your Bible. Pray lots. Be aware of Satan’s opposition and resist him. Worship regularly. Stay in good fellowship with close Christian friends. Watch out for your own emotions, especially anger and frustration, and remember that the Holy Spirit’s leading is not the same as your emotions! We will be of no use to the Lord Jesus in these struggles if we are not fully His!
i. Remember confidentiality! Much is at stake over these next months. The careers of godly men and women, the possibility of congregational survival, the Anglican witness to Christ in our culture and generation, etc. We ask you not to spread these emails over the internet, and to speak of them only to people you trust. In the end, everything will be spoken plainly, but the ability to get organize and take counsel together effectively depends upon our readiness to keep confidentiality.

Here are some Internet resources that might be of value in keeping you informed…

A site in Great Britain: “Crisis 2003”
Kendall Harmon’s excellent web site
David Virtue’s web page with a wide ranging collection of news stories
The American Anglican Council AAC Legal Resources page
The AAC Dallas Strategy affirmed by over 2300 people
Guidelines and Application for the AAC’s Adequate Episcopal Oversight

We will keep all details of our contact with parishes in confidence. Please do not hesitate to keep in touch with me or with the AAC office if we can be of further help. God bless you, as you courageously serve Christ and his gospel.

Here is my contact information…
Geoffrey W. Chapman
Rector, St Stephens Sewickley, Pa

AP | Episcopal Bishops Reject Ultimatum

AP Religion Writer

Episcopal bishops did not respond to the Anglican demand about gay bishops and blessing ceremonies. However, the leaders noted that they had previously met requests not to approve another gay bishop "at great cost to many, not the least of whom are our gay and lesbian members," only to have Anglican leaders say the pledges weren't sufficient.


The Rev. Susan Russell of the Episcopal gay advocacy group Integrity compared the bishops' statement to a "coming out process."

"This was a huge step that the American church was not willing to go back into the closet about its inclusion of gay and lesbian people in order to capitulate to those who would exclude us," Russell said.

Click here to read the rest. NOTE: This hyperlink may not last long.

New York Time | Episcopal Church Rejects Demand for a 2nd Leadership

Published: March 22, 2007

Bishop John Chane of Washington, D.C., said in an interview, "It was very clear that the majority of bishops, wherever they were on the theological spectrum, agreed that this scheme doesn’t match with who we are as the Episcopal Church."


Several bishops also said in interviews that they believed that the pastoral council arrangement was intended to strengthen the position of conservative parishes or dioceses that want to leave the Episcopal Church and take their property with them. The breakaway parishes could claim that they came under the new pastoral council guided by the primates, and that the council was the highest authority in the Episcopal Church’s hierarchy.

Bishop Mark Sisk, of New York, said in an interview, "The concern is that that would indicate we are, in some sense, subservient to the primates, rather than simply a church in fellowship with them. And that could have significant legal implications."


"It’s a good day to be an Episcopalian," said the Rev. Terry Martin of Holy Spirit Church, Tuckerton, N.J., who writes a liberal blog that is called fatherjakestopstheworld.

Click here to read the rest.

Washington Post | Episcopal Bishops in U.S. Defy Anglican Communion

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 22, 2007; Page A03

The presiding bishop of the U.S. church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, told reporters yesterday that during the Tanzania meeting she invited Williams to visit the United States this year, and that he said his schedule was full.

That answer "did not sit well" with the U.S. bishops, said Washington Bishop John B. Chane, who noted that the resolution asking for an urgent meeting with Williams was written by a conservative bishop, John Howe of Central Florida, and received unanimous approval.


Chane, who is widely viewed as a liberal bishop, said the primates' demands "galvanized" his colleagues. "I think the primates underestimated how the bishops would respond, because until now we've been rather passive," he said. "My personal feeling is, they overplayed their hand."

Click here to read the rest.

Nigeria Bill likely to be passed today

Urgent news reaching me from Abuja just now that the house is likely to debate its report today and pass the bill that will criminalise homosexuals even further and threaten us and our supporters with prison.

I ask for your urgent prayers today.

Davis Mac-Iyalla
Director Changing Attitude Nigeria

NJ Star-Ledger | Newark Episcopal bishop votes with majority on gay rights

Posted by The Star-Ledger March 22, 2007 4:39 PM
Contributed by Jeff Diamant

Newark Episcopal Bishop Mark Beckwith said today that he voted with the majority of the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops on resolutions that will likely to increase the divide between the liberal denomination and its worldwide body, the Anglican Communion.
"The (Anglican) primates wanted us to sacrifice -- it felt like -- the rights and privileges and gifts of the gay and lesbian and transgendered people, for the sake of community," Beckwith, said from George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where he was awaiting a flight back to New Jersey. "We don't use anybody as pawns in any kind of process.

"Their request really doesn't honor the way we function," he said. "We're in a relationship with them, but our accountability is to...other (Episcopalians)."

Click here to read the rest.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dave Walker's Latest Cartoon

Don't miss Dave Walker's latest cartoon about our bishops' response to the primatial vicar scheme.

Click here!

Bishop Chane writes to the diocese (of Washington)

These resolutions make clear that in spite of our differences on human sexuality and other issues, a solid majority of the House viewed the recommendations contained in the Primates' communiqué from Tanzania as offensive to our Church and disrespectful of the way that we discern and respond to God’s will. Our democratic polity is not universally admired within the Communion, but I was encouraged to see so many bishops resist the Primates’ call for our House to act unilaterally. We are a hierarchical church to be sure, but in our governance, the voice of bishops is balanced by the voices of the clergy and laity.

Click here to read the rest.

A Message to God's People

A Message to God's People ... from the Bishops of the Episcopal Church

From the summary letter to the church released at the end of the Camp Allen House of Bishops Meeting:

We believe that the leaders of the Church must always hold basic human rights and the dignity of every human being as fundamental concerns in our witness for Christ. We were, therefore, concerned that while the Communiqué focuses on homosexuality, it ignores the pressing issues of violence against gay and lesbian people around the world, and the criminalization of homosexual behavior in many nations of the world.

Read it all here

Washington Post | God and His Gays

By Harold Meyerson
Wednesday, March 21, 2007; Page A15

Science is stealing up on America's religious fundamentalists, causing much alarm. Consider the dilemma of the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and a leading figure in the Southern Baptist firmament.

Writing in his blog this month, Mohler acknowledged that "the direction of the research" increasingly points to the possibility that a "biological basis for sexual orientation exists." Should sexuality be determined in utero, Mohler continued, that still wouldn't justify abortion or genetic engineering.

Nonetheless, as Mohler noted in a later blog post, his admission that the data suggest that homosexuality may be as genetically determined as hair color produced a torrent of irate e-mail from his fellow evangelical Christians...

Click here to read the rest.


620 Park Avenue #311 Rochester, NY 14607-2943


March 21, 2007—Integrity is gratified by the strongly worded resolutions passed yesterday by the House of Bishops. "The bishops have offered the church a way forward that affirms both its commitment to the Anglican Communion and its commitment to the gay and lesbian baptized," said Integrity President Susan Russell. "It is a sign of both health and hope for all Episcopalians that the bishops have refused to be blackmailed into abandoning the historic polity of the Episcopal Church by threats of institutional exclusion from the Anglican Communion. For gay and lesbian people, the bishops' actions bring us closer to turning the church's 1976 commitment to a 'full and equal claim' from a resolution to a reality."

By rejecting the proposed "Pastoral Scheme" and urging the Archbishop of Canterbury to meet directly with them, the House of Bishops has proactively claimed their leadership as bishops in the Church of God—and Integrity applauds them for it. At the same time, by including the Executive Council in their process, they have resisted the temptation to speak "for" the church—we believe that action deserves even greater applause.

Finally, we concur with the bishops' statement that "…the number of those who seek to divide our Church is small, and our Church is marked by encouraging signs of life and hope." Integrity is committed to the growth, strength, and vitality of this Episcopal Church—which we claim as our church. We believe the increasing participation of gay and lesbian people in all orders of ministry and the blessing and celebration of our relationships are among those signs of life and hope. We look forward to opportunities in the days ahead to continue to bear witness to signs of life and hope. We will continue to challenge our church to live into its high calling to fully include all of the baptized into the Body of Christ. There are miles to go before we rest, but today Integrity celebrates with our bishops and with our church in making a giant step forward on that journey.


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

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


From Elizabeth Kaeton at her blog Telling-Secrets

A Letter to the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire from your Bishop
March 21, 2007

I write to you on the last day of the week-long meeting of the House of Bishops, in Navasota, Texas. While an official “word to the church” will come from the House as a whole, at the conclusion of our meeting, news of actions taken yesterday at our business session will be appearing today. I want you to have my own reactions to go along with what you will read.

This has been an extraordinary meeting of the Bishops, characterized by respect, thoughtfulness and careful discernment, always done in the context of fervent prayer. There is a calm and peace about our meeting I have not experienced before, due in no small part to the non-anxious, but strong, leadership of our new Presiding Bishop.

As you no doubt know, the Primates of the Anglican Communion, at their recent meeting in Tanzania, issued a number of ultimatums to The Episcopal Church, with the demand that they be responded to by September 30. The Primates have made these demands of the Bishops of The Episcopal Church out of what seems to me to be either an ignorance of our polity (the structural ways by which we govern ourselves) or an unwillingness to accept that polity, which says that the governance of our Church is not undertaken by Bishops alone, but rather by a joint governance by bishops, clergy AND laity.

Part of those demands had to do with asking for an unequivocal moratorium on the consecration of partnered gay or lesbian people as bishops, and a moratorium on the blessing of same sex unions. Dire, although not articulated, consequences are threatened if such action is not taken. A process is being set in motion by our Presiding Bishop for us to talk with all the people of our church over the next several months in preparation for responding to these specific demands.

However, one action taken by the Primates has consumed much (but by no means all) of our time. This action was not asked of us, but rather was already set in motion to be imposed upon us by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Primates. That action, described as a “Pastoral/Primatial Scheme,” would create a Primatial Vicar, who would oversee those dioceses who feel they cannot function under the authority of our Presiding Bishop, either because they believe her to be “unorthodox” in her views (consenting to my election in 2003, and allowing same sex unions in her former diocese), or in the case of three of those dioceses, because she is a woman, and therefore unfit matter for ordination in the first place.

Our Presiding Bishop would, according to the plan, be “helped” in the appointment of this “Primatial Vicar” and the supervision of his/her work by a “Pastoral Council,” made up of people appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates, plus two appointed by our Presiding Bishop. This would be a Council in which our own Presiding Bishop and those appointed by her would not even constitute a majority. This process was already under way before we arrived at our meeting in Texas, with the Archbishop of Canterbury closing the nomination process for this Council prior to our arrival.

I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of our bishops – progressive and conservative alike – see this as an unfair, illegal and wholly unprecedented assault on the polity and internal integrity of The Episcopal Church. Never before has any constituent member of the Anglican Communion been subjected to the authority of such an external body. Fears were expressed by most bishops that this would move us closer to a centralized authority in the Communion, and constituted an unwarranted and un-Anglican arrogation of authority to the Primates, unprecedented in the 500 years of our Anglican tradition and practice. It seemed to most of us that it was important to put a stop to this assault on our polity now, before it went any further.

Three resolutions were passed yesterday, with considerable, and sometimes overwhelming, majorities:

The first resolution called upon the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church (the elected body of laity-clergy-bishops who act for our General Convention, between General Conventions) to decline to participate in such a Pastoral Scheme, and to seek OTHER ways of meeting the pastoral needs of those dioceses who are not happy with the actions of The Episcopal Church. (The Presiding Bishop and Executive Council have numerous options for doing so, without the interference of groups of Bishops/Archbishops external to our Church, and our Presiding Bishop has signaled that she is ready and willing to do so.)

Second, the Bishops in a unanimous vote expressed their common desire to find a way to live together in the Episcopal Church during these contentious times, and called upon the Archbishop of Canterbury to meet with our House of Bishops face to face – a request he has steadfastly refused as recently as the Primates Meeting in Tanzania, claiming his calendar is too full to meet with us this year. We have asked him to reconsider, believing that this is not too much to ask of the Archbishop of Canterbury, given the seriousness of the issues which face the Communion, and given his having NEVER met with us since assuming his office.

Third, we offered a message to the Church for study and education, outlining our attempts to meet, in good faith, the requests made of us by the larger Communion, and the consistent rebuffs we have received in response. We re-articulate our profound desire to remain a part of the Communion – a desire that is shared by us all. We go on to enumerate the reasons we cannot and will not participate in the proposed Pastoral Scheme. And finally, we state as clearly as we can, the nature of who we are as a Church and our belief that the Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to a union in which ALL the children of God – including women and gay and lesbian people – are called to full participation in the life and ministry of our Church.

While we cannot know what the reaction will be to these statements throughout the Communion, we must be who we are – the Church struggling to live out faithfully the ministry God has given us in this place and time. Like many great reformers before us, “Here we must stand. We can do no other.”

I believe these actions are true to our polity and to our identity as a Church. No matter how the media might portray this as a “slap in the face” to the Communion/Primates, it was not! We calmly and thoughtfully have said “no” to this encroachment on our polity and authority as a Church. We have also pledged ourselves to meeting the pastoral needs of the minority within our Church who are upset by the directions we have taken and by the leadership we have elected. We will also take seriously the demands made of us by the Primates – in consultation with the lay and clerical leadership of this Church, as demanded by our polity. That is not a slap in the face, but rather a responsible and respectful response to the inappropriate demands made of us.

I think you would have been proud of us as your Bishops. The manner and tenor of our decision-making was kind, respectful and prayerful. This was not about politics, but about this part of the Body of Christ attempting to exercise its leadership in appropriate and lawful ways. It was about respecting ALL the orders of ministry in our Church. It was about protecting our Church from inappropriate encroachment on internal matters. It was in the best tradition of the Anglican Communion.

Thank you for your prayers during this time. I have felt your support and love throughout. I have appreciated your attention to these Church issues, WITHOUT losing sight of our real mission as a Church – to proclaim the Good News of Christ in our words and in our actions to a world which so desperately needs to hear it. We will continue as a Diocese to commit ourselves to the Millennium Development Goals as a way of expressing our desire to do our part to meet the needs of a hurting world. We will NOT let these issues distract us from God’s mission – to preach Good News to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to release those in captivity, to bring sight to the blind, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. May God bless us richly in that ministry.

Your bishop and brother,


Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire

LGCM | Lesbian and Gay Christians Welcome American Decision

Media Release For Immediate Use

Archbishops of Canterbury’s Plan to Appease Nigerian Archbishop Collapses

The bishops of The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States of America have made it clear they would not wish The Episcopal Church to follow the recommendations of the Dar es Salaam Anglican Primates Communiqué, issued last month.

In three resolutions passed by the House of Bishops dated 20th March 2007 the bishops urge the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church (the body with overall power between their triennial Conventions) to reject the requests of the Primates of the Anglican Communion for a new Pastoral Scheme in their Church to cater for a dissident minority within TEC.

The bishops also call for a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates Standing Committee and expressed deep concern at the way healing processes established by the Windsor Report had been subverted by the Primates Group. It also called into question the way the Covenant process had been significantly altered and was now being fast tracked.

Separately the bishops also called attention to the way lesbian and gay people were being increasingly persecuted in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world.

The Chief Executive for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement – the Revd Richard Kirker said today 21st March 2007:

"We welcome the resolutions of TEC’s House of Bishops and urge the Executive Committee of the Episcopal Church to respond positively to their views."

"In the acrimonious power struggle that has dogged the Anglican Communion since 2003 the lives and spiritual well being of lesbian and gay Anglicans have been reduced to a bargaining chip in an attempt to buy unity. These resolutions say we are not to be gambled away."

"At last some sanity is breaking into the debate. There is an obvious realisation that the consequences of this pandering to the Puritans means an increasing hostility towards lesbian and gay people so clearly demonstrated by the Archbishop of Nigeria who is fiercely promoting anti-gay legislation in his country contrary to Scripture and all the decisions of Anglicanism over the last 30 years ."

"The Archbishop of Canterbury has much to answer for. His decision to sell us down the river in the short term to buy time has back-fired – the Americans are having none of it and we hope he will now come to see his strategy has failed."

"If the Americans are expelled from the Anglican Communion this will encourage those already bent on our destruction to persecute lesbian and gay people even more."

"Forces of the extreme American right are playing a significant role in the decisions of the Anglican Communion at the behest of Dr Williams – we see this as a dangerous sign of things to come."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

ENS | Bishops request meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury, Primates' Standing Committee

Responding to the recent Anglican Primates' Communiqué, the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops, meeting March 20 in Navasota, Texas, expressed "an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Primates' Standing Committee."

The request came as the second of three "mind of the house" resolutions adopted by the bishops on March 20. The resolutions [full texts here] were debated during the business session scheduled during the House of Bishops' annual spring retreat meeting.

In the afternoon's first resolution, addressed to the Episcopal Church's Executive Council, the House of Bishops "affirms its desire that The Episcopal Church remain a part of the councils of the Anglican Communion" and "pledges itself to continue to work to find ways of meeting the pastoral concerns of the Primates that are compatible with our own polity and canons."

Stating that "the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention," the resolution also declares that "the House of Bishops believes the Pastoral Scheme of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué of February 19, 2007 would be injurious to the polity of the Episcopal Church and urges that the Executive Council decline to participate in it."

The Primates' "pastoral scheme" seeks to establish a pastoral council and a primatial vicar whom the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop would name to provide alternative oversight of dioceses -- seven of the Episcopal Church's 111 -- that have requested such a provision.

A third resolution -- a longer text -- enumerates four reasons why the bishops, hoping "we will continue to be welcome in the councils" of the Anglican Communion "nevertheless decline to participate in the Primates' Pastoral scheme for many reasons."


[The Rt. Rev. Catherine Roskam, bishop suffragan of the Diocese of New York, said,]
"While this was not dealt with by resolution, great concern was expressed about human rights violations for gay and lesbians, particularly in Nigeria, and the need for us as Anglicans and Christians to advocate against it."

Click here to read the rest.

Bishops' Mind of the House Resolutions

Bishops responds to Dar es Salaam Communique

Anglican Resistance notes the following statement:

"It is incumbent upon us as disciples to do our best to follow Jesus in the increasing experience of the leading of the Holy Spirit. We fully understand that others in the Communion believe the same, but we do not believe that Jesus leads us to break our relationships. We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion, and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their differences, often in the name of God. The Dar es Salaam Communiqué is distressingly silent on this subject. And, contrary to the way the Anglican Communion Network and the American Anglican Council have represented us, we proclaim a Gospel that welcomes diversity of thought and encourages free and open theological debate as a way of seeking God's truth. If that means that others reject us and communion with us, as some have already done, we must with great regret and sorrow accept their decision."

Read it all HERE

Money Looms in Episcopalian Rift With Anglicans

This excerpt is from an article in today's New York Times. Click here to read it all.

As leaders of the Anglican Communion hold meeting after meeting to debate severing ties with the Episcopal Church in the United States for consecrating an openly gay bishop, one of the unspoken complications is just who has been paying the bills.

The truth is, the Episcopal Church bankrolls much of the Communion’s operations. And a cutoff of that money, while unlikely at this time, could deal the Communion a devastating blow.


Why do straights hate gays?
An aging 72-year-old gay man isn't hopeful about the future.
By Larry Kramer
LARRY KRAMER is the founder of the protest group ACT UP and the author of "The Tragedy of Today's Gays."

March 20, 2007


Why do you hate gay people so much?

Gays are hated. Prove me wrong. Your top general just called us immoral. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is in charge of an estimated 65,000 gay and lesbian troops, some fighting for our country in Iraq. A right-wing political commentator, Ann Coulter, gets away with calling a straight presidential candidate a faggot. Even Garrison Keillor, of all people, is making really tacky jokes about gay parents in his column. This, I guess, does not qualify as hate except that it is so distasteful and dumb, often a first step on the way to hate. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama tried to duck the questions that Pace's bigotry raised, confirming what gay people know: that there is not one candidate running for public office anywhere who dares to come right out, unequivocally, and say decent, supportive things about us.

Gays should not vote for any of them. There is not a candidate or major public figure who would not sell gays down the river. We have seen this time after time, even from supposedly progressive politicians such as President Clinton with his "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military and his support of the hideous Defense of Marriage Act. Of course, it's possible that being shunned by gays will make politicians more popular, but at least we will have our self-respect. To vote for them is to collude with them in their utter disdain for us.

Don't any of you wonder why heterosexuals treat gays so brutally year after year after year, as your people take away our manhood, our womanhood, our personhood? Why, even as we die you don't leave us alone. What we can leave our surviving lovers is taxed far more punitively than what you leave your (legal) surviving spouses. Why do you do this? My lover will be unable to afford to live in the house we have made for each other over our lifetime together. This does not happen to you. Taxation without representation is what led to the Revolutionary War. Gay people have paid all the taxes you have. But you have equality, and we don't.

And there's no sign that this situation will change anytime soon. President Bush will leave a legacy of hate for us that will take many decades to cleanse. He has packed virtually every court and every civil service position in the land with people who don't like us. So, even with the most tolerant of new presidents, gays will be unable to break free from this yoke of hate. Courts rule against gays with hateful regularity. And of course the Supreme Court is not going to give us our equality, and in the end, it is from the Supreme Court that such equality must come. If all of this is not hate, I do not know what hate is.

Our feeble gay movement confines most of its demands to marriage. But political candidates are not talking about — and we are not demanding that they talk about — equality. My lover and I don't want to get married just yet, but we sure want to be equal.

You must know that gays get beaten up all the time, all over the world. If someone beats you up because of who you are — your race or ethnic origin — that is considered a hate crime. But in most states, gays are not included in hate crime measures, and Congress has refused to include us in a federal act.

Homosexuality is a punishable crime in a zillion countries, as is any activism on behalf of it. Punishable means prison. Punishable means death. The U.S. government refused our requests that it protest after gay teenagers were hanged in Iran, but it protests many other foreign cruelties. Who cares if a faggot dies? Parts of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. are joining with the Nigerian archbishop, who believes gays should be put in prison. Episcopalians! Whoever thought we'd have to worry about Episcopalians?


I think your hate is evil.

What do we do to you that is so awful? Why do you feel compelled to come after us with such frightful energy? Does this somehow make you feel safer and legitimate? What possible harm comes to you if we marry, or are taxed just like you, or are protected from assault by laws that say it is morally wrong to assault people out of hatred? The reasons always offered are religious ones, but certainly they are not based on the love all religions proclaim.

And even if your objections to gays are religious, why do you have to legislate them so hatefully? Make no mistake: Forbidding gay people to love or marry is based on hate, pure and simple.

You may say you don't hate us, but the people you vote for do, so what's the difference? Our own country's democratic process declares us to be unequal. Which means, in a democracy, that our enemy is you. You treat us like crumbs. You hate us. And sadly, we let you.

read it all at LATimes, click HERE

ENS | 'Mutual respect' marks bishops' deliberations

Response to Primates can be 'gracious, not reactive'
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops on March 19 considered the proposed Anglican Covenant and the recent Primates' Communiqué in "a spirit of mutual respect," said Virginia's Bishop Peter Lee, media briefing officer for the day's sessions.

"There has been a spirit of mutual respect in the House especially as we dealt with the Covenant and the Communiqué," Lee said after the agenda's conclusion at 9 p.m.

"There are strongly held views, but also a desire to listen carefully to one another, to the wider Communion, and to our gay and lesbian members.

"I want to follow the direction that our Presiding Bishop has offered in terms of being gracious, generous and adaptive in response to the Primates, not reactive."

Click here to read the rest.

Monday, March 19, 2007

ENS | Interpreting the Proposed Anglican Covenant through the Communiqué

By Katherine Grieb for the House of Bishops
Monday, March 19, 2007

Thank you for the invitation to be with you today. My task is to speak about the process by which the Proposed Anglican Covenant came into being and to contribute one interpretation of where the text is going, that, along with other interpretations, will assist you in your deliberations on behalf of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole. As a member of the Covenant Design Group, along with my colleague Ephraim Radner, I attended its first meeting in Nassau in mid-January. Ephraim and I have divergent views about the covenant process as of this point in time. I will agree that the covenant process has become considerably clearer as a result of the recent Primates' Communiqué. I'm saying, in a nutshell, that the best source for understanding the logic of the proposed Anglican Covenant and the best evidence for how it is likely to be interpreted in the future is the recent Communiqué of the Primates...

Click here to read the rest.

ENS | A presentation to the House of Bishops on the Proposed Anglican Covenant

Steps towards the Covenant

By Ephraim Radner
Monday, March 19, 2007

I want briefly to say something about the Covenant's origins in a practical sense, and then move on to its rationale and content. As most of us know, the proposal for an Anglican Covenant derives almost exclusively from the Windsor Report itself (see e.g. par. 118-120). The proposal came in the context of the Report's recommendations to enhance the unity of the Anglican Communion: "This Commission recommends, therefore, and urges the primates to consider, the adoption by the churches of the Communion of a common Anglican Covenant which would make explicit and forceful the loyalty and bonds of affection which govern the relationships between the churches of the Communion" (118). Several things about such a covenant were noted in the Report, and the "draft" of a possible covenant was included in the Report as an appendix and, in a sense, a "discussion-starter"...

Click here to read the rest.

ENS | Bishops approach Communique, Covenant with prayer, reflection

The Episcopal News Service has just posted its first release on the spring meeting of the House of Bishops currently in session at Camp Allen in the Diocese of Texas.

The release was issued via email with this preface: Note to readers and media representatives: This is the first in a series of daily briefings from the House of Bishops' spring retreat meeting, in session through March 21 in Navasota, Texas. Authorized by the House of Bishops' planning committee, the briefings will provide overviews of current activity. While the retreat meeting is annually closed to reporters and visitors, a written message from the bishops will be released, and a news conference is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on March 21 for media representatives credentialed in advance.

Read the whole report here -- and stay tuned to ENS for updates.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

There's a Party Goin' On

The good news of Jesus is that communion with God is a terrific party and God, not the religious authorities, is in charge of the guest list. Indeed, it is impossible to crash God’s party, because you are always already invited. The religious authorities do so much grumbling, because the “wrong” people keep showing up at the door. They sometimes forget that associating with the “wrong” people is the whole point.

Read it all here.