Showing posts with label Anglican Communion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anglican Communion. Show all posts

Monday, January 25, 2016


The Anglican Communion is a family of churches with roots in Anglicanism and the Church of England.  Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is "first among equals" of the primates (chief bishops) of Anglican churches around the world.  He is also the leader of the Anglican Church in England. 

After a recent gathering of Anglican primates in Canterbury, England, Archbishop Welby published a reflection on the meeting.
As leaders of the family of Anglican churches in a world so racked by violence and fear, we gathered in Canterbury with much to share and discuss – from climate change to religiously motivated violence.  A significant part of the week was spent discussing how – or even if – we could remain together as the Anglican Communion in the light of changes made by our brothers and sisters in The Episcopal Church (the historic Anglican Communion church in the USA and some other countries) to their understanding of marriage. (My emphasis)
The present policy in the Episcopal Church is to welcome all members of the church to all the sacramental rites of the church, including Christian marriage for faithful, committed couples of the same sex.  The question as to whether Christian marriage always consists in the lifetime union of one man and one woman would seem to me to have been settled by acceptance of divorce by Anglican churches.  Jesus himself never spoke of same sex marriage, but he spoke clearly about divorce.  If it was possible for Anglicans to overcome their scruples about divorce, then why has the union of faithful couples of the same sex become so serious a matter as to provoke threats of schism before the primates gathering?  As it was, the primate of the Anglican Church in Uganda, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, left the meeting early to protest the failure of a vote for a resolution asking the primates of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to leave the meeting.  Later in the meeting, sanctions were imposed on the Episcopal Church. 
We remain committed to being together, albeit we asked that TEC, while attending and playing a full part in our meetings and all discussions, will not represent the Anglican Communion to other churches and should not be involved in standing committees for a period of three years. During this time we also asked that they not vote on matters of doctrine or how we organise ourselves.
So. The Episcopal Church was pushed to the margins of the Anglican Communion for instituting policies and practices that include justice and equality for all its members.  Archbishop Welby continues.
There will be wounds for each other, but we must repent of wounding others who are especially vulnerable, whether they are LGBTI people or those menaced by religiously-motivated violence, terrorism and exile. Some, of course, will fall in many categories.

But that unity is also joyful and astonishing, renewing and nourishing – because it is unity in love for Jesus Christ, whose single family we are, often argumentative, sometimes cruel (which is deeply wrong) but created by God and belonging to each other irrevocably.
From my vantage in the Episcopal Church, it's impossible for me to view the "unity" that came from the primates gathering as "joyful and astonishing, renewing and nourishing". What a strange way to comment on a policy which wounds and continues to discriminate against the Episcopal Church for practicing justice and equality.

Also, since marriages of couples of the same sex remain forbidden in the Church of England, how is it possible for Justin Welby to imagine that LGTB persons and their supporters in his own church take joy, renewal, or nourishment from the outcome of the primates meeting?  Pain and astonishment perhaps at the continuing injustice which wounds the members of the archbishop's own church, but there is no joy.  That's not to mention LGTB members of Anglican churches in other countries in Africa and the Global South, where persecution and discrimination are much more severe, who look to Christians in the West for help and support.

Does Justin Welby himself believe what he says? Does he expect LGTB Anglicans and members of TEC to believe what he says? The archbishop apologizes for marginalizing groups of people, but he does not change his ways.  How is his apology in any way sincere when he continues to wound and marginalize? The marginalized will believe him when he practices justice and equality.

In the end, church policies affect real people, which I wonder if Anglican church leaders forget, or, if they remember, they quickly put such thoughts out of their minds.  Since I have gay and lesbian friends in the Church of England, I care very much about policies and practices that not only hurt my friends and many others but also result in destructive, long-lasting consequences in their lives.

Photo of Justin Welby from Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Colbert King, of The Washington Post, writes in an opinion piece on the continuing drama:
Last week, the Anglican Communion, the worldwide collection of national and regional churches that consider themselves Anglican or Episcopalian, suspended the U.S. Episcopal Church from full participation in the global body because of its decision to perform same-sex marriages. The suspension should have been the other way around. It is the Anglican Communion that deserves sanction. It, not the Episcopal Church, of which I am a member, has departed from the faith and teachings of Jesus with its un-Christian treatment of gay men and women.
The information in the column is generally accurate, but I'd note a few corrections. It was a gathering of Anglican primates (chief bishops) of the various member churches, not the Anglican Communion, that "sanctioned" the Episcopal Church. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby of the Church of England, the first among equals among the primates, later referred to "consequences" rather than "sanctions". Whatever. The majority of the primates are opposed to our church's welcoming LGTB members to all sacramental rites of the church, including Christian marriage. The gathering of primates has no power to legislate or enforce such "sanctions", "consequences", or "suspension", so we shall see what follows for the church.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, spoke with grace and eloquence following the meeting. 
This has been a disappointing time for many, and there will be heartache and pain for many, but it’s important to remember that we are still part of the Anglican Communion. We are the Episcopal Church, and we are part of the Jesus Movement, and that Movement goes on, and our work goes on. And the truth is, it may be part of our vocation to help the Communion and to help many others to grow in a direction where we can realize and live the love that God has for all of us, and we can one day be a Church and a Communion where all of God’s children are fully welcomed, where this is truly a house of prayer for all people. And maybe it’s a part of our vocation to help that to happen. And so we must claim that high calling; claim the high calling of love and faith; love even for those with whom we disagree, and then continue, and that we will do, and we will do it together. 
The link above includes the full text and the video of Bishop Curry's comments.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


Statement from Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church.

Well said, Gay.
The practical consequences of the primates’ action will be that, for three years, Episcopalians will not be invited to serve on certain committees, or will be excluded from voting while they are there. However, the primates do not have authority over the Anglican Consultative Council, the worldwide body of bishops, clergy and lay people that facilitates the cooperative work of the churches of the Anglican Communion. I serve as a representative to that body, along with Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut, a four-time deputy before his election as bishop, and six-time Deputy Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine of the Virgin Islands, and I am planning to travel to Zambia for our scheduled meeting in April and to participate fully. 
Excellent.  The Anglican Consultative Council will have to follow up with action or the "sanctions", (which apparently are now not really "sanctions", but rather "consequences"), voted on in the primates meeting will have no force.   The majority of the primates at their gathering intend to put the Episcopal Church on the naughty step because of its policy to welcome everyone to the church and to extend equality to same sex couples to share in all sacraments and activities in the church.


Canterbury Cathedral

Susan Russell says it well at The Huffington Post.  Imagine! The Episcopal Church was sanctioned for being inclusive!
Today's statement from the Anglican Primates sanctioning the Episcopal Church for moving forward on marriage equality was sad but not surprising. The Episcopal Church being blamed for "impaired communion" between constituent members of the 38 autonomous churches making up the worldwide Anglican Communion is news to absolutely no one who has followed the long running saga of the Anglican Inclusion Wars.
If you wonder what a primate is, or you think you already know, an Anglican primate is the chief bishop in a country or region. If you think that perhaps a more suitable label could have been chosen, I agree.

Our primate, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, made me proud with his response to the announcement of the sanctions.
Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all. While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Cartoon by Jonathan Hagger (aka MadPriest)

A memory supplied by Facebook from four years ago. The cartoon is, for the most part, an insider for Episcopalians and Anglicans about the odious Anglican Covenant that former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and certain other Primates in the Anglican Communion attempted, unsuccessfully, to foist on the rest of the churches in the Communion. The rest of us were, in the main, not having any of it. The coup de grâce was delivered by diocesan vote in the Church of England, Rowan Williams very own church, a sweet victory.

Archbishop Justin Welby summoned the Primates of the Anglican Communion to a meeting at Canterbury in January 2016, and, according to The Living Church, there are those who will try to resuscitate the covenant as a primatial option at the meeting. Of course, the primatial option will be meaningless in the Episcopal Church in the US and in many other churches in the Communion.
Something very much like the Covenant remains, in Oliver O’Donovan’s memorable phrase, “the only game in town” (originally said of The Windsor Report), for the simple reason that it delivers a synthesis of Anglican thinking about the Church wrought as a vision for the future. The alternatives to the Covenant school are amnesia at best, innovation at worst — of an invisibilist or otherwise weakened sort that perceives the Church as simply affective gathering in mission across difference. In ecumenical terms, the pressure to opt for mere “Life and Work” would have us surrender the upward call to a common “Faith and Order,” as if the two are separable.
I'll just say the covenant is not for everyone and refer to Mark Harris at Preludium for further commentary in his post titled Flogging the dead horse "Anglican Covenant".
So the Anglican Covenant is being touted again as a way forward in deepening communion. Who knows if the Primates meeting will take up again the somewhat tattered and torn text of the Anglican Covenant.  Who knows if that meeting will pay attention to TLC's editorial opinion concerning their work. We shall see. 
In the vein of my earlier statement above:
The notion of a "Preferential option" by the Primates for the Anglican Covenant makes it appear that somehow the Primates could decide on their own to declare for the Anglican Covenant.  I suppose they could. But they cannot declare for their churches.  Oh, in some Provinces where the Primate exercises extraordinary executive authority, I suppose they could. But most Churches are guided in polity questions by some sort of synodical processes. So a "Primatial Option" would be the opinion of the primates. Unless it were a unanimous vote for support it would simply affirm that the Anglican Communion is no where near a place of agreement on the Anglican Covenant. Most disturbing is the idea that this title puts forth: namely that a "Primatial option" even exists. There is no common agreement that statements by the Primates on any matter stand separate from the ACC and the decisions by the member churches. "Primatial option" is a really bad idea. It smacks of a primatial preemption.
Exactly.  The piece in TLC mentions "The Virginia Report" and "The Windsor Report", which are history that I assume the writer wishes were not, and the two are reports, just that, and non-binding on any of the churches in the Communion.  I had to search for "The Virginia Report", from 2007, because I did not know what it was.  No, I did not read it all.
In sum, whatever else happens to the Anglican Covenant, I hope the Primates will spend as little time in trying to revive the horse as possible and more time in such difficult tasks as looking to common core concerns.
Indeed.  Let it be so.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Archbishop Justin Welby's non-explanatory explanation of his commentary on LBC radio in England during his visit to Canada.  See my previous post, but only if you want to know more.
Q: Were you in fact blaming the death of Christians in parts of Africa on the acceptance of gay marriage in America?

A: I was careful not to be too specific because that would pin down where that happened and that would put the community back at risk. I wouldn't use the word “blame”— that's a misuse of words in the context. One of the things that's most depressing about the response to that interview is that almost nobody listened to what I said; they mostly imagined what they thought I said...It was not only imagination, it was a million miles away from what I said.
Many of us heard and understood what Justin said, but we want to know why. If he's going to lay a certain responsibility for violence in Africa on Americans (though he won't call it blame), he needs to provide a better explanation to Americans than what he's said thus far.
Q: So what exactly were you saying?

A: What I was saying is that when we take actions in one part of the church, particularly actions that are controversial, that they are heard and felt not only in that part of the church but around the world...And, this is not mere consequentialism; I'm not saying that because there will be consequences to taking action, that we shouldn't take action. What I'm saying is that love for our neighbour, love for one another, compels us to consider carefully how that love is expressed, both in our own context and globally. We never speak the essential point that, as a church, we never speak only in our local situation. Our voice carries around the world. Now that will be more true in some places than in others. It depends on your links. We need to learn to live as a global church in a local context and never to imagine that we're just a local church. There is no such thing.
There most certainly is such a thing as the local church within the Anglican Communion. Contrary to  Justin's words, there is no such entity as a global Anglican church.  The AC is rather a fellowship of churches or provinces with roots in Anglicanism. Each church is autonomous, with its own form of governance and canons.  Though he may wish to be, the Archbishop of Canterbury is not the Anglican pope. He doesn't even speak for everyone in the Church of England, much less for other churches in the AC.

H/T to Kurt Weisner at The Lead.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


CHRISTIANS are being killed in Africa as a consequence of liberal attitudes towards homosexuality in the United States and Britain, the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested on Friday.

Speaking on LBC radio about his opposition to same-sex marriage, he said: "I've stood by gravesides in Africa of a group of Christians who had been attacked because of something that had happened far, far away in America."
Good grief! I find the archbishop's words astonishing. Is Justin Welby saying that Americans with "liberal attitudes" about gay sexuality are complicit in murder?
Clarifying his comments on the mass grave, he said: "What was said was that 'If we leave a Christian community in this area' - I am quoting them - 'we will all be made to become homosexual, so we are going to kill the Christians.' The mass grave had 369 bodies in it, and I was standing with the relatives. That burns itself into your soul - as does the suffering of gay people in this country."
A deep tragedy, indeed and a sight surely never to be forgotten.  Where was the mass grave?  Do the murderers speak truthfully about the reason for the mass killing?  Is it right to take the words of murderers on the reason for the killings and, on that basis, refuse justice and equality to the LGTB members of the Church of England?
"I was in the South Sudan a few weeks ago and the church leaders there were saying: 'Please do not change what you are doing because then we could not accept your help. And we need your help desperately.' And we have to listen to that."
I have news for the archbishop: Diocese to diocese and parish to parish relationships continue between Episcopal churches and African Anglican churches, despite the rants of homophobic African bishops about the practices of the Episcopal Church.  Policies of justice and equality for LGTB Episcopalians have been implemented, even as TEC and African churches continue to work together. The ABC seems to think "bash the Americans" is good church policy. I don't know. Maybe it works for him.
"What was said was that 'If we leave a Christian community in this area' - I am quoting them - 'we will all be made to become homosexual, so we are going to kill the Christians.' The mass grave had 369 bodies in it, and I was standing with the relatives. That burns itself into your soul - as does the suffering of gay people in this country."
Why not lay the blame squarely where it belongs, on the murderers and leaders who pass and implement draconian laws that cause great suffering and even death for LGTB people in their countries?  Why  blame Americans with "liberal attitudes"?
Asked whether he could imagine a day when two people of the same sex married in the Church of England, he said: "I look at the scriptures, I look at the teaching of the Church, I listen to Christians round the world, and I have real hestitations [sic] about that. "

He added, however: "I am incredibly uncomfortable about saying that. I really don't want to say no to people who love each other, but you have to have a sense of following what the teaching of the Church is. We can't just make sudden changes."
"Sudden changes?" Where has he been for the last 20 years?

More from Archbishop Welby on the broadcast, which runs for nearly an hour.
Rev Welby’s callers included former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe, who asked him whether the Church does or does not approve of homosexuality. The Archbishop told her drily: “How unsurprised I am by that question, I can't imagine.

“I just said the Church is quite clear that sex outside marriage is wrong, and marriage has been understood as a man and woman. That seems to be a fairly clear statement.

“I'm not going to pull my punches on that. I think I'm right, you think I'm wrong. We differ.”
Where's the love in saying no to marriage or a blessing to two people of the same sex who love each other? Where's the love in saying to gay priests that they can never marry and must always remain celibate?

It seems to me that unless and until the office of Archbishop of Canterbury is separate from the office of "primus inter pares" of the Anglican Communion, LGTB members of the Church of England will continue to be held hostage without justice and equality because of homophobic attitudes of certain African bishops.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Anglican-Episcopalians in Central America are preparing to receive one of the references of unity of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who will be in Guatemala City from August 10-12.

From a news story by Susana Barrera for ALC.

The visit was announced by Bishop Martín Barahona of the Anglican Episcopal Church of El Salvador, who expressed his great satisfaction with the archbishop’s pilgrimage and his decision to travel around the world to get to know the life of other missions.
The stunning bar, lamp and tables are the work of my good friend and artist Leonardo Ricardo.  You may wonder why I picture Leonardo's furniture art on a post announcing a visit to Guatemala by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.  Here's why:
The Archbishop of Canterbury is arriving in Guatemala this weekend.  He will officiate along with Presiding Bishop Armando at Santiago Cathedral on Sunday morning.  They will be sitting on two original Leonardo Ricardo thrones (don´t you love it?). The Cathedral has borrowed two of my elaborately painted oversized arm chairs for the occassion.  Hopefully there will be photos.  I will be attending the ABC´s special visit/mass with Elizabeth Bell....
There you have it.  The two archbishops will be seated in over-sized armchairs created by Leonardo.  The armchairs will be thrones for a day.  Leonardo, I love it!  I don't have a picture of the chairs, but I'm quite certain there will be photos after the service.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Presiding Bishop Katharine
carries her mitre
Sometimes those outside see inside more clearly than the insiders.   From Christchurch, NZ, Bosco Peters' writes an excellent post on the defeat of the motion to allow women bishops in the Church of England. 
Obviously my bishop, being a woman, cannot function as a bishop in England. Since this week’s vote in the Church of England’s General Synod, one can no longer make polite English excuses about this being an accident of history. It is now an intentional decision.

I have a … (how can I say this on a family-friendly site?)… ummm…I have a Y chromosome and I was ordained by someone with a Y chromosome, etc. all the way back to the earliest church. I can function as a priest in all of the Church of England. Some, however, who were ordained by someone who has no Y chromosome, even though they themselves have a Y chromosome, will find some places in the CofE where they cannot so function. We are a commnon.
No, the last word in the paragraph is not a misspelling, although Firefox or some other power in charge of internet spelling says otherwise.  Bosco has coined a new word for us which is not yet accepted in the lexicon of the intertubes.  Click one of the links to read how Bosco 'splains it all.

I joke around some here (you laugh, or you cry) , but Bosco shares seriously good thoughts about what is and what is not communion and various other matters. 

Monday, October 1, 2012


He is, we are often told, the moral voice of the nation. A man (sadly it still has to be a man) who has the heady task of leading Britain’s Anglicans, speaking as the nation’s conscience and herding the 77 million cats that make up the Anglican Communion in the rest of the world, many of whom would rather stone a gay man than embrace him.
No easy task. So it must be important to make sure the candidates for the Archbishop of Canterbury are at the top of their game and picked in the most representative and transparent way possible, right? Wrong.

The method for choosing Dr Rowan Williams’ replacement is as arcane and archaic as it was in the time of Henry VIII. A secretive committee meets at a secretive location to discuss a never-made-public list. Two names are given to the Prime Minister who hands them over to the Queen. You can’t apply for the job and anyone who suggests too publicly that they want it, usually doesn’t get it.
In his column in The Independent Jerome Taylor explores not only the process of choosing the Archbishop of Canterbury but also the implications of the choice not only for the Church of England but for the Anglican Communion.  The process seems strange to us in the Episcopal Church, for we elect our Presiding Bishop in a more democratic and less secretive process.

With respect to the Anglican Communion, perhaps it's time to open the office of Primus inter pares to primates of other member churches in the Communion for a term of a set number of years, lasting not as long as the present Archbishop of Canterbury served in the role.  Such an arrangement would relieve the archbishop of the onerous duty of playing the added role of leader of the Communion for his (for now) entire term of office.

And now perhaps I should move on to another subject.  I have to say that to focus for a spell on the selection of the Archbishop of Canterbury was a welcome relief to the seemingly everlasting campaign season here in the US.  On to the debates!

UPDATE: I should have noted that the position of Archbishop of Canterbury is not restricted to an Englishman, but the candidate must be a citizen of one of the countries in the Commonweath of Great Britain who swear allegiance to the Queen the Commonwealth monarchies.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


Canon Alan Perry of the Anglican Church of Canada ponders the next step for the churches of the Anglican Communion after the rejection of the Anglican Covenant by the Church of England.  As the Episcopal Church in the US will meet in General Convention in July of this year and and will be addressing proposed resolutions concerning the covenant, Alan's post seems to me a helpful addition to preparatory material.
I don't know how much time, effort or money has been expended on the Anglican Covenant proposal, but I think it is safe to say “a lot”. And this proposal has distracted Anglicans to a significant degree from pursuing, both other avenues of building relationships, and our primary mission of living out the Gospel in our various contexts. Now that the project is stalled, perhaps irretrievably, in the Church of England, how much more time, energy and money should the rest of us be expending on this proposed Covenant?

What should those outside England do?

It's really up to each Church to decide how it's going to deal with the proposed Covenant, but I see four options at this point:
  1. Continue with the process of considering and adopting the proposed Covenant;
  2. Continue to consider the Covenant, but adopt it conditionally such that an Act of Synod adopting the Covenant does not come into effect until the Church of England adopts it;
  3. Suspend the process of considering the Covenant until it is clear what the Church of England is going to do next;
  4. Adopt a resolution rejecting the Covenant.
Please don't stop with my short quote from Alan's post.  Read it all.

Whatever resolutions the Episcopal Church passes or does not pass, I fervently hope we will not spend "a lot" of time, effort, and money on such an inferior piece of work, especially now that the "mother" church has disposed of it. 

Friday, March 30, 2012


Commentary from the church press on the defeat of the Anglican Covenant in the Church of England.

Giles Fraser in the Church Times:
I WILL not disguise my joy at the death of the Anglican Covenant. And death it is — despite the fact that some people will inevitably try to give its corpse the kiss of life. The idea that the Church of England has given it so emphatic a thumbs-down, especially in the face of huge episcopal and archiepiscopal lobby­ing, is evidence of how un­popular the idea is in the pews.

Here, the majority of bishops have shown themselves to be completely out of touch with the centre of gravity of the Church of England. It is not that we do not care about our brothers and sisters in other parts of the Communion. It is simply that we want our Christian solidarity to be expressed through our Anglican heritage, our common baptism, and the development of friendships — and not through a treaty that can be haggled over by church politicians, the purpose of which was always to isolate those Churches that had a different view of sexual ethics.
 From the Church of Ireland Gazette:
The moral of the story has at least two dimensions. First, from a practical perspective, when faced with a divisive crisis, setting up a bureaucratic procedure that is going to take years to get anywhere, if it is to get anywhere at all, is hardly a good idea. If anyone thought that ‘buying time’ would allow the same-sex relationships imbroglio to subside, that was a very mistaken notion, and we in the Church of Ireland do need to take note of that as we face our own difficulties over the issue.

Second, from a more conceptual perspective, we now know, as surely as we can know, that Anglicanism is set to remain a Communion of wholly autonomous Cchurches (sic), bound together by ‘bonds of affection’. It should be added, however, that such mutual affection is far from a weak ideal; it is, in fact, a considerable calling and it is surely true that at times we do have to work at loving one another. There has been talk about being in communion implying ‘interdependence’ and thus justifying central regulation, however light, but that interdependence argument is actually quite vague because everything in the world is interdependent and, from an ecclesiological perspective, all Christians of whatever denomination, in communion or out of communion, are interdependent. Thus, as Anglicans, we are all, across the globe, now challenged to ponder our affection for one another and, where it is waning, to seek to nurture it carefully and prayerfully.
That's our Lesley Crawley, Moderator of No Anglican Covenant Coalition, which is mentioned in the article.

Also from the Church Times:
Speaking on Monday, Dr Williams said: “This is, of course, a disap­pointing outcome for many of us in the Church of England and many more in the Communion. Unfor­tunately, the challenges the Covenant was meant to address will not go away just because people vote against it.

"We shall still have to work at vehicles for consultation and manag­ing disagreement. And nothing should lessen the priority of sus­taining relationships, especially with some of those smaller and vulner­able Churches for whom strong international links are so crucial.”
 Of course, we face challenges in the Communion, and we will have to work on relationships, just not through the vehicle of the covenant.

And it appears that Archbishop Rowan has given up on trying to resuscitate the covenant in the Church of England.

H/T to Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans for the links and to MadPriest for the cartoon.

Monday, March 19, 2012


...for the position of Archbishop of Canterbury.  I have my own favorite, but I won't say who it is, as I don't wish to influence you as you click on over to Of Course, I Could Be Wrong... to add your suggestions to the mix.  Once you see MadPriest's post, if you're very clever and observant, you may be able to deduce my first choice.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


From the Church of Nigeria website:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt. Hon. Dr. Rowan Williams took over the leadership of the Anglican Communion in 2002 when it was a happy family. Unfortunately, he is leaving behind a Communion in tatters: highly polarized, bitterly factionalized, with issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness, evangelism and mission all around the Anglican world.

It might not have been entirely his own making, but certainly “crucified under Pontius Pilate”. The lowest ebb of this degeneration came in 2008, when there were, so to say, two “Lambeth” Conferences one in the UK, and an alternative one, GAFCON in Jerusalem. The trend continued recently when many Global South Primates decided not to attend the last Primates’ meeting in Dublin, Ireland.

Since Dr. Rowan Williams did not resign in 2008, over the split Lambeth Conference, one would have expected him to stay on in office, and work assiduously to ‘mend the net’ or repair the breach, before bowing out of office. The only attempt, the covenant proposal, was doomed to fail from the start, as “two cannot walk together unless they have agreed”.

For us, the announcement does not present any opportunity for excitement. It is not good news here, until whoever comes as the next leader pulls back the Communion from the edge of total destruction. To this end, we commit our Church, the Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion) to serious fasting and prayers that God will do “a new thing”, in the Communion.

Nevertheless, we join others to continue in prayer for Dr. Rowan Williams and his family for a more fruitful endeavour in their post – Canterbury life.

+Nicholas D. Okoh
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria

Don't hold back, Abp. Okoh.  Tell us what you really think.

The Nigerian bishops use the phrase, "two cannot walk together unless they have agreed," time and again to justify their decision to "walk apart" from the churches in the Anglican Communion with whom they do not agree.  Is the quote from the prophet Amos in the KJV?  Not really.  The words that come closest to Abp. Okoh's quote are in the form of a question.

Amos 3:3-8


Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
I first heard of the phrase from Abp Peter Akinola, who said, "The Bible says that two cannot walk together unless they are agreed."  The Bible says no such thing that I can find, therefore it appears that Abp Okoh quotes his predecessor, rather than the Bible, when he uses the words.  The two other translations below wouldn't really make the case for walking apart at all.  Of course, people cannot walk together unless they agree to walk together, but they do not have to agree about everything in order to walk together.  I find the apparent misattribution of the words to the Scriptures annoying in the extreme.  Besides, even the GAFCONites do not agree on everything,


Do two walk together
unless they have made an appointment?

Do two walk together
unless they have agreed to do so?

Abp Okoh's claim that the Anglican Communion was "a happy family" back in 2002 when Rowan Williams became Archbishop of Canterbury is absurd.  The beginning of the end of the "happy family" began at least as early as Lambeth 1998.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Transcript of the program from the Diocese of Salisbury, with Edward Stourton discussing the Anglican Covenant with Bishop Graham Kings and Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch.
Stourton - The Anglican Covenant was Rowan Williams’s big idea for securing unity of the worldwide Anglican Communion after the row over the American church’s decision to appoint a gay Bishop. It lays out a set of basic principles to which all churches in the communion would be required to subscribe. In the Church of England the Covenant needs to be endorsed by a majority of the church’s 44 Dioceses. 10 [sic 6] of them have been voting this weekend and the running total stands at 17 against and only 10 for the Covenant. Dr Graham Kings is the Bishop of Sherborne and Diarmaid MacCulloch is the Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford.

Stourton - Good morning to you both. Bishop you are going to have to make up a good deal of ground if you are going to get this through. How do you persuade people to vote for the Covenant?

Kings - Yes, the momentum is against the Covenant at the moment but there are still 17 Dioceses to vote. I think we can look at the image of a bunch of grapes or a bag of marbles. A bunch of grapes is what the communion is at the moment and we want to keep it like that. It is to do with personal interdependence. A bag of marbles is about isolated autonomy that don’t actually meet together. The interesting thing about today is that I am in Bournemouth in a studio, Diarmaid is in Oxford and you’re in Manchester and we are connected. And I think that is interdependence. The danger is if we get cut off from each other we have isolated autonomy.

Stourton - Diarmaid you’re more of a marbles man.

MacCulloch - I don’t understand those images very much, I just don’t think they are very useful images at all. What is very interesting, is the way the figures have consistently built up as people have understood the arguments for the Covenant and they realise just how incoherent they are.

Stourton - Right, what is the argument that you think swings it?

MacCulloch - Well, what swings the argument against is that people realise that this is a sort of centralisation, proposed for the Anglican Communion, which has never been Anglican, which is against Anglicanism. The Anglican Communion is not an Anglican church it’s a family of churches and you don’t need some punitive, centralising, disciplining sort of process to make the churches work together. That’s not the Anglican way, and I’m delighted at the way that the Dioceses have recognised that. This is a great thing for the Church of England.

Stourton - Let me put that to Graham Kings, because it is a very serious charge that the idea that this runs against the fundamental spirit of what Anglicanism is?

Kings - I thinks it’s worth watching the Archbishop of Canterbury’s video which was put on Youtube on Monday this week. He specifically says, quote “Some people say there’s a misunderstanding that it is some sort of centralising proposal creating an absolute authority which has the right to punish people for stepping out of line!”, that’s what Dairmaid has just said, and the Archbishop says, “I have to say, that I think this is completely misleading and false”. In the introduction you said they would be required to sign the Covenant. No, this is an ‘opt in’ Covenant; nobody is required to sign it at all.

MacCulloch - Yes, but what happens Bishop, if you ‘opt in’, what if you ‘opt out’? You are not opting out you are forced out. If you will not sign up to a set of arguments, a set of propositions, which have been drawn up by one body and they have decided what Anglicanism is. Then you have to say, am I going to agree to something, which someone else has decided on Anglicanism

Stourton - Let’s just be clear Dr Kings is that right in formal terms? If you don’t sign up to this you are not a member of the Anglican Communion?

Kings - No. That’s not right. You are still a member of the Anglican Communion. It may be some particular committees that you cannot take part. Yes, you are still fully a member of the Anglican Communion but not in the central committees. Nobody is forced to do anything. These are recommended courses of actions. It is not one central committee that has drawn up this, it has been discussed all over the Communion and the Church of England had a huge input into it.

Stourton - Professor MacCulloch?

MacCulloch - Well, it has been discussed by those who want to discuss it. There is a curious sense in which this lunatic proposal has gone down a path. Once you start you don’t see the alternatives. Watching it happen has been like a rather slow motion version of the Gadarene Swine.

Stourton - A quick final word Dr Kings. On a practical point doesn’t this or won’t this, if it goes against the Covenant, as it appears to be doing, very much damage Archbishop Rowan Williams’ authority in the church because he set enormous store by this idea?

Kings - I think we need to look at the Provinces. Provinces have voted worldwide. So far, six in favour and only one against. A liberal province, Mexico, has voted for it, Southern .......

Stourton - But, the Church of England is the Mother church in a way ...........

Kings - In some ways yes, we will see. The business committee have to report in July and we will see what their report is.

Stourton - Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne and Diarmaid MacCulloch Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford, thank you both very much indeed.

Listen here. The segment begins at approximately 13:27 minutes into the broadcast.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Alas, must Rowan make do with the floor, rather than a prie dieu, because he's not a 'real' archbishop in the eyes of the pope?

The proposed Anglican Covenant is, in part, an attempt by the Archbishop of Canterbury to gain the approval of Pope Benedict and ease the way into a closer relationship between the Vatican and Canterbury. You see, we Anglicans are, at present, a diverse lot, a messy communion of autonomous churches, and Rowan wants to gather us into a 'real' Anglican church vis-a-vis the church of Rome. He should know that the attempt is similar to the old cliché of trying to herd cats. Besides, no matter what Rowan does, the pope will not accept him as a 'real' archbishop, nor will he accept Anglican orders as valid. Even if the ABC joined the ordinariate or converted to the RCC, he could not be a bishop, much less an archbishop, because he is married.

Anglicans decided nearly 500 years ago that they preferred an autonomous church, the Church of England, which was not under the authority of Rome. Why is Rowan so anxious to curry favor with the RCC, especially after the recent shabby treatment of only very short notice by of the powers in the Vatican before the predatory RC ordinariates were set up in England to woo away disaffected Anglicans? Why try to foist the covenant on the churches in the Anglican Communion partly to 'relate' better to Rome? We (at least a good many of us) want to be in communion with other Anglican Churches, but we do not want to be a worldwide Anglican Church.

Clever and very funny photoshop from The MadPriest Internet Chop Shop.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


All right, I admit it: I am addicted to efforts to bring down the proposed Anglican Covenant (PAC) to a crushing defeat. I find the events in the Church of England quite exciting. Who would ever have thought there was a chance of defeating the covenant in the Archbishop of Canterbury's own church? I attribute no small part of the success in diocesan synods of the Church of England voting 'no' to the efforts of NACC, of which I am a part, though I make only the smallest of contributions. Please, even if you could not care less about the Anglican Covenant, bear with me through my craziness until I wear out or until we can say, 'Mission accomplished!'

You may be curious as to why I am intensely interested and involved in the PAC. What I foresee coming out of GC of the Episcopal Church in July is some type of resolution for 'further study' of the document, so why worry? (Not that we should take anyhing for granted!) A good many of our sisters and brothers in other churches in the communion do not favor adoption of the covenant. Especially now in England with diocesan synods voting, my intention with my numerous posts is to help my English friends and others around the communion as much as possible to achieve their goal. My poor efforts may not help at all, but I have to try to put out information to assist anyone involved in voting to make informed decisions about whether to vote for or against the PAC.

The heavy hitters amongst the proponents of the Anglican Covenant are fighting for the life of the covenant in the Church of England. The vote now stands at 13 diocesan synods voting against the covenant and 9 voting in favor. This coming Saturday, six diocesan synods will vote.
Ripon and Leeds

Bath and Wells




The members of synods have a choice on how to vote, or there would be no vote, but only theoretically according to the Anglican Communion Office, which wants the members to believe that there's only one right way to vote: in favor of adopting the PAC. Thus the ACO provides only pro-PAC material

Below is a round-up of links to posts around and about the internet giving reasons why the covenant should be defeated.

Ann Fontaine at What the Tide Brings In responds to Gregory Cameron's defense of the covenant at Fulcrum.

Benny Hazlehurst at Benny's Blog:
For example, I live in an area of Salisbury diocese where our local Bishop, Graham Kings, is vociferously in favour of the Covenant. He has devoted much time and effort in writing, speaking and arguing for it - yet in this same diocese our new Diocesan Bishop voted against the Covenant in Diocesan Synod, as did Graham Kings predecessor, Bishop Tim Thornton in his diocese of Truro.
Laura at Lay Anglicana:
But I have another suggestion. The most exciting spectator sport on offer this Saturday, 10 March 2012, is the Pro Anglican Covenant v Anti Anglican Covenant encounter being played out in another six diocesan synods across the land. These are exceptional times we live in – it has been said (rather rudely) that a deanery synod is a collection of people waiting to go home, and I have not heard that diocesan synods are any more gripping. But, if you have any imagination at all, this contest should have you on the edge of your seats with excitement.
Tobias Haller at In a Godward Direction:

with apologies to Lewis Carroll. I mean, serious apologies...

'Twas britigg, and the slithy coves
Did gyre and wimple in the nave;
All mimsy were the piscophobes
As the Pre-Lates misbehave.
You know you want to read the rest.

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition website provides a wealth of material advocating for rejection of the PAC, but, for the sake of balance, provides quotes and links for material in favor of the PAC. which is more than I can say for the ACO.

My suggestions to any involved in the process are:
Read the text of the PAC.

Read both pro and con arguments.

Make up your own mind as to whether the covenant is the solution to the disagreements in the Anglican Communion.

Vote accordingly.

Monday, March 5, 2012


You must read Adrian's post at Pluralist Speaks. He reveals to us the meaning behind the words of Archbishop Rowan Tree's speech on YouTube. Here's a sample:
Debate in the Church in England about the proposed Anglican Covenant is still going on and I admit I am getting worried, if not a little desperate. So I thought, I know, I'll go on You Tube and try to rescue the situation.

And so this is quite a desperate moment to repeat some of my points surrounding that debate and perhaps also to remind you little people of what I want.

The Covenant, as it sits, is a document that was drawn up over a period involving pretty well no one of unimportance in the Anglican Communion. The Church in England itself played virtually no part in successive drafts of the Covenant, other than the few high level contributions we up here have made over there.

This is why I have to keep saying what the Covenant is about, either me or through the UFO. Essentially, it's about going slow in the Communion. As in any argumentative family, what we do can annoy your mum, dad, sister, brother or grandparents. Well, Anglicanism has a lot of brothers and sisters and some wayward cousins. The Covenant is about not upsetting any of your brothers and sisters in terms of the Communion's life. Think about how all the arguments at bedtime could be avoided if we didn't use the bathroom, didn't go to bed or didn't stay up at night.
Now head on over there to read the rest and be enlightened.


Debate in the Church of England about the proposed Anglican Covenant is still going on. And this is quite a good moment to take stock of some of the issues surrounding that debate and perhaps also to remind people of some of the concerns that lie behind the proposals affecting the Covenant.

The Covenant, as it stands, is a document that was drawn up over a long period of consultation involving pretty well everybody in the Anglican Communion. The Church of England itself played a very important part in contributing to successive drafts of the Covenant, and I think we can be rightly proud of some of the contributions we have made there.

But what is the Covenant really about? Essentially, it’s about being accountable to each other in the Communion. As in any family, what we do affects those with whom we are in a relationship. The Covenant is about thinking through those relationships, and what the consequences are of whatever we choose to do in our own particular bit of the Communion’s life.

But one of the greatest misunderstandings around concerning the Covenant is that it’s some sort of centralising proposal creating an absolute authority which has the right to punish people for stepping out of line. I have to say I think this is completely misleading and false.

The Covenant suggests a process of scrutiny. That is, when any particular bit of the Anglican Communion decides it wants to do something new, for whatever reason, then that particular bit of the Communion needs to look at what it is doing and think it through in terms of what its effects might be elsewhere in the Anglican family. And as that process of scrutiny goes on other provinces are drawn in, and the instruments of the Communion at large are drawn in. We look at what we’re doing in the light of its effects, not just for us, but for others.

It may be that at the end of the day there are real incompatible possibilities around. Choices have to be made, and relations may suffer as a result. They do already. And what the Covenant proposes is not a set of punishments, but a way of thinking through what the consequences are of decisions people freely and in good conscience make.

But who needs the Covenant, it might be said? There’s one very short answer to that. Some bits of our Communion represent needy and isolated parts of the Christian world. They need relationships. They need the assurance that we won’t drive them into difficult positions. They need to know that we take them seriously enough to engage in conversation with them. And that’s part of what keeps them going and what makes them strong. It’s very interesting that some of the parts of the Communion that have already said yes to the Covenant are exactly that kind of church.

And so, as we in our dioceses think about the Covenant, I believe it’s of the very first importance that we try and bear in mind how it’s going to impact, let’s say, on our companion dioceses in other parts of the Communion: we might want to ask them about it; we might want to think through what they have to say and how they might feel.

A lot of people have said that the first few sections of the Covenant, the first three bits of the Covenant, are uncontroversial. They set out a common ground on which we all agree and they, in general ways, urge us to think about these things – to think about the impact on other parts of the Communion and what we decide to do.

But then people say the difficulty comes with the fourth section. But that fourth section is not a disciplinary system. It’s about a process of discernment and discussion. Nobody has the power to do anything but recommend courses of action. Nobody is forced by that into doing anything.

And it’s worth remembering also that the sort of issues that may arise within the Communion that threaten deeply to divide us are not just the ones that have been most in focus in the last seven or eight years; issues especially around human sexuality. There could be many other developments: developments about how we understand our ordained ministry; how we understand our mission; the limits of diversity in our worship; even perhaps in the public language we use about our doctrine. If we don’t have any way of scrutinising, discerning and discussing, then I think we’re a great deal the poorer.

What’s more, it means that we come into our ecumenical discussions, our discussions with other churches, without any very clear sense of what holds us together. Many of our ecumenical partners are very interested in the Covenant and very enthusiastic about it. They like to think that they're dealing with a family of churches capable of talking to one another intelligently, sympathetically, and critically; a family of churches that has a common language, a common practice, a common set of standards about how to resolve conflicts when they arise. Not to endorse the Covenant does seem to me, in this context, once again an impoverishing sort of thing. It sets us rather on the back foot in our conversations with other churches.

The Covenant won’t solve all our problems, but it will express what a great many people in the Communion and outside need to hear: that we are answerable to one another; that we take each other fully seriously. And in terms of the Church of England, it means that we understand and accept that the Church of England is part of the Anglican family, not some special isolated little bit that doesn’t have to ask these questions.

What do we in the Church of England gain from it? What we gain from being part of a Communion: the wisdom, the challenge – sometimes acceptable, sometimes welcome, sometimes very difficult – of our sister churches. We gain a way of handling the sort of conflicts that otherwise threaten simply to fester. And I believe with all my heart that what’s offered to us in the Covenant is an adult, sensible, workable way of handling the conflicts that will inevitably arise in a spirit of real mutual respect.

We’re being invited not to sign away our freedom but to accept that in the body of Christ we are all obliged to one another. We’re all responsible to, and for, and with one another. If we can approach the Covenant in that spirit then I believe passionately that it’s worth voting for and worth supporting. And my prayers will be with all of those who are making decisions about this in the dioceses of the Church of England.

© Rowan Williams 2012
I hope for a different outcome than the archbishop, that the Church of England votes 'no' to the covenant. I pray that God bestows the gift of wisdom on those who vote.

Friday, March 2, 2012


"Sign on to the Anglican Covenant, and toe the line, or else."

"Where is the line?"

"We can't answer your question. You will know you've crossed the line when you suffer 'relational consequences'."

Cartoon by MadPriest.