Friday, September 28, 2007

Bishop McKelvey (Rochester) Debriefs About New Orleans

September 28, 2007

To the Clergy and Lay Leadership of the Diocese


As I traveled home from the House of Bishops meeting, I gave some thought to specific messages that I bring home with me from New Orleans. As you read the various statements, I would ask you to keep the following in mind:

  1. The House of Bishops meeting, which spent considerable time dealing with our words to the Anglican Communion, also spent considerable time in concern and action that related to the ministry and mission of God's Church.
  2. Many of us spent time in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast and learned first hand about issues that are important in both places.
  3. The people in New Orleans were gracious and most appreciative of our meeting in their city. In addition to the appreciation and their pioneer spirit, there is sadness, discouragement, and depression with relatively few mental health resources.
  4. Poverty, which has for so long been part of the landscape, and racism, which helps it continue, has been uncovered by Katrina—a new light shines on the affect of racism and the continuing poverty of many people.
  5. The Episcopal Church in New Orleans and in the Diocese of Mississippi are among the most organized and dedicated forces to help in recovery work of body, mind, and soul.

Regarding the statement made to our Anglican partners, I would say the following:

  • We restated and reconfirmed actions taken by our General Convention 2006. We did not make new statements which would compromise the role of priests, deacons, and lay people in our church's polity.
  • We find ourselves in a place stating that we are not of one mind and that we have a deep and abiding pastoral concern for all the members of this church. Though that appreciation is clear to many of us, it remains a major sadness of mine that we did not more specifically and clearly highlight the ministry , the care, and the gifts of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in the church. I am sorry that we were not clearer with that statement.
  • We quoted the Primates in their May 2003 statement saying that we have a pastoral duty, "to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations." They further stated, ". . . It is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care." This will be honored in the Diocese of Rochester and I believe in many dioceses throughout our church.
  • The incursion of bishops from other provinces and people consecrated from within our church by bishops of other provinces must cease! This is a uniting force in The Episcopal Church. Perhaps nothing else brings us more together than the violation of these actions from the bishops of other provinces.
  • We were able to move the Bishop of New Hampshire's invitation to the Lambeth Conference in 2008 from a personal Gene Robinson issue to a concern of our House of Bishops. It is hoped that ongoing discussion will issue a full participation invitation to Lambeth for the Bishop of New Hampshire.

Finally, we struggled for clarity amidst our differences. We worked hard not to lose ground and to stand as firm as we could. Let us continue the struggle to that end.

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

A Letter From The Presiding Bishop Of The Reformed Anglican Catholic Church

There has been a lot of publicity about the meeting of the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops and the disappointing outcome. In light of the current situation, I felt it necessary to offer our prayerful support to those LGBT persons who had their marginalization reaffirmed. As Susan Russell, the president of Integrity so eloquently put it, "For these same bishops who were blackmailed into bigotry by passing B033 in Columbus reaffirmed yesterday in New Orleans that their commitment to tea at Lambeth trumps their commitment to the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ."

Please read and feel free to forward and/or publish the attached Pastoral Letter to as many people as appropriate.

Peace and blessings,

+Timothy Edwards, Presiding Bishop
The Reformed Anglican Catholic Church

Hurricane HoB Cleanup Continues

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh

Associated Press

Scripps Howard News Service

Diocese of Arizona

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Aftermath Of Hurricane HoB

Episcopal News Service

Anglican Communion News Service

The Living Church

Anglican Journal (Canada)

Changing Attitude (UK)

Changing Attitude Nigeria

Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (UK)

Los Angeles Times

Christian Science Monitor

Chicago Tribune

Agence France Presse

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TEC bishops have bent the knee to the will of the bully

Giles Fraser, Vicar of Putney comments in The Guardian:
After months of "Anglican church to divide" headlines, the end is, at last, nigh. Those Anglicans who are really no more than fundamentalists in vestments will split off and form a version of the continuing Anglican church, or whatever they will call it. And the moderate conservatives and the moderate progressives will settle down to business as usual. After much worry, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be able to have a good night's sleep. The church is safe.


The sad truth is, the issue of homosexuality isn't splitting the Anglican communion: it's uniting it like never before. Before this great global row, we hardly knew each other existed. Anglicans in the pews could hardly care less about Christians in the next door parish, let alone care for those thousands of miles away in Africa or Asia. But as crisis looms, common cause has been achieved. The Rt Rev Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, has brought people together: hands across the ocean, united in homophobia.

It was the Episcopal church that held out longest against unholy unification. But in agreeing to these terms, they too have now bent the knee to the will of the collective bully. The fact that a fringe of rabid evangelicals may now quit the church must not distract from Rowan Williams's achievement in keeping us all together. A crisis has been averted. Gay people remain firmly on the outside; used by the church for vicars and vergers and sacristans, but officially little more than outcasts.

I have never been persuaded that Jesus was gay, as some do believe. But there is no doubt that he too was the outsider, despised and rejected. He also was the victim of official religious persecution. Which is why the other passage that today's Christians ought to give some thought to is the one from St Matthew's gospel that goes: "Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me."

Read it all here

The Morning After

It is "the morning after." I just heard from John Clinton Bradley, who is at the New Orleans airport, and says the place is "lousy with bishops." One is tempted -- on this morning after the House of Bishops meeting -- to add lousy with lousy bishops. For these same bishops, who were blackmailed into bigotry by passing B033 in Columbus, reaffirmed yesterday in New Orleans that their commitment to tea at Lambeth trumps their commitment to the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ.
I keep thinking of the question Stephen Bates asked in his "exit interview" column as religion repoter for the UK Guardian:

Why would any gay person wish to be a Christian? These are people condemned for who they are, not what they do, despite all the sanctimonious bleating to the contrary, men and women despised for wanting the sort of intimacy that heterosexual people take for granted and that the Church is only too happy to bless. Instead, in 2007, the Church jumps up and down to secure exclusive rights to continue discriminating against a minority of people it does not like. What a spectacle the Church has made of itself! What hope of proselytising in a country which has accepted civil partnerships entirely without rancour or bigotry?

And if you're asking yourself that same question this morning (and the emails and comments tell me many of you are), so am I. So are other LGBT leaders around the church. So are our many allies in the struggle for justice and equality.
And, I know for a fact certain, so are some of the very bishops who worked their butts off in New Orleans to craft this compromise response that affirms the status quo of sacramental apartheid for the LGBT baptized AND falls so short of "complying" with the dictates of the Primates that their troops are already gathering "as we speak" to continue to wage the schsim that has become the reason for their being.
Here's how "the other side" (Matt Kennedy on Stand Firm) reads the response:

The Response by the House of Bishops, joined with their earlier responses and those of the Executive Council, represents an utter rejection of the Primate’s request. There is a bold commitment to permit same sex blessings. There is an avenue ripe for exploitation with regard to episcopal consents. And, as was evident in past statement and in this Response, there will be no attempt to provide adequate oversight for dissenting people, parishes, and/or dioceses.

Not only does this statement recognize that a “minority” of bishops authorize same sex blessings, but as a matter of pastoral care they can and will continue to do so within the common life of the Episcopal Church.

The final sentence of the explanation is wholly passive and ndicative. It recognizes a present state of affairs. It does not call the bishops to do anything.

OK ... if Matt hates it we should be happy, right?
Wrong. Yes, they "stood firm" against extraordinary pressure to turn the clock back and to agree to prohibit the blessing of unions in their dioceses "until the communion has come to consensus." (See also: "the cows are on their way home.") They were also pushed to agree to more mandatory language than B033's "urged to consider restraint" and instead affirmed that B033 stands as a resolution of the church at this point in our history. (That's a fact and it sucks and we'll change it in 2009 and here we are.)
But while they "stood firm" against turning the clock back they utterly failed to move the church forward. In making the concessions they made they doomed us to another season of "As the Anglican World Turns" -- a series which should have been cancelled in 2006 and just keeps on running.
Rather than build the Kingdom they chose to cater to the Communion. They chose to be politicians rather than prophets. The LGBT faithful are the collateral damage from their failure to lead but the greater victim is the mission and ministry of a church afraid to claim the courage of its convictions and let the chips fall where they may.
Finding hope in the fact that the bishops didn't back down does NOT mean we settle for them not leading us forward. THAT, as I said in the release yesterday, is where we now turn our energy and attention. To influencing the Listening Process at Lambeth -- and some of us travel to London next month for meetings with Anglican colleagues toward that goal.
To repeal B033 at GC09 ... and that means electing deputies in your dioceses who "get" that we may have to stand up to our bishops in Anaheim.
To continue to move the church forward on Same Sex Blessings and end sacramental apartheid in this church once and for all.
I stand by Integrity's statement issued yesterday. I am "gratified that the final response from the House of Bishop declined to succumb to the pressure to go backwards, but rather took some significant steps forward." And that would be yesterday's news.
Today's news is that not being thrown under the bus does not mean we settle for riding in the back of it. The bishops' response from New Orleans included this proclamation: 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.
To quote from Ed Bacon's sermon from last Sunday,
"Emancipation requires more than proclamation." Dr. King said, "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." William Sloane Coffin said about him, "Dr. King’s message was that it is not enough to suffer with the poor; we must confront the people and systems that cause poverty. It was Martin’s message that you cannot set the captive free if you are not willing to confront those who hold the keys. Without confrontation compassion becomes merely commiseration, fruitless and sentimental.
Today's news is our resolve to continue to confront those who proclaim out of one side of their mouth that we are are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church while they institutionalize our marginalization out of the other side.
And today's news is that we are going to keep it up -- until there's not a single stranger left at the gate or until the cows come home ... whichever comes first.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Oasis/California Responds To HoB Statement

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--Actions by American bishops are unlikely to change how the Episcopal Church ministers to lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people around the Bay Area, the president of the Episcopal Diocese of California's Oasis ministry to LGBT people said today.

"Across the Bay Area, many Episcopal Churches will continue to welcome, baptize, confirm and bless LGBT individuals, couple and families," Oasis President Thomas Jackson said. A list of Bay Area Episcopal Churches that welcome LGBT people is available on the Oasis California website.

"On balance, we lost little ground in the bishop's actions. We gained the bishop's 'unequivocal support for civil rights for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons;' support for including the church's only openly gay bishop in an upcoming Anglican council; and affirming LGBT people are part of this church," Jackson said. "These are important steps forward."

Technically, he added, a rite for blessing same gender couples has yet to be approved in the Diocese of California. In the absence of an approved rite, Bishop of California Marc Andrus has established a process for clergy to use in same gender blessing gender couples. Proposed rites for blessing same gender couples will be considered next month during the diocese's 2007 convention.

"We're disappointed the bishops made more explicit their intention to refuse to approve any 'non-celibate gay and lesbian persons' who are selected by a diocese to become a bishop. It is ironic for bishops to adopt this form of discrimination and at the same time voice a 'clear and outspoken in our shared commitment to establish and protect the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons," Jackson added. "By making their discrimination against gay or lesbian bishops more blatant, the bishops have simply set the stage for a reversal of this action at the Church's next General Convention in 2009."

House of Bishops Stands Firm

620 Park Avenue #311 Rochester, NY 14607-2943

September 25, 2007


NEW ORLEANS—The members of Integrity have prayed unceasingly for their bishops as they met this week to consider a response to the primates' communiqué. The bishops were pressured by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other international guests to comply with the primate's demands. The bishops struggled mightily amongst themselves to achieve a clear consensus on how to respond. Integrity is gratified that the final response from the House of Bishop declined to succumb to the pressure to go backwards, but rather took some significant steps forward.

We are encouraged by their strong language against the incursions of uninvited bishops into this province, their commendation of the Anglican Listening Process, their unequivocal support that the Bishop of New Hampshire should receive an invitation to the Lambeth Conference, and their affirmation of safety and civil rights for LGBT persons.

Integrity President Susan Russell said, "In response to requests for 'clarity' the House of Bishops made it clear today that the Episcopal Church is moving forward in faith. I believe today’s response will be received as a sign of great hope that we are committed to working through the hard ground of our differences. I look forward to taking the support of the House of Bishops for the Listening Process with me when I and other Integrity representatives meet with Anglican colleagues in London next month to prepare for our witness at the Lambeth Conference."

"Integrity is confident that The Episcopal Church will continue to move forward," concluded Russell. "Integrity expects General Convention 2009 to be a tipping point for equality. We will be working hard in the months ahead to repeal B033 and to authorize development of a rite for blessing same-sex relationships as steps toward the goal of the full inclusion of all the baptized into the Body of Christ."


The Rev. Susan Russell, President
714-356-5718 (mobile)

Mr. John Gibson, Director of Communications

A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners

House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church
New Orleans, Louisiana
September 25, 2007

In accordance with Our Lord's high priestly prayer that we be one, and in the spirit of Resolution A159 of the 75th General Convention, and in obedience to his Great Commission to go into the world and make disciples, and in gratitude for the gift of the Anglican Communion as a sign of the Holy Spirit's ongoing work of reconciliation throughout the world, we offer the following to the Episcopal Church, the Primates, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), and the larger Communion, with the hope of "mending the tear in the fabric" of our common life in Christ.

"I do it all for the sake of the Gospel so that I might share in its blessings." 1 Corinthians 9:23


The House of Bishops expresses sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates for accepting our invitation to join us in New Orleans. By their presence they have both honored us and assisted us in our discernment. Their presence was a living reminder of the unity that is Christ's promised gift in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Much of our meeting time was spent in continuing discernment of our relationships within the Anglican Communion. We engaged in careful listening and straightforward dialogue with our guests. We expressed our passionate desire to remain in communion. It is our conviction that The Episcopal Church needs the Anglican Communion, and we heard from our guests that the Anglican Communion needs The Episcopal Church.

The House of Bishops offers the following responses to our Anglican Communion partners. We believe they provide clarity and point toward next steps in an ongoing process of dialogue. Within The Episcopal Church the common discernment of God's call is a lively partnership among laypersons, bishops, priests, and deacons, and therefore necessarily includes the Presiding Bishop, the Executive Council, and the General Convention.


  • We reconfirm that resolution B033 of General Convention 2006 (The Election of Bishops) calls 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."
  • We pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.
  • We commend our Presiding Bishop's plan for episcopal visitors.
  • We deplore incursions into our jurisdictions by uninvited bishops and call for them to end.
  • We support the Presiding Bishop in seeking communion-wide consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.
  • We call for increasing implementation of the listening process across the Communion and for a report on its progress to Lambeth 2008.
  • We support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.
  • We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety, and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.

Click here to read the entire statement.
An Integrity press release will be posted soon.

Episcopal bishops see "clear" statement on gays

By Russell McCulley

NEW ORLEANS, Sept 24 (Reuters) - U.S. Episcopal Church bishops, hammering out a response to a request by the broader Anglican Communion that it stop ordaining openly gay bishops, said on Monday its answer would be "clear and unambiguous."

The church also said it would not withdraw its support for gay and lesbian church members, indicating that the Anglican struggle over the issue between liberals and traditionalists that could split the worldwide church is far from over.

"We want that statement to be clear and unambiguous and we are working in that direction," Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta told a news briefing in New Orleans, where the House of Bishops has been meeting.

The church leaders will wrap up six days of meetings on Tuesday with a response to the request made by senior Anglican bishops meeting in Tanzania earlier this year.

Those bishops asked that the U.S. church, by the end of this month, renounce the blessing of same-sex marriages and agree not to allow more non-celibate gays to become bishops.

"Are we going to withdraw our support of gay and lesbian people in the church? No, we're not ... They're fully enfranchised members of our body," said Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles.

"Are we going to do anything that will exacerbate this situation? No, I don't think we will."

Click here to read the rest.

House of Bishops talks make 'enormous progress,' go into overtime

Bishops discount earlier reports of draft document

By Pat McCaughan and Mary Frances Schjonberg, September 24, 2007

[Episcopal News Service, New Orleans] After a day of mostly closed-door and overtime sessions, Episcopal bishops on September 24 said they'd made "enormous progress" toward a productive response to the concerns of Anglican Primates.

"This is a continuing process of discernment and clarification of the relationship of the Episcopal Church with the whole Anglican Communion" as regards church polity, the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire and other issues arising from that decision, Bishop David Alvarez of Puerto Rico told reporters at an evening news conference.

"Through this process we have proven the quality of life of this church in which we can talk openly with each other and in which we can differ but also pray together," he added.

He was joined by Bishop J. Neil Alexander of Atlanta and Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles, who called earlier reports about a draft document inaccurate. "There is no draft at this point," Alexander said emphatically. "We've made enormous progress today in building a very strong and broad consensus in the House of Bishops but we still have work to do."

The bishops said they want to respond in as clear and concise a manner as possible to the Anglican Primates' February 19 communiqué, issued in Dar es Salaam, and which asked the House of Bishops to "make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention."

It also asked that bishops respond to their request to "confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion" by September 30.

"We are working very closely with one another, whether conservative or liberal or moderate" to come up with a response, Bruno said.

In response to a reporter's queries about the future course of the church and possible breakaway dioceses reformulating under an overseas or other archbishop, Alvarez said: "We have been addressing precisely that issue as openly as possible, recognizing the divisiveness and controversy around it. We are very clear that we may have some people who are not in agreement with the majority positions taken by both houses of General Convention, but," he added, "that doesn't mean we can foresee a significant breakaway or division of the Episcopal Church."

Alexander said the challenges of the past few years and throughout the history of the Anglican Communion have shown "over and over how tough the fabric of our common life is. We have experienced a hard pull on our fabric but we're a tough bunch. We're faithful to the mission and ministry of Jesus and we believe that, at the end of the day, the Anglican Communion will find a way forward in mission and ministry."

Despite repeated efforts to focus the news conference on issues of human sexuality and possible schism, the bishops emphasized that the tone of their conversations are respectful, and their goal is to develop a clear, concise response for the Primates without reversing support for gay and lesbian people.

"Are we going to withdraw our support of gay and lesbian people in the church -- no," Bruno said. "They are fully enfranchised members of our body." But he added: "Are we going to do anything to exacerbate this situation? No, we won't, and we're waiting to see how our response will be received."

Alvarez agreed, adding that is an "issue of justice, love and the Gospel. That's not something you turn back."

Click here to read the rest.

A Message From The Consultation To The House Of Bishops

September 24, 2007

The Consultation

Episcopal Urban Caucus
Episcopal Peace Fellowship
Episcopal Women’s Caucus
Union of Black Episcopalians
Episcopal Ecological Network
National Episcopal AIDS Coalition
Province VIII Indigenous Ministries
Episcopal Church Publishing Company
Episcopal Network for Economic Justice
Episcopal Asiaamerica Ministry Advocates
Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission

A message from The Consultation to the House of Bishops as it deliberates its message to the Church.

The thirteen constituent members of The Consultation, representative of the independent justice organizations of The Episcopal Church, meeting September 23-24 in Newark, wish to remind the members of the House of Bishops that they represent one house of the General Convention, and one consistency of the baptized in The Episcopal Church.

Any message you make must be mindful of the fact that the Executive Council has made a very clear statement on the matter before you and that General Convention will not speak on this matter until its meeting in 2009.

We have in mind the language of the Baptismal Covenant which calls us to respect the dignity of every human being. It is not respectful of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers when we tell them that they are full participants in the church and then place restrictions on their participation at any level of the church’s life.

In the preamble of the 2006 platform of The Consultation we affirm that we see the image of God and the Christ in others and ourselves. We believe that all the baptized are called to share in the governance and mission of the Church at all levels. We see the increase of power claimed by the episcopate as imbalance in The Body.

We urge you to have these things in the forefront of your minds and hearts, as you craft this statement. The sacred vows of The Baptismal Covenant and the tradition and heritage of the participatory governance of The Episcopal Church must not be squandered for a single Lambeth conference.

We urge you as bishops not to walk apart from the rest of the priesthood of all believers in The Episcopal Church, and to embrace the unconditional love of God as made incarnate in the radical inclusion of Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit be with you to guide you in all strength and courage in these difficult days as ordained leaders in The Church.

Monday, September 24, 2007

HoB: Struggling To Achieve An "Articulate And Clear" Consensus

Bishops Alvarez, Alexander and Bruno answering press questions at the close of the day. Photo © 2007 by Integrity.

The House of Bishops went in and out of executive session (closed to press) several times this afternoon as they struggled with the draft statement presented this morning. The blogosphere is full of rumors about what transpired in the early afternoon--perhaps argument about how the various resolutions from the bishops would relate to the final statement--but we do know that a second draft of the statement was presented to the bishops in the late afternoon. They went well past their planned end time discussing this draft.

When the bishops finally concluded for the day, a press conference was held. Bishops David Alvarez (Puerto Rico), Neil Alexander (Atlanta), and Jon Bruno (Los Angeles) were the designated spokespersons. They said the statement is not complete, but that they had made progress at reaching consensus. The document will be refined overnight and finished tomorrow--perhaps by noon. Bruno said the bishops were striving for a statement that was "articulate and clear." The other spokespersons echoed the theme of a straightforward response to the primates' communique that reflected the mind of the entire house. They said it is not yet clear how the various resolutions would be incorporated into the final statement, but that the resolutions were contributing to the conversation. They emphasized that the final statement would be much different than the first draft discussed this morning. They stated their belief that the statement would be well received by the Anglican Communion and by the majority of the members of Episcopal Church.

Here's the bottom line for this writer: We don't know what the final statement will say. Let us pray that our bishops will rise to this occasion, but let us not be surprised if we are once again disappointed by the councils of the church.

House of Bishops begins to draft Primates' communiqué response

Episcopal Life Online
September 24, 2007
By Pat McCaughan

[Episcopal News Service, New Orleans] Solidarity with the disenfranchised guided the discussion September 24 as the House of Bishops began to draft its formal statement to the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion culminating its five-day meeting in New Orleans.

Bishops suggested strengthening language regarding the incursion of overseas bishops into dioceses other than their own, and dividing the lengthy draft into two separate documents. One text would deal specifically with hurricane relief and the other with the response to the Primates' communiqué issued in February.

Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana and numerous others suggested that a statement be developed to highlight the need for justice work in all dioceses on issues such as racism, classism, as well as the failed response for hurricane victims. Another document would deal with the response to the February Primates' communiqué.

Bishop Mark Hollingsworth, Jr. of Ohio said "Resolution B033
( is the most honest expression of where the Episcopal Church stands" while asking to clarify language about the blessing of same-gender unions. B033 called for the exercise of restraint when consecrating bishops "whose manner of life" presents a challenge to the wider communion.

Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles also said that the resolution needs to be clearer in saying "that we're going to abide by the decisions of General Convention."

Bishop Wayne Wright of Delaware, who chaired the writing committee, cautioned that the discussion was about a "draft only" and that a final statement would not be released until it had been adopted on September 25 by the bishops. The document itself was withheld and its contents embargoed until it can be finalized.

"This is only a draft," Wright emphasized. "Tomorrow we will perfect and adopt it and then it will be released."

The document is expected to serve as a response to the Primates' communiqué.

After receiving the initial draft, bishops conferred with one another briefly at their tables. Some bishops then moved to microphones to offer responses frequently interrupted with applause and encouragement.

"This process represents what is best about the Episcopal Church and how our bishops work together; our meetings are open and we work together as colleagues to develop a statement that will express fully our minds and our hearts," committee chair Wright said.

Bishop Barry Beisner of Northern California called for strengthening of language regarding bishops' incursions into geographic dioceses other than their own. "General Convention voted for resolution B033 and we stand by what they did," he told bishops.

After spending a day involved in hurricane rebuilding and recovery efforts, bishops said they were "shocked and outraged" at conditions in New Orleans and Mississippi, including delayed and in some cases nonexistent rebuilding and recovery efforts.

Bishop Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina voiced his own sense of "fury at dishonest contractors' exploitation" of hurricane victims, many of whom two years later still face overwhelming devastation. His remarks were heartily applauded.

-- The Rev. Patricia McCaughan is senior associate for parish life at St.
George's Church and Academy in Laguna Hills, California. She is also a correspondent for the Diocese of Los Angeles and Episcopal News Service.

Akinola's Visit To Chicago Area

Associated Press

Chicago Tribune

HoB: Draft Message Presented & Discussed

Bishops line up at microphones to comment on the draft message. Photo © 2007 by Integrity.

Late Monday morning, the House of Bishops (HoB) meeting was opened to the press. Bishop Wright of Delaware introduced a draft message from the HoB. The writing committee took turns reading it aloud to the house. A copy of the document was not provided to the press.

The draft expressed concern for conditions in New Orleans two years after the Hurricane Katrina, but largely dealt with the "requests" in the primates' communiqué.

The draft expressed regret that some bishops choose to leave after the sessions with the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) and did not participate in subsequent dialogs. The ABC and other international visitors made it clear to the House of Bishops that The Episcopal Church (TEC) needs the Anglican Communion (AC) and vice versa. It acknowledged that the bishops clearly heard from the visitors that some in the AC are very concerned about TEC's recent actions.

The draft then listed some very specific responses...

  1. It expressed support for the Presiding Bishop's plan to provide episcopal visitors to parishes who disagree with their bishop's theological position. However, it does not support such episcopal visitors from outside our province.

  2. It expressed a willingness to continue dialog on an alternative primatial oversight plan that meets the pastoral needs of conservative dioceses without violating TEC's constitution. It supported an immediate end to "incursions" by other primates who have ordained bishops in the United States.

  3. It encouraged all provinces to engage in the "listening process."

  4. It acknowledged that the HoB is divided on B033. It asked the AC to be patient with TEC as it continues its dialog on this issue.

  5. It clarified that TEC has not authorized rites for same-sex blessings. It acknowledged that some bishops allow same-sex blessing as a pastoral response to the needs of LGBT people in their dioceses.

  6. It asked the ABC to invite a group of bishops (appointed by the Presiding Bishop) to help the ABC facilitate Gene Robinsons' presence at Lambeth.

  7. It reaffirmed the full equality of LGBT people within the Episcopal Church.
The bishops discussed the draft in table groups for 15 minutes, and then made public comments to the entire house for and against parts of the draft. The writing group will consider these comments as it prepares a second draft-which will be presented to the house on Tuesday.

Yet More Press Coverage Of HoB Meeting

Chicago Tribune

BBC News

Pink News
Chicago Tribune

HoB Photos From Sunday, September 23rd

The Presiding Bishop preaching at Christ Church Cathedral.

The Presiding Bishop dedicating the Elysian Trumpet in memory of Irvin Mayfield, Sr., and all who died in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Irvin Mayfield playing the Elysian Trumpet.

The Presiding Bishop celebrating at Christ Church Cathedral.

Bishop Tom Shaw (Diocese of Massachusetts) during his interview with John Gibson.

All photos © 2007 by Integrity.

Gene preaches in New Orleans

The New Orleans Times Picayune reports on Gene Robinson's sermon at Grace Episcopal Church, Sunday.

As the leadership of the Episcopal Church meets in New Orleans to confront dissension over the role of gays in religious life, the church's first openly gay bishop gave a sermon at a liberal church on Canal Street focused on the inclusiveness of divine love.

Although Robinson occupies the center of the controversy, he did not use the sermon he gave at Grace Episcopal Church on Sunday to advocate for the rights of gay ministers. The sermon, rooted in the Gospel of Luke, nonetheless conveyed his view that the church should embrace outsiders who live "on the edges of acceptable society."

If all scripture were lost save for one story, Robinson said, he would preserve the parable of the prodigal son: a young man who left home, squandered his inheritance and crawled back to his father in shame. His older brother lived a sober life and grew resentful when the father welcomed the wayward son home.

Robinson said the older brother did not understand that "the father's love is big and expansive enough for everyone, for both the good and the bad sons."

His sermon turned on two points: The church should offer a haven for sinners and outsiders who want to repent, and it should be a place where the faithful can come to renew and recharge their commitment to seeing justice done in the world.

"You and I are called to take a risk, trusting in God who loves us beyond all our imagination," Robinson said.

Read it all here.

HOB: Back to Back Conversations

September 23, 2007

by John Gibson

If you want a double dose of the good, the bad and the uncertain, schedule back-to-back interviews with Tom Shaw Bishop of Massachusetts and Barry Morgan Archbishop of Wales on the Sunday evening before the real debates start at the House of Bishops on Monday.

Rowan’s gone home. Actually, he’s off to Armenia in a matter of days. Now the bishops have eaten their fill of spicy seafood and reality is setting in, like indigestion.

But first, Tom Shaw, in blue cashmere mufti, says he has no idea how things are going to turn out. He allows that the experience so far has been “sobering,” that the Archbishop of Canterbury has been “more optimistic in his remarks to the press than when he spoke with us.” What I want to know is whether LGBT folks are going to be happy or not with where the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church lands in its ‘mind of house’ responses to the Primates’ ultimatums. (Call them ‘requests’ if that makes you feel less threatened.)

“That’s a good question. It’s really hard to say.” Shaw takes a long pause. Reminds me of the even longer pause when the Archbishop had to search, at Friday’s press conference, for words of hope for the lesbian and gay baptized. Shaw finally says, “There is a real majority in the house who want to stay in the Anglican Communion.” Translation: “The house is pretty much where we were following General Convention [June ’06]. There will likely be some affirmation of B033, a recognition that that’s where we are as a church.” I’d say that means, the LGBT baptized will be disappointed.

Shaw is sharing candidly what he expects, not necessarily what he believes. This is the one bishop in the Episcopal Church who really has marriage on his sacramental plate. In Massachusetts, marriage equality is the law, and Tom Shaw helped make it that way. As a key supporter of the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry, he carried a banner to the steps of the statehouse in the fight to secure marriage for all.

I asked him where that journey to the steps of the statehouse began. As for most, Tom Shaw’s activism started in personal exposure to discrimination. “I don’t think I realized how difficult it is for a gay couple in this culture.” In a convoluted pastoral story of a gay couple whose adopted son was refused baptism by a “conservative” parish—apparently believing baptism needed conserving—Bishop Shaw was called in to sort out the mess that sacramental apartheid makes of real lives. It wasn’t his sympathy for the couple in question, though he became friendly with them, but his desire to see that “that child had everything that he deserved” that changed Tom Shaw’s heart. That he says, “much more than standing there with a banner” is what makes the difference for him.

In the end, that’s what it comes down to Tom Shaw—stories about people working with people. One can’t help but wonder whether such stories of collaboration are being lived upstairs at New Orleans’ Intercontinental Hotel tonight.

His grace the Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan showed up for our appointment, smiling, in ‘manpri’s,’ sandals and a plaid campshirt. His first words were anything but casual: “There are some people who are out to wreck the Communion and I think it’s come to that. I’m ready to say publicly what I’ve been saying privately.”

He goes on to reaffirm what he said as part of his appraisal of the Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report: the Episcopalians get a B+ for effort and an A for sincerity. “The U.S. has apologized, asked for forgiveness [and] they’ve gone a heck of a long way and their attitude toward one another and to us has been very respectful…and I don’t see that being reciprocated by the primates.”

Morgan says there are people who are “hellbent on destruction of the Communion” and that “it can’t be about scripture. Jesus has some pretty strong things to say about marriage and divorces and there are provinces who allow divorced people to remarry in the church. It’s not about scripture. It’s about power and money.”

Like Shaw, Archbishop Morgan has known the Archbishop of Canterbury for a long time and succeeded him in Wales in 2003. “[Rowan] ends up bending over backwards to be fair and gracious long after most of us would have given up. His heart is where it’s always been. His job is to hold the communion together.” Morgan says Rowan has made his heart’s desire clear, but that “it’s subtle.” Some would say it’s imperceptible.

Morgan is the man who just a few days ago advised the Synod of the Church of Wales that the Anglican Covenant, as proposed, is “a contract, not a covenant,” something designed to entrap. And the Synod followed his lead, became the first province of the Anglican Communion to formally reject the covenant as it stands.

But before you start high-fiving with your civil partner, this is the same man who says, “I suppose I’m revealing both my age and my prejudices when I say I believe marriage is between one man and one woman. My children don’t understand at all. They don’t see the issue.”

Ultimately, when asked to predict where the American House of Bishops will land, His Grace Barry Morgan says he’s hopeful it will lead people to see “the other half of Lambeth 1:10, about listening to the experience of gay and lesbian people.” Ah, the Listening Process. The favored chestnut comes up again, this time as a hoped-for outcome of the House of Bishops meeting. When I listen to those words, even with the charm of Morgan’s Welsh accent, what I hear is Tom Shaw’s “It’s the best we can do.”

So that’s the good and the uncertain—there’s not really any bad coming from these two—on the eve of getting down to the nitty gritty of this House of Bishops meeting.

Barry Morgan has to go to a confab he’s already half an hour late for, but before he does, he says, “I just hope that the Anglican Communion can be the kind of communion I always thought it was.” I’m thinking, if only it could be the kind of communion Tom Shaw and Barry Morgan claim it wants to be.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

HOB UPDATE: Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana
Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Feast of Philander Chase
Organizer of the first Anglican congregation in the Louisiana Purchase

Katharine Jefferts Schori Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church
celebrating and preaching

Before Katrina, New Orleans was probably glad to be taken mostly for granted by the world. It was a place you never had to visit but always felt you knew. Except for a few gnawing issues like endemic poverty and crime, New Orleanians probably felt they didn’t need too many outsiders messing up their good thing. Guests, tourists, the more the merrier. As long as you didn’t stay too long or, as the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops has done this week, get too serious.

By the same token, they’re probably a little embarrassed to be so beholden to outsiders now. But Katrina left them with no choice. They need the all these do-gooders, even the ones who don’t know gumbo from etouffée. Since Washington seems to suffer short-term memory loss where New Orleans is concerned, this city needs us, all of us.

That’s why, I think, when Christ Church Cathedral filled up with bishops from all over America and around the world this morning, something maybe important was happening. It was like a blessing, a laying on of hands, an hommage for this city without which world culture would be—well let’s just understate and say it wouldn’t be the same.

What the presence of all these Anglicans here means, and what today’s services—celebrated in Episcopal Churches all over town—did was to make holy, in some way, the debt we all owe to this culture of radical welcome. Because that’s what it really is about New Orleans, isn’t it? There is no hospitality so generous as that refined over the centuries here. There is no embrace less judgmental than the one New Orleans gives the world. This is no Cincinnati. Or Paris. Music, food, conviviality, love of God, love of life, all given freely. That’s what seemed to be the point today, a high church enactment of obeisance to this place who we need at least as much as it needs us.

And that’s where the struggles of the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans come in. When the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori took the pulpit today she said “…those forced to travel or even start over with nothing can find grace along the way when something or someone connects them with what they knew of home.”By Tuesday, will The Episcopal Church be forced to start over and look for new ways to connect with home? I hope not. But it’s the ‘forced’ part that seems to threaten, the loss of latitude in belief and practice, in Katrina terms, of being trapped between the lake and river.

Maybe that’s what +Katharine was talking about, in part, when she drew metaphors from the city’s evacuation, “Traveling light can be a wrenching grief when it is forced not chosen. Yet, “ she added, “it can also hold the seeds of grace.” It’s the same grace that the do-gooders receive in return for “helping to heal a house that has been lost.” One prays the Anglican house will not be entirely lost here in New Orleans, that in fact, New Orleans will have rekindled the radical welcome in ourselves and our churches. For as our Presiding Bishop said in closing, what New Orleans has taught us is that “when the saints go marching in it’s going to have to be every last one of us.”

Oh, I want to be in that number.


Speaking of saints, my colleague John Clinton Bradley takes over the New Orleans blog tomorrow. More facts, less preaching. Enjoy.

More Press Coverage Of HoB Meeting

Chicago Tribune

Washington Post

USA Today


Agence France Presse

New York Times

Bishop Andrus Speaks to ABC & HoB

Here's the full text of remarks Bishop Marc Andrus' statement in the House of Bishops on Thursday:

"Most Reverend Sir, Honored Guests from the Communion,

"I am Marc Andrus, Bishop of the Diocese of California. I have been given the grace of serving a diocese that encompasses enormous diversity, both in what we call the natural environment, and also in what we might call human ecology. I grew up in the American South where to my consciousness human diversity was cast in terms of Black and White.

"In the California Bay Area the societal parameters for inclusion, outside even the concerns of the Church, are wide ranging: gender, ethnicity, economic, and sexual orientation. All of these parameters have received intense attention in the civil society, and have also been the concerns of the Episcopal Church in the Bay Area.

"With respect to sexual orientation, it must be said that the Episcopal Church is the main refuge for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people who are seeking to lead a Christian life. These people are primarily not natives of the Bay Area, they come from all over the United States and indeed the world. They have come to San Francisco and the Bay Area seeking a life where they are not subjected to discrimination and violence, where they can lead normal lives, and in some cases, Christian lives. It is my responsibility to provide a context for this search for holiness of life.

"It is also important to say here that the Episcopal Church in the Bay Area is immeasurably enriched by the presence of LGBT people in our parishes and missions. These are gifted, faithful Christian people, lay and ordained, passionate about their faith and church. It is hard to imagine what the Diocese of California would be like without these great people, but I can get something of a picture by remembering the many places I've lived from which they have come to the Bay Area, places where they were barred from employment, pushed out of their homes and families, and yes, found cold welcome in churches, and tragically in some instances, were subjected to physical violence. For every one of these men and women enlivening the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of California there are empty places all over the United States where their graceful presences are missing.

"This is also true for me regarding Gene Robinson. He has helped this body of bishops of the Church with intelligence, passion, humility and great courage over the past four years, and I know he has served his diocese in the same manner. I hope, simply, that there will not be a Gene-shaped space at the Lambeth Conference where the living child of God Gene should be."


Friday, September 21, 2007

HOB UPDATE: “Pastor Rowan”speaks

September 21, 2007, New Orleans
Press Conference
Rowan Williams Archbishop of Canterbury
Katharine Jefferts Schori Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church
Catherine Roskam Bishop Suffragan of New York
Duncan Gray Bishop of Mississippi
Charles Jenkins Bishop of Louisiana

I asked +Rowan what word of hope he had for the gay and lesbian baptized. He repeated assurances of the communion’s stated opposition to discrimination against gay and lesbian persons. I followed up and asked whether that opposition to discrimination applied to the world outside the church but not within the church.

He answered it was a matter of how people perceived a person’s “choice of a style of life” and how that affected what level of role that person was “eligible for” within the church. (‘Choice’ of a ‘lifestyle.’ Flashback to the 70s.) He also said we’re concerned with the appropriate limits of pastoral response to gay and lesbian people.

This press conference has been streamed live and is available online. There will be multiple reports across all media around the world. You can judge Rowan’s answers to my questions and those of others reporting for yourself. For me, I would say the Archbishop of Canterbury seems not to have figured out the limits on his own pastoral responsibilities to the gay and lesbian baptized. And he seems not to have found a way to bridge the discontinuity between a gospel that mandates equality outside the church but not within it.

Presiding Bishop Katharine closed by saying: “the work is not finished here.” Based on the red faces and nervous smiles of Bishops Gray, Jenkins and Roskam, she could say that again.

Church of Wales says no to Covenant

The Church of Wales has voted not to approve the draft version of an Anglican Communion Covenant.
MEMBERS of the Church in Wales have voted not to approve a draft version of the Anglican Covenant.

Dr Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales said he fears the draft covenant will lead to one voice on controversial issues, such as homosexuality, which members would have to sign up to or leave.

All churches in the Anglican worldwide community are considering the Covenant.

Read it all here.

HOB UPDATE: Rowan 'Boogies' in New Orleans

Interfaith Service, Thursday night
Morial Convention Center, September 20, 2007

Bishop Jenkins of Louisiana quoted Rowan Williams to introduce Rowan Williams, saying “let us ‘be unmade to be remade’ and to build a just and inclusive society.” The assembly of at least a thousand, if not the promised thousands, said a loud “Amen!”

You heard right. Jenkins, notable moderate-or-conservative depending on which blog you favor, used the “i” word. And, again depending on your blogifiliation, Williams’ idea of being ‘unmade’ to be ‘remade’ could mean schism or reduced status or realignment or reconciliation or…maybe it just means what it says. (This much we do know: David Virtue threw up his hands in exasperation at the end of Rowan's sermon.)

When he preached, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke to New Orleans in a way that could as easily be applied to any community, any communion. And he evoked, most poignantly, the absences in this city still oddly empty by comparison to its pre-Katrina hub-bub.

He also borrowed the evening lesson’s image of a city where old men and old women may sit contentedly while boys and girls play in the streets as a way of describing a vision of the Godly city, the Godly community. He preached of ‘life-giving idleness’ to city of The Big Easy and got a laugh while making a point. His vision of what New Orleans now lacks, its absences, and its potential to re-make itself as a more Godly city was very alluring.

Lest we forget, a central element of that ‘absent’ city that Rowan eulogized is its centuries-long legacy of lesbian, gay and trans life. New Orleans, that most Roman Catholic of American cities, always had a way of welcoming and accepting the irreplaceable gifts of the gay, lesbian and trans refugees who fled here from the homophobic ‘heartland.’ The absence of that vibrant, contributing, leading culture is one of the critical deficits New Orleans must address if it is to be New Orleans again.

What you missed? A rousing jazz performance by Irvin Mayfield on the “Elysian” trumpet followed by a classic ‘second line’ dance around the auditorium by handkerchief waving Episcopalians. Oh, it was rich! And the spectacle of Rowan and Katharine ‘getting down’ on stage. Yum. And everyone singing two songs that pretty much captured the emotions of the moment. “I’ll fly away” being the wish just to escape all the rancor being forced on us. And finally, “When the saints go marchin in,” signaling the shared hope of a city of God where ALL the old folks and ALL the children will be at their blessed leisure.

Wonder what tune Rowan and Katharine will sing, what vision of communion will they invoke, at today’s lunchtime news conference? Whichever it is, immediately after the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury will ‘fly away’ home.

DIVIDED FLOCK--Episcopal Church Dissidents

Amid Rift Over Gays, Conservatives Go Global; Bishops Made in Africa
September 20, 2007
The Wall Street Journal


The Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity, a group that champions gay and lesbian rights in the Episcopal Church, denounces offshore bishops as the "intercontinental ballistic weapons of schism and division."

Click here to read the entire article.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

HOB Update: Afternoon Briefing Finished.

Afternoon update from New Orleans
September 20, 2007

Bishop John Rabb of Maryland and Bishop Robert O’Neill of Colorado just completed their day-end media briefing from the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans.

According to the bishops, it was a day full of ‘respectful’ yet ‘passionate’ conversation around tables, dialogue which went on through the mortification of boxed lunches (in New Orleans!) and into overtime by almost an hour. Not much breaking news.

This is how the day played out: first came the bishops and, according to Bishop O’Neill, their “reflections on the issues before us.” Then came the Archbishop of Canterbury who “set a context for our conversation.” Table groups of bishops discussed among themselves, posted their thoughts and shared them with the room. Tomorrow morning the Joint Standing Committee visitors get their chance to share reflections. Are you riveted yet?

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave the bishops two “general” questions for study. Bishop Rabb reported them this way: first, how do the bishops see the specifics of their role as bishops? And second, how do the bishops see themselves providing appropriate pastoral care for the church?

The tough questions all got batted away: did the Archbishop discuss “jurisdiction?” O’Neill said, “ all I can say is the subject came up and we had conversation about it.”

David Virtue of Virtue Online wanted to know, “What about the eight bishops being appointed to serve as Episcopal visitors to the orthodox?” O’Neill again, “there was nothing conclusive on that.” Local Times Picayune reporter Bruce Nolan asked, “what’s the nature of that oversight? Will it be fully pastoral.” O’Neill said Bishop Katharine would have to answer that.

One reporter wondered, “did Lambeth come up?” That got a loud, you-bet-it-did laugh from the two bishops. Then David Virtue asked if Gene Robinson would be invited. Can you guess the answer? O’Neill: “Only the Archbishop of Canterbury can answer that.”

The AP wanted to know, “who is going to decide whether the Episcopal Church has responded to the Dar Es Salaam Communique…?” Bishop Rabb said, “it is the Primates who will have to decide that.”

Intriguing question from orthodox Anglican TV, considering the source: “what is the Archbishop of Canterbury doing here, is he here as as a member of the Joint Standing Committee or…? Rabb said, “He’s here as the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

The New York Times wondered whether there was a sense that the stakes are getting higher? And whether among the American bishops who spoke there was some majority opinion emerging. Bishop O’Neill answered (and I hope I’ve got this right):

“I think the best way to characterize our conversation is that collectively as a House of we take our responsibilities very seriously. The conversation today reflected a passionate commitment to the vitality and life of The Episcopal Church and the global Anglican Communion.” I have no reason to doubt it. But so far the serious passion remains behind closed doors. And even though that makes for dull blogs like this one, maybe that privacy is not such a bad thing.

On to the Convention Center and +Rowan preaching “to thousands” as the press releases say.


Now word comes of this latest of the Episcopal Church's extraordinary offers to do extraordinary things...

[Episcopal News Service, New Orleans] Eight bishops have accepted Presiding
Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's invitation to serve as "episcopal
visitors" to dioceses that have requested this provision.

At her request, the Presiding Bishop's canon, the Rev. Dr. Charles
Robertson, advised Episcopal News Service of this measure the evening of
September 19. The announcement preceded the opening plenary session of the
House of Bishops' September 20-25 meeting in New Orleans. Robertson said
Jefferts Schori expected to announce the names of the eight bishops during
that session, which is devoted to the bishops' private conversation with
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and is closed to the public and

Read it all here.


September 20, 2007—morning

The doors are closed, here at the refrigerated Intercontinental Hotel of New Orleans. The House of Bishops have begun their first conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury and invited guests. We may hear a little bit about how that’s going at this afternoon’s media briefing. Immediately after that the Archbishop is set to make a visit to the Ninth Ward, scene of Katrina’s worst ravages. From there, most will go directly to the Morial Convention Center, where the Archbishop will preach at an interfaith service tonight.

Anyone looking for tealeaf readings so far would be hard-pressed to sense anything more than a big dose of bonhomie, complete with backslapping, handshaking and heartfelt hugs going the rounds. But there may be something in Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schoir’s characteristically careful choice of words in her homily at this morning’s opening Eucharist.

Jefferts Schori reported that she has been reflecting a lot on “judgmental language” and how it cuts off the chance for conversation. “None of us is wholly free of blame for we have all sought to judge those who oppose us.” By contrast, she said “beloved is the word before each of our names.” She spoke of “outcasts among us who have not felt beloved,” and suggested that “we need to suspend judgment…and see God’s beloved before us.” Her closing words? “May we be peace for all who are gathered here and all those who await our actions.” Beloved. Peace. Not a bad place to start.

—John Gibson

Bishop Curry: don't back down on commitments to gays and lesbians

The News and Observer is reporting comments by Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina.
Episcopal bishops gather today in New Orleans to consider their response to leaders of the parent church who want them to back down from their commitment to gays and lesbians.
One North Carolina bishop will bring a clear message: Don't do it.

Bishop Michael B. Curry of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina has been listening to members of his diocese, many of whom say he should not bow to demands from the Anglican Communion that the American church stop ordaining openly gay bishops and blessing same-sex unions.

As one Episcopalian put it at a congregational meeting in Raleigh earlier this week, "We don't dictate to them how they should behave, they shouldn't dictate to us how we should behave."

Read it all here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ottawa synod to consider blessing same-sex couples

Anglican Journal
Sep 19, 2007

The diocese of Ottawa's regularly scheduled synod will decide Oct. 12-13 whether to request its bishop to grant permission for clergy to bless same-sex relationships.

It is the first diocese to consider the matter since the triennial General Synod, the Anglican Church of Canada’s national governing body, agreed in June that same-sex blessings are "not in conflict" with core church doctrine, but declined by a slim margin to affirm the authority of dioceses to offer them.

The Ottawa motion, moved by Ron Chaplin, a member of the diocese's branch of Integrity, a support group for gay Anglicans, and Canon Garth Bulmer, rector of St. John the Evangelist, reads: "Be it resolved that this synod requests that the bishop grant permission for clergy, whose conscience permits, to bless duly solemnized and registered civil marriages between same-sex couples, where one party is baptized; and that he authorizes an appropriate rite and guidelines for its use in supportive parishes."

Click here to read the rest.

House of Bishops meeting set to open

Listening can build relationships, lower anxiety, Presiding Bishop's canon says

By Mary Frances Schjonberg, September 19, 2007
[Episcopal News Service, New Orleans] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has assured Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams that he will be received September 20 and 21 by the House of Bishops "with great respect and hospitality."

The Rev. Dr. Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop and Primate, said September 19 that Jefferts Schori had spoken with Williams to discuss meeting arrangements and the bishops' anticipation of their conversations.

Robertson termed "extraordinary" the unanimity with which the House of Bishops voted at its March meeting to invite Williams to meet with them.

"Both he and we recognize the importance of this time, and that it is natural to experience some anxiety" in the current context, Robertson said.

"Our call is to respond to one another, not out of anxiety, but out of an even deeper respect for ourselves and one another, honoring our relationships," he said.

Robertson noted that the Presiding Bishop, in question-and-answer sessions held during her recent travels around the church, has said that "when communion is based on agreement rather than relationship, it is easier for tensions to arise."

Given that potential, Robertson said, "to truly be able to listen to one another is important for finding ways to lower the anxiety."

Jefferts Schori has also reiterated to Williams that the Episcopal Church's Executive Council in June "promised our engagement with the churches of the Anglican Communion and our deep and sincere listening will continue."

Robertson noted that the General Convention both in 1991 and 1994 "encouraged conversation with our sisters and brothers in the Anglican Communion, and our ecumenical partners," and that this desire remains.

In 1991, the General Convention proposed a "Pan-Anglican and Ecumenical Dialogue on Human Sexuality." Resolution B20 said, in part, that the Presiding Bishop's office should "propose to all provinces of the Anglican Communion and all churches with whom we are in ecumenical dialogue that a broad process of consultation be initiated on an official pan-Anglican and ecumenical level as a bold step forward in the consideration of these potentially divisive issues which should not be resolved by the Episcopal Church on its own."

In 1994, Resolution B12 called, in part, for the church to "commit itself to dialogue in faith, with no expectation of uniformity, but every expectation of unity" and "encourage conversation on the issues of human sexuality with both Anglican and ecumenical partners open to such communication at national, diocesan and local levels."

Robertson said that all such listening takes place within a context in which "we also respectfully acknowledge that we have inherited a system of governance that is not necessarily the same as in other parts of the communion."

He added "it is very important to us that we continue to honor not only the concerns of the communion but also our own polity -- our own governance."

Meeting agenda detailed
The House of Bishops unofficially started its regularly scheduled fall meeting with a September 19 dinner, also attended by spouses who are meeting concurrently under the theme "Marching with the Saints."

Williams will meet with the bishops and other invited guests for the entire day on September 20 and for the morning of September 21. They will discuss a variety of subjects, including the recently proposed Anglican covenant and the Primates communiqué. The communiqué made certain requests of the bishops and set a September 30 for their response.

The Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates will attend those conversations, at Jefferts Schori's invitation.

House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson, also invited by the Presiding Bishop, will be present as well.

The sessions with Williams are closed to the public, media and other visitors.

The Joint Standing Committee will then meet as a group on September 24 in the same hotel as the House of Bishops. Williams departs New Orleans the afternoon of September 21 to begin an official visit to Armenia, Syria and Lebanon.

Williams will participate in a September 20 evening interfaith gathering at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, which will celebrate the "Resiliency of Spirit in New Orleans," according to a Diocese of Louisiana news release.

Aspects of poverty and hunger relief targeted by the first of eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals will be the focus of the house's September 21 afternoon session as the bishops join a dialogue with medical anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health medical programs in Haiti and around the world.

A work day for bishops and their spouses is set for September 22. The house's planning committee and local officials are monitoring weather conditions. The work day may have to be re-scheduled depending on the intensity of developing storms.

Many bishops will participate in worship September 23 with Episcopal congregations across Louisiana and Mississippi. The Joint Standing Committee has been invited to witness and take part in re-building initiatives sponsored by the Diocese of Louisiana over the weekend and will likely attend worship in local churches, according to a media advisory from the Anglican Communion News Service.

The bishops will meet in the evening that day to reflect on their weekend experiences with specific attention to the role racism plays in hurricane-recovery efforts. Gus Newport, Eugene "Gus" Newport, a program consultant to the Vanguard Public Foundation and the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, will lead the session.

The bishops will hold their first business sessions on September 24. That day will end with a Eucharist.

On September 25, a morning business session is planned. Time is also set aside in the afternoon if the morning session needs to be continued. The meeting will close with Jefferts Schori's reflections, followed by a Eucharist in memory of deceased members of the house and then a dinner.

Each day includes time for the bishops to study the Bible and to worship together.

-- The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is national correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.


N.O. backdrop for meeting to save the Anglican communion

By Bruce Nolan
The Times-Picayune
September 18, 2007

The archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, arrives in New Orleans today hoping to find a way to keep the world's third-largest Christian church from breaking up in a global clash over homosexuality.

The Most Rev. Rowan Williams will meet with about 160 Episcopal bishops from around the United States, and key primates or heads of Anglican churches from other countries, in talks Thursday and Friday at the Hotel InterContinental.

His mission is to find a way to avert a rift between the 2.4-million-member Episcopal Church (USA) and more conservative Anglican churches in 37 other geographic provinces. Many of their leaders believe the Episcopal church has broken faith with Christianity by supporting same-sex unions and ordaining gay bishops and other clergy.

Click here to read the rest.

John Gibson and John Bradley will be covering the House of Bishops meeting for the Voice of Integrity and Walking With Integrity.

We all need the Anglicans right now

Joan Chittister, OSB
Sept. 17, 2007
National Catholic Reporter

An excerpt...

So the question the Anglican communion is facing for us all right now is a clear one: What happens to a group, to a church, that stands poised to choose either confusion or tyranny, either anarchy or authoritarianism, either unity or uniformity? Are there really only two choices possible at such a moment? Is there nowhere in-between?

The struggle going on inside the Anglican Communion about the episcopal ordination of homosexual priests and the recognition of the homosexual lifestyle as a natural state is not peculiar to Anglicanism. The issue is in the air we breathe. The Anglicans simply got there earlier than most. And so they may well become a model to the rest of us of how to handle such questions. If the rate and kinds of social, biological, scientific and global change continue at the present pace, every religious group may well find itself at the breakpoint between "tradition" and "science" sooner rather than later.

Click here to read the entire article.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Archbishop of Wales opposed to proposed Covenant

From today's Press Release from the Church of Wales:

Archbishop of Wales warns proposed Anglican Covenant could lead to exclusion

A laudable attempt to unite Anglicans is in danger of becoming a contract designed to cut off those who don’t conform, warns the Archbishop of Wales.
Dr Morgan said that, while he supported the principle of an Anglican Covenant, he could not endorse the proposed version currently on the table.

Read the rest here ...

And do note that Archbishop Morgan will be part of the delegation meeting with our House of Bishops in New Orleans this week -- the "guest list" is here on today's Anglican Communion Office Media Alert.

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