"It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong." - G.K. Chesterton, essayist, novelist and Catholic (1874-1936)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Dr. Rowan Williams is angered by the election of Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the next Presiding Bishop, our source in London tells us. The same source phoned VOL to say that the Archbishop did not welcome the choice, which makes Dr. Williams' task virtually impossible, short of a miracle. The Church of England is in the midst of a huge debate over the possibility of having women bishops, and her election is like throwing gasoline on a fire. "He is bitterly disappointed; he is working very hard for the unity of the Anglican Communion, and the Episcopal Church has thrown it back in his face," our source said.
In his message to Bishop Jefferts Schori [JS], Dr. Williams did not congratulate her or invite her to Lambeth Palace, saying only that he would pray for her. He did say that JS's election "will undoubtedly have an impact on the collegial life of the Anglican primates; and it also brings into focus some continuing issues in several of our ecumenical dialogues."
This is code for, "what the hell were you Episcopal bishops thinking of? Don't you understand we are having a civil war over homosexuality? Your church is crawling with gay and lesbian priests, and you pick a woman who supports all things gay, as well as a woman's right to choose, to be the next primate of the Episcopal Church? How stupid can you be?"
"When you think how complicated his prose normally is, the simplicity of [Dr. Williams'] statement is deafening. The Episcopal Church, in its decisions this past week, has gone terribly wrong," the source wrote.
Another source in Canada wrote to say that he could confidently predict that, the Anglican Church of Canada will tap Edmonton Bishop Victoria Matthews as its next primate, taking a cue from the U.S. (According to Anglican Essentials, Matthews is orthodox, though how one can be both a woman archbishop and genuinely orthodox is beyond our ken.) The source north of the border also noted that Archbishop Andrew Hutchinson (who is planning to retire next year) and New Westminster (Vancouver) Bishop Michael Ingham will push harder for he gay agenda in light of the recent PB election in the ECUSA.
Following JS's election, a somewhat cynical observer of General Convention wrote to say that "orthodox" bishops like Duncan, Ackerman,et al, have for years argued that there has always been some future event that would seal the deal for the orthodox. "That is an excuse for non-action; remember all the fuss over Fr. David Moyer's consecration as bishop - we need to wait for the Primates' Meeting. Well the meeting came and went and nothing happened. Then it was wait for the Windsor Report. Now, ECUSA has elected a woman presiding bishop who believes in sodomy and abortion and still no action--just more statements. The ECUSA resolution on 'regret' is like Bill Clinton saying that it all depends on your definition of 'is.'. Then the orthodox bishops will say we have to wait to see if they consecrate another Robinson. The only honorable course of action is for the 'orthodox' to say that they must separate themselves from the Episcopal Church and offer their church as the true Anglican Church in the United States as part of the Anglican Communion."
But Bishop Duncan says "The Anglican Communion Network will continue to gather into fellowship and mission orthodox Anglicans from within the Episcopal Church, from the Common Cause Partnership and from the Continuing Anglican Churches in North America. The Network Dioceses will remain the dioceses they have been, constitutionally and legally, while at the same time assessing how to give ever more pastoral care and protection to those who have been shut out. The election of the 26th Presiding Bishop is a stunning development. Nevertheless, it remains our analysis that the decisive moment in contemporary Anglican history was the confirmation vote on the Bishop of New Hampshire in August of 2003, the consequences of which continue to unfold."
A TANZANIAN BISHOP AND DIOCESE have come out in support of Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker and other diocesan officials, who have appealed for alternative primatial oversight in the wake of JS's election. The Very Revd. Claudio Bocca, Vicar General of the Diocese of Ruvuma and EOMI wrote VOL saying on behalf of the Ruvuma diocese and Bishop Maternus Kapinga "we strongly and prayerfully support the Statement of the Diocese of Fort Worth, its Bishop and Standing Committee. We warmly pray the Lord Jesus Christ to give, his grace, to our faithful brothers and sisters in Fort Worth during this time of trouble, spiritual struggle and suffering.
The president of the Anglican Church League in Sydney, Dr. Mark Thompson, had this to say on the Episcopal Church decision:
Tuesday 20th June 2006
"The Episcopal Church of the United States of America, already under a cloud following the election and consecration of a practicing homosexual as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, has now elected a woman to be its Presiding Bishop...
"This was done in the full knowledge that such a move would further outrage those who are struggling to maintain biblical ministry within the Anglican Communion, and especially within the American churches. Already it is reported that one American diocese has appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Panel of Reference for alternative primatial oversight and pastoral care. It seems clear that this new departure from biblical teaching will only further deepen the rift within the Anglican Communion.
"Why should this be of interest to us here in Sydney?
"The Episcopal Church of the USA is an object lesson in what happens when our decision-making is not shaped by the teaching of Scripture. Unless we are informed about what God has to say on such matters as how men and women should serve each other in Christian congregations, human sexuality more generally, or the unique value and dignity of human life even prior to birth, we are left vulnerable to powerful rhetoric and the attitudes of the world at large, a world which stands opposed to the teaching of Scripture.
"These debates are not going away. The ECUSA decision makes this very clear. We cannot expect them to stay at a safe distance either. Here is a powerful reminder that we need to prepare ourselves by searching the Scriptures and encouraging each other to think and talk as those who trust and rejoice in the word of the living God."
Evangelical rector, the Rev. Dr. R. William Dickson of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church Fort Worth, wrote VOL to say, "I expect the Network to stand forward boldly with Fort Worth. I have a great confidence in the courage and leadership of Bob Duncan the Lion-Hearted. I absolutely expect a strong response. Should, however, my hopes and expectations be shattered, they will receive my letter of disaffiliation within the week." He said his advice to the Network bishops was to stand up or step aside.
As Dr. Peter Toon, VOL's resident theologian, observed: "In addressing the resolution on The Windsor Report, and in the voting of it down, there has been nothing in the House of Deputies that has been remotely like debate, if we use this word in its normal meaning of a rational exchange of viewpoints. Instead there have been a few meaningful statements for and against this resolution, in the context of many questions and comments from the floor to the chairman asking for clarification, requesting that a prayer be offered, claiming that the whole resolution interfered in matters covered by canon law...suggesting that proper parliamentary procedures were not being followed, and a variety of other special points. Rejection of such an important resolution in this undignified way reflects the profound spiritual sickness of this Church. In this case, it appears that there was a tacit agreement between the conservatives and the LesBiGay lobby to defeat this resolution one way or another, and so a kind of filibustering seems to have been one chosen method to achieve this end."
Meanwhile Bishop William Persell of Chicago applauded the decision to elect a progressive woman who is "extremely intelligent," noting her ability to speak five languages, a significant gift for a leader in a worldwide church.
"If people use this as a reason for breaking away from the Episcopal Church, there won't be a real resonance within the society," Persell contended.
Immediately after the House of Deputies voted to uphold discharge of the resolution affirming the basic principles of Christianity, the House voted in favor of Resolution C040 which sought methods of Biblical interpretation that were non-oppressive. The Resolution recognized "that the Bible has sometimes been used to justify oppressive institutions and practices, supports efforts to foster methods of biblical interpretation which do not lend support to oppressive systems." The resolution was modified from an original draft that condemned interpretation through "literalistic approaches that have oppressed/marginalized certain groups." The first draft specifically identified those certain groups as "persons of color, persons from different faith traditions, women and (at this time especially) gay and lesbian persons." One lone deputy, the Rev. Bennett Jones of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, stood to oppose the resolution. He expressed his growing fear that "our church is fostering interpretations of Scripture that support an increasingly relativistic culture." The resolution passed the House of Deputies on a voice vote. It will likely move to the House of Bishops on Wednesday. The passage of C040 followed upon the refusal of the House of Deputies, by an overwhelming majority, to pluck a resolution entitled "Salvation through Christ Alone" from the discharge list. Though the resolution affirmed the basic truths of Christianity, opposition to a floor hearing on the resolution was nearly 71 percent.
Finally, late yesterday afternoon the House of Deputies overwhelmingly refused to even consider a resolution that affirmed Jesus Christ as the "only name by which any person may be saved." For many this will be the final straw.
All this is living proof that it is better to be divided by truth, than be united by error.
With these Viewpoints the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. ends today. It has been a pleasure writing for you. The VOL team worked long hours to bring you all the news. We hope that what you have read will help you make a decision about what you will do ecclesiastically and spiritually with your lives.
Many of you have already written saying you are leaving the Episcopal Church for Rome, Orthodoxy and other continuing Anglican jurisdictions. We wish you God speed in your journey.
David W. Virtue DD
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