Skip to comments.Sarah Hey Summarizes The State of ECUSA Heading Toward General Convention
Posted on 03/08/2006 7:08:20 PM PST by sionnsar
Dear Anglican Adventurers, hurtling toward the next General Convention! ; > ) [feel free to forward]
Below are sections of links and excerpts on 1) ECUSA trends, 2) trends in other denominations, 3) cultural trends in the US, and much more. But first are the important bishop elections that are taking place in various dioceses in the next few months.
DIOCESE OF CALIFORNIA
The nominations for the Diocese of California bishop have been announced and, as was predicted by many in ECUSA, the nominations include two non-celibate homosexuals. This is the situation that we were in in the months prior to the General Convention of 2003 as well. Read all about it in the links below.
Integrity, the organization that has been working within ECUSA for many decades now, is of course pleased and offers a press release:
Money Quote: Integrity is pleased by the wonderful diversity of the nominees for the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California-including both a gay man (the Very Rev. Robert Taylor) and a lesbian woman (the Rev. Bonnie Perry). It was inevitable that another gay/lesbian person would eventually be nominated to the episcopacy. Whether or not Robert or Bonnie is elected by the Diocese of California, it is inevitable that another gay/lesbian person WILL eventually be elected, confirmed, and consecrated to that order of ministry as the Episcopal Church continues to live into its call to fully include all of the baptized into the Body of Christ.
Kendall Harmon comments on the Integrity Press Release at the same Titusonenine link: Once again Integrity tries the tired and failed identity and inclusion tack. But that isnt the issue. As the Texas Monthly article discussed a while ago notes: It is a common misconception that conservatives like Iker, Stanton, and Roseberry want to exclude gays from the church altogether. This is not what they say, and there is no evidence that it is true. (They are even agreeable to being part of a church that ordains homosexuals, as they have proven for more than two decades.) Their position is that Scripture holds homosexual acts to be unnatural, ungodly, and therefore sinful. What then is the symptomatic issue, the tip of the iceberg?
So there are two issues coming out of this that need patient study. What is the nature of a holy and Christ-like life for someone who has consistent homosexual desires? And what is the appropriate discipline to be applied to the personal life of the pastor in the Church?
Who said that? Archbishop Rowan Williams.
Behavior and standards for leadership are the heart of the presenting issue. It is the same issue for all five of the candidates. Do they display a pattern of life which the church recognizes as holy and Christ-like and therefore Christian?
In order to answer that question, what standard shall be used in terms of one of many aspects of the candidates behavior?
The church overall, the church of England in particular, the Anglican communion has not been persuaded that same-sex sex can be holy and blessed. Were it to decide that by some process - unimaginable to most of you - it would be by an overwhelming consensus and only at that point would it be possible to say in the name of the church, this is holy and blessed. So I take my stand with the church of England, with the Communion, with the majority of Christians through the ages.
Who is that? Again, Rowan WilliamsKSH.
Matt Kennedy, an ECUSA priest in the diocese of Central New York, has analysis with research, here:
Brad Drell, layperson in the Diocese of Western Louisiana, has comments here.
The Seattle Times profiles their local candidate, Dean Robert Taylor:
And Matt Kennedy [who I fear has been too long at seminary] offers a humorous de-constructive, critical analysis of the Integrity Press Release here:
DIOCESE OF TENNESSEE
Tennessee announces their nominees for bishop the election is this month:
Comments ensue on the candidates over at Kendalls blog:
There are audio statements from the nominees, and Kendalls blog covers it also, a petition candidate was announced and the comments about the newest candidate are interesting:
In the meantime, the priest from Central New York writes a fascinating analysis on the issues in ECUSA and uses a newsletter called Covenant from reappraisers in the Diocese of Tennessee to make his points:
Excerpt: One of the more disturbing aspects of the current Episcopal turmoil is the obsession many leaders have with language that denies the true extent and depth of our divisions.
There is, these leaders say, much more that unites us than divides us. We must get on with the mission and agree to disagree. That, after all is the essence of Anglicanism. Peace in our time. This quote from bishop Peter Lee of Virginias pastoral address is a prime example: One of the historic strengths of our Anglican tradition is our capacity to hold together persons with different emphases, even conflicting emphases in their understanding of the gospel. That historic Anglican tradition is threatened by the differences that now capture our attention. And our differences are too often leading us to focus on our internal life, rather than on the world to which we are sent by Christs great commission and great commandment.
The problem is that our insignificant sexuality dispute is in reality symptomatic of an irreconcilable clash of worldviews. The issue that divides us is not insignificant; it is basic, fundamental, essential: Where does authority lie? Either the bible is the norm, the supreme authority in all matters of doctrine and practice, or it is not. There is no middle ground. Those standing firmly on either side recognize that the turmoil will not end until one side wins out. But this is a hard truth that most in the center, both leaders and people, would rather not face. And so they speak soothing words with abandon. The cycle of denial and conflict-avoidance serves as the setting for more radical agendas to be pursued under the guise of peace, unity, and the Anglican way. This brings me to Covenant.
The Covenant newsletters latest issue may be found here:
And the comments by a nominee finalist who withdrew from the Bishop Search process in Tennessee may be found in that issue, here:
Kendall Harmon profiled Matt Kennedys article here, and the comments again are intriguing:
DIOCESE OF ALBANY
Wow! In contrast to some dioceses, the questions asked of Albany nominees are in-depth. See all the nominees here, and click on the links to the answers. But you could be reading a long, long time. ; > ) If youre in need of some good parish search process questions to ask clergy, there are some good examples here:
Some of the questions asked are: 1. As stated in The Examination of a bishop-elect on page 517 of the Book of Common Prayer, a bishop is to proclaim Christs resurrection, interpret the Gospel, and testify to Christs sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings. In addition, a bishop is to guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church; to celebrate and provide for the administration of the sacraments of the New Covenant; to ordain priests and deacons and to join in ordaining bishops; and to be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ. Please elaborate on your understanding of each of these different roles and responsibilities of a bishop, and how you would attempt to live them out if elected bishop. (Use 1,500 words or less)
4. Are there any articles of the Apostles and Nicene Creeds with which you are in anything but full personal and theological agreement? If so, which and why? In your response, please address the following questions (Use 500 words or less):
Was Jesus raised bodily from the dead, such that the tomb was empty of his physical being, and in his body he appeared unto his disciples until his Ascension into heaven?
Do you believe Jesus was virginally conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary?
Do you agree that the Persons of the Trinity are only the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and no other expression or naming may be substituted? For example, do you believe that a person baptized in the name of ÒCreator, Redeemer, and SanctifierÓ is validly baptized?
6. Under what circumstances would you authorize the use of rites for any practice of same-sex blessing, union, or marriage in this diocese or support such rites or practices anywhere in the Church? Under what circumstances would you permit or approve the ordination or licensing of a person who is sexually active outside the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman? (Use 500 words or less)
7. In John 14:6, Jesus stated, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (NIV) What is our understanding of this passage, and what does it say about Christianitys relationship with other world religions? (Use 500 words or less)
9. As a Bible is presented to the newly consecrated Bishop, these words are spoken, receive the Holy Scriptures. Feed the flock of Christ committed to your charge, guard and defend them in his truth, and be a faithful steward of his holy Word and Sacraments. Do you believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary for salvation, and to act as the rule and ultimate standard of faith? Please explain. (Use 650 words or less)
Comments ensue over at Kendalls blog:
DIOCESE OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
The Living Church announcement here:
I think the fascinating thing is to compare the questions and answers of the nominees in Northern California with the questions and answers asked of the nominees for the Diocese of Albany. Frankly its night and day, and one can tell the urgency that the Diocese of Albany is viewing their election. To see the questions and answers of the Diocese of Northern California nominees, click on the button nominees in the left sidebar:
The comments about the candidates here are very interesting note that some delegates from Northern California are weighing in and asking questions:
The decline in attendance and membership in the Episcopal church continues. Some defenders of ECUSA and other mainline denominations have argued that the decline has little to do with the denominations departure from orthodox belief and practice, and more to do with American cultures natural decline in participation in churches, and with an increasing secularization of culture. It is an overall trend, they claim.
But a helpful chart by IRD [The Institute on Religion and Democracy] that graphs the mainlines decline from 1960 to 2003 [data from American Religion Data Archive], also provides a point of comparison with two other denominations [Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist Convention] and their rise in membership; their dramatic increase, in contrast to the mainline, puts the cultural trend argument to rest:
Others claim that any decline in giving in ECUSA parishes has more to do with economic decline than with concern over ECUSAs theological drift. But charitable giving rose 5% in 2004 a new record for philanthropic giving in the United States, according to the Giving USA Foundation. Less than one-half of 1 percent of the total giving were tsunami gifts. Read more about charitable giving here: http://www.aafrc.org/press_releases/index.cfm?pg=trustreleases/tsunamigifts.html
Average Sunday Attendance in 2004 declined by more than double that of 2002 [the year prior to GC 2003] . . .
Kirk Hadaway discusses the decline in the Living Church magazine.
Money Line: Average attendance declined from 823,017 in 2003 to 795,765, a 3.4 percent decline. . . . The Episcopal Church reported a 1.4 percent decline in average Sunday attendance in 2002 . . .
Fast facts comparing ECUSA stats of 2003 and 2004
Kendall Harmon comments on the loss here:
A bar graph of Average Sunday Attendance trends here:
A [liberal] rector in the Diocese of Newark writes, in alarm, about his parish:
Excerpt: It is not often I write to you to express my feelings and my growing sense of alarm over the direction in which our national church is heading. By and large, I am in agreement with and fully support this direction but our congregations (where the rubber meets the road as it were) are growing further and further apart from the national and in some cases the diocesan church.
After the widely publicized decisions of the 2003 General Convention, we lost five stalwart families (who could no longer walk with us because of these decisions) at Christ Church, East Orange. The giving that year in terms of the stewardship campaign and the every member canvass plummeted by $20,000 as people voted with their feet and their pocketbooks regarding the general direction in which ECUSA is moving.
This has had the added effect of causing a great deal of stress and strain on the clergy who staff these churches and parishes at the local level. The overall health and morale of the clergy are being seriously affected and we are beginning to notice apathy and lethargy setting in where zeal and enthusiasm for the proclamation of the gospel should be paramount.
Brad Drell, attorney and layperson in the Diocese of Western Louisiana, weighs in to the House of Bishops and Deputies listserv on ECUSA losses and the need to attract younger members.
Excerpt: Some have said Generation-X doesnt have brand loyalty. I would suggest that is not true. I would say the Episcopal brand isnt what it used to be, for a lot of different reasons. I noticed that ******************** said some of her children have left the church. Why? I think you will find a number of conservative leaders have had children who have left the church because of the churchs direction, and I seriously doubt it is exclusively or even mostly over sexuality, as my generation has basically grown up with homosexuality as normative. Why are these children leaving for other denominations? My own priest is different, but one of his kids, after having grown up in moderate parishes all their lives, has found an Episcopal Church home in the Diocese of Ft. Worth, much to his chagrin. Maybe traditional aint so bad. Maybe? My brother and sister have both brought their spouses into the Episcopal Church (I married a cradle Episcopalian). They prefer the old Lords prayer, arent particularly interested in the latest liturgical innovations and like the traditional stuff.
Greg Griffith, of Stand Firm Mississippi, posts a tongue-in-cheek All is Well Around the World overview.
The minutes of the Steering Committee of Via Media in ECUSA [the organization that purports to be moderate and interested in reconciliation], which detail their plans for post-GC 2006, are leaked to the press.
The Washington Times reports on the organizations plans:
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports as well:
The Living Church reports too:
Excerpt: Members of the steering committee for Via Media, USA, have authenticated, but sought to diminish the significance of plans already underway for the Day After the 2006 General Convention. The plans, documented in a draft copy of minutes from a Sept. 29 meeting of the steering committee, include the attempted removal from office of bishops and lay leaders in dioceses affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network and their replacement with persons the organization believes will remain obedient to the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention.
Brad Drell was the first [I believe] to post the actual minutes here:
The AAC issued a press release:
Stand Firm Mississippi posts an analysis:
In my opinion, though, the Southern Anglican has the best analysis in fact, it is lengthy and brilliant. Read every bit of it here:
Excerpt: At the moment, the specific item thats getting the most coverage and generating the most controversy is the organizations glibly-stated plan to have blank presentment papers ready for filing against bishops in Network dioceses, who would be charged with abandonment of communion.
This action alone would be chillingly predatory, but there is more. . . . The Chapman memo is therefore the obvious corollary to the Via Media minutes, right? Wrong. As far as property is concerned, the Chapman memo seeks only to allows orthodox parishes and diocese to keep theirs. It makes no mention of going after the property of revisionist churches. The Via Media minutes, in stark contrast, propose a procedural, legal, and media blitzkrieg with the goal of seizing property from orthodox churches.
The question has long been settled of whether or not the two opposing American camps can reconcile their disagreements and peacefully co-exist. They cannot. What hasnt been settled are the scores of questions that will determine the future of worldwide Anglicanism for centuries to come.
TRADITIONAL ANGLICAN/NETWORK TRENDS
A great article on one of the crying needs involved with reforming and renewing Anglican practice in the U.S. youth ministry.
TRENDS IN OTHER DENOMINATIONS
Parker WIlliamson, CEO of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, writes about his denomination and its troubles.
Money Quote: Declaring that it could no longer associate with a denomination whose leaders have denied the gospel, rejected the authority of Scripture and undermined the sanctity of marriage, the Torrance church voted to leave with its property. That triggered civil actions followed by an ugly disruption (which included the
moderator of the General Assembly) of the congregations worship service.
I watched a video recording of that incident in utter amazement. The moderators supporters tried to snatch the microphone from under the congregations minister, and in the ensuing scuffle broke it. Meanwhile, in the chancel stood the uninvited moderator, flanked by presbytery and synod officials, wearing his cross and multicolored
stole, countenancing an unholy fracas that resembled a barroom brawl.
Lawyers from headquarters are now advising presbyteries to push their congregations into amending their corporate by-laws in order to strengthen the denominations claim on their property.
This very kind comment was posted on a blog recently. I really appreciated it, and thought you would too.
October 31st, 2005 at 11:11 pm
For those of you in the Episcopal church who have recently felt that the fight has been long, and the victory is uncertain, I think you should look at this as part of your victory. I know my own (not Anglican) church in New Zealand has watched the unfolding crisis in the Episcopal church, and many who were too weak to stand up for Truth, have become willing to stand for the sake of Unity. They do not want our church to go through the hell that your one is going through, and they have taken a giant step back from the brink. I do not think my church is alone in this. Your willingness to stand tall has taken the momentum out of this movement in many parts of the world and in many denominations. For this reason I encourage you to continue to make your stand, even if it seems all is lost in your own backyard. It has not gone unnoticed and it has not gone unappreciated.
TRENDS IN THE U.S.
I have been mentioning the trend toward polyamory for some years now. Read more here, on activists for this in churches.
Excerpt: I am a strong ally of those in healthy, polyamorous relationships, declared Debra Kolodny. She argued that having multiple sexual partners can be holy. Kolodyn was leading a workshop at the WOW (Witness Our Welcome) 2003 convention, an ecumenical gathering for sexually and gender inclusive Christians.
Hundreds of homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual people gathered under the queer banner in Philadelphia on August 14-17 to urge religious acceptance of non-traditional sexual behaviors.
According to WOWs schedule brochure, it was sponsored by the homosexual caucus groups in most mainline Protestant denominations, including two special interest groups in the Presbyterian Church (USA) More Light Presbyterians and That All May Freely Serve and McCormick Theological Seminary.
Other supporting groups listed in the program included Dignity USA (for Roman Catholics), People for the American Way, the Human Rights Campaign, Episcopal Divinity School, Chicago Theological Seminary (United Church of Christ) and Wesley Theological Seminary (United Methodist).
For more on the polyamory trend, try these links:
First marriage of a trio, in the Netherlands, of course:
Excerpt: If marriage to a woman civilizes a manas some would have itit does not follow that the more women a man marries, the more civilized he becomes. It seems that the opposite is true. Still, the practice of polygamy is spreading world-wide, even in the U.S.
In September, Holland registered its first civil union among three partners. A grander menage à trois has established itself in Belgium (with three wives and 30 children), though without the governments imprimatur so far. Some conservatives, like the Weekly Standards Stanley Kurtz, decry these developments as another step down the road to gay marriage, since one redefintion of marriage may lead to another. Perhaps so. They are indisputably another step down the road to polygamy.
The idea, floated with ever greater frequency, is that polygamy is nothing objectionable; it is simply another option on our diverse menu of family types. A new HBO series called Big Love, debuting in March, will center on a man married to three women. Its everything that every family faces, just times three, co-creator Mark Olsen told Newsweek. The yuck factor disappears and you just see human faces.
Thanks, Sarah. This really is great.
An exhaustive but good read.
Just skimmed..bookmarked for late night reading..many interesting links..BTW..who is Sarah Hey?
Look up her name in the Articles posted to the site in my tagline (probably in the Older Articles) section for some earlier work.
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