Motion in the Americas – Letter from CANA Bishop Elect David Anderson

Bishop Elect David Anderson, CANAA Message from Bishop-elect Anderson [copied from Anglican-Mainstream.net]

Beloved in Christ,

  This week, an Associated Press news article quoted the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC), Katherine Jefferts Schori, making a pejorative statement about the orthodox. The statement was ment to make the orthodox seem absurd. In it, she said, “Obviously a handful of our church leaders are still upset and would like to see the church never ordain and never baptize a gay or lesbian person.”

The orthodox generally do not recognize homosexuality as a permanent state of human existence, but rather an inclination that contravenes God’s established order and which, if acted on, is sinful. Therefore, if an individual were engaged in sinful acts or in supporting and encouraging others to engage in sinful acts, they would not be a candidate at that point for baptism or ordination. If they repented of their actions, they could be baptized; if God called them to ordained ministry, they could be ordained. Many homosexual people were baptized as infants and later moved into an actively homosexual lifestyle, and of course if they don’t repent and turn aside from such, they would not be candidates for ordination. Indeed, why does Jefferts Schori think that they would be candidates? Only in TEC could that make sense!

She also has announced that TEC’s House of Bishops is proceeding with punitive action against former TEC bishops William Cox, Andrew Fairfield and Dave Bena. Bishop Cox transferred to the Southern Cone, Bishop Fairfield to Uganda and Bishop Bena to Nigeria, so it is absurd for TEC to go through the motions of disciplining bishops they no longer have authority over. And the crime? Leaving TEC without permission! I picture Captain Schori standing on the deck of the TEC Titanic, screaming at passengers and crew as they lower the life boats, “You can’t leave…I haven’t given you permission to leave….you must stay and die with us or we will punish you!”

Jefferts Schori has also written threatening letters to Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh and Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth, warning them that if they don’t cease and desist from actions recently taken (diocesan voting to remove the accession clause from their canons), they will be dealt with most severely. Bishop Schofield of San Joachim can expect a similar letter in the mail any day. To say things are getting tense is an understatement. Although Pittsburgh and Fort Worth have to pass a second reading of their canonical changes, and this potentially puts an actual departure as much as a year away, Schori and her Canonical Army may invade at any time. It would be wise for all these dioceses to have rapid response teams in place 24/7.

Now if this isn’t sad enough, there are TEC dioceses such as Rochester, New York, which just passed a resolution defying Schori and General Convention, stating that they don’t intend to be limited by resolutions of General Convention. They have in mind the Resolution B033, which agreed to “exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church”. Beyond Schori there are many who have drifted even further away from Anglicanism, and they help govern TEC.

Good news, however, comes with the word that the Provincial Synod of the Southern Cone, meeting in Valparaiso, Chile, has passed a historic agreement to welcome into their membership (on an emergency and pastoral basis) Episcopal Church dioceses that are separating from TEC. This may well be a place for the three American dioceses that are contemplating departure. It does raise some questions as to how enrollment in Southern Cone will affect their participation in the Network and in the Common Cause Partners. Common Cause has an executive meeting planned in December and I am sure that some of the questions will be answered then, if not before. A possibility is that the Southern Cone safe harbor will be a temporary measure until Common Cause is further along, ready to actually merge the separate entities and ask for Provincial status – and that could be several years away. Difficult questions will need to be dealt with by the Common Cause Partners, such as the ordination of women, harmonization of the Canon Law of the separate bodies, and prayer books. Those who continue to use the 1979 American Prayer Book or translations of it – although it has some useful aspects – open themselves to the flawed theology that runs through it and has assisted TEC in getting where it is today.

The Global South Primates’ Communique calls for three things that seem very reasonable and wise: 1) the urgent need for a Primates’ meeting fairly soon; 2) the postponement of the Lambeth Conference 2008; and 3) an early Global South 4th Encounter. Of these three, the Archbishop of Canterbury has the privilege of convening the Primates, and the AAC suspects that he will deliberately NOT do this because they might well move beyond his comfort zone. He also has the right to call the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, and his financial investment and obligation may be beyond what he can reverse. Still, if he arranges a meeting and only a partial representation participates, it shows the entire world that his power to convene has been lost. Although the Global South probably cannot prevent Lambeth 2008, they can stay away. The third item on the list is fully within the power of the Global South to accomplish, and ideally would be planned for the first quarter of 2008 – in time to impact the balance of the year’s Anglican events.

Meanwhile, I usually speak with one priest or vestry member per day who is planning a departure from TEC, either personally or as a church. A significant part of the American Anglican Council’s pastoral work is to advise, counsel, and make resources known so that the best decisions can be made. Remember in prayer those who are walking away from their church homes, their careers, their salaries, health insurance and pension in order to be faithful to the Gospel. The Holy Spirit is a refining fire, purifying the church and her people.

Blessings and Peace in Jesus,

The Rev. Canon David C. Anderson
President, The American Anglican Council
Suffragan Bishop-elect 

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