"Every Christian is called to be different from the world. Indeed, if you do not like the word 'holy' because it sounds too pious to you, try the word 'different'. It is exactly what the word 'holy' means. Somebody who is holy is somebody who is different. He is set apart from the world unto God; his standards are not worldly but godly. He is different." --From 'God's Man: Studies in 2 Timothy' by John R. W. Stott.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The BBC is calling the new Presiding Bishop "Hurricane Katharine." Indeed, it appears she has taken Episcopal conservatives and will take the wider Anglican Communion by storm. She has some laudable credits: She is a wife and mother, an oceanographer, and a pilot. But she is also a liberal, pro-gay bishop and now a primate who the Archbishop of Canterbury diplomatically says will have an "impact" on collegiality among Anglican primates, both because of her doctrine and her gender.
It is fitting that an oceanographer should now lead this church - a storm-tossed ship separated from the shores of traditional faith, practice and spirituality.
The election of Jefforts Schori was a mild surprise to the global South primates, said a source familiar with their thinking. He proffered two different reactions.
The first is that the election of the lady of Nevada was sufficient to demonstrate that the Episcopal Church (TEC) intended to walk alone (or perhaps only with any likeminded province that cares to walk with it). The second is that in order to be sure of the mind of TEC, the leaders mustwait for the full content of its responses to the Windsor Report.
At this writing it appears that the resolutions concerning the Report will fall short of the standard required by the primates of the global South and of the Windsor Report itself. Just last night the House of Deputies decided that the church had merely "strained" rather than "breached" the "bonds of affection" by its General Convention 2003 decisions.
RESOLUTION 160 passed House of Deputies 563 (67.8%) to 267 (32.2%). It reads:
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, mindful of "the repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ" (Windsor Report, paragraph 134), express its regret for straining the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003 and the consequences which followed; offer its sincerest apology to those within our Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion; and ask forgiveness as we seek to live into deeper levels of communion one with another."
By Wednesday, the last day of the convention, we shall know the precise wording of the three important resolutions - though there is also some possibility that, like the Title IV revisions, they will not be completed before the convention ends.
A LITTLE bit of history regarding the new Presiding Bishop. In February of 2005 VOL reported Bishop Schori was fast-tracked into the episcopate, for reasons that still remain unclear. But a VirtueOnline reader tells the following story about Ms Schori on the occasion of the death of her mother, Elaine Ryan. Here is what he wrote:
"Elaine had converted from ECUSA to the Orthodox Church, and went to church at St. Spiridon Cathedral in Seattle, where I also attend. Her husband had dropped her. It seems he didn't go for her religious change. She had planned to become a nun at the women's monastery in Ellwood City, PA. This was tragically cut short by a small plane crash that ultimately left her unable to care for herself. When she passed away in 1998, her daughter,(Jefforts Schori) then a cleric in Oregon did the funeral rather than get her an Orthodox burial. Now, at the very least this is not honoring her mother, who not only left ECUSA, but also was utterly opposed to women's ordination. That she had her funeral in ECUSA with a woman priest is doubly insulting. The eulogy featured a dismissive comment about mom's 'spiritual journey' that led her even to the Orthodox Church...I expect the same would have been said if she had become a Moonie. I know how she feels about former Anglicans who become *actual* Orthodox, even if it's her mother." VOL has been on top of this situation for the last year.
As the shock of the election of a female bishop to be the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is settling in, the president Forward in Faith North America, Bishop Keith Ackerman noted that, with the introduction of the ordination of women as priests 30 years ago (at first illegally), it was inevitable that women would be ordained as bishops, with the potential of a female bishop becoming presiding bishop.
"However, on the heels of the election and consecration three years ago of a man living in a same-sex relationship, it would appear that the Episcopal Church has neither sensitivity nor concern for its relationship with the rest of the Anglican Communion," Ackerman said. Despite appeals from primates and other bishops around the world asking the American Church to apologize for its rupturing of the bonds of affection, TEC has continued to press on without any obvious concern for the fragile state of the Communion, he said.
FIF-North America has now, likewise, been pushed to the limit in its fragile relationship with TEC. The officers of FIF-NA will be discussing future plans, and after consultation with worldwide Anglican leaders will issue a statement. FIF-NA will not repeat the mistakes of the Episcopal Church by acting unilaterally, without regard for those who must be involved in decisionmaking that affects the lives of all who call themselves "Anglicans."
TEC IS STILL pro-abortion, the convention show. Abortion may not be in favored by local churches, Rev. Canon Elizabeth Keaton, Diocese of New Jersey, suggested, but "we are deputized to follow the Holy Spirit, not the wishes of the folks back home." Abortion remains an endorsed choice for those women who wish to avail themselves of it.
Roman Catholic writer, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, writes in FIRST THINGS that the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as TEC's leader is an occasion of great sadness for all who care about the unity of Christians. "Those who have always been skeptical of the ecumenical effort may well say, 'I told you so,' and indulge in a measure of schadenfreude. That is not, I would suggest, a faithfully Catholic response." http://www.firstthings.com/
A statement of the Colorado Springs-based Anglican Communion Institute, a think tank, responded with deep concern over the potential negative significance for the Windsor process of Katherine Jefferts Schori's election as PB. She backed Gene Robinson and same-sex blessings at GC2003; has developed formal permission for such celebrations in the Diocese of Nevada; and has defended TEC's autonomy in a way that stands counter to the Windsor Report's articulation of communion, the Institute said. If she does not repudiate these actions and positions, "her place in primatial meetings within the Communion is clearly in doubt, and her ability to lead [TEC] as a member of the Anglican Communion is deeply in question."
IT IS CLEAR that the Episcopal Church's line in the sand has now been written in concrete. It will continue its political goals. The election of the gay Bishop of New Hampshire, intensified the turmoil. Now the election of Katherine Jefferts Schori will fly in the face of most of the Anglican Communion plus the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox churches, and disregard its own membership.
TEC's long-term future is not encouraging. 25% of Episcopalians are over 65 years old. It supports abortion, homosexuals in all places of the leadership, with little interest in procreation or making converts to Jesus Christ. Where are the recruits for rebuilding its membership coming from? It attracts enough Sgt. Schultz's (from Hogan's Heroes TV) "'who see nothing, hear nothing,' and will remain complacent in their favorite pews. But are they enough? The Bell tolls loud and clear for traditional Episcopalians. Why stand we idle?" wrote a concerned churchman.
The Primates have spoken clearly to the Episcopal Church, and this convention was the deadline for ECUSA to respond, said Canon Dr. Chris Sugden, executive secretary of UK based Anglican Mainstream. "If clear decisions accepting the recommendations of the Windsor Report are not made, or if for some reason the discussions are postponed for further 'listening and processing,' I would hope that the Anglican Communion leadership will be firm in its resolve to break communion officially with ECUSA," he said.
What does the future hold? "It will look a lot different this time next year," said Sugden. "I think this convention will be a point of no return. It may not be the actual moment for any separation, but if Windsor is not complied with, it will be the point of no return."
Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, said the choice of Schori as P.B. demonstrated American willfulness. He said he saw "very little evidence of politicking" prior to yesterday's election.
But he said that it was hard to see the convention's choice as "anything other than the American Church...saying we can do what we believe we ought to do, no matter the consequences" in the wider Anglican Communion.
Asked where things stand now for conservatives after the election of Jefforts Schori, Bishop Duncan said that the "decisive moment was in 2003," when TEC chose to "walk apart" from the Communion. He said we would know for sure in the next couple of days whether or not TEC really means to continue on that path.
Duncan was asked about the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement today about Jefforts Schori's election, which offered prayers and greetings, but no congratulations, and noted that the choice for P.B. would have an "impact on the collegial life" of Anglican primates.
Duncan said the greatest problem in terms of primatial collegiality will be with the fact that Jefforts Schori "teaches and acts precisely contrary to the Windsor Report," and secondarily with the fact that not all primates will accept a female archbishop.
FOR CONSERVATIVES, THE "DAY AFTER" the stunning election of Jefforts Schori started with the orthodox Diocese of Fort Worth's announcement - evidently the first of its kind - that it had appealed to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Anglican primates and the international Panel of Reference for alternate primatial oversight. The action was agreed by Fort Worth's bishop (Jack Iker) and standing committee, the members of which are in Columbus. Fort Worth already has an appeal before the Panel, centering on the effect on traditionalists of TEC's acceptance and promotion of women's ordination.
It was not clear whether either of the other two Episcopal dioceses which do not ordain women as priests would follow Fort Worth's lead in taking this initial step, or whether there were sufficient diocesan leaders on hand in Columbus to do so straightaway. But the bishop of one of the other two orthodox dioceses, John-David Schofield of San Joaquin, California, said Fort Worth's petition is a "natural outcome" of the latest development.
WE ARE just two days from the end of the Convention, and major business is not nearly as far as long as was hoped. But the signs and signals are not good, the Episcopal Church is going its way, and few Anglicans will follow it.
David W. Virtue DD
On the Mainline
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