News for Week Ending 6/9/2008
New Archbishop of Tanzania enthronedOn May 25, the Most Rev. Valentino L. Mokiwa was enthroned for a five-year term as the primate of Tanzania. Archbishop Mokiwa, a graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary, has been bishop of the Diocese of Dar es Salaam since 2002. Among those attending the ceremony were the Rev. Emmanuel Sserwadda, The Episcopal Church’s program officer for Africa, and the Rev. Sandra McCann. McCann is an Episcopal missionary serving in Tanzania and a VTS graduate serving as official representative of VTS at the event. Archbishops Kolini of Rwanda and Akrofi of West Africa attended. Nigeria, Uganda, Burundi, and Kenya sent bishops as representatives. Episcopal News Service reported the story.
The new archbishop has joined Archbishop Drexel Gomez of West Indies and Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi as primates willing to support the thirteen Episcopal Church bishops who are working on a proposal for a slightly expanded “episcopal visitors” group that could work with parishes or diocese anxious about remaining in good standing within the Anglican Communion. The group has committed to working only where the local bishop gives permission. (See “Communion Partners initiative expands to provide ‘relational fellowship’.”)
Bishop Robinson and partner exchange vows; diocese protests Lambeth snubBishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire and his partner of 20 years, Mark Andrew, were joined Saturday, June 7, 2008, in a private civil union held at St. Paul’s Church in Concord, N.H. The brief ceremony in the narthex of the church was followed by a service of thanksgiving for the couple that included a celebration of the Eucharist attended by approximately 120 friends and family members. The story was reported by the Concord Monitor.
In the same issue, the Concord Monitor also reported that the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council of the Diocese of New Hampshire wrote to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on May 28 protesting their bishop’s being excluded from the Lambeth Conference and his being prevented from preaching or celebrating the Eucharist while in England. The letter, which has not yet received a reply, described the actions of the Archbishop as “an insult to the people of the Diocese of New Hampshire.”
Church broadens lawsuit in San Joaquin property disputeThe Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, in central California, filed an amendment in a state court on June 2 to the lawsuit to recover property held by former Episcopal bishop John-David Schofield.
The amendment added two new defendants, Merrill Lynch and a new holding company called the Anglican Diocese Holding Corporation. After the latest brief was filed by the plaintiffs, Merrill Lynch, which manages diocesan funds, immediately froze the disputed accounts pending resolution of the court case. Schofield had begun transferring assets to the new holding company from a corporation he formerly headed as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal diocese filed suit in April to assert ownership of diocesan property. A December vote of the diocesan convention to join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone and the subsequent deposition of Schofield by the House of Bishops on March 12 led to the original filing.
The Web site for the Southern Cone-affiliated diocese contains a statement saying that the diocese remains confident the courts will rule for its ownership of the disputed property.
The Associated Press, Fresno Bee, Episcopal New Service and San Jose Mercury News all carried stories on the filing. ENS filed a separate story on the Merrill Lynch action.
San Joaquin reconciliation efforts continueThe Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, headed by Interim Bishop Jerry Lamb, is moving ahead with its reconciliation program. It will hold a one-day retreat June 14 at Holy Family Church in Fresno, focusing on reconciliation among individuals and congregations.
After the retreat, Bishop Lamb will visit four diocesan locations in an activity being called “Reconciliation Conversations with the Bishop.” The purpose of the “conversations” is “to seek reconciliation with those who remain in discernment about participating in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.”
The reconciliation programs are described in “Reconciliation in the Diocese of San Joaquin” in the diocese’s June newsletter.
Bishop Carol Gallagher to offer pastoral services in North DakotaAccording to Episcopal News Service, Bishop Michael Smith has requested that Bishop Carol Gallagher assist in his diocese to “reach out especially to congregations and clergy who feel alienated and hurt by me due to different understandings of human sexuality.” Bishop Smith has declined to ordain partnered gays and lesbians, license partnered gay clergy who move to North Dakota, or allow same-sex blessings. The arrangement is pioneering a new kind of relationship between bishops and is intended to aid the listening process and discernment in the diocese around issues of sexuality.
Pittsburgh diocese makes Southern Cone destination officialDiocesan Council made public three resolutions to be voted on by the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s 143rd annual convention, which is expected to be held this year in early October, rather than early November. The convention will be held shortly after the scheduled September House of Bishops meeting at which Bishop Robert Duncan is expected to be deposed for abandoning the communion of The Episcopal Church.
The three resolutions announced by the Diocesan Council are available on the diocesan Web site here. They are predicated on the convention’s passing, on second reading, the constitutional amendments that intend to end the diocese’s accession to the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church. (The constitutional changes approved at the 2007 convention can be read here.)
Resolution One would establish a canon declaring the diocese to be part of the province of the Southern Cone. Resolution Two gives parishes 24 months to adjust their bylaws or similar documents to be in conformity with the new alignment. Resolution Three adopts as a temporary expedient “until a more comprehensive set of Constitution and Canons can be developed and approved by the Diocese” the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church, while at the same time explaining that this is not to be taken as indicative of the church’s having any authority over the diocese.
The resolutions follow closely the logic outlined in the diocese’s “Frequently Asked Questions About Realignment.” A different analysis of realignment has been offered by Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh in “Relignment Reconsidered.”