Admiral of Morality: September 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

From the Sunday readings

1 Timothy 6:6, As for you, man of God....
Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pon'tius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time--he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

Throughout this letter to his protege Timothy, whom he dispatched to Ephesus to strengthen and solidify, Paul elaborates points on Christian leadership and community. Paul offers specific advice to church leaders here. His language is unequivocal and has served as a model for generations: pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Do not seek or use leadership in the church as a way to enrich yourself, satisfy your pride, or grow in arrogance. Do so because the church is a gift, of fellowship, grace, and love, where our own gifts must be used to encourage our faith and spread His word. Paul's urging to endurance brings to mind the challenge facing an athlete or warrior, and indeed, he urges us to "fight the good fight." But the challenge he urges us towards is to seize the light and way offered to us free of charge by "the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords," who in His time with us on earth, was not a warrior in the way many expected or wanted, but the penultimate servant, who despite His infinite power and strength, emptied Himself of everything. He never once lifted His hands in anger or harm, but always in love, and not once turned away a single one who called on Him for help. It is this same One who later called Paul to service, transforming him from a notorious persecutor of Christians, blasphemer, and man of violence, into the man able to lead others into lives of faith. He blinded Paul with the light of His truth on the road to Damascus, and for the rest of his life, this light illuminated everything Paul did.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Progressive Episcopalians express concerns over "visitor" plan

The Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, who have played an important role in alerting the Church to plans by their diocesan to further divide their diocese from the wider church, have expressed concerns that the episcopal visitor plan endorsed by the House of Bishops might further isolate loyal Episcopalians in the dioceses implementing it.

The episcopal visitor plan is designed with the English "flying bishop" model in mind. Under it, bishops acceptable to both some dioceses and the national church, under the authority of the national church, assume some duties normally the prerogative of ++Katharine and other bishops. Other church officers, conceivably, might have their duties delegated as well.

Since the episcopal visitor plan would likely replace ++Katharine at consecrations and other visits, and perhaps otherwise direct what duties other national officers could and could not perform in some dioceses, the Progressive Episcopalians are concerned that they would be further isolated from the mainstream church.

"Of particular concern to PEP," the Pittsburgh Episcopalians wrote, "is the fact that the episcopal visitors plan makes no provision for connecting to the wider Episcopal Church loyal Episcopalians in dioceses (such as Pittsburgh) that have requested “alternative primatial oversight.”

“Many of us celebrated the election of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori,” explained PEP board member and blogger Dr. Lionel Deimel. “Should our bishop accept an episcopal visitor, those of us who have been most vocal in support of our church would be isolated from it and subject to even less respect within our diocese than we are now.”

Other Episcopalians in other dioceses with leadership hostile to the Church have expressed similar concerns, and have expressed a clear need to remain connected to the wider church.

The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, has requested "immediate intervention" in their diocese by the national church, in order to maintain the diocese's historic episcopate and canonical institutions. In November, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson will meet with the Forum during their convention.

Anderson and ++Katharine have travelled to other dioceses whose leadership is at odds with the national church in order, partly, to maintain the connections with loyal Episcopalians there.

Obviously this work will have to continue, and no doubt be strengthened.

The Progressive Episcopalians were otherwise supportive of the bishops' work in New Orleans.

"We pray that the Anglican Communion will see this answer as a conscientious attempt to address concerns raised by our sister churches in the Communion," they said.

The full statement can be viewed here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

++Scotland: Attempts to alter Communion "will fail"

Speaking in advance of remarks he will deliver next week at Manchester Cathedral on the need for inclusive theology in the Anglican Communion, the Most Rev Dr Idris Jones, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, says, "Attempts to try to turn the Communion into something that is controlled from the centre, with expulsion the result of disagreement, will fail."

Next week, the Primus will join the Archbishop of Mexico, Archbishop Carlos Touche-Porter, at a conference at Manchester Cathedral called "Celebrating Anglican Diversity," which celebrates the Anglican tradition of open and inclusive theology.

The Primus has assumed an increasingly visible role on the issue of inclusivity in our churches. At the Synod of the Scottish Church this past summer, he spoke strongly about the need to make the Church more open and inclusive to all. His comments in support of inclusivity and against attempts to destabilize the Communion by altering its historic character, are some of the strongest yet from a primate.

By the time the Manchester Cathedral conference takes place, the Scottish Episcopal Church reports on its website, it is possible that a few African Provinces, with their attendant US bishops, may have taken public action and split from the Communion.

According to the Scottish report, the Manchester Conference, which is an Inclusive Church event, "will consider how the Communion moves forward if a split has occurred. And what the agenda might be if it hasn't."

The fellow primate at the Conference, Archbishop Carlos Touche-Porter of Mexico, has longstanding experience of inclusion and diversity issues within the Church, including the place of gay and lesbian Christians.

He is part of an emerging network of Anglican Bishops based mainly in Latin America ("the Global Centre") aiming to celebrate the unity and diversity of the Communion and says "Inclusion is a reality in the Anglican Church, despite reports to the contrary. I am very much looking forward to being in the UK as part of our preparations for a positive Lambeth Conference."

The Scottish Primus added, "It was very obvious at the recent meeting of Anglican Primates that the vast majority wish to stay with an Anglican church that is open and welcoming and prepared to live with difference. This is Anglican mainstream and we have to make it clear that it represents majority opinion among church leaders. "

More reaction to House of Bishops

Integrity issued a release in support of the bishops' statement last night.

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."

As noted yesterday, several newspapers and services shortly after the statement's release, ran articles with somewhat contradictory headlines. Given the compromises of the statement, this is perhaps understandable.

But some newspapers and services this morning run with stories that seem half-accurate given the unanimity at the House of Bishops.

As they have more time to digest the news and perhaps, ahem, report more and speak to more persons, the newspapers might provide more accurate, full coverage.

In any event the Boston Globe has a fine article today giving a good sense of what actually happened.

The Globe reports: "Episcopal Church officials said yesterday that Anglican Communion leaders had been briefed on the bishops' statement and were satisfied."

This is certainly the case, since the Joint Committee of the Primates and the ACC, was present throughout and provided input on the language of the statement; and the Archbishop, who chairs the committee, earlier was present and offered thoughts as well.

Bishop Robinson said he was "comforted" by the vote.

"What actually happened was a drawing together of a widely diverse community with a remarkable articulation of our common ground," he told the Globe. "No one's vision won."

Robinson said that he believes the Episcopal Church is moving toward greater support of gay rights. "Chicago has nominated an openly gay person [as bishop], and there will be other dioceses that will do so - it's the way the world is moving, and it's the way the church is moving," he said. "It's anyone's guess as to when that will happen, but, in the meantime, it's a little lonely."

Bishop John W. Howe of Central Florida, one of the most conservative bishops present at the meeting in New Orleans, said last night that he did not vote for the statement because it did not bar blessings of same-sex unions outright, but that he also thought that, among the Anglican primates, as leaders of provinces are called, "the majority will find it acceptable." Howe, asked if he would try to remove his diocese from the Episcopal Church, said "absolutely not."

"I think we did better than I expected," Howe said.

With only one nay vote, it is difficult to cast the House of Bishops as divided on the issues that were before them.

"The degree of unanimity is really remarkable," says Jim Naughton of The Episcopal Cafe.

"Even some bishops who had previously sought oversight from the Archbishop of Canterbury voted to support this resolution. The response reassures our partners in the Anglican Communion without stepping back from our commitment to gays and lesbians."

"In speaking with news organizations, I've been saying that this response should anchor the Episcopal Church very firmly within the Anglican Communion, even if it does not please some of the Communion's more radical primates."

Ekklesia have "Mixed response to US Episcopal compromise on gay issue" and write: "The impact of the decision, say analysts, will be to make it more difficult for conservatives within the 77-million Anglican Communion to kick the Episcopal Church out or to tighten their grip on its regualr work. But it is also a restraint on the freedom of lesbian and gay people's ministry within the church - which will not be able to grow further through ordained means in the near future."

If by ordinations Ekkelsia are including clergy at every stage, this is not accurate, since the bishops addressed only the consecration of fellow bishops, not the ordination of all clergy.

For more of this morning's coverage, visit Thinking Anglicans, who have put up a nice list of reports culled from various places.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Preliminary notes on the House of Bishops statement

The statement:

• demonstrates the bishops' strong commitment to the Communion, and to full participation at Lambeth;

• uses ringing language, quoting the Gospel, to establish the imperative for the full inclusion and protection of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons, in the life of the Church and the community at large;

• reaffirms the "manner-of-life" provision of B033, noting that its language in fact is broader than that requested by Windsor;

• rejects again the proposed "pastoral council" of the primates, which the bishops already rejected in March, and which the Executive Committee rejected in June, in favor an episcopal visitor plan composed of bishops subject to our Church, and international consultations;

• pledges to work to ensure full participation for +New Hampshire, Gene Robsinson, saying: "We are mindful that the Bishop of New Hampshire has not yet received an invitation to the conference. We also note that the Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed a desire to explore a way for him to participate. We share the Archbishop's desire and encourage our Presiding Bishop to offer our assistance as bishops in this endeavor. It is our fervent hope that a way can be found for his full participation."

For those in our Church and Communion who strive and pray to ensure the highest degree of Communion possible with our Anglican brothers and sisters, this statement is a welcome development.

For those who strive and pray to ensure the dignity and inclusion of all persons, it is a welcome development.

The statement reaffirms our historic ties, reasserts our historic and regular discernment, and affirms that the two are intertwined and essential to the other.

Update: A few links to keep us all reading. Note the somewhat varying emphases, signalling that the statement is indeed a compromise one.

USA Today: "Episcopal leaders promise restraint on electing gay bishops"
NPR: "Bishops move to ease concern on homosexuality"
New Orleans Time-Picayune: "Episcopal bishops decline to roll back inclusion of gays"

Naturally there are the excellent comments and perspectives to be had at The Episcopal Cafe, Fr. Jake Stops the World, and Preludium.

House of Bishops: live blogging the closing session

Episcope, the official blog of The Episcopal Church, is live blogging the closing session of the House of Bishops meeting.

Click here to go there.

Update: Episcope administrator the Rev. Jan Nunley has posted the full statement of the House of Bishop's meeting at Episcope. The statement is now also available at Episcopal Life Online.

In the statement, the bishops directly addressed the points requested of them by the primates last February in Tanzania. 

The bishops also called for an immediate end to territorial incursions, which the Windsor Process also called for.

They also called for the unequivocally equal treatment of gay and lesbian persons.

Here is an abbreviated summary of their statement:

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

In accordance with Our Lord's high prienstly 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 teh 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.

Lambeth 2008 materials now online

The Lambeth Conference 2008 Official website, is now up and running. The web site is a work-in-progress, but already has many useful resources, including a live ticker counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds-—in case you must know--until the Conference begins.

It has pages noting the planners, many links, and, yes, a blog, by the Conference manager. It also has an online registration page (password and login needed please).

About the Conference, the site notes:
The Lambeth Conference is one of the Instruments of Communion of the global Anglican Communion.

It is convened every ten years at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury and is the only occasion when bishops can meet for worship, study and conversation. Archbishops, bishops, assistant and suffragan bishops within the Communion are invited.

Also invited to attend are bishops from other churches 'in communion' with the Anglican Communion, bishops from United Churches, along with a number of ecumenical guests.

As well as the 800+ bishops who attend, their spouses are invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury's wife to a parallel, independent gathering: the Spouses Conference.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury Archbishop Rowan Williams has called the next Lambeth conference for July 2008. His wife, Jane, will convene the Spouses Conference.
The site has a programme page with events and schedules for the the Conference, including a rough daily schedule, that identifies how the days are broken up. The Conference runs 20 days, from July 10-August 3 of 2008.

The Daily Schedule, notes that groups of participants, after morning Bible study, will break off into expanded groups, and later, self-selecting groups, to explore various topics. Among those noted are:

• Biblical interpretation / Hermeneutics
• Ecumenical Management
• Anglican identity, the role of bishops
• Issues of Covenant
• Listening Process (within the Communion)
• Engagement with other faiths
• Evangelism and Mission
• Gender and Sexuality
• Relationships, Social and family relationships
• HIV/Aids
• Millennium Development Goals

Consider for a moment these topics, and consider the perspectives and voices, brought to these discussions, by the bishops of our Church. Consider also, what the discussions might be like with them there, and without; and consider too, the reasoning behind various calls, for our bishops to attend or not.

If the calls for our bishops to attend are rooted in patience and love; a desire to better know other bishops and their churches, and for them to know us; and to engage in discussions designed to nourish each other in our faith and work, then the thrust is generally to attend.

If the calls for our bishops not to attend are rooted in some desire or expressed need for "punishment," discipline, anger at our Church and/or at the Communion bodies, or as a way to isolate or shun our Church, then the thrust is generally not to attend the Conference.

Back in March, the issue of not attending, was raised on this blog and others. This discussion has now commenced again somewhat, as various commenters mark time between news out of New Orleans, and as some others, continue the project to foster division in the Church.

When the issue of not attending was raised here back in March, one commenter said that not attending Lambeth, or sending only a partial delegation, was "sad and misguided."

At the time I was of several minds about the issue, but not anymore. Not going would indeed be a sad and misguided decision, and a lost opportunity to extend the hands of friendship and give voice not only to our Church, but to all those around the Communion and indeed the world, who look to our Church for guidance, hope, and peace.

We must continue to extend our hands and lift our voices whenever possible. The Lord tells us that we do so not because we expect anything in return, but because doing so is the right thing to do.

That's good enough for me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

In re: The Anglican Communion

The Anglican Communion is at a crossroads. The Anglican Communion is on the brink of schism. The Anglican Communion is teetering on the brink of schism. The Anglican Communion faces the spectre of schism. Schism looms for the Anglican Communion.

These statements are quite a mouthful. They have been used so often in so many articles over so many years now, that it is quite possible for readers of these articles, to skim past them, and the accompanying paragraphs explaining why and how, knowing fairly well their general point. These articles have been saying the same thing, often using the same "leading" sources, for quite some time. Very little of it is new or useful.

There are other things that these articles, do not say very much if at all.

One of these, is that The Anglican Communion, has grown and developed organically. Most of the news about our Church and our Communion, indeed, some of the shrillest voices arrayed against it for one reason or another, have tended to assume, or act as if, The Anglican Communion on some specific date, came into being, with all its structures, institutions, and bodies, planned out, coordinated, and given briefs.

Obviously this is not the case. The Communion as a body has developed over centuries here and there, as circumstances, personalities, and churches, require and find.

This is perhaps to be expected, for the Communion has its root in the English system where written constitutions are looked at with deep suspicion for the way they can be used to deny flexibility, rights, redress and, most importantly, new situations.

As the Archbishop of Canterbury pointed out in his press briefing last Friday, the Lambeth Conference will proceed next year. Invitations have been sent out. This Lambeth's purpose, not unlike any other, will be to bring together those invited, who look to the conference as a source of nourishment, discussion, and growth.

Viewed in this light it is quite difficult indeed to consider the Lambeth Conference or Anglican Communion, as ceasing to exist, or existing in some weakened state, for both will continue to exist, for all those who look to it as a source of nourishment, growth and strength, and for all those who work together, to make it so.

Both Lambeth and the Communion, have in the past worked and lived out their purposes, in various ways, as--yes--circumstances, personalities, and churches, require and find.

Neither has ever been static, unless we consider one particular point along the continuum of each's existence, as absolutely, irrevocably, defining.

There are some, of course, who might view both the Conference and the Communion as precisely this, urging that one particular point or time in its life, be corked up and then be the lodestone for all other instances and situations thereafter. They are permitted their view, and their voice, within the framework that theirs is but one, and not necessarily, the most compelling or loud.

As the Archbishop said, the focus of the upcoming Conference will be discussion, nourishment, and growth. For those who come, it will be so. For those who do not, it will not be so.

For those Churches that participate, the Communion will be a focus of growth, nourishment, and strength, not only in the persons and churches so connected, but in the work that they do, the cornerstone of the entire thing--spreading the Good News of the Lord.

For those that do not participate, it will not be such.

As the bishops of our Church consider various frameworks and proposals for going forward, they no doubt have one eye cast back towards their own position of last March at Camp Allen, and the subsequent Executive Council statements of June.

Both bodies have already urged our Church to stay on its path of nourishment and growth.

For many, as the Bishop of California eloquently noted to the Archbishop, our Church is the only place of nourishment and growth they have found. Indeed, it is more than this to them, it is a safe haven, the city of refuge, because no other exists.

What else is the Church of the Lord to be, if not the place of certain refuge? And it is not so because we ordain it to be so, it is so because we simply hear and obey, what He has ordained for all time, to be so.

Our church bodies have already recognized this. Now in New Orleans, our bishops have a chance to recognize it yet again, and to call again for our Communion to both recognize it and embrace it--and embrace us, their brothers and sisters in Christ, as we embrace them.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

++Katharine's Sunday sermon

Preached this morning at Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans:

This morning's gospel has Jesus sending his disciples out to move around, to bring hope and healing wherever they go. He charges them to drive out division and to heal. Proclaiming the kingdom of God is about reconciling the world; driving out demons is about removing all the forces that seek to divide – and they're both are essential kinds of healing. Those who are sent out get quite direct and simple instructions – travel light – and some other, more puzzling instructions, about entering and leaving houses and towns.

Traveling light is something that most of us learn if we have to do very much of it. When I flew back into New York at the beginning of September, my plane got in early, but my bag didn't turn up for almost two hours. I had a good long time to repent of the volume of stuff I carried – it would have been so much easier to carry on.

The people of this city had little choice about traveling light as they tried to flee the winds and waters of Katrina. Some got out early enough to take a suitcase and drive away for what they thought would be a long weekend. They returned to find that everything they knew was gone. Suddenly they were traveling lighter than they ever would have chosen. Others who were unable to leave so early swam down streets with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Read the whole sermon at Episcopal Life Online.

From the Sunday readings

1 Timothy 2:1, The Nature of Christian community
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

For there is one God;
there is also one mediator between God and humankind,
Christ Jesus, himself human,
who gave himself a ransom for all

--this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument.

Timothy was a young Christian emissary. He had been brought up as a Christian, for his parents were believers. Paul dispatches him to the church at Ephesus to maintain and strengthen the faith. Ephesus was an unruly church, and as we know Paul directed several epistles to them, and spent quite some time there. His instructions to Timothy capture the core of the faith. His advice on leadership in the Christian community: lead by example, with patience, love and prayer.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Archbishop moves to unite Communion

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has denied suggestions that the US branch of the Anglican communion is on the brink of expulsion, despite what appears to be its reluctance to conform with demands to abandon its liberal approach to homosexuality.

Dr Williams has spent two days in New Orleans trying to persuade bishops of the Episcopal Church to compromise with traditionalists.

In February, Anglican archbishops demanded that the Americans promise not to repeat their ordination of a gay bishop, to end the blessing of same-sex relationships in church and to provide an independent church organisation in the US for traditionalists.

They warned that unless the Episcopal Church complied by the end of September, its relations with other Anglicans would be damaged, at best.

Dr Williams, working to preserve unity in the communion, denied that there had been an ultimatum, saying compromise was intended.

He said the September 30 date was used since by that time, the House of Bishops meeting will have concluded. The date is a closing date, not a deadline, the Archbishop made clear.

Dr. Williams appears ready to forge some sort of compromise that maintains the Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Communion. However, many traditionalists are openly determined to "expel" the Episcopal Church and are ready to take their own action against it.

Many opponents of the Church have engaged in regular and coordinated efforts to reject as impossible or unworthy, all proposals to reach some accommodation with it.

Many of these opponents, have stated outright or strongly indicated, that were the Archbishop himself to try to reach some accommodation with the Church or in some way forge one that did not meet every one of their positions, they would no longer accept his own role as the titular head of Anglicanism, and would be prepared to form a separate "Communion," where Canterbury played no role.

At his press gathering yesterday, the Archbishop was asked a number of pointed, specific questions about these "actions," which have often been floated and promoted, as a way of exerting control over both the Episcopal Church and the Archbishop himself.

• On the issue of the irregular ordinations carried out in North American by African clergy that have increased in frequency since 2000, when they first began, he said they created "great unease" throughout the Church and that he would not recognize, any of these "illicit" bishops.

• On the issue of the Lambeth Conference, he said work and planning goes forward for it to be held next year, despite some calls for it by some of the clergy intervening in other provinces, to cancel the meeting. The Archbishop said he stands ready to hold the Conference for all participants who look to it as an opportunity for "nourishment and growth."

• On the issue of care and alternative structures for theological minorities in the Episcopal Church, some of whom insist their only solution is to leave The Episcopal Church through litigation and/or with all Church property, the Archbishop clearly suggested he did not welcome these actions. "Start by looking for arrangements and situations within what is there because grace is given through even hopeless places. Isn’t God’s grace still given sacramentally in the Episcopal Church? I would be slow to look for solutions elsewhere."

With the BBC, wire reports, and ENS

Friday, September 21, 2007

House of Bishops meeting heads into the weekend

With scores of reporters in attendance, there are obviously many reports this Friday about the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans.

Episcopal Life has a section devoted to reports out of New Orleans. Episcopal Life notes that the "House of Bishops sessions reflect 'passionate commitment' to Anglican Communion."

Episcope, the Episcopal Church blog, also has ongoing coverage.

Jim Naughton and friends at the Episcopal Cafe, have an excellent roundup of the ongoing newspaper and wire service coverage. Thinking Anglicans also have compiled a list of resources and reports.

The Church has scheduled official news briefings, so keep an eye out for reports of these, which tend to come late in the day before dinner.

In attendance are more than 100 bishops from The Episcopal Church, their spouses, and friends and partners from overseas, making this certainly one of the largest such meetings in advance of the Lambeth Conference next year.

The meetings begin today with Bible study led by the Archbishop of Canterbury. As befitting his office and what is no doubt a deep well of good will towards both the office and the man himself, the Archbishop has been met and will continue to be met, "with great respect and hospitality," according to ++Katharine.

The Archbishop will meet with the bishops and other invited guests for the entire day today. 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 closing date for their response.

Yesterday, the Archbishop toured the Lower 9th Ward and blessed the foundations of a new church going up. The Lower 9th Ward was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Katrina Recovery Center at Episcopal Relief and Development provides information and resources about ERD's partnerships to serve people affected by Hurricane Katrina.

The Archbishop then participated in an evening interfaith gathering at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, which celebrated the "Resiliency of Spirit in New Orleans," according to the Diocese of Louisiana, the host diocese. The Diocese has resources at its homepage about the meetings, including special events churches are holding.

The Archbishop departs New Orleans tomorrow afternoon, to begin an official visit to Armenia, Syria and Lebanon.

The Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates will attend the sessions today, at ++Katharine's invitation. The Joint Standing Committee is a committee composed of members from the primates group, as well as the ACC.

On this committee for the primates, are ++Katharine; the Archbishop of Wales, who in advance of his arrival in the U.S., noted that the proposed Covenant as it is proceeding, is not a good idea; and the Primate of the Anglican Church in Australia, Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Brisbane, who before leaving Australia, said that "No-one is expecting a quick fix and once-and-for-all solution for all time from the meeting this week in the United States. Rather we hope that in conversation and prayer and mutual discernment, we might be able to see constructive next steps."

Other invited guests in attendance include the Episcopal Church's elected representatives to the Anglican Consultative Council, Josephine Hicks of North Carolina, and the Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas of Massachusetts. The Episcopal Church is also represented on the Anglican Consultative Council by New York Bishop Suffragan Catherine Roskam, who is present in New Orleans as an active member of the House of Bishops.

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Episcopal Forum of South Carolina Voices Concerns over Bishop-Elect, Requests "Immediate Intervention" in the life of the Diocese

The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, which in the past year has played a growing, prominent role in alerting The Episcopal Church to serious concerns about the diocese's bishop-elect, has again written the national leadership of the Church to question the propriety of their consenting to the ordination and consecration of the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence as bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Since its inception, the Episcopal Forum has worked to identify and bring together loyal Episcopalians in South Carolina who have found themselves at odds with a diocesan leadership that has consistently advocated for separation from its own Church and/or some type of shunning, for the Church as a whole.

In its letter to bishops and standing committees with jurisdiction, dated September 14, the Forum wrote that the Diocese of South Carolina is not unified in its support of the "Network," or its positions, "nor is it unified in a desire to disassociate from The Episcopal Church."

"There are congregations in this diocese that remain committed to The Episcopal Church, and there are segments within "dissenting" congregations that remain equally committed," the letter said. "The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina is supported by parishioners from most parishes in the diocese, and provides a voice for those loyal to The Episcopal Church."

About Lawrence, the Forum noted that as a priest in the Diocese of San Joaquin, he had generally supported actions to dissociate that diocese from the wider Church.

The Forum also pointed to a letter Lawrence wrote this past August to his parish in Bakersfield, California, where he said, "I also hold strong convictions on remaining in covenanted fellowship with the worldwide Anglican Communion, rather than following, as some have suggested, the pathway of an overly autonomous provincial or national church."

This statement in isolation, while evidencing a desire to remain within the fellowship of the Anglican Communion, also is consistent with Lawrence's past statements that the Episcopal Church should repudiate itself or open itself up to governance by bishops or other bodies outside the Church itself.

The Forum also said about Lawrence:
"His perspective deeply concerns us, as we believe that it would further isolate a substantial number of Episcopalians in the Diocese of South Carolina. A climate of intolerance exists in this diocese, virtually isolating Episcopalians who do not agree with the expressed position of the majority of clergy and lay leaders who are members of the [Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NACDP)]. We fear that climate would be exacerbated by the administration of a bishop with Mark Lawrence's perspective."
Episcopal Forum also said in its letter that the group's members "want the new bishop of South Carolina to be committed without reservation to the ordination oath signed by every new bishop 'to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church.'"

In a letter written earlier this summer to Presiding Bishop Katharine and House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson, the Forum called for "immediate intervention" in the life of the diocese in order to preserve the historic episcopate and protect the diversity and spiritual health of its laity, clergy, and institutions.

"We believe a crisis is looming in this Diocese," the letter said. "We encourage you to consider the possibility of appointing an interim bishop who would respect the conservative members of our diocese support the polity and diversity of TEC and work to preserve the faith and assets of TEC in the Diocese of SC."

The letter also said that "clergy in this diocese have a bias and have encouraged disinformation about TEC, which has confused the majority of Episcopalians who normally would support TEC, in spite of theological differences within TEC. Many of these Episcopalians, now affiliated with the EFSC, have experienced isolation and alienation in their parishes and in the Diocese."

In the first week of this November, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and her Chancellor, The Rev. Sally Johnson, will be the keynote speakers at a Conference organized by the Forum in Charleston.

The purpose of the Conference, like the stated goals of the Forum itself, "is to preserve unity with diversity in the Diocese of South Carolina and within The Episcopal Church, through the inclusion of a broad range of Scriptural understandings, and by upholding the democratic actions of its Constitution and Canons, conventions and elected leadership."

Since coming to office, both the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies have visited many dioceses of the Church, including some where a national Church leader had not been in years or even decades. In some instances, they have met with Episcopalians who have come together in these dioceses to preserve the historical relations and institutions of the Church.

Episcopal Life online has a story about the Forum here.

The Episcopal Forum homepage, with letters and other materials, is here.

Episcopal Meeting Brings Helping Hands to New Orleans

The six-day gathering of Episcopal Church bishops that begins Sept. 20 in New Orleans will bring a relatively small number of people – about 350 – to the city, but Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana says the impact is huge for the hurricane-ravaged area.

“First of all, it’s a boost to our economy to have anyone here. Even this number will be a help. The city is excited about this,” he said in an interview from his office in Baton Rouge, La.

Two years after Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 per cent of the Crescent City, the business district and tourist magnet French Quarter are generally back to normal. Still, officials say they are battling the image of a devastated city and expect convention business this year will be 70 per cent of pre-Katrina levels. Outside the central city and the areas on higher ground that did not flood, many neighborhoods are still struggling to recover and Episcopal churches and clergy who lost their homes are trying to rebuild.

Bishop Jenkins also said that it was welcome news that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will meet with the American bishops for two days and preach at a large ecumenical service on Sept. 20 at the Morial Convention Center. “The city needs and welcomes an international religious leader,” Bishop Jenkins said, noting that the city also marked the visit last year of the Ecumenical Orthodox patriarch, Bartholomew I of Constantinople.

After the bishops meet with Archbishop Williams on Sept. 20 and 21, they and their spouses will on the weekend fan out in Louisiana and parts of neighboring Mississippi, helping with rebuilding projects and leading prayer and pastoral visits with congregations and individuals. Their meeting then continues Sept. 24 and 25.

Many churches and other religious organizations have planned special events during the meetings.

The Anglican Journal has the full story.

For more coverage, visit the overview of coverage at The Episcopal Cafe, with links to specific reports.

The Protestant Inheritance

The Protestant inheritance has long been divisive. From the outset, the Reformation contained within it radical and conservative readings. While Martin Luther's split from Rome in 1517 offered a template of rebellion, his stress on scriptural authority (sola scriptura) gave the Bible's conservative edicts new force.

Particularly attractive to authoritarian Protestant princes was Romans 13:1 - "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." Here was godly sanction for state autarchy - a Protestant tradition of conservatism that would eventually find a British voice in "Church and King" Toryism.

But a reading of the Book of Acts could lead believers in a different direction: "We must obey God rather than man." For those Anabaptists in 1530s Münster and Calvinists in 1550s Edinburgh who decreed that their governments were in opposition to the rule of God, the response was revolution. Indeed, much of modern resistance theory - the duty to overthrow despotic authority that inspired revolutionaries in 1640s England and 1770s America - stems directly from the Protestant tradition.

Along with this came a focus on equality. In place of the inequitable hierarchy of the Catholic Church, Luther posited a "priesthood of all believers". But, his poorer followers were not slow to ask, why not social justice together with spiritual equality? In the beautiful words of William Tyndale, the genius translator behind the King James Bible, "As good is the prayer of a cobbler as of a cardinal, and of a butcher as of a bishop; and the blessing of a baker that knoweth the truth is as good as the blessing of our most holy father the pope."

This was the socialist imperative of Protestantism, which would inspire generations of radicals, from the peasant leader Thomas Müntzer in 1520s Germany to the Methodist revival of 18th-century England to the civil rights mission of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Read the rest at The New Statesman.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Witness to Faith

If you can ever visit the King's College Chapel, part of King's College, Cambridge University, don't give up the chance. It is one of the most stunning, beautiful chapels in the world. It was completed in 1547 and its altarpiece is The Adoration of the Magi, Rubens's masterpiece. Believe it or not, for many years the only thing standing between this amazing painting and the visitor, was a frayed, red velvet cord.

The Archbishop of Canterbury presented a lecture at the Chapel last week as part of the annual conference for the Christian-Muslim Forum. The Archbishop is a Founding Patron of the Forum, and under his guidance many people of good will from both faiths, from all walks of life and all religious orders, have come together to discuss their faiths and to bridge differences. Read more about the forum at Ekklesia, amongst other places.

We should all keep in mind this week as he meets with our House of Bishops, that the Archbishop is a man of spiritual integrity, who has consistently presented the core of the Christian faith in clear, unmistakable language. Here is part of what he said at King's Chapel last week:

The convincing witness to faith is one for whom safety and success are immaterial, and one for whom therefore the exercise of violent force against another of different conviction is ruled out. And the nature of an authentically religious community is made visible in its admission of dependence on God – which means both that it does not fight for position and power and that it will not see itself as existing just by the license of human society. It proclaims both its right to exist on the basis of the call of God and its refusal to enforce that right by the routine methods of human conflict.

All this is, for the Christian believer, rooted in the gospel narrative and in the reflections of the first Christians. Jesus himself in his trial before Pilate says that his royal authority does not derive from anything except the eternal truth which he himself embodies as the incarnate Word of God; only if his authority depended on some other source would his servants fight (Jn 18.36-7). Earthly authority needs to reinforce itself in conflict and dominance; if the community of Jesus’ followers reinforced itself in such a way, it would be admitting that its claims were derived from this human order. The realm, the basileia, of God, to which Jesus’ acts and words point is not a region within human society any more than it is a region within human geography; it is that condition of human relationships, public and private, where the purpose of God is determinative for men and women and so becomes visible in our history – a condition that can be partially realised in the life of the community around Jesus but waits for its full embodiment in a future only God knows. And for the first and second generations of believers, the community in which relation with the Risen Jesus transforms all relationships into the exchange of the gifts given by Jesus’ Spirit has come to be seen as the historical foretaste of this future, as it is here and now the embodiment of Jesus’ own identity – the Body of Christ – to the extent it shows this new quality of relation.

The Church is, in this perspective, the trustee of a vision that is radical and universal, the vision of a social order that is without fear, oppression , the violence of exclusion and the search for scapegoats because it is one where each recognizes their dependence on all and each is seen as having an irreplaceable gift for all. The Church cannot begin to claim that it consistently lives by this; its failure is all too visible, century by century. But its credibility does not hang on its unbroken success; only on its continued willingness to be judged by what it announces and points to, the non-competitive, non-violent order of God’s realm, centred upon Jesus and accessible through commitment to him. Within the volatile and plural context of a society that has no single frame of moral or religious reference, it makes two fundamental contributions to the common imagination and moral climate. The first is that it declares that, in virtue of everyone’s primordial relation to God (made in God’s image), the dignity of every person is non-negotiable: each has a unique gift to give, each is owed respect and patience and the freedom to contribute what is given them.
(If you'd like to read the rest of the lecture, click here.)

These are important points always, but especially when we as a parish, a diocese, a church, and a Communion, are trying to discern how best to reconcile and heal differences. Discernment takes time.

No doubt some this week, who tend to look for immediacy and even work to short-circuit discernment, will be looking to highlight rumors and "leaks" out of New Orleans.

You won't find any of that here. If you want real news out of New Orleans, stay tuned to Episcopal Life Online. Our Church has excellent writers and staff working hard to get news out to our Church and Communion.

Or head over to The Episcopal Cafe. Jim Naughton and friends will be keeping an eye out for any concrete news. During the meeting, "Information is likely to be scarce and anxiety high," Jim writes. "In such situations, the significance of whatever little information is available is frequently blown out of proportion, so reader beware."

Good advice, don't you think?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"Episcopal TV" launches this evening

"Episcopal Life Focus," a 30 minute video multicast broadcast from The Episcopal Church Center in New York, debuts online tonight at 8 P.M. EST on Episcopal Life Online. Click here to watch the show.

Tonight's show previews next week's meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans. The HoB will review the state and progress of the ongoing recovery in New Orleans. They are also hosting the Archbishop of Canterbury, who in his first visit with the HoB, will lead study and prayer, and continue discussions about The Episcopal Church and The Anglican Communion.

Regarding the general outlines of the consultations beginning in New Orleans next week, The Living Church reports the following: "A senior advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury told The Living Church it was a serious misreading of the primates’ communiqué to say that an ultimatum had been given to the House of Bishops to take certain actions by Sept. 30 or face expulsion from the Anglican Communion. The communiqué had asked for certain clarifications from the House of Bishops, he said, but did not envision a breaching of The Episcopal Church’s constitution."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The State of Liberal Anglicanism

The Rev. Lynda Patterson is Director of Theology House, Christchurch, New Zealand. Theology House descends from College House, which operated both as a theological college and a hall of residence for the University of Canterbury.

Before her post at Theology House, Patterson was the G.B. Caird Lecturer in New Testament at Mansfield College, Oxford University.

She writes in the current issue of The Anglican Taonga, the news magazine of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, that liberal Anglicanism, the stream most closely identified with Anglicanism in general, must reexamine and reinvigorate its theology if it is to survive and prosper.

In fact, she argues, it is the failure of liberal Anglicans to think more seriously about our distinctive theology and articulate it more clearly, that has contributed to the current controversies in the Anglican Communion.

Her article is titled "The Death of Liberal Anglicanism?" which no doubt underscores the timeliness and seriousness of her presentation.

Patterson identifies four areas for theological examination and if necessary, reinvigoration: Scripture; the centrality of grace; mission; and ecclesiology, which is a broad category indeed, since it includes a number of issues.

What follows is an excerpt.

∞ ∞ ∞

For those of us who consider ourselves liberals, there is something disorientating about the current state of Anglicanism. The rug seems to have been pulled from under our feet. We find ourselves increasingly squeezed between two competing conservatisms. There is an evangelical one which seems determined to implant a rule book of doctrinal and moral orthodoxy at the centre of Anglicanism.

There is a catholic one committed to preserving the unity of the church by re-inventing the primates as a sort of Anglican curia. A church which seemed to have room for diverse expressions of Christian faith is solidifying around us into something rigid and unfriendly. What happened to the Anglican habit of cultural sensitivity and intellectual flexibility ?

If we are honest, we liberals have to shoulder some of the blame for the loss. The liberal tradition had settled down into something which looked suspiciously like complacency.

Even the early stirrings of the debate on homosexuality seemed to pose no serious threat. It had long been the logic of Anglicanism that reform movements eventually – if often with painful slowness – won the day. The church's position on the ordination of practising homosexuals looked as if it was temporary. It was assumed that evangelical objections were an attempt to resist change, and in the longer term, they would eventually be worn down.

There is a story, possibly apocryphal, about the press officer of the Diocese of New Hampshire who was approached by a journalist on the day of Gene Robinson's election, and asked about its potential impact. She is said to have replied that the story was very likely to make the local television news that evening, and might even be reported nationally. In the light of everything which has happened since, this shows an almost touching naiveté.

Those of us on the liberal wing of the Church also show some signs of neglecting to take our theology seriously enough. Part of the distinctive calling of the liberal tradition is learning to speak with secular culture in a language it can understand. At best, there is a commitment to theological hospitality, to encouraging those exploring the Christian faith whose search starts not from the Bible or the doctrines of the church, but from the most sensitive and creative parts of their own experience.

In an effort to avoid the sort of position which rejects everything outside the church, or everything not explicitly authorised by the Bible, we can end up carelessly affirming every aspect of secular culture. There is no room left to critique its injustices and its excesses. Our task is to witness to God’s transforming power, but sometimes we have lost sight of the Gospel’s subversive edge.

It is not yet clear whether, to borrow from Mark Twain, the death of Anglican liberalism is exaggerated. Most of us speak and listen mainly to the people who share our worldview, and assume that it is the natural one to belong to. It's easy to fall into a sort of anxiety, because the particular picture of the church, of holy life, of effective mission, which we subscribe to doesn’t seem to be getting the hearing it deserves. We end up with a situation where everyone believes they are a persecuted minority.

We have to be committed to keeping the conversation going with those whose vision of the church we find peculiar or bewildering or infuriating. But it is also essential at this point for liberals to think seriously about their distinctive theology and be prepared to articulate it more clearly than we have done in the past. The four areas below are suggested starting points for dialogue:

To continue reading about the specific proposals, follow this link to the Anglican Taonga.

Bishop Robinson: "I Heard God's Voice in Scripture"

The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, said Sept. 10 that he has been talking with members of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s staff and will attend next year’s Lambeth Conference in whatever capacity he is permitted as long as he is given a voice.

“I’m going to do my best to be at the table,” Bishop Robinson said. “More than anything I wish I could be in the same room with Archbishop [Peter] Akinola [of Nigeria] so he could hear from my own lips how God has transformed me through scripture. The miracle is that I heard God’s voice in scripture. I am fiercely committed to it. It literally saved my life.”

Bishop Robinson delivered an address at the General Theological Seminary on reconciliation efforts on human sexuality within the Anglican Communion as part of the “Reconciliation at the Roundtable” conference Sept. 10-12 at the seminary’s newly opened Desmond Tutu Center. He began by comparing his invitation to speak on reconciliation within the Anglican Communion to inviting a fox to lecture on reconciliation within a henhouse.

“Either this was a stroke of genius or a profoundly disturbing decision,” he said. “You will get to be the judge.”

The Living Church online has the full story.

Friday, September 07, 2007

New Survey: Religion Not Clear-Cut Issue in 2008 White House Race

Religion is not proving to be a clear-cut factor in the 2008 U.S. White House race, taking a back seat to the Iraq war and domestic issues, but most Americans still feel faith is an important attribute in their president, according to a Pew survey released on Thursday.

As in the past, most Americans continue to say that it is important for a president to have strong religious beliefs. And voters who see presidential candidates as religious express more favorable views toward those candidates than do voters who view them as not religious.

But the latest Pew survey finds U.S. presidential candidates need not be seen as very religious to gain wide voter acceptance.

Read the whole survey and results at the Pew Forum.

Archbishop of Canterbury expresses "deep shock" at Nigerian statements

From the Anglican Communion Office:

"The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has expressed deep shock at remarks said to have been made by the Bishop of Uyo, Nigeria, the Rt Revd Isaac Orama concerning gay and lesbian people.

The Archbishop will be contacting the Archbishop of Nigeria, Dr Peter Akinola, to seek clarification. Dr Williams said "The safety of people of gay and lesbian sexual orientation is a matter of concern for us all. The Anglican Primates, along with all other official bodies in the Anglican Communion, have consistently called for an end to homophobia, violence and hatred. If these reports are correct I would urge the bishop to apologise. Such comments are unacceptable and profoundly shocking on the lips of any Christian".

Canon James M Rosenthal
Anglican Communion Office
St Andrew's House
Director of Communications
16 Tavistock Crescent
London W11 1AP UK

The comments the Archbishop is referring to were made earlier this week by a bishop in Nigeria named Isaac Orama. Orama appeared to welcome violence and action against gays and lesbians by categorising them as less than human, satanic, and unfit to live.

Outside his own country, Orama's comments amount to little more than bathroom graffiti.

Inside his own country, however, assuming anyone is even listening to this man, the statements pave the way for violence and wickedness against other people. It is precisely these kinds of statements, in concert with legislation and policies fed by the sort of hatred evidenced by them, that have required The Episcopal Church, in good conscience and Christian practice, to lift high the Cross for the defense and protection of all who would be dehumanized.

It goes without saying that a bishop of the Church cannot be permitted to incite or encourage this or any other kind of violence. The Archbishop of Canterbury's call for an inquiry is certainly a step in the right direction.

The Nigerian bishop's statements have been roundly condemned since he made them.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Arctic Without Ice: In 20 years

The Guardian has the alarming, terrible story:
The Arctic ice cap has collapsed at an unprecedented rate this summer and levels of sea ice in the region now stand at a record low, scientists said last night. Experts said they were "stunned" by the loss of ice, with an area almost twice as big as Britain disappearing in the last week alone. So much ice has melted this summer that the north-west passage across the top of Canada is fully navigable, and observers say the north-east passage along Russia's Arctic coast could open later this month. If the increased rate of melting continues, the summertime Arctic could be totally free of ice by 2030.

Mark Serreze, an Arctic specialist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre at Colorado University in Denver which released the figures, said: "It's amazing. It's simply fallen off a cliff and we're still losing ice." The Arctic has now lost about a third of its ice since satellite measurements began 30 years ago, and the rate of loss has accelerated sharply since 2002.

Dr Serreze said: "If you asked me a couple of years ago when the Arctic could lose all of its ice, then I would have said 2100, or 2070 maybe. But now I think that 2030 is a reasonable estimate. It seems that the Arctic is going to be a very different place within our lifetimes, and certainly within our children's lifetimes."
A prayer for the stewardship of creation:

O merciful God, your hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature: Make us always thankful for your loving providence; and grant that we, remembering the account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your good gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Reading the Bible

Jim Naughton at The Episcopal Cafe has put up a fine post up about reading the Bible. Here's a snippet:
"William Stringfellow was a gay, chain-smoking, Harvard-trained New York City lawyer, who lived and worked among the poor of East Harlem in the last half of the 20th century.

In the late 60s, he was a radical supporter of the anti-war movement, an extreme critic of the Nixon administration, and a hands-on advocate for the poor and hated. He defended Bishop Pike in 1966 against charges of heresy. He supported and defended the first women to be irregularly ordained. He befriended the Barrigans in their anti-war protests.

To many, one might suppose Stringfellow was the classic 'liberal Episcopalian.' Yet, in much the way that Stanley Hauerwas rejects 'theological liberalism,' Stringfellow was not a theological liberal. Indeed, he was a misfit among liberals who shared much of his social justice vision. Walter Wink has said that Stringfellow, "seems to have come, theologically, out of nowhere." But he didn't come from nowhere. He came from the land of the Bible. It is quite evident that William Stringfellow lived, advocated and worked as he did based on his deep commitment to living under the Word of God in the Bible."
Read the whole thing. It's worth it.

It's probably safe to say, that most of us Episcopalians/Anglicans, do not engage the living Word enough. Maybe this is because there are some passages that so-and-so says are the linchpin of the whole thing and you don't agree with those one bit and so, chuck the whole thing. Or maybe it's because you think of it as a static text that can be placed neatly alongside other books and even read or analyzed the same way. Not so.

If too many of us are not comfortable reading, engaging, and discussing the Bible, or have little more than a passing familiarity with it, then this is a shortcoming in the Christian education models of our Church. 

The Bible is the written root and source of our faith and tradition. It is the only definitive record of the Gospel of the Lord. To equip Episcopalians to live out the Gospel, Episcopalians should also be equipped in Biblical literacy. Our Church has a rich and venerable heritage of bringing the living Word to people in the spoken and widely used language of the day. We need to reclaim this history.

One step towards this would be putting a Bible in every pew. Not every parish does this and in fact, it may be that the percentage that do, is low.

Getting that percentage up would be a step in the right direction.

NB: The post at The Episcopal Cafe is by The Rev. Samuel Gregory Jones, rector of St. Michael's, Raleigh. Fr. Jones is one of the fine stable of essayists and regular contributors Jim has assembled over at The Episcopal Cafe; Fr. Jones also hosts the blog The Anglican Centrist. Thanks to JB Chilton for pointing this out.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

N.T. Wright: "The Power of Forgiveness"

"The power of forgiveness is precisely that it enables both God and God's people to avoid the imposition of other people's evil," says N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, in his new book, Evil and the Justice of God.

Reviewing it in the Christian Century, Samuel Wells, dean of the chapel at Duke University and research professor of Christian ethics at Duke Divinity School, writes, "This seems to me exactly right. Forgiveness is about power—it not only sets free the sinner from the burden of guilt but also sets free victims from being forever defined by what has hurt them."

The review is a very fine one. Read it all at The Christian Century.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Rev. Dr. Titus Presler: Rebuilding the Anglican Communion

The Very Rev. Dr. Titus Presler is Sub-Dean and Professor of Mission and World Christianity at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in Manhattan. A researcher for the Global Anglicanism Project, his publications focus on Episcopal and Anglican mission and on African Christianity.

The Rev. Presler contributed a lengthy and useful examination of The Episcopal Church's relations with The Anglican Communion and other provinces, for the recent Diocese of New York study and report on the Episcopal Church and The Anglican Communion. The full New York report is now online at The Diocese of New York, as a large downloadable pdf (41 mb).

The Rev. Presler's comments serve as a good introduction to and examination of current controversies and differences. He urges each one of us to do our part to secure the trust and faith essential to maintaining and strengthening the Communion.

Here is an excerpt of the Rev. Presler's contribution:

∞ ∞ ∞
Search out opportunities to get to know personally Anglicans from other parts of the world. Your congregation may have visitors or members with whom conversation about the issues would be illuminating. Explore how you and your parish can participate in the diocese’s international progams and missions. Sometimes we Episcopalians are global citizens in our work while remaining very limited in our Church awareness.

If your work takes you abroad, make a point before traveling to find out about the Anglican province where you’ll be. Begin web-surfing at, which can lead you to service times at and directions to parishes in Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Nairobi, Mexico City or wherever. Episcopal missionaries working in the area are especially valuable contacts, and you can find them by checking the missionary roster at

A hurting world needs desperately the kind of global network for companionship in mission that the Anglican Communion historically has provided. Now in the hurt and alienation of our own Communion, each of us can play a part in rebuilding the trust, the companionship and the mission.

Episcopal TV ready to launch

The Episcopal Church will debut a new television program called "Episcopal Life Focus," later this month, with the first broadcasts looking at the ongoing recovery in New Orleans, and previewing the upcoming meeting of the House of Bishops, who are hosting the Archbishop of Canterbury September 20-25 in New Orleans.

The program, a monthly half-hour video "multicast" featuring church mission, ministries and news, debuts on Thursday, September 13, at 8 p.m. EDT on Episcopal Life Online.

It will remain available online for on-demand viewing, and for placement on local community access cable stations that make air time available free of charge, said Canon Robert Williams, director of the Episcopal Church's Communication Office, which is providing the new resource.

While Episcopal Life Focus will be based and edited at the Episcopal Chuch Center in New York City, its segments will be taped at varied locations churchwide. The program will not be "New York-centered," the production team assured.

"The Episcopal Church is much broader than that and the content of Episcopal Life Focus will reflect it," said Mike Collins, director of video and multicast communication for the Episcopal Church, and the show's producer. "We all hope to tell stories that resonate with the wider church."

Episcopal Life has the full story.

The Fine Print

The Episcopal Majority has posted an informative and substantive essay by The Rev. Canon Robert J. Brooks of Connecticut, with the help Mr. Ed Hebb, Chancellor of the Diocese of Connecticut. The piece describes the role of the Anglican Consultative Council, how provinces arrive at and maintain their positions and relations, and the roles of the various "Instruments of Unity." The essay addresses the constitutional fine print of who is a member of the Anglican Communion and how one both is initiated into the fellowship and how a member church might be expelled or leave.

Read the whole thing here.