News for Week Ending 7/6/2009
Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (UK) holds kickoff meetingA group intended to be GAFCON’s Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in the UK (FCA (UK)) has scheduled its kickoff meeting July 6, 2009, in London. (See Pittsburgh Update post on last year’s GAFCON here.) A press release concerning the event can be read on the GAFCON Web site. According to The Press Association, more than 1000 people are expected to attend. The meeting takes place amid concerns that the new organization could be disruptive to the Anglican Communion and even the Church of England itself. Five Church of England bishops are expected to participate. Newly minted archbishop Robert Duncan, deposed Bishop of Pittsburgh, will give a keynote address. Religious Intelligence and TimesOnline each has a story containing information and opinion about the event.
An early report coming out of the meeting claims that over 1600 attended and that the threat the “movement” poses to the Church of England—FCA (UK) claims not to be an “organization”—was made quite explicit. Bishop of Fulham John Broadhurst, Chairman of Forward in Faith International, is quoted as saying, “Satan is alive and well and he’s working in Church House [the building housing the administrative offices of the Church of England].” According to the Religious Intelligence story, this threat was made: “Consecrating women as bishops in the Church of England without proper provision for those opposed to the move would prompt FCA UK to challenge the current Church leadership.”
General Convention meets in AnaheimThe 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church begins its work this week in Anaheim, California. The governing body of The Episcopal Church, which convenes once every three years, will meet from July 8 through July 17. Eight to ten thousand people are expected to participate in the meeting, counting bishops, deputies, exhibitors, other church officials, guests, and visitors. For the first time, live video feeds will be available over the Internet, allowing those who cannot be in Anaheim to follow the proceedings. Webcasts and other convention-related content will be available at a Web site described as a “media hub” established by the church’s digital communications team. Legislation—there is a good deal of it—can be tracked at a site that makes both original and marked up resolutions available. More information about the technology being used at the General Convention can be found in the Episcopal News Service story here. The General Convention’s home on the Web is here.
For the first time, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will be present for part of the General Convention. Episcopal News Service reported July 1 that he will be meeting privately with selected deputies to discuss issues of sexuality.
A brief introduction to the work of the General Convention by our Assisting Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Robert H. Johnson, can be read on the diocesan Web site here. Bishop Johnson’s introduction also lists the deputation attending the convention from Pittsburgh:
- The Rev. Dr. James Simons
- The Rev. Scott Quinn
- The Rev. Dr. Harold T. Lewis
- The Rev. Dr. Bruce Robison
- The Rev. Lou Hays (Alternate)
- Mr. Stephen Stagnitta
- Mr. David Laughlin, Ph.D.
- Ms. Joan Gunderson, Ph.D.
- Ms. Mary Roehrich
- Ms. Gwen Santiago (Alternate)
Local priest participates in Episcopal Life Online exchangeAlthough no version of an Anglican covenant is before the General Convention for its approval—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the very notion of a covenant remains controversial and a topic of much discussion within The Episcopal Church. On June 25, Episcopal Life Online carried essays both for and against adopting a covenant. Arguing the case for a covenant was the Rev. Bruce Robison, rector of St. Andrew’s, Highland Park. Robison’s essay is “Covenant aligns with Episcopal identity.” Taking an opposing view was the Rev. James V. Stockton, of Austin, Texas. His essay is “Consider facts about proposed covenant, not myths.”
Robison is one of the sponsors of a General Convention resolution by which The Episcopal Church would provisionally agree to abide by the provisions of the most recent covenant draft. Robison argues that we do not have to choose between the extremes of submitting to “an authoritarian international hierarchy” or becoming “some kind of autonomous American ‘denomination.’” We can, he says, be both independent and “profoundly interdependent in character and spiritual identity.”
Stockton argues, on the other hand, that the covenant claims to be re-establishing an Anglican unity that has never existed and that serves no useful purpose. Conservatives see the covenant as a way of controlling churches such as our own. However, a covenant, he says, is “ fantastically useless.” It is preoccupied with establishing uniformity and is distracting our church from its mission. We are “one in Christ” already, says Stockton, and The Episcopal Church should be leading the Anglican Communion back to being “a collegial fellowship of independent churches, working and praying interdependently to bring Christ to the wider world around us, and to find Christ there waiting for us.”
Responses to the two essays were posted at Episcopal Life Online July 2.
Although the 2009 General Convention will not be asked to approve an Anglican covenant, the church’s Executive Council has asked General Convention deputations and bishops to study the latest covenant draft, according to a story from Episcopal News Service.