Monday, November 19, 2007

My Faith Looks Up To Thee

My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine!
Now hear me while I pray, take all my guilt away,
O let me from this day be wholly Thine!

May Thy rich grace impart
Strength to my fainting heart, my zeal inspire!
As Thou hast died for me, O may my love to Thee,
Pure warm, and changeless be, a living fire!

While life’s dark maze I tread,
And griefs around me spread, be Thou my Guide;
Bid darkness turn to day, wipe sorrow’s tears away,
Nor let me ever stray from Thee aside.

When ends life’s transient dream,
When death’s cold sullen stream over me roll;
Blest Savior, then in love, fear and distrust remove;
O bear me safe above, a ransomed soul!

Ray Palmer (1808-1887)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Diocese of Pittsburgh Convention, November 3, 2007

“What’s the difference between Jurassic Park and the Church of England? Well, one’s a fantasy land populated by dinosaurs . . . and the other’s a blockbuster film.” So Assistant Bishop Henry Scriven introduced his homily for Morning Prayer and lent one of the few moments of light relief to today’s proceedings. I find myself writing up the account of today’s proceedings with a rather different perspective from that of yesterday, and I am grateful to Henry for what he has contributed throughout this convention period.

Much of today’s agenda involved routine canonical changes to which few raised objections. A proposal to penalize parishes that failed to submit parochial reports by denying seats to their clergy and lay deputies was sent back to committee after several clergy protested that not every clergyperson in a parish was responsible for the parochial report. A change to clarify the role of the assistant bishop was approved unanimously, Bishop Henry abstaining! A revision of a very detailed canon on the roles of the diocesan archivist and historian to give more leeway to the diocesan leadership was approved despite objections from former members of the diocesan archives and historical commission. A proposal to require annual parochial audits was amended to assure delinquent parishes of seat and voice but no vote. Another proposal to formally define the standing committee as the ecclesiastical trial court (which it currently is under national canons) was sent back to committee on the grounds that a formula needed to be developed to ensure that standing committee did not end up filling the dual roles of judge and jury. Until such a constitutional amendment is introduced, however, standing committee must continue to perform that function. Also returned to committee was an amendment that would have defined a process for planting new churches that placed little emphasis on consultation with the leadership of existing parishes (at least in the eyes of critics) and left matters almost entirely to the bishop (who makes the final decision in any case) and the standing committee.

It was in the matter of the twenty-sixth (and final) recommendation that debate took an unexpected turn with a proposal that the right to request the ayes and nays on a proposition be subject to the approval of a majority of those present and not – as is currently the case – to the request of any ten clergy and ten laity. It was argued that in the current climate, voting decisions will be compromised by external pressures (including the possibility of legal action). After I had unsuccessfully recommended that the proposal be sent back to committee (and the objections were very vocal), I found myself joined by Harold Lewis of Calvary (not a surprise, though not precisely the ally I would have sought). Then, in one of those remarkable displays that periodically occur at our conventions, Bishop Duncan surrendered the chair and came down to address us directly. This, he said, was one of the rare occasions where he and the rector of Calvary Church agreed. The elections of people are secret and for good reason, but votes on matters of principle require us to stand for what we believe. We had found a way to avoid a roll call in this convention (and Father Lewis had concurred with this), but if a majority always got to decide roll call votes, it was likely that there would never be any.

Father Jeff Murph of St. Thomas, Oakmont, then offered as an alternative a modification of the existing rule of order to require that the twenty persons requesting a roll call represent at least five parishes. There followed a most revealing set of exchanges, with several of the leading Evangelicals present insisting that the climate of intimidation and threats against diocesan leaders necessitated a firewall for faithful leaders. Roll call votes, maintained Whis Hays were being used as a form of harassment by the minority. Even if votes themselves are not actionable, someone else pointed out, they may be used to show a pattern of conduct elsewhere. Those opposing the amendment fell into two camps: liberals and moderates who argued the need for it to be possible to show publicly their opposition to conservative innovations (one moderate clergyman argued that any ostracism that derived from such votes would be social in nature, not political or legal); and conservatives who argued that the majority’s support for the amendment seemed to be derived from a position of fear not of blessed assurance. Allowing the minority to go the extra mile was an essential part of the process in which we are currently engaged. Their voices did not prevail, and the amendment passed.

One of the more interesting presences at this convention was John Guernsey of All Saints, Dale City in Virginia, now a bishop under Uganda, who spoke at the Friday evening dinner and preached at the closing Eucharist. While I thought it an unwise move to bring a bishop of the International Convocation to a (still) Episcopal convention, I confess to being pleasantly surprised. His addresses spoke beyond the present divide and directly linked the works of the evangelism to the work of Christian service. “John Guernsey is the bishop I would like to be when I grow up,” Bishop Duncan declared to us.

At this point, I wish to switch from the strictly narrative to the personal. As has now been noted in my earlier posting, I was in error regarding the necessity of a two-thirds majority vote for Resolution One (I plead as my excuse that I heard someone with a track record in the Diocese remark upon it in my district meeting and took it on faith instead of consulting the canons.) I find at the end of two very long days that I am troubled. I am no more troubled about my vote than I was before; amidst a multitude of evils I believe it to have been the right choice. What concerns me is the temper that I see emerging among the majority, of which I still consider myself a member. It is a temper of loyalty at all cost, to person and practice as well as to principle. It is a temper that speaks to the solidarity of the elect and has little time for the more quirkish orthodox spirits that inhabit this Diocese. One almost wonders if the spirit of fear is less a fear of what those outside can do to us and more of how reliable our fellow conservatives will be.

I believe there are measures of orthodox Christianity and that they should govern our leadership choices. Sadly, it would seem, we are now demanding a ‘higher’ standard. As I listened to some conservatives speak today about the climate of intimidation, I couldn’t help but feel that they were missing the point of Bishop’s Duncan’s sermon yesterday in which he reminded us that Christians are called to suffering and ostracism and rejection. If a decision is ‘right,’ why should it alarm us to be called upon to state it? What price conscience, without cost? If our enemies behave badly – and some of them have done and are doing so – it does not exempt us from behaving well. I am loyal to my Bishop in large measure because I believe he has a better sense of balance than some of those who proclaim themselves to be his most loyal supporters. I disagree with some of his judgments, but I have never faulted his sense of pastoral care.

Let us at least be clear among ourselves. We are witnessing the passing of something that was at the core of Anglican identity here in Pittsburgh and at the core of Anglican witness in the United States until now. The loss will not simply be the loss of liberal friends but will almost certainly be the loss of assurance and perhaps of the orthodox ‘diversity’ to which we have been so long accustomed. It behooves those who know that beyond the veil there is perfect freedom, to remember the rest of us who will walk that way certainly in uncertainty, perhaps in pain, because they know that to remain where they are is much the more perilous.

For my lords, it may well be that we shall perish utterly in a black battle far from the living lands;
so that even if Barad-dür be thrown down, we shall not live to see a new age. But this, I deem,
is our duty. And better so than to perish nonetheless – as we surely shall, if we sit here –
and know as we die that no new age shall be.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Diocese of Pittsburgh Convention, November 2, 2007

The Feast of All Souls has now concluded and Resolution One has passed. We have opened the way to seeking membership in another province of the Anglican Communion, should delegates so decide a year from now. But how significant a single vote can can be. We passed it 109-24 in the clerical order (the usual supermajority), but by 118 to 58 in the lay order (with one abstention). One switch from "aye" to "nay" and we would have lacked the requisite two-thirds majority. Make what you will of that. (As is noted in the comments to this report, I was in error on this point. A simple majority at two successive conventions is all that is required.)

There was a certain aptness in beginning proceedings with the stirring lyrics of Frank Mason North's Social Gospel hymn "Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life," for truly all those present yearned for the healing for their hearts of pain. A call was made - in light of the letter from the Presiding Bishop to Bishop Duncan - that the rules be suspended insofar as to eliminate the requirement for roll call votes. From opposite ends of the spectrum, Harold Lewis of Calvary and Whis Hays of Rock the World Youth Alliance endorsed this motion.

Bishop Duncan then spoke on the text from 1 Thessalonians 5:24 ("He who has called you is faithful and he will do it"). We had come, he said, to a "fork in the road." Speaking of the rejection of attempts to implement alternative primatial oversight, he declared the conflict over Mark Lawrence to be symptomatic of the refusal of the Episcopal Church ever again to allow a conservative diocese to elect a bishop of its choice. "We are divided in essentials without prospect of short-term resolution." The views expressed by the minority within the diocese - though reflecting a desire to be true to the Gospel - had only polarized matters further. The alternatives now were mediated separation or the scandal of continued litigation. "There are two roads, mutually exclusive, between which all must decide or default to choose." The pain of those caught in the middle was no less real for that, indeed it was "heartbreaking," as much for himself, who had been in the Episcopal Church a mere three generations, as for those on the progressive side whose family connections stretched further back in time. He offered four behaviors for the time ahead:

Pray - even praying God's blessings on our enemies will transform us as well as them.

Forgive - do not dwell on hurts. Remember those areas of ministry on which we can unite, such as the Wilkinsburg youth ministry. Here he introduced, for the first time, the notion that Trinity Cathedral might exist as neutral space and a common asset for Anglican and Episcopalian alike, and pledged to ask its chapter to develop plans to function in this manner "if we choose it"

Do the Mission - here he admitted that he had tried to do this, despite the distraction of the conflict. He noted that the convention theme was "Taking Christ's Love to our Neighbors," a worthy goal for a troubled time.

Trust - here, he turned to the themes of Celebrate 250 (the diocesan celebration of 250 years of Anglican and Episcopal witness in the region scheduled for 2008). We have lived through revolution, rebellion, civil war, epidemic, fire and flood, strikes, depression and global conflict. On May 31, 1889, the Johnstown Flood (here in the city where we are meeting) took more lives than the 1906 San Francisco earthquake or the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. One-third of the parish of St. Mark's, including the rector and his family, died in that tragedy. And yet still Anglicans have continued to proclaim the only hope of the world, Jesus Christ.

With a little gallows humor, he concluded with the acknowledgment that this might be his last convention, even as he read aloud his brief but pithy response to the Presiding Bishop's warnings. "Even if you don't agree with me," he concluded with a grin, "I know you love me. As I do you, even if I don't agree with you." Vintage Duncan, when all is said and done.

Retired dean, George Werner interposed at this time to give his own take on the Mark Lawrence affair, insisting that everything he had seen led him to the conclusion that the Presiding Bishop had gone out of her way to try and secure his confirmation at the first attempt. Bishop Duncan thanked him for his insights.

A short interlude on the budget followed, with only two observations from the floor; a pro-forma objection from progressives about reductions in social spending and one from your humble correspondent. Without going into details here (since no action was taken upon it) it irks me that, given we will be expecting our clergy to take marked cuts in salary in the next couple of years, that a similar gesture was not made by the leadership team of the diocese (or at least a freeze at the 2006 level of remuneration). To hear statements from the director of administration about bringing the episcopal salary into line with comparable jurisdictions also grated on me in the sense that most of the jurisdictions with which we want to be compared are in the Third World. Financial as well as theological expectations are surely going to have to change. Ah well, it's interesting being part of the awkward squad for a while.

Without further ado, Resolution One (to modify Pittsburgh's constitution) was brought to the floor. The rector of Ascension, Oakland stated that this move was the right course of action. "We will not be bullied," he said, "or sued or dialogued into submission." One of his clerical colleagues, who shared his theological concerns, mourned that there was no "third way" that is fully Windsor-compliant. We have not yet reached the tipping point, he insisted, "We are choosing to make our road across the wilderness in which we find ourselves." From Calvary, Harold Lewis expressed surprise at the many 'erroneous' views of what Calvary intended by its lawsuit. Calvary's perspective was merely one of concerted opposition to the "gay abandon" with which Bishop Duncan had sought to detach the diocese from The Episcopal Church since 2003. The present convention was merely another step on that road. A professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary described how she came to Anglicanism from the Salvation Army "looking for the Church." She feared for her daughters, she said, one of whom had become Orthodox and another of whom was refusing to be confirmed in the present mood of uncertainty. A lesbian member of Redeemer, by contrast, spoke of how her life had been transformed by the love shown her within the Church. Her parish, she said, was unanimous in opposing any sort of separation.

At this point, Resolution Two (seeking re-accession to The Episcopal Church's constitution and canons) was introduced as a substitute. The mover, Joan Gundersen, called the portrayals of the theology of the Episcopal Church leadership caricatures. She described how she had gone through a parish division as a child: "It is painful; no one escapes the pain." She believed there was a place at the table for conservatives and moderates as well as liberals. The rector of St. Martin's, Monroeville retorted by citing the cases of Pike and Spong and the failure to depose either for their pronouncements against orthodox Christian teaching. Today, he noted, the Presiding Bishop stood ready to depose the Bishop of Pittsburgh for standing for the orthodox faith. The substitute resolution was then voted upon and defeated and debate returned to consideration of Resolution One.

For the motion, Geoff Chapman, rector of St. Stephen's, Sewickley, spoke of the failure of the drive to bring about renewal in the Church that began in the 1970s. The resolution was, he said, "a desperate measure in a desperate time." On behalf of Calvary Church and Calvary Camp, Leslie Reimer invited conservatives to take a bold step and not to hide behind legal representations that confused many people as to what constituted the Episcopal Church. The rector of All Saints, Rosedale, indicted what he viewed as the principal contribution of Episcopal theologians today, namely "the metaphor of Jesus Christ." Such a metaphor, he said, saves no one. If nothing is done, authentic Christianity will continue to be coopted. A lay member of Calvary took issue with the way in which the theology of the Presiding Bishop had been denigrated and urged the Diocese to extend an invitation to her so that she might speak for herself. One of the most moving observations came from Jay Geisler, rector of St. Stephen's, McKeesport. Speaking in support of Resolution One, he nevertheless asked what Jesus would say of this gathering and would he not weep at the cost? The close was provided by Brad Wilson, rector of Fox Chapel Church. What is the opposite of catholic? he asked the delegates. Those tempted to answer Protestant would be wrong, for the opposite of catholic is sect. "The faith belongs to the whole church," and we do not have the right to change doctrine as we do discipline. On that note, debate was closed and the ballots were cast.

Today the constitution, tomorrow the canons. A chapter of Anglican history has closed. Who can predict what our future will be. Pray for us all in this tumultuous season!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pressing on by Day and by Dark: Thoughts on the 142nd Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

These are momentous days, our Bishop reminded us in his September 11 pastoral. The rubber has hit the road as Pittsburgh’s Episcopalians (if only for a little longer) take stock. As one who has spent the last two years chronicling 250 years of Anglican and Episcopal activity in southwestern Pennsylvania, there are times when this moment seems but the inevitable culmination of fifty years of national cultural shift and regional religious realignment. Today’s orthodox standard bearers (or, if you prefer, neo-Puritan revolutionaries) follow in the footsteps of Austin Pardue and the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer, Sam Shoemaker and the Pittsburgh Experiment, John Guest and Trinity School for Ministry, and others whose lives have shaped the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh: Festo Kivengere; George Stockhowe; John Howe; John Rodgers; Alden Hathaway. “We stand where we have always stood,” Bishop Duncan declares. It might be more accurate to say that the course set in the past half-century has remained broadly on trajectory, for renewal has been partial and growth has been impeded both by the poor demographics of the region and by human failing. Many in the Diocese share the Bishop’s theological concerns but heartily wish that he could confine himself to stating his views and refusing to allow any deviation from the apostolic faith within the boundaries of Pittsburgh. If this jurisdiction of the Church remains unsullied, so the argument runs, why compromise local relationships by bringing such divisiveness to a head?

In conversation with a clerical acquaintance last Sunday, I found myself reflecting on what I – as a voting delegate – am being called upon to endorse on Friday. I view the proposed amendments with considerable ambivalence; from a catholic perspective, they seem somewhat lacking. In some respects, the Bishop’s assertion that we stand where we have always stood is misleading. The leadership team, after all, admitted that they came to the conclusion that not to do anything would be more divisive than to act. Waiting in the wings are parishes like St. Stephen’s, Sewickley, ready to follow the example of Christ Church, Plano or the CANA churches. A holistic strategy that endeavors to keep one step ahead of parochial secession is offered as an alternative, yet that very admission speaks to our divided state. Can we really trust in Common Cause to remain common over the long haul? Can we be sure that those of us who secede will be of one mind as to our ultimate foreign affiliation? This may only be a preliminary step, but once that Pandora’s Box is opened, it may become all too apparent that orthodox unity is as fragmentary now as it was in the 1970s. And just around the corner, I don’t doubt, are a bunch of canon lawyers ready to take down the Diocese in the courts.

At the same time, I can’t help thinking of friends from Montana whom I first met at Hope and a Future in 2005. Then members of an Episcopal parish, they now belong to Christ Church Anglican in Butte, a mission of Uganda. They saw the writing on the wall and left without their property to begin the work of converting the world in another place. I ask myself, how catholic it is for those of us in hitherto ‘safe’ jurisdictions to praise them for their faith, yet offer them nothing in the way of institutional support. A few years ago it was accepted that an ACN bishop who offered pastoral care to such a group was likely to find himself facing a presentment for boundary crossing; hence, the African ‘incursions.’ It does not seem right that we should continue to stand apart from them indefinitely. The International Convocation was a good beginning, but it left such parishes isolated from their brethren still within The Episcopal Church. So on Friday, I expect to vote in favor of the proposed changes to constitution and canons, but I will do it without the conviction that I would wish at such a time as this. Not because I feel it is disloyal to my commitment to The Episcopal Church, for loyalty must be to doctrine as well as discipline, but because, in so doing, I have taken it upon myself to advance a course that will move American Anglicanism away from the catholic model that defined The Episcopal Church from the struggles of the 1870s to the struggles of the 1970s.

There has been much quoting of Tolkien by conservative Anglicans over the past few months. I am reminded of that moment when the Company has been divided and Aragorn must decide whether to follow Frodo and Sam or instead seek to rescue Merry and Pippin from their captors: “And now must I make a right choice and change the evil fate of this unhappy day . . . . My heart speaks clearly at last: the fate of the Bearer is in my hands no longer. The Company has played its part. Yet we that remain cannot forsake our companions while we have strength left. Come! We will go now. Leave all that can be spared behind! We will press on by day and dark!”

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Depth Perception

"He who has seen one cathedral ten times has seen something; he who has seen ten cathedrals once has seen but little; and he who has spent half an hour in each of a hundred cathedrals has seen nothing at all. Four hundred pictures all on a wall are four hundred times less interesting than one picture; and no one knows a café till he has gone there often enough to know the names of the waiters."

Sinclair Lewis, Dodsworth (New York: Signet Classics, 1967; orig, 1929), 201.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Provocative Perspective on Evangelicalism

Hardy certainly had an ability to summon up human identity in a pithy paragraph. One of the things I have learned from my time in Pittsburgh is the diversity of Evangelical identity. Even so, there are times and occasions when I find myself instinctively reacting against certain pronouncements by prominent Evangelicals, even when I fundamentally agree with the criticism they're making. I don't know many people who are exactly like old Mr. Clare, but this mindset, I suspect, is not extinct. All of which in no way is meant to imply that the rest of us don't have deficiencies for which we should atone.

"Old Mr. Clare was a clergyman of a type which, within the last twenty years, has well-nigh dropped out of contemporary life. A spiritual descendant in the direct line from Wycliff, Huss, Luther, Calvin, an Evangelical of the Evangelicals, a Conversionist, a man of Apostolic simplicity in life and thought, he had in his raw youth made up his mind once for all on the deeper questions of existence, and admitted no further reasoning on them thenceforward. He was regarded even by those of his own date and school of thinking as extreme; while, on the other hand, those totally opposed to him were unwillingly won to admiration for his thoroughness, and for the remarkable power he showed in dismissing all question as to principles in his energy for applying them. He loved Paul of Tarsus, liked St. John, hated St. James as much as he dared, and regarded with mixed feelings Timothy, Titus and Philemon. The New Testament was less a Christiad than a Pauliad to his intelligence - less an argument than an intoxication. His creed of determinism was such that it almost amounted, on its negative side, to a renunciative philosophy which had cousinship with that of Schopenhauer and Leopardi. He despised the Canons and Rubric, swore by the Articles, and deemed himself consistent through the whole category - which in a way he might have been. One thing he certainly was - sincere."

Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles (New York: Washington Square Press, 1966; orig. 1891), 168.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Episcopal Church Membership, 2005-2006

Titus One Nine has posted a link to the just-released figures on church membership

I thought I would post the several comments that I made on that site. (I added four additional non-ACN dioceses on Monday.)

A look at the ACN dioceses is instructive (even allowing for the fact that the graphs are hard to read). The only diocese that can feel a degree of satisfaction in fulfilling the Great Commission is that of South Carolina.

Financial giving is up everywhere except in Dallas (a marked drop since 2005).

Baptized membership is down everywhere except in Fort Worth and Springfield (an increase on 2005) and South Carolina (consistently up since 1997). Quincy fell from 2,800 in 2002 to 2,000 in 2006.

Worshipping attendance is steady in Central Florida, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh and South Carolina, down in Albany (since 2002), Quincy (since 2004), Rio Grande (since 2002), San Joaquin (since 2003), and Springfield (since 2002). Dallas reported a marked decline since 2005 (presumably the effect of the departure of Christ Church, Plano).

In some areas, of course, the general population trend is down, but we still need to be thinking in terms of what makes South Carolina (and perhaps some of the missionary parishes already out there) work, if we’re going to be successful in the post-realignment phase.

Percentage Change in Baptized Membership, 1996-2006 (Approximate Change in Number in Parentheses)

ACN Dioceses

Quincy -33% (-1,000)
Albany -20% (-5,000)
Springfield -17% (-1,000)
Pittsburgh -14% (-3,000)
Central Florida -5% (-2,000)

Dallas No change (grew during the 1990s, then fell back)
San Joaquin No change (grew during the 1990s, then fell back)
Fort Worth +5% (+1,000)
Rio Grande +7% (+1,000)
South Carolina +18% (+6,000)

Selected Non-ACN Dioceses

Pennsylvania -17% (-10,000)
Newark -17% (-6,000)
New Hampshire -17% (-3,000)
Connecticut -15% (-12,000)

Florida -12% (-4,000)
Los Angeles -10% (-7,000)
Southern Ohio -8% (-2,000)
Virginia -4% (-3,000)

Upper South Carolina No change
Nevada +7% (+400)

There appears to have been a decline in Nevada between 2005 and 2006, for whatever reason. One further point to note about the above figures. The distinction between loss and gain seems largely to be one of Rustbelt decline and Sunbelt growth. Two ACN dioceses stand out from this trend, however. Albany’s numerical loss is high and its percentage loss is higher than for Pennsylvania or Newark. Central Florida bucks the Sunbelt trend and posts a loss (perhaps what is happening next door is having a ricochet effect).

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lead, Kindly Light

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
which I Have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path, Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Savior, lead me home in childlike faith, home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

The Parish Conversation Begins

Today we initiated the process which all parishes in the Diocese of Pittsburgh must undergo before diocesan convention meets forty days from now. In many respects, it was an instructive commentary on how our small parish family differs both from those parishes whose congregations are theologically coherent (either in a reappraising or a reasserting direction) and those that are focused solely on their parish life. While our clergy make no secret of the fact that they will preach and teach the "orthodox Gospel," the congregation includes ACN staff and seminarians from Trinity School for Ministry together with long-standing members who would count themselves committed to The Episcopal Church. It is debatable, however, whether it would be fair to call the latter's theology strictly "progressive;" for the most part, a Pittsburgh progressive would be viewed as a moderate or even a moderate conservative in most dioceses. And then there's the fact that, by virtue of being Trinity Cathedral, we are the bishop's church and dependent on the diocese (as currently constituted) for parochial upkeep. That we function at all is testimony to the sacrifices so many parishioners make to keep outreach and hospitality ministries afloat. For those critical of the bishop's present course it must truly be a sacrificial ministry to (for example) serve on the altar guild when Common Cause services occur, yet many of them do; in their place, I'm not certain I could do it with such grace.

Our provost discussed the amendments proposed for November regarding the accession clause to the national constitution (which include a progressive-sponsored amendment that would remove any qualification to our accession). She spoke to Trinity Cathedral's identity as a downtown church "open and accessible to all," a heavily pertinent phrase given the many homeless people to whom our clergy and laypeople minister. She emphasized that she would continue to recognize the diversity of viewpoints in the congregation but would not accept any clergy person onto her staff unwilling to uphold the "orthodox Gospel." She instanced a refusal to authorize any blessing of same-sex unions as one criterion for this - to which one member responded that this had never occurred at Trinity - while pledging pastoral care to any and all who sought it. She also noted that despite past tensions with the diocesan leadership, Trinity had benefited significantly from diocesan grants in recent years for a new sound system, support for her assistant and funds from Celebrate 250 for cleaning the exterior of the Cathedral. Discussion then proceeded to a paper prepared by the rector of Fox Chapel Church on the four options open to the Diocese ranging from absolute submission to diocesan departure (all, interestingly enough, likely to involve the loss of members and funds - there is no 'safe' option). The present lawsuit initiated by Calvary Church (an entirely local affair to which the national church is - as yet - not a party) is costing the Diocese $30,000 a month and is likely to run in the neighborhood of $500,000 by the time it comes to trial.

Throughout the discussion, a degree of civility was shown by all parties, which, one feels, could profitably be employed elsewhere in the Church. Of course, this may be because we are not really concerned - rightly or wrongly - with trying to convince the other side of deep doctrinal error, though we still pray for a miracle in the midst of uncertainty. One parishioner asked bluntly what reason there was - aside from a purely financial one - in trying to stay together when relations had become so bad. She noted that in the town in which she had grown up several of the local Protestant churches had divided over doctrinal issues and had emerged as independent entities better focused on their mission of saving the lost as a result. This is, of course, the classic American Protestant model and the present leaders of CANA and AMIA seem desirous of proving the truth of her statement. Whether it will turn out to be true in the long term remains to be seen. The founders of the Reformed Episcopal Church were similarly optimistic during the 1870s. Other members spoke to the importance of history and tradition in the Episcopal experience and to a commitment to catholicity in its widest sense as reasons why Christians might shrink from separation until the eleventh hour.

Some more conservative members of the congregation who are comparatively new to the Episcopal/Anglican scene warned against a premature rush towards schism. Setting up a new entity to preserve doctrinal purity, they said, was not always as effective at changing the surrounding culture as one might think. "There's got to be some middle ground," one remarked. The senior warden added that nothing currently going on outside the Cathedral was as important as what was taking place within it in terms of worship, fellowship and ministry, though this did not free us from making a decision when a concrete issue was presented. Such a decision would be one for every member as well as for the Cathedral as a corporate unit. All agreed with the remark of one parishioner, who has no desire to see the congregation divide, that the present divisions are not allowing us to move forward in mission, but the question remains as to how to break the logjam.

Given today's announcement of the pending resignation of the Bishop Steenson of the Diocese of the Rio Grande (over concern about the present course of The Episcopal Church) the prospects look far from promising. What I do believe - and said as much at the meeting - is that the rationale for seeking to retain buildings should be predicated upon a congregation's ability to maintain them independently. Absent a negotiated settlement (either diocesan or national), the ultimate obligation of Communion conservatives at Trinity Cathedral is to withdraw if matters look set to go to law. It is no part of Christian stewardship to go into court to try and retain a structure that we cannot presently sustain. The fact that it is the bishop's seat does not, to my mind, make any difference. Perhaps the plurality of Common Cause bishops is actually a good thing. With fewer congregations, bishops may be able to focus more on direct pastoral oversight as their administrative responsibilities decline.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Building Day by Day

We are building in sorrow, and building in joy,
A temple the world cannot see;
But we know it will stand if we found it on a rock,
Thro’ the ages of eternity.

Every deed forms a part in this building of ours,
That is done in the name of the Lord;
For the love that we show and the kindness we bestow,
He has promised us a bright reward.

Then be watchful and wise, let the temple we rear
Be one that no tempest can shock
For the Master has said, and He taught us in His Word,
We must build upon the solid rock.

Frances Jane Crosby (1820-1915)

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Footnote to Pittsburgh's Episcopal History: The Strange Case of Alfred Arundel

For those who imagine that tensions between bishops and clergy are a new phenomenon, let me offer you the case of Dr. Alfred Arundel. After twenty years of dedicated service to historic Trinity Church in Downtown Pittsburgh, the good doctor ‘retired,’ privately complaining that he had been eased out at the behest of well-to-do elements in the congregation who objected to his preoccupation with Christian Socialism. In July 1912, Arundel – who had maintained his canonical residence, despite leaving the diocese – accepted a call to St. Mark’s Church on Pittsburgh’s South Side. That call and Arundel’s acceptance of it were both roundly condemned by the then bishop of Pittsburgh, Cortlandt Whitehead. For almost a year, however, Arundel retained his position, much to the glee of the local press, who found irresistible the combination of colorful personalities, Socialism and ecclesiastical politics.

At some point, I hope to confide the details of the Arundel affair to paper, but for the moment I offer this document as illustrative of another period of existential angst in the life of the Episcopal Church. The author, George Guthrie, was a Pittsburgh lawyer and member of Calvary Church in East Liberty, who had been elected mayor of Pittsburgh in 1906 as the standard bearer of the civic reform faction (or, as Pittsburgh’s machine politicians bitterly called them, “that damned Calvary crowd.”) With Arundel already established at St. Mark’s, the bishop was keen to learn what steps he could take to deal with this case of clerical defiance in his own back yard.

Guthrie’s letter speaks to the political and legal culture of the Episcopal Church almost a century ago. It is interesting that Whitehead – like many other Episcopal bishops of his day (Edwin Lines of Newark was another such case) – was not particularly concerned by Arundel’s Christian Socialism. What bothered him was the latter’s lack of diplomacy with his congregation (a common failing among clerical Social Gospelers) as well as his defiance of the bishop within his diocese.

Thankfully, I am neither a civil nor a canon lawyer and consequently have no knowledge of how corporation law in the state of Pennsylvania has changed since 1912. What I find fascinating is how the relationship between parish and diocese is understood. Guthrie’s emphasis on the parish as the defining unit of the Church (at least in Pennsylvania) would seem to give the lie to the notion that, from the Episcopal Church’s formation in 1789, parishes were uniformly understood to fall under the authority of the diocesan structure. In Pennsylvania – for at least 125 years – they clearly did not, even if this principle was rarely tested in court. Short of a presentment – something Whitehead was clearly loath to pursue, as it would have been assumed to be a consequence of Arundel’s politics – the bishop could do nothing. Worse still, while St. Mark’s could be denied seating at the diocesan convention if that body so willed, Arundel could not.

In a certain sense, both parties in the present conflict might take something away from this little historical episode. Liberals would certainly identify with Arundel, though I’m not certain whether he would have identified with them (my acquaintance with a similar case in Newark in 1916 suggests that many Social Gospelers were fairly moralistic Progressives when it came to the family and sexuality). Guthrie’s advice – in the tradition of Gamaliel (Acts 5:38) – could also be seen as endorsing a call to ‘continue the conversation.’ As noted above, however, the document does seem to dispel the idea of a uniform conception of the nature of the Episcopal Church across the United States from 1789 to the present day. While there may have been efforts to codify uniformity – particularly since the Second World War – these cannot be said to have been in place from the beginning. All along, the Episcopal Church has struggled with a series of identity crises – liturgical, theological and geographic – which make appeals to the traditions of an ‘historic’ Church of the Early National Era of dubious utility.

September 7th, 1912

The Right Rev. Cortlandt Whitehead,

My dear Bishop

I am in receipt of your letter of 22nd ult. and have given it very careful consideration: I have also consulted with Mr. Burgwin on the questions involved.

Permit me to say that during the summer vacation I have thought a good deal about the technical questions to be decided and have on two or three occasions discussed them with chancellors of other dioceses without, however, exposing the particular case involved.

I will be very glad to go over the questions with you when you return; but in the meantime I think it proper to lay before you briefly the very serious difficulties which confront us.

As you will remember, I have resisted the fiction of canonical residence, by which a clergyman who has an actual physical residence in one diocese is permitted to claim a canonical residence in another in which he has no actual residence and where he has no employment or work, or connection of any kind, clerical or otherwise; but you will also remember that I was not able to convince you that I was right in my position.

If the fiction of canonical residence is to prevail, I am afraid that you are practically helpless in this matter, unless you are prepared to have formal charges made against the recalcitrant clergyman.

Having a canonical residence in this Diocese, he does not require your consent or approval to authorize him to take up any clerical employment which may be offered to him in it. Under the laws of the Church, your consent is necessary before a clergyman can acquire a canonical residence in your Diocese; but when your consent is given and he has acquired such residence, you have no power to prevent him from taking up some new clerical position.

We must also recognize the independence and the property rights of the parish involved under the Civil Laws of this State, so long as it does not violate any Canon of the Church.

Much of the difficulty and uncertainty we have with regard to the parishes of the Episcopal Church in this State comes from the fact that we have attempted to assimilate into our Church system some phraseology and functions of the English system of parish government without observing that in England these assimilated parts were not ecclesiastical, but municipal and governmental functions.

As an illustration: In England, as you know, the parish is, broadly speaking, the equivalent of our townships; and the vestrymen are simply those residents of the parish who have the right to sit in the vestry and vote on matters affecting what we would call “Township interests,” but what they call “Parish interests.”

The result has been a very confused situation.

In this State the parish is the unit in our Church system. It can be formed at any time by a voluntary association of individuals for that purpose, who, if they desire, can be incorporated or not as they see fit.

No preliminary authority is required from either the Bishop or the Convention, either for the formation or incorporation of a parish in this State.

The Parish in this State is not the child of the Convention. It does not require for its existence any authority from the Convention. It is not entitled to representation in the Diocesan Convention until its charter and by-laws have been approved by the Convention. But its existence and operation is not dependent on such recognition, so far as the civil law is concerned.

Pardon me if I emphasize the point by reference to another system with which we are both familiar.

In Masonry the seat of authority is in the Grand Master and the Grand Lodge. No Masonic Lodge can be constituted without the authority of the Grand Lodge and the action of the Grand Master; and when a Lodge so constituted dies its warrant and all its properties revert to the Grand Lodge.

There is nothing like this in the Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania.

The Bishop has “ecclesiastical” authority over the clergyman having canonical residence in his Diocese. He may also refuse to visit a parish whose conduct he disapproves; but he has no power to dissolve it or to interfere with the legal administration of its property.

One very peculiar thing in our system of parish government in this State is that generally speaking there is no selection of persons in admission to legal membership in a parish.

The vestry of a parish might refuse to rent a pew to an applicant, or to receive contributions from a particular person; but to do so would be an arbitrary act, and while in particular cases it might be a desirable thing to do, there is no specific warrant for such action. Moreover, if it did not meet with the approval of a majority of members, they could change the policy at the next parish election.

There isn’t anything in the laws of our Church which concerns the qualification of the members of a parish or regulates the right of selection over new members.

The clergyman may repel an evil-liver from communion, but that does not expel him from the parish.

There may be, however, some isolated parishes in which this question is covered by the by-laws; but such regulations are local. So far as the general laws of the Church are concerned a member of a parish is not even required to be baptized.

An acknowledged atheist, or acknowledged Mohammedan, might be a member of a parish with the right to participate in the management of its affairs.

If this recalcitrant clergyman is a canonical resident of the Diocese, he will, as soon as he takes up clerical work in it, be entitled, under the law, to a seat in the Diocesan Convention with all the rights of a member. He cannot be excluded except after trial and conviction on a proper charge. You can, of course, refuse to visit the parish; but so far as I can see that is the limit of your power.

As the church property belongs to the parish, I do not think that a bill for an injunction, as suggested by you, could be maintained by anybody but a member of the parish having a property right to be protected.

Finally, permit to say that even if you had the legal standing to prosecute a bill for an injunction, under the circumstances suggested by you, I doubt the expediency of it.

So long as they do not teach or practice things prohibited by the Canons of the Church, I think it would be a very dangerous step to attempt to interfere with their teaching any social doctrines, however clear we may be that such doctrines are false and improper. Certainly, I know that any such attempt would result in advertising these people and giving them a prominence which they do not deserve, but which is exactly what they seek.

Moreover, if an attempt were made and failed, even though for purely technical reasons, the effect on the public mind would be very disastrous.

As I understand the controversy, your objection to this man is not his teaching of the so-called “Christian Socialism,” (however much you object to it), but to his personal character. If he is to be resisted, it should be on the real ground.

His teachings, if false, will come to naught. They may have a temporary hold; but if false they will die out. The only danger which we have to fear in false theories of government is when the teaching is done in the dark and the advocacy of them is made an honorable badge of freedom.

I have written very fully, as I would like you to have these thoughts in your mind. On your return I will be very glad to go over them with you, and if I am wrong, will, of course, acknowledge my error.

I am,

Very sincerely yours,

George W. Guthrie

Source: Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, RG3/2.2, Box 3T

Friday, July 06, 2007

My contribution to the Vatican II debate

After a few months away from blogging (writing Pittsburgh's diocesan history has kept me fairly occupied), I am pleased to announce my small contribution to the historiography of the Second Vatican Council. Due to be released in December, The Road to Renewal takes the story of conciliar reform to the Great Plains and to the experience of one Catholic bishop in the heady days of the 1960s. Those whose interest is piqued may consult the catalog entry at

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Primates Communique

Well, one can hardly not post a document of this character. Whatever follows, this will be one of those defining 'pieces of paper' that will either shape the common life of Anglicans worldwide for generations to come or herald the beginning of the disintegration of the Anglican Communion as we know it. Monday was a time of dramatic emotional ebb and flow for those of us who sat glued to our computer screens waiting for a communique that was past due.

For those looking for swift and condign punishment, this is obviously not that for which they hoped. By the same token, it is not a pass for The Episcopal Church, as seemed quite possible at the end of last week.
Lambeth 1:10 is affirmed as the standard for human sexuality, a point already acknowledged in The Windsor Report. Section 24 of the Communique explicitly states: "The response of The Episcopal Church to the requests made at Dromantine has not persuaded this meeting that we are yet in a position to recognise that The Episcopal Church has mended its broken relationships." Trust is low among many of the primates that the resolutions passed at General Convention 2006 actually mean what they say. While external interventions in the life of the American Church are described as having exacerbated the situation, they are treated as being on a second order of magnitude to the original breaking of the bonds of affection in 2003.

The meat of the matter is in the Schedule, which only appeared after the text of the communique had been released (much to the chagrin of some bloggers). Interim care for the minority will now be assigned to a pastoral council with a majority of members nominated from outside the United States (two by the Primates, two by the Presiding Bishop and one by the Archbishop of Canterbury - if this is going to work adequately, then the latter must choose wisely and not repeat the fiasco that has been the Panel of Reference). This panel will monitor compliance and oversee pastoral care and a separate structure. Although it is agreed that the Presiding Bishop must approve (which probably rules out certain possibilities), it will be the bishops participating in the pastoral arrangement who will nominate the primatial vicar. However you look at it, this is a significant shift. The minority will thus have assurance of a leadership in whom they can put confidence and who will fight their corner.

Concurrently, a September 30 deadline is set for a unanimous response from the House of Bishops committing them to what was sought from the Windsor Report and at Dromantine. The debate is already beginning amongst the majority as to whether such a covenant can - or should - be given. So much hangs on what TEC decides to do now. The Presiding Bishop signed the communique, but she can hardly be happy about its priorities. Even if (as I do) one welcomes the idea of a Pastoral Council, it is intervention on an unprecedented scale. The Church will be changed by this. And if TEC declines to go along with this? Well the possibilities are many, but none are particularly pleasant to contemplate.

As an aside, I note that the faithful in Canada (most notably New Westminster) are not referenced directly. One would hope that they will receive some attention in due course.

The next few months are going to be extremely interesting.

Communiqué of the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam,
19th February 2007

1. We, the Primates and Moderators of the Anglican Communion, gathered for mutual consultation and prayer at Dar es Salaam between 15th and 19th February 2007 at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury and as guests of the Primate of Tanzania, Archbishop Donald Leo Mtetemela. The meeting convened in an atmosphere of mutual graciousness as the Primates sought together to seek the will of God for the future life of the Communion. We are grateful for the warm hospitality and generosity of Archbishop Donald and his Church members, many of whom have worked hard to ensure that our visit has been pleasant and comfortable, including our travel to Zanzibar on the Sunday.

2. The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed to our number fourteen new primates, and on the Wednesday before our meeting started, he led the new primates in an afternoon of discussion about their role. We give thanks for the ministry of those primates who have completed their term of office.

3. Over these days, we have also spent time in prayer and Bible Study, and reflected upon the wide range of mission and service undertaken across the Communion. While the tensions that we face as a Communion commanded our attention, the extensive discipleship of Anglicans across the world reminds us of our first task to respond to God’s call in Christ. We are grateful for the sustaining prayer which has been offered across the Communion as we meet.

4. On Sunday 18th February, we travelled to the island of Zanzibar, where we joined a celebration of the Holy Eucharist at Christ Church Cathedral, built on the site of the old slave market. The Archbishop of Canterbury preached, and commemorated the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the United Kingdom, which had begun a process that led to the abolition of the slave market in Zanzibar ninety years later. At that service, the Archbishop of Canterbury admitted Mrs Hellen Wangusa as the new Anglican Observer at the United Nations. We warmly welcome Hellen to her post.

5. We welcomed the presence of the President of Zanzibar at lunch on Sunday, and the opportunity for the Archbishop of Canterbury to meet with the President of Tanzania in the course of the meeting.

The Millennium Development Goals

6. We were delighted to hear from Mrs Wangusa about her vision for her post of Anglican Observer at the United Nations. She also spoke to us about the World Millennium Development Goals, while Archbishop Ndungane also spoke to us as Chair of the Task Team on Poverty and Trade, and the forthcoming conference on Towards Effective Anglican Mission in South Africa next month. We were inspired and challenged by these presentations.

Theological Education in the Anglican Communion

7. We also heard a report from Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables and Mrs Clare Amos on the work of the Primates’ Working Party on Theological Education in the Anglican Communion. The group has focussed on developing “grids” which set out the appropriate educational and developmental targets which can be applied in the education of those in ministry in the life of the Church. We warmly commend the work which the group is doing, especially on the work which reminds us that the role of the bishop is to enable the theological education of the clergy and laity of the diocese. We also welcome the scheme that the group has developed for the distribution of basic theological texts to our theological colleges across the world, the preparations for the Anglican Way Consultation in Singapore in May this year, and the appointment of three Regional Associates to work with the group. The primates affirmed the work of the Group, and urged study and reception of its work in the life of the Communion.

The Hermeneutics Project

8. We agreed to proceed with a worldwide study of hermeneutics (the methods of interpreting scripture). The primates have joined the Joint Standing Committee in asking the Anglican Communion Office to develop options for carrying the study forward following the Lambeth Conference in 2008. A report will be presented to the Joint Standing Committee next year.

Following through the Windsor Report

9. Since the controversial events of 2003, we have faced the reality of increased tension in the life of the Anglican Communion – tension so deep that the fabric of our common life together has been torn. The Windsor Report of 2004 described the Communion as suffering from an “illness”. This “illness” arises from a breakdown in the trust and mutual recognition of one another as faithful disciples of Christ, which should be among the first fruits of our Communion in Christ with one another.

10. The Windsor Report identified two threats to our common life: first, certain developments in the life and ministry of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada which challenged the standard of teaching on human sexuality articulated in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10; and second, interventions in the life of those Provinces which arose as reactions to the urgent pastoral needs that certain primates perceived. The Windsor Report did not see a “moral equivalence” between these events, since the cross-boundary interventions arose from a deep concern for the welfare of Anglicans in the face of innovation. Nevertheless both innovation and intervention are central factors placing strains on our common life. The Windsor Report recognised this (TWR Section D) and invited the Instruments of Communion [1] to call for a moratorium of such actions [2] .

11. What has been quite clear throughout this period is that the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 is the standard of teaching which is presupposed in the Windsor Report and from which the primates have worked. This restates the traditional teaching of the Christian Church that “in view of the teaching of Scripture, [the Conference] upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage”, and applies this to several areas which are discussed further below. The Primates have reaffirmed this teaching in all their recent meetings [3], and indicated how a change in the formal teaching of any one Province would indicate a departure from the standard upheld by the Communion as a whole.

12. At our last meeting in Dromantine, the primates called for certain actions to address the situation in our common life, and to address those challenges to the teaching of the Lambeth Resolution which had been raised by recent developments. Now in Dar es Salaam, we have had to give attention to the progress that has been made.

The Listening Process

13. The 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, committed the Provinces “to listen to the experience of homosexual persons” and called “all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals”. The initiation of this process of listening was requested formally by the Primates at Dromantine and commissioned by ACC-13. We received a report from Canon Philip Groves, the Facilitator of the Listening Process, on the progress of his work. We wish to affirm this work in collating various research studies, statements and other material from the Provinces. We look forward to this material being made more fully available across the Communion for study and reflection, and to the preparation of material to assist the bishops at 2008 Lambeth Conference.

The Panel of Reference

14. We are grateful to the retired Primate of Australia, Archbishop Peter Carnley for being with us to update us on the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference. This was established by the Archbishop in response to the request of the Primates at Dromantine “to supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions made by any churches” for “groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their Provinces” [4] . Archbishop Peter informed us of the careful work which this Panel undertakes on our behalf, although he pointed to the difficulty of the work with which it has been charged arising from the conflicted and polarised situations which the Panel must address on the basis of the slender resources which can be given to the work. We were grateful for his report, and for the work so far undertaken by the Panel.

The Anglican Covenant

15. Archbishop Drexel Gomez reported to us on the work of the Covenant Design Group. The Group met in Nassau last month, and has made substantial progress. We commend the Report of the Covenant Design Group for study and urge the Provinces to submit an initial response to the draft through the Anglican Communion Office by the end of 2007. In the meantime, we hope that the Anglican Communion Office will move in the near future to the publication of the minutes of the discussion that we have had, together with the minutes of the Joint Standing Committee’s discussion, so that some of the ideas and reflection that have already begun to emerge might assist and stimulate reflection throughout the Communion.

16. The proposal is that a revised draft will be discussed at the Lambeth Conference, so that the bishops may offer further reflections and contributions. Following a further round of consultation, a final text will be presented to ACC-14, and then, if adopted as definitive, offered to the Provinces for ratification. The covenant process will conclude when any definitive text is adopted or rejected finally through the synodical processes of the Provinces.

The Episcopal Church

17. At the heart of our tensions is the belief that The Episcopal Church [5] has departed from the standard of teaching on human sexuality accepted by the Communion in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 by consenting to the episcopal election of a candidate living in a committed same-sex relationship, and by permitting Rites of Blessing for same-sex unions. The episcopal ministry of a person living in a same-sex relationship is not acceptable to the majority of the Communion.

18. In 2005 the Primates asked The Episcopal Church to consider specific requests made by the Windsor Report [6]. On the first day of our meeting, we were joined by the members of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council as we considered the responses of the 75th General Convention. This is the first time that we have been joined by the Standing Committee at a Primates’ Meeting, and we welcome and commend the spirit of closer co-operation between the Instruments of Communion.

19. We are grateful for the comprehensive and clear report commissioned by the Joint Standing Committee. We heard from the Presiding Bishop and three other bishops [7] representing different perspectives within The Episcopal Church. Each spoke passionately about their understanding of the problems which The Episcopal Church faces, and possible ways forward. Each of the four, in their own way, looked to the Primates to assist The Episcopal Church. We are grateful to the Archbishop of Canterbury for enabling us on this occasion to hear directly this range of views.

20. We believe several factors must be faced together. First, the Episcopal Church has taken seriously the recommendations of the Windsor Report, and we express our gratitude for the consideration by the 75th General Convention.

21. However, secondly, we believe that there remains a lack of clarity about the stance of The Episcopal Church, especially its position on the authorisation of Rites of Blessing for persons living in same-sex unions. There appears to us to be an inconsistency between the position of General Convention and local pastoral provision. We recognise that the General Convention made no explicit resolution about such Rites and in fact declined to pursue resolutions which, if passed, could have led to the development and authorisation of them. However, we understand that local pastoral provision is made in some places for such blessings. It is the ambiguous stance of The Episcopal Church which causes concern among us.

22. The standard of teaching stated in Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 asserted that the Conference “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions”. The primates stated in their pastoral letter of May 2003,

“The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke for us all when he said that it is through liturgy that we express what we believe, and that there is no theological consensus about same sex unions. Therefore, we as a body cannot support the authorisation of such rites.”.

23. Further, some of us believe that Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention [8] does not in fact give the assurances requested in the Windsor Report.

24. The response of The Episcopal Church to the requests made at Dromantine has not persuaded this meeting that we are yet in a position to recognise that The Episcopal Church has mended its broken relationships.

25. It is also clear that a significant number of bishops, clergy and lay people in The Episcopal Church are committed to the proposals of the Windsor Report and the standard of teaching presupposed in it (cf paragraph 11). These faithful people feel great pain at what they perceive to be the failure of The Episcopal Church to adopt the Windsor proposals in full. They desire to find a way to remain in faithful fellowship with the Anglican Communion. They believe that they should have the liberty to practice and live by that expression of Anglican faith which they believe to be true. We are deeply concerned that so great has been the estrangement between some of the faithful and The Episcopal Church that this has led to recrimination, hostility and even to disputes in the civil courts.

26. The interventions by some of our number and by bishops of some Provinces, against the explicit recommendations of the Windsor Report, however well-intentioned, have exacerbated this situation. Furthermore, those Primates who have undertaken interventions do not feel that it is right to end those interventions until it becomes clear that sufficient provision has been made for the life of those persons.

27. A further complication is that a number of dioceses or their bishops have indicated, for a variety of reasons, that they are unable in conscience to accept the primacy of the Presiding Bishop in The Episcopal Church, and have requested the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates to consider making provision for some sort of alternative primatial ministry. At the same time we recognise that the Presiding Bishop has been duly elected in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, which must be respected.

28. These pastoral needs, together with the requests from those making presentations to this meeting, have moved us to consider how the primates might contribute to healing and reconciliation within The Episcopal Church and more broadly. We believe that it would be a tragedy if The Episcopal Church was to fracture, and we are committed to doing what we can to preserve and uphold its life. While we may support such processes, such change and development which is required must be generated within its own life.

The Future

29. We believe that the establishment of a Covenant for the Churches of the Anglican Communion in the longer term may lead to the trust required to re-establish our interdependent life. By making explicit what Anglicans mean by the “bonds of affection” and securing the commitment of each Province to those bonds, the structures of our common life can be articulated and enhanced.

30. However, an interim response is required in the period until the Covenant is secured. For there to be healing in the life of the Communion in the interim, it seems that the recommendations of the Windsor Report, as interpreted by the Primates’ Statement at Dromantine, are the most clear and comprehensive principles on which our common life may be re-established.

31. Three urgent needs exist. First, those of us who have lost trust in The Episcopal Church need to be re-assured that there is a genuine readiness in The Episcopal Church to embrace fully the recommendations of the Windsor Report.

32. Second, those of us who have intervened in other jurisdictions believe that we cannot abandon those who have appealed to us for pastoral care in situations in which they find themselves at odds with the normal jurisdiction. For interventions to cease, what is required in their view is a robust scheme of pastoral oversight to provide individuals and congregations alienated from The Episcopal Church with adequate space to flourish within the life of that church in the period leading up to the conclusion of the Covenant Process.

33. Third, the Presiding Bishop has reminded us that in The Episcopal Church there are those who have lost trust in the Primates and bishops of certain of our Provinces because they fear that they are all too ready to undermine or subvert the polity of The Episcopal Church. In their view, there is an urgent need to embrace the recommendations of the Windsor Report and to bring an end to all interventions.

34. Those who have intervened believe it would be inappropriate to bring an end to interventions until there is change in The Episcopal Church. Many in the House of Bishops are unlikely to commit themselves to further requests for clarity from the Primates unless they believe that actions that they perceive to undermine the polity of The Episcopal Church will be brought to an end. Through our discussions, the primates have become convinced that pastoral strategies are required to address these three urgent needs simultaneously.

35. Our discussions have drawn us into a much more detailed response than we would have thought necessary at the beginning of our meeting. But such is the imperative laid on us to seek reconciliation in the Church of Christ, that we have been emboldened to offer a number of recommendations. We have set these out in a Schedule to this statement. We offer them to the wider Communion, and in particular to the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in the hope that they will enable us to find a way forward together for the period leading up to the conclusion of the Covenant Process. We also hope that the provisions of this pastoral scheme will mean that no further interventions will be necessary since bishops within The Episcopal Church will themselves provide the extended episcopal ministry required.

Wider Application

36. The primates recognise that such pastoral needs as those considered here are not limited to The Episcopal Church alone. Nor do such pastoral needs arise only in relation to issues of human sexuality. The primates believe that until a covenant for the Anglican Communion is secured, it may be appropriate for the Instruments of Communion to request the use of this or a similar scheme in other contexts should urgent pastoral needs arise.


37. Throughout this meeting, the primates have worked and prayed for the healing and unity of the Anglican Communion. We also pray that the Anglican Communion may be renewed in its discipleship and mission in proclaiming the Gospel. We recognise that we have been wrestling with demanding and difficult issues and we commend the results of our deliberations to the prayers of the people. We do not underestimate the difficulties and heart-searching that our proposals will cause, but we believe that commitment to the ways forward which we propose can bring healing and reconciliation across the Communion.


1. Namely, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting.

2. Cf The Windsor Report and the Statement of the Primates at Dromantine.

3. Gramado, May 2003; Lambeth, October 2003; Dromantine, February 2005.

4. Dromantine Statement, paragraph 15.

5. The Episcopal Church is the name adopted by the Church formerly known as The Episcopal Church (USA). The Province operates across a number of nations, and decided that it was more true to its international nature not to use thedesignation USA. It should not be confused with those other Provinces and Churches of the Anglican Communion which share the name “Episcopal Church”.

6. (1) the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire, and for the consequences which followed, and that such an expression of regret would represent the desire of the Episcopal Church (USA) to remain within the Communion(2) the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges. (TWR §134)(3) we call for a moratorium on all such public Rites, and recommend that bishops who have authorised such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorisation. (TWR §144)A fourth request (TWR §135) was discharged by the presentation of The Episcopal Church made at ACC-13 in Nottingham, UK, in 2005.

7. Bishop Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh and Moderator of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes; Bishop Christopher Epting, Deputy for Ecumenical Affairs in The Episcopal Church; Bishop Bruce McPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, President of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice, and a member of the “Camp Allen” bishops.

8. Set out and discussed in the Report of the Communion Sub-Group presented at the Meeting.

The Key Recommendations of the Primates


The Primates recognise the urgency of the current situation and therefore emphasise the need to:

affirm the Windsor Report (TWR) and the standard of teaching commanding respect across the Communion (most recently expressed in Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference);
set in place a Covenant for the Anglican Communion;

encourage healing and reconciliation within The Episcopal Church, between The Episcopal Church and congregations alienated from it, and between The Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion;

respect the proper constitutional autonomy of all of the Churches of the Anglican Communion, while upholding the interdependent life and mutual responsibility of the Churches, and the responsibility of each to the Communion as a whole;

respond pastorally and provide for those groups alienated by recent developments in the Episcopal Church.

In order to address these foundations and apply them in the difficult situation which arises at present in The Episcopal Church, we recommend the following actions. The scheme proposed and the undertakings requested are intended to have force until the conclusion of the Covenant Process and a definitive statement of the position of The Episcopal Church with respect to the Covenant and its place within the life of the Communion, when some new provision may be required.

A Pastoral Council

The Primates will establish a Pastoral Council to act on behalf of the Primates in consultation with The Episcopal Church. This Council shall consist of up to five members: two nominated by the Primates, two by the Presiding Bishop, and a Primate of a Province of the Anglican Communion nominated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to chair the Council.

The Council will work in co-operation with The Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop and the leadership of the bishops participating in the scheme proposed below to negotiate the necessary structures for pastoral care which would meet the requests of the Windsor Report (TWR, §147–155) and the Primates’ requests in the Lambeth Statement of October 2003 [1];

authorise protocols for the functioning of such a scheme, including the criteria for participation of bishops, dioceses and congregations in the scheme;

assure the effectiveness of the structures for pastoral care;

liaise with those other primates of the Anglican Communion who currently have care of parishes to seek a secure way forward for those parishes within the scheme;

facilitate and encourage healing and reconciliation within The Episcopal Church, between The Episcopal Church and congregations alienated from it, and between The Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion (TWR, §156);

advise the Presiding Bishop and the Instruments of Communion;

monitor the response of The Episcopal Church to the Windsor Report;

consider whether any of the courses of action contemplated by the Windsor Report §157 should be applied to the life of The Episcopal Church or its bishops, and, if appropriate, to recommend such action to The Episcopal Church and its institutions and to the Instruments of Communion;
take whatever reasonable action is needed to give effect to this schemeand report to the Primates.

A Pastoral Scheme

We recognise that there are individuals, congregations and clergy, who in the current situation, feel unable to accept the direct ministry of their bishop or of the Presiding Bishop, and some of whom have sought the oversight of other jurisdictions.

We have received representations from a number of bishops of The Episcopal Church who have expressed a commitment to a number of principles set out in two recent letters [2] . We recognise that these bishops are taking those actions which they believe necessary to sustain full communion with the Anglican Communion.

We acknowledge and welcome the initiative of the Presiding Bishop to consent to appoint a Primatial Vicar.

On this basis, the Primates recommend that structures for pastoral care be established in conjunction with the Pastoral Council, to enable such individuals, congregations and clergy to exercise their ministries and congregational life within The Episcopal Church, and that
the Pastoral Council and the Presiding Bishop invite the bishops expressing a commitment to “the Camp Allen principles” [3], or as otherwise determined by the Pastoral Council, to participate in the pastoral scheme ;

in consultation with the Council and with the consent of the Presiding Bishop, those bishops who are part of the scheme will nominate a Primatial Vicar, who shall be responsible to the Council;
the Presiding Bishop in consultation with the Pastoral Council will delegate specific powers and duties to the Primatial Vicar.

Once this scheme of pastoral care is recognised to be fully operational, the Primates undertake to end all interventions. Congregations or parishes in current arrangements will negotiate their place within the structures of pastoral oversight set out above.

We believe that such a scheme is robust enough to function and provide sufficient space for those who are unable to accept the direct ministry of their bishop or the Presiding Bishop to have a secure place within The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion until such time as the Covenant Process is complete. At that time, other provisions may become necessary.
Although there are particular difficulties associated with AMiA and CANA, the Pastoral Council should negotiate with them and the Primates currently ministering to them to find a place for them within these provisions. We believe that with goodwill this may be possible.

On Clarifying the Response to Windsor

The Primates recognise the seriousness with which The Episcopal Church addressed the requests of the Windsor Report put to it by the Primates at their Dromantine Meeting. They value and accept the apology and the request for forgiveness made [4]. While they appreciate the actions of the 75th General Convention which offer some affirmation of the Windsor Report and its recommendations, they deeply regret a lack of clarity about certain of those responses.
In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church 1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144); and2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134);unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134).

The Primates request that the answer of the House of Bishops is conveyed to the Primates by the Presiding Bishop by 30th September 2007.If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion.

On property disputes

The Primates urge the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation. We also urge both parties to give assurances that no steps will be taken to alienate property from The Episcopal Church without its consent or to deny the use of that property to those congregations.

Appendix One

“The Camp Allen Principles”

The commitments expressed in the letter of 22nd September 2006 were:

an acceptance of Lambeth 1998 Res. I.10 as expressing, on its given topic, the mind of the Communion to which we subject our own teaching and discipline;

an acceptance of the Windsor Report, as interpreted by the Primates at Dromantine, as outlining the Communion’s “way forward” for our own church’s reconciliation and witness within the Communion;

a personal acceptance by each of us of the particular recommendations made by the Windsor Report to ECUSA, and a pledge to comply with them;

a clear sense that General Convention 2006 did not adequately respond to the requests made of ECUSA by the Communion through the Windsor Report;

a clear belief that we faithfully represent ECUSA in accordance with this church’s Constitution and Canons, as properly interpreted by the Scripture and our historic faith and discipline;

a desire to provide a common witness through which faithful Anglican Episcopalians committed to our Communion life might join together for the renewal of our church and the furtherance of the mission of Christ Jesus.

The principles expressed in the letter of 11th January 2007 were:

1. It is our hope that you will explicitly recognize that we are in full communion with you in order to maintain the integrity of our ministries within our dioceses and the larger Church.2. We are prepared, among other things, to work with the Primates and with others in our American context to make provision for the varying needs of individuals, congregations, dioceses and clergy to continue to exercise their ministries as the Covenant process unfolds. This includes the needs of those seeking primatial ministry from outside the United States, those dioceses and parishes unable to accept the ordination of women, and congregations which sense they can no longer be inside the Episcopal Church.3. We are prepared to offer oversight, with the agreement of the local bishop, of congregations in dioceses whose bishops are not fully supportive of Communion teaching and discipline.4. We are prepared to offer oversight to congregations who are currently under foreign jurisdictions in consultation with the bishops and Primates involved.5. Finally, we respectfully request that the Primates address the issue of congregations within our dioceses seeking oversight in foreign jurisdictions. We are Communion-committed bishops and find the option of turning to foreign oversight presents anomalies which weaken our own diocesan familieis and places strains on the Communion as a whole.


1. Whilst we reaffirm the teaching of successive Lambeth Conferences that bishops must respect the autonomy and territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other than their own, we call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates (Lambeth, October 2003)

2. Namely, a letter of 22nd September 2006 to the Archbishop of Canterbury and a further letter of 11th 2007 to the Primates setting out a number of commitments and proposals. These commitments and principles are colloquially known as “the Camp Allen principles”. (see Appendix One)

3. As set out in Appendix One.

4. Resolved, That the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, mindful of “the repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ” (Windsor Report, paragraph 134), express its regret for straining the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003 and the consequences which followed; offer its sincerest apology to those within our Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion; and ask forgiveness as we seek to live into deeper levels of communion one with another. The Communion Sub-Group added the comment: “These words were not lightly offered, and should not be lighted received.”


Friday, February 16, 2007

Ecumenical Dialogue: An Older Paradigm?

This first appeared in Church History 74:2 (June 2005): 427.

Review: Thomas E. Fitzgerald, The Ecumenical Movement: An Introductory History (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004)

Comprehensive discussions of the ecumenical movement are few and far between, and Thomas Fitzgerald has helped to fill an important niche. Dr. Fitzgerald is well suited to comment on the phenomenon, as an Orthodox priest, church history professor, and former officer of the World Council of Churches. The ecumenical movement, as he defines it, is the "quest of Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Old Catholic, and most Protestant churches for reconciliation, and the restoration of their visible unity in faith, sacramental life, and witness in the world" (1). The search for this visible unity reflects an essential yearning for the undivided church. Ecumenism is distinct from interdenominational and interconfessional activity because it represents a higher end: the practical achievement of the unity that must describe the gathering of God’s faithful people, since nothing that is fully derived from God may be divided.

Fitzgerald first surveys the early church, with its message of universal salvation, and the Pauline assumption that truth and unity must go hand in hand. He notes the importance that the church fathers ascribed to visible unity and stresses that by the fourth century the patriarchates, while united in essence, diverged in language, theological emphasis, and liturgical custom. In analyzing the separation of the Oriental Orthodox churches, the division of Roman Catholicism from Orthodoxy, and the emergence of the Protestant churches during the sixteenth century, Fitzgerald emphasizes that all these separations occurred over an extended period of time and involved unhappy conjunctions of theological controversy and social and political discord. While acknowledging that these separations left lasting wounds, he maintains that division was by no means an inevitable result.

Fitzgerald then examines transnational ecumenism from the early nineteenth century to the present. The earliest ecumenical dialogue was embodied in such nondenominational groups as the Evangelical Alliance and the World Student Christian Federation. This was followed by interdenominational interaction, and the role of the Orthodox Church, particularly its dialogues with Anglican theologians, receives good treatment here. The early twentieth century witnessed the rise of the "Life and Work" and "Faith and Order" movements, devoted to the removal of obstacles that stood in the way of unity in the life of the church, but also recognizing the attachment of believers to the historic churches. The story concludes with an account of the establishment of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1948, incorporating a new focus on the role of the laity and a Christocentric theology. In the wake of the 1968 WCC meeting at Uppsala, marked by the first attendance of Roman Catholic observers, social justice issues came to the fore in ecumenical discourse. Fitzgerald then turns his narrative to an exploration of ecumenical perspectives within the three largest Christian blocs--Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant--and concludes with an examination of the various bilateral and multilateral theological discussions that have taken place in recent years and a case study of ecumenism in the United States since the 1950s.

Fitzgerald’s study provides a very readable account of ecumenical developments over the past two hundred years, one that will undoubtedly provide the stimulus for greater research on more specialized topics. Of particular value to the Western reader is his consideration of the role of the Orthodox churches, a very necessary corrective to any model that divides ecumenical dialogue into a largely intra-Protestant conversation prior to 1962 and a call to dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council. He also has an extensive bibliography that will be of use to any scholar or student new to the topic, although it is regrettable that the combination of a lack of bibliographical subject categories and comparatively sparse footnotes makes it hard to determine which books may be most relevant.
Somewhat lacking from his account, however, is discussion of the First World/Third World ecumenical dichotomy discussed in Yacob Tesfai’s Liberation and Orthodoxy: The Promise and Failures of Interconfessional Dialogue (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996), and Philip Jenkins’s The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002). Both note the shift of Christendom’s center of gravity from the Global North to the Global South, but while Tesfai stresses Third World detachment from the "doctrinal" ecumenical movement in favor of "justice" for the downtrodden, Jenkins reminds us that the tendency of African and Asian Christians to ignore denominational lines in their daily lives should not be confused with liberal positions on sexual morality or even the role of women in the church. Their "ecumenism" is hardly consonant with many of the positions advanced by First World advocates of liberation theology. In this context, Fitzgerald might profitably have addressed the contribution to ecumenism of the independent Bible and charismatic churches that dominate much of the Third World.

Fitzgerald might also have devoted greater attention to criticisms of the World Council of Churches (Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson, eds., In One Body through the Cross: The Princeton Proposal for Christian Unity (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 2003), 24-25). While he acknowledges that tensions have always existed and continue to do so, his discussion is comparatively brief (119-21). Such matters as sexual morality (the solidarity manifested between evangelicals and Roman Catholics in opposing abortion is cited by the Princeton Proposal as a significant ecumenical achievement) and dialogue with non-Christian faiths would be appropriate topics. Questions might profitably be asked about the contribution of WCC administrators to the ecumenical debate. If bureaucrats can structure political discussions at the United Nations to advance their own agenda, it seems reasonable to assume that they exercise a similar influence over theological discussions at the WCC. Finally, greater attention might have been paid to the process of "reception" by individual churches of ecumenical documents like Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry, as Gillian Evans does in Method in Ecumenical Theology: The Lessons So Far (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 182-218. Although Fitzgerald addresses contemporary ecumenical initiatives (193-219), even a reader new to the topic could benefit from greater theological specificity.