General Convention 2006

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Then I will go to the altar of God, and I will praise you . . . Psalm 43:3-4

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church
met in Columbus, Ohio from June 11-21, 2006.
This blog offers a view of the convention and beyond from the perspective of Lydia Evans, a two-time lay deputy from the Diocese of South Carolina.
Visit the links found below for additional resources
as well as pre- and post-convention coverage.
Thank you for remembering the convention deputies and their families in your prayers. For further resources, visit my webpages.
For all posts from the month of June, click here.
For all posts from the month of July, click here.


What They're Saying about The Statement from Lambeth

This post has been updated throughout the evening.

We've been watching the reaction so far today to the statement from ++Rowan Cantuar. Here’s a quick summary.

The (London) Times Online led with a relatively blunt headline – ‘Worldwide Anglican church to split over gay bishop’, with Ruth Gledhill noting that "the Archbishop of Canterbury has outlined plans to expel the Episcopal Church of the US from the worldwide Anglican Church…proposing a two-track Anglican Communion, with orthodox churches being accorded full, "constituent" membership and the rebel, pro-gay liberals being consigned to "associate" membership." Ruth Gledhill also weighed in on her daily blog.

The BBC opted for a softer approach, sort of an Archbishop-cum-Mister Rogers. The headline, ‘Archbishop raises idea of split’ makes it seem like a friendly suggestion – just an idea. BBC says that the +ABC “favours exploring a system of ‘associated’ Churches” and ‘constituent’ Churches, while acknowledging that those unwilling to enter into a covenant agreement would retain an historical relationship to Anglicanism, much like that of the Methodists.

'Williams Lays Out Two-Tier Membership for Anglicans' is the headline in Daniel Burke's piece for the Religion News Service. According to RNS, the Archbishop sees "the best way forward for the deeply divided Anglican churches" in the adoption of "a Communion-wide covenant and a two-track membership system."

Burke references a number of participants in the Episco-drama, including ACN Moderator ++Robert Duncan, and +Tobias Haller, a NY priest. He also notes the recent statements of Christ Church, Plano, and the Diocese of Fort Worth. Finally, he calls on the fount-of-all-knowledge, the Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Harmon of South Carolina, who says that, "Rowan has a way of standing above it all and trying to connect everything."

The headline from the Associated Press is ‘Archbishop of Canterbury recommends ‘covenant’ for Anglicans,’ and they noted that “feuding Anglicans [were] urged to work toward a structure for co-existing despite differences.” This article from the New York Blade Online, interprets the statement more strongly than I would have imagined, considering their readership is probably primarily LGBT. Their subtitle is “ Episcopals to be pushed out for ordaining openly gay bishop” characterizing today’s statement as a “plan to exclude the U.S. Episcopal Church.”

No matter how they spin this story, so far, everyone’s favorite quote seems to be the acknowledgment that “there is no way in which the Anglican Communion can remain unchanged by what is happening at the moment.”

‘Anglican leader proposes way forward over gay clergy row’ is the report from Agence France Presse, a news agency based in Paris. You can count on the French to lead with sex, can’t you? They note that the +ABC “raised the prospect of division…with those opposed to homosexual clergy and unions forming ‘associated’ or ‘constituent’ churches.” They noted that such an arrangement would remove direct decision-making, and compared it to the relationship which “exists between the Church of England and the Methodist Church.” This wire service, I think, really glossed over the substance of this morning’s letter, preferring to point to the “outrage within the Church” notably “among more conservative elements in Africa.”

Be sure to watch The Guardian for their take on this story. It’s bound to be interesting.

Here it is. The headline reads 'Williams admits church faces split over gay bishops.' The writer, Stephen Bates, acknowledges a probable restructuring of the Anglican Communion into a "looser federation of... central 'constituent' national churches willing to sign up to a full doctrinal covenant of shared beliefs," along with other "churches 'in association' but outside the constitutional structure, accepting some... Anglican beliefs and disciplines."

The outside perspective in the Guardian article comes from the Most Rev Andrew Hutchison, primate of the Canadian Anglican church, who was interviewed on Monday evening. Aware that the Canadian Church "might find itself in the outer circle as it moves towards the blessing of same-sex partnerships," Hutchison said: "If the covenant helps collaboration, absolutely. But if it is exclusionary and disciplinary, that would be utterly inappropriate and un-Anglican and something I would not favour at all."

The Guardian piece termed today's statement "an about-turn", noting that Williams "had previously indicated his opposition to the creation of a federal structure to replace the communion and stressed the need for both sides to work towards reconciliation."

The New York Times, with their headline 'Proposal by Anglican Leader Could Split Church', calls this a "defining moment in the Anglican Communion's civil war over homosexuality" which could "ultimately force the Episcopal Church USA to decide whether having gay bishops and same-sex union ceremonies is worth losing full membership in the Communion."

'Anglican View on Gays Close to an Ultimatum' is how the International Herald Tribune (Europe) put it, printing essentially the same article that ran in the NYT (with a byline by Laurie Goodstein). But what struck me in this article is the perspective from Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, gleaned during a telephone interview.

Kearon downplays the statement, saying that, "for the proposal to be enacted would take at least half a dozen major church meetings spread out over the next three to four years," and adding that "he did not regard the archbishop's proposal as a step toward schism, but rather as an attempt to clarify 'identity and common decision- making procedures.'

The Telegraph (UK) decided on ‘Archbishop of Canterbury plans Anglican split’ and told much the same story as we’ve seen elsewhere, noting that “the proposal comes after the US Episcopal Church, known for its liberal stance, failed to toe the conservative line on homosexuality last week as the majority of the Anglican Communion demanded.”

It’s interesting to see which photos of the +ABC that each site chooses to run. There’s quite a variety, ranging from the Kind, Fatherly Archbishop in the Purple Cassock to the Bushy Eyebrows-and-Beard (somewhat reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in The Shining) photo. Look for your favorite.


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