News for Week Ending 6/23/2008
GAFCON convenes in JerusalemThe Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) has now convened in Jerusalem and will continue through June 29. (See Pittsburgh Update story on GAFCON here.) The conference, attended mostly by conservatives from the U.S. and representatives from the Global South, is receiving extensive coverage in the press, including The New York Times, Reuters, and the BBC.
Episcopal News Service reported that Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani, who had earlier objected to GAFCON’s being held in Jerusalem at all, has called for participants to show a spirit of “peace, reconciliation and goodwill.” Religion Correspondent for The Times, Ruth Gledhill, has explained on her blog that eight people, not all of whom are even attending GAFCON, have been barred from GAFCON sessions. Among the so-called “GAFCON 8” is Colorado Bishop Robert O’Neill, who was asked by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to monitor the conference.
Participants in a closed pre-conference planning meeting that had been moved to Jordan at least in part because of the objections of the Jerusalem bishop adjourned early on June 19. The meeting was transferred to Jerusalem after Archbishops Akinola and Venables were refused entry into Jordan.
Conference organizers made available an on-line book, The Way, The Truth, and The Life, written by the conference’s Theological Resource Team shortly before GAFCON’s official opening. A statement by Archbishop Peter Akinola in one of the book’s essays was widely reported in the press: “There is no longer any hope, therefore, for a unified [Anglican] Communion.” The Nigerian primate’s rhetoric in his speech at the conference Sunday, June 22, however, seemed to hold out greater hope. (See the Telegraph story here.) Other addresses have been given by Pittsburgh’s Bishop Robert Duncan and Sydney’s Archbishop Peter Jensen.
London gay “marriage” condemned by Archbishops of Canterbury and YorkIn response to the blessing of the domestic partnership of two gay priests that took place in London earlier this month (see Pittsburgh Update story here), the Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued a brief statement in which they expressed “very great concern” over the incident. Clergy are not at liberty to disregard “the Church’s teaching,” the statement said. The statement was reported in The Guardian and elsewhere.
Duncan names “collegiate vicar” for Common Cause congregations in WestIn his capacity as moderator of the Common Cause Partnership, an alliance of “orthodox” groups in the U.S., Pittsburgh’s Bishop Robert Duncan has named a priest as a “collegiate vicar” for the Association of Western Anglican Congregations. The individual chosen is the Rev. Bill Thompson, rector of All Saints’ Anglican Church in Long Beach, California. His appointment was announced June 14 at the Western Anglicans House of Delegates meeting in Newport Beach. Ron Speers, president of the Western Anglicans organization, said, “Hopefully, the appointment of the Collegiate Vicar for us can serve as a model for other CCP-related church clusters elsewhere in the country.” The story was reported by the Anglican Communion Network.
First openly gay deacon ordained in Diocese of San DiegoThe San Diego Union-Tribune reported June 21, 2008, that Bishop James Mathes, Bishop of San Diego, recently ordained the diocese’s first openly gay deacon to the transitional diaconate. The new deacon is Thomas Wilson, a former schoolteacher who moved to San Diego eight years ago with his partner of 20 years. The Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity, said the action shows how San Diego’s generally conservative philosophy is gradually changing under Bishop Mathes’ leadership.
Prominent Fort Worth rector reiterates loyalty to Episcopal ChurchThe Rev. Christopher Jambor, rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church—one of the most prominent parishes in the city and diocese of Fort Worth—has gone on record pledging his loyalty to The Episcopal Church. “[L]eaving The Episcopal Church and claiming to be able to take her assets with you is not within the bounds of our polity. Doing so is not reforming that which is deficient. It is abandoning it. For me to support or advocate this course of action would be to break my solemn oaths made when I was ordained deacon and priest,” Jambor says in his statement.
San Joaquin congregation returns to Episcopal ChurchThe mission congregation of St. Andrew’s Parish has decided to reject the actions of its vestry and priest by requesting recognition as a congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. The vestry and vicar of the Taft, California, mission had originally aligned the parish with Bishop John-David Schofield’s breakaway Anglican diocese now identifying itself as part of the province of the Southern Cone. In April, Bishop Lamb of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin received a petition signed by 25 pledging members of the mission—average Sunday attendance is 18—asking for recognition as part of the Episcopal diocese. Lamb appointed a new bishop’s committee and is providing supply clergy to serve the mission. The congregation has changed the locks to its building to ensure that its rejected leaders cannot seize the property. Conservative blogs have accused Bishop Lamb of theft of both the congregation and its property. When Bishop Schofield broke with The Episcopal Church, he allowed congregations not in debt to choose whether to realign or stay in The Episcopal Church. Mission congregations such as St. Andrew's were given no choice, however; Schofield claimed them all.
Quite different interpretations of what has happened in Taft may be found on the Web sites of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, and conservative blogger David Virtue.