Conservative bishops/ACI issue controversial statement on church polity
A paper titled “Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of The Episcopal Church
” was published April 22, 2009, on the Web site of the Anglican Communion Institute
(ACI), a conservative advocacy group. The statement carries the names of 15 “Communion Partner
” Episcopal bishops, 11 of them diocesan bishops. Three members of the ACI endorsed the statement. Based in part on an earlier ACI paper by attorney Mark McCall, “Is the Episcopal Church Hierarchical?
” the statement argues for the independence of both dioceses and diocesan bishops, minimizes the importance of the General Convention, and asserts that dioceses can approve an Anglican covenant independently of their province. The paper has proven quite controversial and has occasioned a good deal of discussion on the Web. Both Episcopal News Service
and The Living Church
have written stories about the statement, though only the former touches on the controversy engendered by the statement. Thinking Anglicans has followed the statement beginning even before it was issued. (See posts on Thinking Anglicans here
, and here
Executive Council appropriates money for dioceses torn by schism
The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, at its last meeting prior to the 2009 General Convention, appropriated another $110,000 for clergy salaries and other expenses incurred by the Diocese of Quincy “and other similarly situated dioceses,” such as Pittsburgh. Executive Council had already authorized more than $1,200,000 to support diocese undergoing reorganization after convention votes to leave The Episcopal Church. Episcopal News Service reported on this and other Executive Council actions here
on April 22, 2009.
Study finds people change churches for personal reasons
“Conservative” Episcopalians frequently charge that losses in church membership are the result of the “liberal” church policies or the result of doctrinal controversies within the church. The Washington Post
, however, ran a story
April 27, 2009, suggesting that people largely change churches for quite personal reasons. The Post
story reports on a study from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life that found that more than half of all adults have changed churches at least once in their lives and, in many cases, have done so multiple times. An executive summary of the study can be found on the Pew Forum Web site
. Links to the full study, to a PDF of the executive summary, and to related material can be found there.
Maine bishop supports non-discriminatory marriage bill
Bishop of Maine Steven Lane gave written testimony to a legislative hearing in Augusta, Maine, on April 22, 2009. He was unable to attend the hearing, but he provided testimony through a representative. Lane declared his support for a proposed bill in the Maine legislature titled “An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom.” In his testimony, Lang said, “To deny those rights [of civil marriage] to certain persons on the basis of sexual orientation is to create two classes of citizens and to deny one group what we believe is best for them and for society.” The bishop explained the non-discriminatory policy of The Episcopal Church with respect to holding office in the church, and he acknowledged that the church was not of one mind regarding human sexuality. In particular, Lane supported provisions of the bill declaring that no clergy will be compelled to act against conscience. The story was covered by Episcopal News Service here
ENS reports on Calvary-Rodef Shalom project
Episcopal News Service ran a story April 23, 2009, about Mitzvah Day, a joint project of Calvary Episcopal Church
and Rodef Shalom Congregation
. The two congregations set aside April 26 to work on community projects—packing medical supplies for overseas aid, weeding and planning in a local park, and painting at local churches, among others. You can read the story here.