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A house of cards; Anglican bishops meeting on issues that still threaten fragile Communion
VirtueOnline-News ^ | 3/12/2005 | Richard Vara, Houston Chronicle

Posted on 03/12/2005 8:43:43 PM PST by sionnsar

HOUSTON (3/12/2005)--The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops is assembled in a working retreat near Navasota, trying to defuse a potential schism within worldwide Anglicanism over the consecration of openly gay priests as bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions.

"The stakes have never been higher," said the Rev. Kendall S. Harmon, editor of the conservative Anglican Digest and theologian in residence at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Summerville, S. C. "This is the most serious crisis in the history of the Communion."

More than 120 bishops are meeting at the Episcopal Diocese of Texas' Camp Allen to consider a response to Anglican leaders who last month asked the U.S. and Canadian churches to voluntarily withdraw representation from the Anglican Consultative Council, a worldwide legislative body that meets every three years.

The primates, who lead national churches, are upset with the U.S. church because it consecrated V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest, as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. They also are dismayed that some dioceses within the American and Canadian branches allow the blessing of same-sex unions.

Most national churches, especially those in Africa and Asia, hold a biblically conservative view on homosexuality.

In October, the primates also asked for an apology from the two North American churches and a moratorium on consecrations and blessings until the next worldwide meeting of bishops in 2008.

Harmon does not expect the answer to come at Camp Allen.

The U.S. bishops are divided into several camps ranging from those who want to wait until next year's General Convention in Ohio to those who want to implement immediate moratoriums, he said.

"Right now the most likely outcome is further delay or no decision," Harmon said.

One difficulty in fashioning a response is the church's complicated governance. Some bishops believe only the General Convention, the national church's legislative assembly, can act and speak for the 2.3 million-member denomination in the United States.

The decision about sending representatives to the Anglican Consultative Council rests with the Executive Council, which oversees national church work between meetings of the General Conventions.

Bishop Don Wimberly of the Houston-based Diocese of Texas wants some action from the meeting.

"The bishops need to give some leadership for the whole church, and that is what we are supposed to be about," said Wimberly, who opposed Robinson's consecration.

Wimberly was among a group of bishops who were critical of the initial response by the American bishops to the Anglican Communion's concern contained in the Windsor Report issued in October.

The bishops called a special meeting in Salt Lake City in January to deal with the report but decided they would take up the issues again at Camp Allen. At that meeting, they took no action on the request for moratoriums but did express "sincere regret for the pain, the hurt and the damage caused to our Anglican bonds of affection by certain actions of our church."

While Wimberly described the situation as "pretty serious," he proposed no course of action.

Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, a conservative leader, said there was plenty the House of Bishops could do.

"Bishops are the only ones who can ordain, bishops are the only ones who control what rites are used in a diocese, bishops are the only ones who consecrate," Duncan said. "Bishops have some real power over this.

"The argument is that because the whole church in council includes priests and laypeople, then the bishops should not act on their own," he continued. "But the future of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion is at stake.

"If the House of Bishops won't lead, the church is in terrible trouble," Duncan said. He also predicted the bishops would likely choose inaction at the Navasota meeting, which ends Wednesday.

The office of Bishop Robinson said he would make no comment.

Delay is fine with John C. Bradley, administrator of Integrity, a gay rights group in the church.

"They (bishops) are only half of our legislative system," Bradley said. "There are some actions they can take, there are lots of actions individual bishops can take that relate to their specific dioceses, but they cannot speak for the entire church."

Bradley said the the bishops should support the General Convention in approving Robinson and not impose any moratoriums.

"We have held since the beginning of the latest conflict that this does not have to be something that tears us apart," Bradley said.

"Our tradition is one of diversity, and we believe that we can continue to be in communion with one another despite our differences," he said.

Harmon sees it differently.

"Here is the Anglican Communion effectively saying we need a trial separation, and if you don't do it we are heading to divorce," Harmon said. "It is not a time to dither and not make decisions."

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: angpost

1 posted on 03/12/2005 8:43:44 PM PST by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; stan_sipple; SuzyQue; LifeofRiley; TheDean; pharmamom; Vicomte13; TaxRelief; Huber; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-7 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 03/12/2005 8:44:21 PM PST by sionnsar (†† || Iran Azadi || Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?)
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To: sionnsar

As an Episcopalian, allow me to offer that a denomination which believes degenrates can openly defy God and yet be embraced by men to bring the host is a dead church. Get out before the Evil One takes the pulpit ... he's already at the altar and in the lessons.

3 posted on 03/12/2005 8:48:21 PM PST by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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Though I'm in East Tennessee, I can't let this one pass: degenrates = degenerates ... ugh

4 posted on 03/12/2005 8:50:11 PM PST by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: sionnsar

"Our tradition is one of diversity, ...."

No it isn't.

5 posted on 03/13/2005 1:07:55 AM PST by jocon307
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To: sionnsar
Frank and his elves are clearly hoping to brazen this out -- figuring that, as usual, the orthodox among us will simply lose interest in the matter before the next General Convention. And, sadly, he's probably right. Most of us would rather the whole thing just went away, and just not fight for it.

The basic strategy of the ECUSA revisionists appears to be one of falling back on the bureaucratic structures of General Convention -- it's an easy way for them to get an extra year's time. The HOB could -- and should -- call an special Convention to deal with this extraordinary situation. (And Griswold should resign, too, but neither will happen.)

Still, there is that other option -- not of fighting per se, but instead hoping to be presented with the choice of being "Of the Communion," or not of it.

I think the primates are willing to offer that choice, and I think that inaction on the part of the HOB will cause them to offer the choice sooner, rather than later. And, as usual, the HOB will be caught flat-footed when the Primates respond.

6 posted on 03/13/2005 2:27:33 PM PST by r9etb
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