News for Week Ending 2/2/2009
Primates meet in AlexandriaThe primates of the Anglican Communion are conducting one of their regular meetings February 1–5, 2009, in Alexandria, Egypt. The proposed Anglican covenant is a major item on the agenda, but so are a number of other issues that do not involve the nature of the communion itself. The proposed Anglican Church in North America is not formally on the agenda, but it is likely to be a topic of discussion. Early reports suggest that the atmosphere at the meeting is less tense than at recent meetings of the primates. Early reports on the meeting can be found here, here, and here. Pittsburgh Update will have more substantive reports on the meeting next week.
Archbishop Morgan vows to oppose plans for ACNAThe Times reports that Wales Archbishop Barry Morgan has said that he would oppose a proposed Anglican Church of North America “with every fibre of my being.” A new North American Anglican Province “makes no ecclesiological or theological sense,” Morgan told the Times.
Nigerian anti-gay bill resurfacesAmnesty International and other human rights groups have expressed concern about the Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2008 again before the Nigerian National Assembly. According to Amnesty International, “The Bill would introduce criminal penalties for marriage ceremonies between persons of the same sex as well as for persons witnessing or helping to formalize such a marriage.” Similar repressive legislation was supported by the Church of Nigeria, Anglican in 2006, but the legislation was not enacted. Background information is available at Thinking Anglicans.
Toronto diocese moves toward ‘generous pastoral response’ to same-sex relationshipsThe Toronto Star reported January 31, 2009, that the Diocese of Toronto in the Anglican Church of Canada will begin blessing same-sex relationships within a year, though it will not offer a formal marriage rite. No parishes will be required to perform such blessings, and an elaborate approval process is being established. Additional details are provided in an Episcopal News Service story, which indicates that the diocese is deferring to the General Synod on issues such as establishing a rite for such blessings, while still responding to the 2007 House of Bishops’ commitment to “develop the most generous pastoral response possible within the current teaching of the church” to same-sex relationships.
Executive Council meets in San JoaquinThe Executive Council of The Episcopal Church met in Stockton, California, in the Diocese of San Joaquin January 29–31. Episcopal News Service has reported on the meeting here, here, and here. Not surprisingly, The Episcopal Church is engaging in a degree of budget tightening in the wake of deteriorating economic conditions. Executive Council also issued an official church response to the St. Andrew’s draft Anglican covenant, which is available here. The Council also agreed to lend the Diocese of San Joaquin as much as $500,000 to help protect diocesan property.
Fort Worth diocese to hold special convention: Gulick proposed as provisional bishopThe Diocese of Fort Worth will hold a special convention February 7, 2009, to reorganize. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has called the meeting and recommended that the diocese call the Rt. Rev. Edwin “Ted” Gulick Jr. as its provisional bishop. Gulick has the unanimous support of the Steering Committee, North Texas Episcopalians, which has been planning the February 7 meeting. If elected as expected, Gulick, who is Bishop of Kentucky, will continue to serve the Diocese of Kentucky while acting as provisional bishop for Fort Worth.
Led by former bishop Jack Iker, the Diocese of Fort Worth voted November 15, 2008, to leave The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) As in San Joaquin, although many individuals and parishes desired to stay in The Episcopal Church, the diocese was left with neither a bishop nor a Standing Committee.
Episcopal News Service has a story on Gulik here. More information about him is available on the Diocese of Kentucky’s Web site. Additional information about the convention can be found on the new Web site for the Diocese of Fort Worth.
Proposed Texas law favors congregations in church property disputesThe Rev. Canon Ed Monk, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Corsicana, Texas, along with “other leaders of the conservative 300-member St. John’s,” according to Episcopal News Service (see story here), have persuaded a Republican state representative to introduce a bill in the Texas legislature to favor dissident congregations over the property rights of churches that they wish to leave. Monk admits to have been inspired by the nineteenth-century Virginia statute that has thus far allowed a number of congregations that have left The Episcopal Church to prevail in court. (See latest Pittsburgh Update story on the Virginia litigation here.) Many believe both the Virginia statute and the potential Texas statute to be unconstitutional restrictions on the First Amendment.
John Rodgers to serve breakaway Pittsburgh parishesThe group headed by deposed bishop Robert Duncan announced February 2, 2009, that the Rt. Rev. John Rodgers, first dean and president of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, will assist Bishop Duncan by performing “confirmations, ordinations and other tasks.” Rodgers was consecrated bishop in the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) in 2000. The group, originally made up of congregations that had broken away from The Episcopal Church and put themselves under the authority of the Anglican churches of Rwanda and Southeast Asia, is now one of the larger elements in the Common Cause Partnership forming the Anglican Church in North America. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)
Rodgers chaired an AMiA team that studied women’s ordination and produced a report in 2003 that led to the AMiA’s decision to ordain women as deacons, but not as priests. That policy remains in place. (See “What is the Anglican Mission’s position on the ordination of women?” on the Anglican Mission in the Americas Web site here.)