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Open Letter to the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies [ECUSA]
Anglican Communion Institute ^ | 4/04/2006

Posted on 04/05/2006 9:25:45 PM PDT by sionnsar







            The General Convention of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. meeting in Columbus Ohio in June of 2006 constitutes a watershed in its history and in the history of the Anglican Communion.  Will the dioceses that make up ECUSA continue as full members of the Anglican Communion or will the status of some or all of them within that communion be radically altered?  Will Anglicanism continue as a communion or will it fragment and become at best a loose federation held together by a rapidly fading historical memory?


            The recent address of the Bishop of Exeter, the Rt. Rev. Michael Langrish, to ECUSA’s House of Bishops clearly poses these issues and asks of the delegates to the upcoming General Convention the most careful consideration of the choices that lie before them.  Bishop Langrish made it clear in his address that he was speaking as the representative of the Archbishop Canterbury.  At various points, Bishop Langrish made it clear that his remarks were based on personal observation, but we may nonetheless safely assume that their general direction reflects the views of the Archbishop.


            In his address, Bishop Langrish stated clearly that should the General Convention either give its consent to the consecration of another bishop in a same sex relationship or approve the blessing of such unions, the Anglican Communion will break apart, the dialogue with Rome will come to a halt, and the inter-faith dialogue with Muslims will end. 


            The remarks of Bishop Langrish made clear also that the response of ECUSA thus far to Lambeth 1:10, the Windsor Report, and the Dromantine Communique is, for two reasons, quite inadequate.


  1. The validity of the claim that ECUSA’s action in the matter of Gene Robinson is appropriate for its context must be judged in the light of a larger context “in Christ” that encompasses all provinces of the Anglican Communion, and indeed the church catholic.  In this larger context, ECUSA’s action is judged by the clear majority of Anglican provinces to be a betrayal of the Gospel all are meant to share.

  2. Within this larger context, ECUSA’s expression of “regret” for the pain its action has caused falls short of what is necessary.  Thus, the English House of Bishops sought to strengthen Windsor’s call for an expression of regret by a calling instead for repentance.  By repentance the English Bishops were calling on ECUSA to see their action “in a new light.”


Looking at ECUSA’s actions in this new light, the Bishops of Exeter made two additional points of extraordinary importance.


  1. It is at a minimum irregular to consecrate, apart from the assent of the church catholic, a person who is in a relationship not liturgically sanctioned by the church when the intent is in fact to create a bishop for the entire church.
  2.  The language suggested by the Presiding Bishop’s special commission in respect to future consecrations of people involved in same sex unions, namely “exercise extreme caution,” is a cause for “concern” and “anxiety” in that “it is not at all clear what extreme caution might mean, how it might be judged and who would decide.”  In this respect, Bishop Langrish went on to ask how one might exercise extreme caution and yet act in a way that “injects further difficulty into the life of the communion?”


These observations led Bishop Langrish to note two points of view that constitute what he holds to be a clear and present danger to the Anglican Communion.   On the one hand there are those “who not only stand firmly by Lambeth 110, but also see it as the litmus test of orthodoxy, and who are further opposed to, or have given up on, Windsor

and all stands for.”  On the other hand, there are those “who are so certain that Lambeth 1:10 was wrong that they in effect see both Windsor and the Communion as a price that is simply to great to pay.”


 Unhappy with these extremes, the Bishop of Exeter posed this question to the Episcopal Church.  “Are there within our ranks sufficient numbers to stand broadly on the same ground, holding a range of opinions on Lambeth 1:10 but firm in carrying forward the Windsor vision of a strengthened and enabling communion life?”  After posing this question, the Bishop of Exeter went on to say that it seemed to him that as he listened to those other parts of the communion he knows best “that any further consecration of those in a same sex relationship, any authorization of any person to undertake same sex blessings, any stated intention not to seriously engage with the Windsor Report will be read widely as a decision not to stay in the communion.”


The Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative has posed precisely the question the Bishops and delegates to our next General Convention must ask.  “Are there a sufficient number to stand broadly on the same ground, holding a range of opinion on Lambeth 1:10 but firm in carrying forward the Windsor vision of a strengthened and enabling communion of life?”  He has also made clear the decisions ECUSA is called to make if its various dioceses wish to remain as dioceses in full rather than impaired communion with the rest of the Anglican Communion.  In a negative sense, we are called upon to do the following.


  1. Refrain from consenting to the consecration of anyone involved in a relationship outside the bonds of holy matrimony.

  2. Refrain from allowing any rites for same-sex blessing, or the development of such rites, or the permission of ad hoc pastoral blessings of such unions.


In a positive sense we are called upon to follow this course.


  1. Abide by Lambeth 1:10
  2. Take the Windsor

    report as the way forward for the communion and abide by its call for an end to the practices (including border crossings) that now divide us.


These appear to us as steps necessary for the continued participation of the various dioceses of ECUSA as full members of the Anglican Communion.  For the General
Convention to take a course of action other than this one will consign ECUSA to the status of just another denomination within the spectrum of American Protestantism and render patently false its claim to a catholic identity as part of a worldwide communion of churches.  It is our hope and prayer that our Bishops and delegates to the upcoming General Convention will weigh carefully the cost of “walking apart” from the rest of the Anglican Communion and adopt the points listed above as markers for the future course of the common life of our church and our communion.


Don Armstrong

Ephraim Radner

Christopher Seitz

Philip Turner


Officers and Fellows of the Anglican Communion Institute

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 04/05/2006 9:25:46 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; axegrinder; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; Condor 63; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 04/05/2006 9:26:18 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006)
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To: sionnsar

Certainly seems plainly stated enough.

3 posted on 04/06/2006 6:11:23 AM PDT by RonF
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