COLUMBUS, OH: AAC President, "The Episcopal Church did not deliver"
June 23, 2006
We have just returned from the 75th Convention of the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA). The American Anglican Council (AAC) went to Columbus to work for clarity, and I believe we witnessed ECUSA make their choice.
The worldwide Communion asked for simple, unambiguous compliance with the Windsor Report, specifically an expression of regret for decisions made in 2003 and subsequent actions, as well as moratoria on consecrations of non-celibate homosexuals and same-sex blessings.
The Episcopal Church did not deliver. Instead, both the House of Bishops and House of Deputies bowed to intense pressure from the Presiding Bishop to pass B033, a resolution characterized by ill-defined language with no provision for enforcement or accountability. The legislation "called upon" standing committees and diocesan bishops to "exercise restraint" by not consenting to the election of individuals whose "manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church." Why was this legislation not cast in Windsor language?
It was clear that neither house would have approved Windsor compliance wording. Biblically faithful bishops denounced B033, accurately assessing the resolution as "misleading the rest of the Communion by giving a false perception that they intend actually to comply with the recommendations of the Windsor Report."
According to Associated Press reports, John Chane, Bishop of Washington, immediately declared that the resolution was "non-binding" and that "he would not follow it." This is no surprise. If past performance is the best indicator of future behavior, we can expect the Episcopal Church to continue its revisionist trajectory with no regard for the Anglican Communion.
In addition to the unsurprising fudge on consecrations of bishops, the Episcopal Church simply refused to address the matter of same-sex blessings. Dodging the issue with a claim that ECUSA has not authorized official rites, General Convention ignored the fact that same-sex blessings are occurring on a regular basis all around the country, performed in churches by Episcopal clergy and bishops. In addition, numerous dioceses have developed, or are in the process of developing, rites of same-sex blessings.
The election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as presiding bishop - arguably the least experienced as priest or bishop, and possibly the most liberal - is an affront to the Anglican Communion. Before the election, her record was clear.
At the 2003 General Convention, she voted against a resolution affirming basic tenets of Christian faith and the authority of Scripture, and supported V. Gene Robinson's confirmation as well as blessings of same-sex unions. In the days following her election as presiding bishop, her personal theology has been exposed even more clearly.
In her first sermon as presiding bishop-elect, she referred to "our Mother Jesus." In interviews, she expressed her version of the Gospel: "Now the Bible tells us about how to treat other human beings and that's certainly the great message of Jesus. To include the un-included."
She has also stated that homosexuality is not a sin. When the global primates were gathered in October of 2003 in Lambeth Palace to deal with the chaos resulting from Gene Robinson's confirmation as bishop, she was in her Nevada Diocesan Convention pushing a same-sex blessing resolution for her diocese. This does not argue well for her having a sensitivity to the larger Communion, or even caring.
When asked about life after death, Jefferts Schori responded: "But what's important about your life? What is it that has made you a unique individual? What is the passion that has kept you getting up every morning and engaging the world?
There are hints within that, about what it is that continues after you die." Such statements indicate clearly that Jefferts Schori is committed to a belief system which is fundamentally contrary to Scripture, Christian teaching and Anglican doctrine.
There is no other way to interpret her words. What will be the Communion's response? The Archbishop of Canterbury issued a brief statement, noting that the Communion will have to carefully review the decisions of General Convention 2006.
Primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) also issued an open letter saying, "...reports to date of your elections and actions suggest that you are unable to embrace the essential recommendations of the Windsor Report and the 2005 Primates Communiqué necessary for the healing of our divisions." Global South primates will meet in September and will offer their "concerted pastoral and structural response."
CAPA primates also sent a strong message to the orthodox in America: "We assure all those Scripturally faithful dioceses and congregations alienated and marginalised within your Provincial structure that we have heard their cries."
Brothers and Sisters, despite their best efforts to feign Windsor compliance, ECUSA has made its choice, and now we must unite and act to ensure a biblically faithful expression of Anglicanism in America.
Whether you are in ECUSA, are in the process of disaffiliating, or are under oversight of another Anglican province, we are committed to assisting you to go from strength to strength. The war is over; it is time to build the church. In Christ,
---The Rev. Canon David C. Anderson is CEO and President of the American Anglican Council
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