News for Week Ending 7/28/2008
Bishops march against povertyBishops attending the Lambeth Conference took time off from Bible study, worship, and discussion groups July 24 to march through London with their spouses in support of reducing world poverty. The hour-long march took place behind a banner reading “Keep the Promise/Halve Poverty by 2015,” which refers to one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. According to an Episcopal News Service story, Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the march “one of the greatest demonstrations of faith this great city has ever seen.” The Telegraph story on the march includes video of the event.
Media restrictions irk reportersEven before the Lambeth Conference began, concerns were being expressed about how secretive Lambeth sessions would be. (See, for example, Douglas LeBlanc’s July 15 essay for Episcopal Life Online.) Now that the bishops are well into the conference, the media are indeed upset at being excluded even from worship services. Church Times editor Paul Handley wroten a July 25 piece complaining about the lack of media access to the bishops. Handley also complained about the lack of information provided by conference organizers. In particular, the conference has refused to distribute a list of the bishops attending the conference. Reporter Pat Ashworth expressed the frustration of many reporters in his blog:
So I cannot do my job and describe for those in the dioceses and parishes the richness of worship there must be when voices from all around the world come together in praise and supplication. I can’t report accurately for our readers—whose Church this is—whether the bishops are doing what they came here to do. I don’t even know who’s here and who isn’t, and I’m not likely to.LeBlanc, writing from Virginia, has sent an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury pleading for more openness at the conference.
Lambeth Conference receives presentation from Windsor Continuation GroupThe six-member Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) appointed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in February 2008 has presented “preliminary observations” to the bishops attending the Lambeth Conference. The WCG, which was formed to “address outstanding questions arising from the Windsor Report and the various formal responses from provinces and instruments of the Anglican Communion,” presenting its findings in three parts, on July 23, 25, and 28, for comment and discussion.
In its initial presentation, the WCG emphasized the “severity” of the situation now faced by the Anglican Communion. The second presentation concentrated on the way forward, suggesting a need for “communion with autonomy and accountability.” The most controversial part of this presentation was a call for a “Faith and Order Commission,” characterized as an Anglican Inquisition in some press reports (see, for example, the Times story here). The final presentation addressed the question of getting “from here to there.” It proposes absolute moratoria on blessing same-sex unions, consecration of bishops living in openly gay relationships, and cross-border interventions. The WCG called for development of a “Pastoral Forum” as another mechanism to deal with disaffected elements of the Communion.
More details are available in Episcopal News Service stories here and here. Initial reaction from Episcopal Church bishops July 28 was largely negative, although ENS quotes Pittsburgh’s Bishop Henry Scriven as saying that the Pastoral Forum “from our point of view … would be very helpful” if it delivers what the WCG suggests.
Sudanese archbishop demands Robinson resignationThe Archbishop of Sudan Daniel Deng, speaking at the Lambeth Conference, called July 22 for the resignation of openly gay New Hampshire bishop Gene Robinson. Deng also called on bishops who consecrated Robinson to repent and ask forgiveness for their action. A statement from the bishops of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan echoed Deng’s remarks on homosexuality, although it neither mentioned Robinson by name nor called for him to step down. As reported by Times Online Bishop of Fort Worth Jack Iker went a step further, declaring, “Those Bishops who stand in solidarity with Gene Robinson should withdraw themselves from further participation in the Lambeth Conference.” More details are available in an Episcopal News Service story here.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts explained that it was not her place to request that Robinson step down and that she doubted that that would happen, according to and Anglican Journal story.
The bishops’ statement also called on the churches in the United States and Canada “To cease court actions with immediate effect.” This is surprising, given that the Sudanese church recently won a court case to recover a guest house in Kartoum that had been sold by a deposed bishop in 2004. (Details, with links, are available here.)
There are many ties between dioceses in The Episcopal Church (including Virginia) and dioceses in the Episcopal Church of the Sudan. No one in either church suggested that these ties could not persist.
Nigerian gay activist given asylumTimes religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill reported on her blog July 27 that Davis Mac-Iyalla, founder and head of the gay rights organization Changing Attitude Nigeria, has been granted asylum in the U.K. Mac-Iyalla has been attacked physically (and, by Archbishop of Nigeria Peter Akinola, verbally) and has received death threats for his advocacy of gay rights. Mac-Iylla visited the U.S. in 2007 and spoke at Church of the Redeemer, Squirrel Hill, May 22.
CCP to seek provincial recognition, Duncan on Primates’ CouncilA relatively new coalition of “Anglican” groups within and outside The Episcopal Church has announced its intention to ask to be recognized as a “province.” The Common Cause Partnership (CCP) issued a press release July 24 indicating that it intends to ask that it be declared “the North American Province of GAFCON.”
Bishop Robert Duncan, of Pittsburgh, is the moderator of the CCP, as well as of the Anglican Communion Network, which is a member of the CCP.
The recently completed Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) suggested in its Jerusalem Declaration, published at the end of the conference, that the CCP should be recognized as an Anglican province. According to the CCP press release, the CCP Council, meeting December 1–3, 2008, will make its appeal to the self-appointed Primates’ Council. It will also ask that Bishop Duncan be seated on the Primates’ Council.
The CCP has not made clear what it means to be a “province” of GAFCON.