Thursday, 14 August 2008

View from Uganda on the future of the Anglican Church


It would seem that today the division of the American church between the fundamentalist and liberal churches is playing itself out in full force over the Anglican communion at large. The fundamentalists believe in the literal interpretation of the bible while the liberals accept a cultural contextualisation of the scriptures.

In this maze the problem which faces the believer in the ‘third world’ is that when he chooses the fundamentalist approach, he will be seen as imposing an intolerant Christian world view on others based on his personal understanding of the scriptures while if he adopts the liberal approach he will be regarded by some as a condoner of sinful behaviour. The future of Anglicanism lies in a resolution of this chasm which its leaders have created for their followers.

Lastly, we should remember that the Anglican communion is not the same thing as the Anglican church. The communion is a mere fellowship of the leaders of the Anglican provinces and dioceses. If the communion were to have a centralised authority with an elected leader like the papacy, then the rationale behind the break-up of the Anglicans from the church in Rome will disappear.

This means that there is a third direction in this controversy open to believers apart from Jerusalem and Canterbury—the direction leading to Rome. Read more
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George Conger interviewed on the Lambeth Conference aftermath

In the aftermath of the most recent Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church, Albert Mohler interviewed Rev. Canon George Conger. He is an Episcopalian Priest with the Diocese of Central Florida and the Chief Correspondent of “The Church of England Newspaper.”

[...] Mohler: It is very interesting to look at what is going on here. I’m looking at Times magazine’s coverage. It has here a statement from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, U.S., Katharine Jefferts Schori. She said the Anglican Communion “Is suffering the birth pangs of something new.” Now, I’m familiar with her. I’ve covered her for some time. This is the presiding bishop who clearly believes that history is in the direction of normalizing all homosexuality, and that eventually the Church is just going to have to go along.

Conger: Yes, that’s how she thinks. She believes that the science—the revelation is unfolding, and that the Church in this day and age has a new revelation conditioned by scientific discoveries, and new moral insights that allow the Episcopal Church and other denominations to affirm homosexuality as being a morally good thing.

Mohler: You also have bishops who would just as clearly make absolutely transparent their opposition to homosexuality based upon the clear teachings of scripture. So I ask you to fast forward to 2018. Let’s imagine the Anglican Communion meeting together, the bishops in the Lambeth Conference of 2018, is there going to be an Anglican Communion to be represented together at a conference like that 10 years from now?

Conger: No, and I don’t think there will be one within a year’s time. Right now the Anglican Communion is already broken—it’s fractured. And the clearest sign of that is that its leaders will not sit down and receive Holy Communion together. They are unable to receive the Eucharist—or the sacraments—at the same service, because they do not hold the same beliefs. Some believe that Jesus is a way, that there are many ways to salvation, that theirs is Christianity, Christianity is their way and that’s good. But they believe that other faiths may lead to salvation. Well, the vast majority of bishops say that Jesus is the only way to salvation.

That is just one issue, but there is a tremendous division on all sorts of issues—Christology and moral issues, and doctrinal issues, and the basic words of the Nicene Creed that are not commonly shared. The Communion is already broken and this meeting did nothing to fix that. And in fact, it just solidified the position of the two sides.

Mohler: Where do you see this leaving the Episcopal Church, U.S.?

Conger: I see it in the law courts over the next 10 years, frankly, as Evangelical parishes or Anglo-Catholic parishes who are the traditionally-minded members of the Episcopal Church either pull out and join new denominations, or take shelter and refuge under the leadership of bishops from overseas churches.

This is going to spark litigations over property, and who gets to call themselves an Episcopalian, who’s an Anglican. It’s a mess, and there is no short-term solution that I see to fix this problem save for one side giving up and going away.

Mohler: Now you are affiliated with and a priest of the Diocese of Central Florida, that’s known as more of the conservative of the regions of the Episcopal Church. I would compare that to San Francisco, or Washington, or Los Angeles. In what sense are you really part of one church at this point?

Conger: We’re not part of one church in the sense that I could not function… A priest from, say, San Francisco who was a gay man or had been divorced and remarried, for example, could not come to where I am near Orlando and function as an Episcopal Priest. I could not get a job or license because of my theological views in many parts of the Episcopal Church. There is no interchangeability of clergy. It’s become Balkanized along doctrinal and theological views. Read more

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Lambeth Conference funding gap plugged by Church Commissioners

The Archbishops Council of the Church of England and the Board of Governors of the Church Commission have stepped in to plug a £1.2m deficit left after this year’s Lambeth Conference in Kent.

After a meeting on Monday morning, August 11, the Board of Governors agreed to match the August 8 offer made by the Archbishops’ Council of up to £600,000 in interest-free loans to the Lambeth Conference Company, the part of the Anglican Communion responsible for the running of the conference.

In a statement, the Church of England said that the Company had given assurances that it would continue to seek support from the Anglican Communion to cover the debts, but that “it cannot, however, be confident that these [efforts] will generate funds sufficiently quickly for it to meet all of its obligations as they fall due over the coming weeks and months”.

The Lambeth Conference Company has accepted the loan. Read more
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Gay bishop attacks Diocese of Sydney

Sydney: Gene Robinson, the first openly-gay Bishop in the Anglican Communion, has slammed the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.
Gay bishop attacks Diocese of Sydney

Speaking about the diocese with Sydney's weekly gay magazine "SX News", he said: "It is ironic that the Sydney Diocese, taking in one of the great gay cities of the world, is also among the most bigoted."

Robinson claimed that the Anglican Church had "abused" gay people and said, "God and the church aren't the same thing. The church has gotten this and many other things wrong. God hasn't gotten it wrong."

Robinson also predicted that he would be the first of many gay bishops, discussed his ban from the once-in-a-decade Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, and revealed that he has had three one-on-one meetings with US Presidential candidate Barack Obama.

On his own diocese of New Hampshire, he said: "I tell people that if you want to see what the church is going to be like when we finish obsessing about sex, come to New Hampshire." Read more
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'Substantial number' of clergy will leave over plans for women bishops

A group of 14 traditionalist bishops claim that there are "irreconcilable differences" over historic reforms that would introduce women as bishops without giving proper concessions to oponents of the move.

In a letter to 1,400 clergy who have indicated that they are considering defecting from the Church of England, they are highly critical of a decision by the General Synod - the Church's parliament - to ignore proposals for a compromise over the divisive issue.

The Anglo-Catholic bishops have vowed to support clergy who feel unable to remain in the Church, but have pledged to fight for a better deal for traditionalists who do not believe women should be consecrated.

Signed by three senior bishops - the Rt Rev John Hind, Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, Bishop of Blackburn and the Rt Rev Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop in Europe - the letter will serve as a reminder to Dr Rowan Williams that there is still a battle ahead over making women bishops.

The letter - seen by The Daily Telegraph - says that current plans would lead to the "inevitable exclusion of substantial numbers of faithful Anglicans from the Church of England". Read more

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Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Some responses to the Lambeth Conference from the Bishop of Barking

The Bishop of Barking, the Rt Revd David Hawkins, has asked for this to be posted on the Chelmsford Anglican Mainstream website.

12 August 2008.

The Lambeth Conference has come and gone but the rich encounter will live long in our hearts and minds.

The process of the Conference (Bible Study and Indaba), although approached with scepticism by some, clearly won over the vast majority of delegates. This was so comprehensively expressed that some were calling for another conference in five years time in order to continue the Indaba discussions!

The Indaba process ensured that every bishop, including the quietest and those speaking through translation, had ample and equal opportunity to express their views. Although this method did not favour the ‘parliamentarians’ (often predominantly white and western) it did ensure maximum participation at a deep and personal level.

What emerged through the listening and reflective process could not have been predicted at the outset of the Conference. In spite of the absence of approximately 200 Gafcon Bishops the centre of gravity of the conference settled in a ‘traditionalist’ position with regard to interpretation of Scripture and a desire to find a covenantal expression of Anglicanism. This was also the quiet and consistent lead given by the Archbishop.

What this means is:

  1. The communion retains Lambeth 1:10 in its entirety with a call to do more effective listening to the different positions with regard to human sexuality.
  2. We shall press ahead with improving the St Andrew’s Draft of the Anglican Covenant.
  3. ‘There is widespread support’ for the three moratoria of the Windsor Process.
  4. ‘There is a clear majority support for a pastoral forum along the lines advocated by the Windsor continuation group and a desire to see it in place speedily’
The absence of the 200 Gafcon Bishops was keenly and respectfully felt and their absence itself created a certain ‘presence’ in the conference.

There were a significant number of Gafcon bishops present at Lambeth. There were bishops for whom it was very costly to attend and very costly not to attend.

At the informal meetings of the UK Evangelical bishops and Global South bishops there was a plea that we urge our Gafcon Bishops and clergy to join hands with these two constituencies of traditionalists and not to split off. Together, traditionalists represent the majority of the leadership of the Anglican Communion and a considerable majority of it’s membership. Divisions among the traditionalist constituency will do the health of the Anglican Communion no favours at all.

As Evangelicals we have a long history of splits and divisions – may we resist this temptation at this important time on our Communion history.

Many ‘revisionist’ bishops from the Episcopal Church and Canada were exposed to personal conversations with bishops from many different cultural settings and theological positions and vice versa. These encounters were valuable and respectful and caused a maturity and depth of discussion not experienced widely before.

Although the present formulations of the Covenant may make it difficult for some of the TEC and Canadian bishops to abide by the expectations, they clearly wish to remain within the Anglican Communion in some shape or form. The rich experience of Lambeth 2008 has only intensified that wish at the same time as making it seem less realistic than ever in a structural sense. Time will tell.

I returned from Lambeth inspired and humbled by the costly and sacrificial ministry and leadership going on in all l30 countries of the Communion. The Communion is going through challenging times but it is in surprising good heart.

David Hawkins
August 2008

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From the Church of England Evangelical Council website

NEAC 2008


Anglican evangelicalism post Lambeth and Gafcon

Saturday 15th November 2008
10am to 4.30pm
All Souls Langham Place

A National Evangelical Anglican Consultation sponsored by the Church of England Evangelical Council.

Click here for details and booking information!

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