Pharisaism haunts the churches of the West ... It ruins true religion, for reality is an indispensable condition of God's blessing. We must be more honest before God, more open with each other and more real in ourselves if we are to expect God to use us. --- From Foreword to "John Sung", by Leslie T. Lyall (London: China Inland Mission.
True freedom is not freedom from all responsibility to God and man in order to live for myself, but the exact opposite. True freedom is freedom from myself and from the cramping tyranny of my own self-centredness, in order to live in love for God and others. Only in such self-giving love is an authentically free and human existence to be found. --- From 'Obeying Christ in a Changing World', Vol. 1: "The Lord Christ", ed. and with a general introduction by John Stott.
The vocabulary of 'self'. That self-centeredness is a worldwide phenomenon of human experience is evident from the rich variety of words in our language which are compounded with 'self'. There are more than fifty which have a pejorative meaning - words like self-applause, self-absorption, self-assertion, self-advertisement, self-indulgence, self-gratification, self-glorification, self-pity, self-importance, self-interest and self-will. --- From "The Contemporary Christian" (London and Downers Grove: IVP, 1992), p. 50.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams told a press conference today that the Anglican Communion needs another kind of structure in the communion as a clearing house for all the ideas, thoughts, Indaba groups, listening posts, Windsor Reports and Covenant hopes that are currently floating around in it.
So the Archbishop, who admits he is not a Pope and has no authority, is creating another bureaucratic level to help us all to go to a deeper place of understanding, so we can figure out how to keep the Communion from imploding.
Williams admitted that there are some difficult situations in the Communion, but that the "narrative and process of the Lambeth conference" would continue.
"There are varying degrees of comfort and success. The general feeling is that 4 out of 5 Indaba groups are working as we hoped they would. The Windsor Continuation group would continue its work over the weekend."
Despite the problems, Williams got a boost from the Archbishop of Haifa, the Most Rev. Paul Sayah, a Marionite priest affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church who said (speaking on his own) that "your issues are everyone's issues. It is not as if the Anglicans have all the problems about Scripture, theology and ethics." This brought a smile to Rowan's lips, but it might be cold comfort in the end.
The truth is nothing is being resolved. The polarities are becoming more obvious by the day.
Last night, two leading Orthodox leaders, archbishops Kilastos and Hilarion told Williams at an ecumenical workshop that Anglican Orthodox and Anglican Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox "relationships are strained beyond measure." They also told him that Women's Ordination is not a second order issue. It is a first order issue and attitudes towards and about homosexuality are related to it.
They were both very critical about the way Women's Ordination was done, that is, without ecumenical dialogue. They said that it all related to a Doctrine of Creation. These are theological issues they said, and they put Rowan Williams in awkward position. They publicly challenged him when he said WO was a second order issue.
"I am looking for consent, not coercion. We cannot co-exist without protocols and conventions. Can we find a consensus? No one has the authority to impose anything. The Anglican Communion is not a church. We are not a Lutheran World Federation nor are we the Roman Catholic Church."
Asked by a reporter about those jumping ship out of sheer embarrassment at being an Anglican in Canada or an Episcopalian in the US, Williams said, "Our past is not an embarrassment. We are partners in dialogue. For those leaving it is an issue of conscience."
Asked by Ruth Gledhill of the "London Times" what the mood of the conference was and what hope he had for a positive outcome, Williams said it is worth working and staying together. "Loss is not to be taken lightly," he said.
But the big news as VOL uncovered it, is that the Archbishop of Canterbury is setting up a rival Global South Primates movement in an attempt to divide and conquer the Global South Primates Council. It encourages a Lambeth compliant "Communion Partners" movement in an effort to isolate mainstream evangelical and Anglo-Catholics who number 40 million of the 55 million church-going Anglicans throughout the world.
Between 150 and 200 bishops from 17 provinces of the Anglican Communion met last Tuesday at the Kent University campus, with a number of North Americans who included Common Cause Moderator Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh.
Many of the Primates being co-opted into this new entity are evangelical such as the Archbishop of Southeast Asia. If he ever decides that this is a bridge too far -- cooperating with Western liberal, pansexualists and revisionists, he might just jump ship and head for GAFCON. This begs the question as to where bishops like Tom Wright (Durham) and Scott-Joynt (Winchester) go when pushed from behind. These are Fulcrum (liberal evangelicals) who support Rowan Williams, but for how long?
Orthodox Bishop Peter Beckwith of Springfield, Illinois, got an honorable mention in the "London Times" this week. He told Ruth Gledhill of the Times: "In my Bible study group I apologized for the behavior of our province that has brought us to the brink of schism. Two hundred and seventy bishops are not here because they refuse to sit down with people who refuse to repent. Gene Robinson's lifestyle is not appropriate for a leader of the Church. Sure he's a bishop, we ordained him. But that says something about our integrity.
On the second day of our retreat, I had the feeling we were on the edge of a 10-storey building and the Archbishop of Canterbury was trying to talk us down without a safety net. He's a wonderful guy, with a lot of integrity but he assumes everyone else has integrity too. The Episcopal Church is not representing the scriptural authority of Christ. In the Episcopal Church, the biggest lie of all is that sexual morality doesn't matter, or that it's changing, that God is doing a new thing. Yet prophetic voices in our history have always taken us back to basics. It will be very interesting to see how things develop here. Will enough be done to preserve the integrity of the Communion? We won't hold together if we continue like this. It will end with a lot of fragments if this conference isn't able to give a strong confident way forward. In the meeting with the Southern Cone, they were concerned to send a strong signal from this gathering that the Anglican Communion is going to stand for Orthodoxy. It was said in that meeting that the Western Church says things that are not Anglican and not Christian. But, as the Archbishop of Sudan has said, we can't predict the future. We have to wait and see. The proof will be in the pudding. The time for procrastination and equivocation is over."
On Wednesday evening of this week, Anglican-Mainstream had a reception for orthodox bishops. Some 70 Bishops and a number of wives were in attendance. Nearly a dozen press and staff from Anglican Mainstream were in attendance.
Bishop Wallace Benn, President of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), led a brief Bible study on the Book of Jude. A number of bishops from across the Communion got up and spoke on the issues. "Chatham House rules" meant we could not identify any bishops present or attribute what they said.
"We learned that that the Americans have a cheat sheet that they use in their groups. It has statements on it to justify their decisions at the last two General Conventions that led to the consecration of Gene Robinson and rites for same-sex marriage. It is a prioritized list of talking points and the one in our group reads off this thing every day, they told us." This document was prepared by Bishop Clayton Matthews.
Dr. Philip Turner's paper on the subject candidly calls TEC for its behavior. "...The memo is revealing for several reasons. (1) It is an obvious attempt to give uniform shape and content to the contribution TEC's bishops have to make; (2) it reveals what TEC's leadership intends the outcome of the conference to be; and (3) displays what the theology is that lies behind the uniform position TEC's leadership hopes to establish as that of the Communion as a whole.
"It is revealing that the introduction to the memo states that a method of communication is being proposed that "will provide the media with no more "than they want or can use." It is manifestly also a method designed to keep a large group of people "on message" so that TEC's bishops will remain on the same page. It is manifest also that the memo signals a hardened position on the part of TEC's Episcopal leadership that runs counter to the spirit the Archbishop of Canterbury has asked to guide the bishops in their deliberations-a spirit of mutual subjection in Christ that is open to correction.
"From the outset it is important to note that the central purpose of the memo (to keep TEC's bishops on message) runs in a completely contrary direction to that of its central theological message--one that, as will become clear, amounts not to a call to unity but to a celebration of diversity. The controlling idea of the memo is that the American bishops ought to arrive at Lambeth with a single "core message" that does not in fact reflect on their own part the diversity they call for in others."
Now this is interesting. Dr. Turner is a key player with the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) along with Dr. Christ Seitz and Dr. Ephraim Radner that takes a very pro Rowan Williams and the Anglican Communion can never come apart stance. Are we seeing some daylight filtering in here? Remember GAFCON is a done deal. They have a Council of primates. A new North American Anglican Province will shortly come about. There will be no room for fence sitters in six months.
Riazat Butt, religion writer for the very liberal "Guardian" newspaper blew the whistle on this paper and its utilization of this methodology. He received wide acclaim from conservatives for taking such an honest stand. Certainly her predecessor Stephen Bates would never have done it.
In London yesterday for the Walk of Witness, I walked and talked with one orthodox bishop who said the Indaba groups were "mired in six feet of mud" and he saw little hope of resolution. The walk had Mrs. Jefferts Schori thinking that this "walk" to "halve poverty b y 2015 "was better than the Rapture as TEC had hijacked the Millennium Development Goals project sponsored by the United Nations. My colleague Hans Zeiger has written an excellent account of what several bishops told him on the walk. You can read that in today's digest.
Common Cause Partnership announced this week that it is asking GAFCON for province status.
The GAFCON Primates Council is petitioned by the CCP to seat the Rt. Rev'd Bob Duncan on the Primates Council. The Common Cause Partnership leaders issued a statement today welcoming the Jerusalem Declaration and the statement on the Global Anglican Future and pledging to move forward with the work of Anglican unity in North America.
"We, as the Bishops and elected leaders of the Common Cause Partnership are deeply grateful for the Jerusalem Declaration. It describes a hopeful, global Anglican future, rooted in scripture and the authentic Anglican way of faith and practice. We joyfully welcome the words of the GAFCON statement that it is now time 'for the federation currently known as the Common Cause Partnership to be recognized by the Primates Council.'
"The intention of the Executive Committee is to petition the Primate Council for recognition as the North American Province of GAFCON on the basis of the Common Cause Partnership Articles, Theological Statement, and Covenant Declaration, and to ask that their Moderator be seated in the Primate's Council.
"We accept the call to build the Common Cause Partnership into a truly unified body of Anglicans. We are committed to that call. Over the past months, we have worked together, increasing the number of partners and authorizing committees and task groups for Mission, Education, Governance, Prayer Book & Liturgy, the Episcopate, and Ecumenical Relations. The Executive Committee is meeting regularly to carry forward the particulars of this call. The CCP Council will meet December 1-3, 2008."
The Common Cause Partnership links together nine Anglican jurisdictions and organizations in North America. Together, the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Coalition in Canada, the Anglican Communion Network, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas, Forward in Faith North America and the Reformed Episcopal Church represent more the 1,300 Anglican parishes in the United States and Canada.
It is significant that the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) (formerly known as the Anglican Consultative Council) is almost hidden from sight. The only player is Canon Gregory Cameron and that is because he is a personal friend of Rowan Williams. But Kenneth Kearon, who heads the ACO, and James Rosenthal (ACNS Communications Director) are virtually invisible. Rosenthal is very much a people person (who is much liked) and who enjoys his role working with the media. But these days he is out of the media loop.
I have posted some 20 first-hand accounts of what is going on at Lambeth in today's digest. I am delighted to have help in the person of Mr. Hans Zeiger, a young reporter and graduate of Hillsdale College who is doing graduate work at Pepperdine and who was a star reporter for VOL at the last general Convention. He flew in this week and is sharing much of the writing load for which I am extremely grateful.
In other Communion news, VOL learned that New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham announced that the Bishop of Hong Kong has offered to come to Vancouver to help Ingham deal with the Chinese Anglicans in Vancouver and Richmond. As you know, most have dissented from him and now belong to the Canadian version of the AMiA or the ANiC. There is a certain amount of irony in this. Ingham is violently opposed to outside bishops meddling in the affairs of his diocese. Now he has invited an outsider to come handle the Chinese Anglicans!
St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach has called the Rev. Richard C. Crocker as rector of the 1,000-member congregation. Crocker will oversee numerous ministries and outreach programs, lead Sunday worship services, provide pastoral care to members, teach the Bible, and help others learn about Jesus Christ. St. James is a growing and dynamic Anglican church affiliated with the Anglican Church of Uganda. The church has been a strong presence in the beachside community for more than six decades.
Crocker currently serves as an associate rector at Truro Anglican Church in Fairfax, VA; he begins his fulltime ministry at St. James in January 2009, but will make monthly visits to the bay-side church during the late summer and fall.
The TRADITIONAL ANGLICAN COMMUNION got an encouraging note from the Vatican this week. William Cardinal Levada of the Vatican wrote saying that TAC's desire to be accepted into the bosom of Rome is still very much on the table, but for the immediate moment, the situation with the Anglican Communion has become "markedly more complex". VOL will interview Archbishop John Hepworth when I return to the USA in a couple of weeks.
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