News for Week Ending 10/4/2010
Southern Africa moves toward covenant approvalAccording to Anglican Communion News Service, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa voted October 1, 2010, to adopt the draft Anglican covenant. Although this moves the province closer to formal approval of the agreement, another vote will have to be taken at the 2013 Provincial Synod to complete the approval process. The vote was not a close one, but reservations were expressed about the wisdom of the adoption. Nevertheless, the sentiment in the Provincial Synod seemed to be that the covenant could help bring the Anglican Communion together, not that it could be a tool of punishment for churches such as The Episcopal Church. Episcopal News Service (ENS) also covered this story here.
ENS also reported that the Provincial Synod was being urged to ordain more women priests and elect women priests to be bishops. Although the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has women priests, there are no women bishops in the church, and not all dioceses ordain women.
AAC president advises primates to shun PBAs we recently noted—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the next meeting of the Anglican Communion primates will be held in Dublin Ireland at the end of January. George Conger, writing for The Church of England Newspaper, reports that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has indicated that she will attend the meeting but that Global South primates, who will meet next month, will discuss whether to attend the same meeting as the Episcopal Church primate.
Bishop David Anderson, former Episcopalian and now bishop in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) and American Anglican Council (AAC) president has offered advice to the primates in his weekly message to AAC e-mail subscribers. Anderson advises sympathetic conservative primates to meet in advance and to plan to exile Jefferts Schori from the meeting “by either voting her off the ‘island,’ or recessing to another room and not letting her in.” If the Archbishop of Canterbury does not go along with this plan, Anderson says, he, too, should be excluded from the meeting.
Bishop/Standing Committee struggle continues in PennsylvaniaConflict continues in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania between newly returned Bishop Charles Bennison and the diocesan Standing Committee. (See most recent Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Standing Committee wrote a letter to Bishop Bennison September 29, 2010, accusing the bishop of acting in bad faith, pursuing his own ill-conceived agenda, and accusing prosecution witnesses in his trial of having committed perjury. Although the Standing Committee did not again ask Bennison to step down, the letter did include the following: “Bishop, the letter of the law has allowed you to return. Please consider the spirit of the law as you determine your way forward, for yourself and for the Diocese of Pennsylvania.” Episcopal New Service ran a story October 1 on the latest Standing Committee letter.
Lawrence attacks Episcopal ChurchSouth Carolina’s bishop, Mark Lawrence, has published a broadside against The Episcopal Church in The Living Church. Titled “A Conservationist among Lumberjacks,” the essay comes shortly before the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina reconvenes on October 15, 2010, to pass resolutions to “protect” the diocese from The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Lawrence charges the Presiding Bishop with usurping her authority, claims the Title IV revisions are unconstitutional, and complains about the way Pittsburgh’s former bishop Robert Duncan was deposed. Arguing that “[t]he axe swinging to rid TEC of its troublesome clerics isn’t working,” Lawrence calls on the church to address its “deeper theological problems.”
Episcopal election plan for diocese prompts vigorous discussionIn the three pre-convention hearings last week, the plan proposed by the Standing Committee for electing the next diocesan bishop for Pittsburgh proved to be the most controversial matter that will be considered at the next diocesan convention, which is scheduled to take place at Trinity Cathedral October 15–16, 2010. Resolution 2, “Call for Episcopal Election,” proposes April 12, 2012, as the date for a special convention to elect the next Bishop of Pittsburgh.
It was not the initiation of the search process nor the scheduling of the special convention that sparked discussion, but the nature of the nomination process. Resolution 2 calls for a Nomination Committee to propose candidates. While that committee is pursuing its business, candidates may be guaranteed a place on the ballot by petition of three lay and three clergy deputies, subject only to a background check required by The Episcopal Church. The final ballot is prevented, by the proposal, from distinguishing candidates by how they were nominated.
Whereas members of the Standing Committee argued that the scheme they proposed facilitated transparency, opponents argued that it obscured facts and allowed candidates to be placed on the ballot who have undergone less scrutiny than other candidates. The Standing Committee may revise Resolution 2, but it seems unlikely that the concerns of everyone can be addressed. The diocesan Web site describes the proposed process here. Convention and registration materials can be found here.