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.


An Open Letter to Episcopal Clergy

"But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" (Romans 10:14-15)

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

In this passage from Romans, Paul is referring to the 52nd chapter of Isaiah. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes… salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”’ (Isaiah 52:7)

This is not just a reference to a messenger or a herald coming over the mountain with an announcement. This Good News is the salvation found in Jesus Christ.

How are they to call on him? How are they to believe in him? How are they to hear? The answer is that a preacher must be sent – one who will bring this Good News to the one who has not heard.

And the Good News is this – Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Messiah. He is my Saviour. He is the only Way to the Father. I have heard this message. I believe it, and it is the story that I tell anyone who will listen.

At the General Convention this year, a resolution was put forward reaffirming this understanding of the uniqueness of Jesus as Messiah. D058: Salvation through Christ Alone. It was relatively straightforward, with language straight out of John 14. Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Perhaps it was too clear because the Evangelism Committee voted to discharge it, an action which would prevent D058 from being discussed on the floor of the House of Deputies.

But, following a request for reconsideration, it did come up. From the discussion which followed, it was apparent that a diversity of opinion existed among the clergy and laity regarding Jesus as the only Way. In the end, the discharge was upheld by a vote of 675 to 242. More than seventy percent of the deputies present were unable to commit to salvation through Christ alone.

Think about this for a minute – more than 2/3 of the House, which includes over 400 ordained priests, were declaring that they are either unable or unwilling to proclaim without a doubt that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Which leads me to wonder – what are they preaching each Sunday from the pulpit?

Now just the other day, I read a piece in the News & Observer written by Lauren Stanley, in which she says that ‘many of us caught in the middle believe that neither side speaks for the rest of us…we don’t look at the world as black and white. We can see the justice on both sides of the sexuality debate. And most of us have no idea which side is correct.’

I can understand Miss Stanley’s dilemma --- up to a point. She is passionate about the mandate in Matthew 25 to heal the sick, house the homeless, clothe the naked, and feed the hungry. And as Christians, we are absolutely called to care for the ‘least of these.’ But often the poor we encounter are poor in spirit, hungry for the Truth, thirsty for the Living Water found in Christ alone. Are we not also to offer these folks a drink?

And the ‘middle’ to which she refers – that confused ‘Anglican middle’ who see the world as shades of gray – they are what I have come to call ‘the Anglican muddle.’

But here ’s the rub. Lauren Stanley is ordained...

Read the rest here.

Archbishop Bernard Malango: Henderson May Not Return

"The office of the Anglican Archbishop of Central Africa in Zomba has indicated that the decision to order Bishop James Mwenda to return to Zambia does not mean giving a chance for rejected British clergyman Paul Nicholas Henderson to head the Diocese of Lake Malawi.

"Provincial Secretary Eston Pembamoyo said Monday Mwenda had to leave the country to allow for neutral discussions between Anglican bishops in Malawi and the laity of the Lake Malawi on the way forward.

"Pembamoyo ruled out the possibility of reconsidering the diocese’s first choice, Henderson, who was rejected following allegations that he supported gay activities in the United Kingdom.

“Henderson’s case is a closed chapter. There is no way we can start discussing him again,” said Pembamoyo.

“After all, Mwenda’s contract has not been cancelled and if in the long analysis it transpires that he should not come back he will still be paid for the period he was going to serve as diocesan bishop,” said Pembamoyo.

"He said the other two Anglican bishops, James Tengatenga and Christopher Boyle, will meet the complainants to find out their concerns before inviting Archbishop Bernard Malango to agree on the future leadership of the diocese.

Read the rest here.

And this from a December article:

“Quite a number of people were doubting if Reverend Henderson is a man of sound faith and we have found that he is not, according to research by the Anglican Church,” said Malango.

More here.

Ruth Gledhill: Setback for Traditionalists

"THE Church of England will force traditionalists for the first time to accept that the ordination of women as priests and bishops is valid.

"In the first step towards women bishops, the General Synod voted yesterday to enforce a church law that upholds the ordination of all bishops, priests and deacons without exception.

"Until now, an Act of Synod has protected Anglican Catholics who refuse to accept the ordination of women as valid and allowed them to declare their parishes “no-go zones” for women priests.

"Traditionalists do not want women to have the power of ordination — something they would have as bishops — and have asked for a “third province”, in effect a church within a church, to ensure that apostolic succession in the Church remains “untainted” by women’s hands.

"Earlier this year bishops tried to draw up a plan that would have created havens for traditionalists, but their attempts collapsed in disarray. Yesterday the General Synod agreed in York to set up a new group to tackle the framing of the legislation for women bishops. The legislation will be voted on in about five years and will need a two-thirds majority to pass."

Read the rest in The Times (London).

Read also Ruth Gledhill's account of Days
One, Two, and Three.


Charlotte Allen Tells It Like It Is

This piece from Charlotte Allen is provoking lots of comments on the HOB/D listserv, and according to +Patrick Augustine, it's being widely distributed in the Islamic world.

"...You want to have gay sex? Be a female bishop? Change God's name to Sophia? Go ahead. The just-elected Episcopal presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, is a one-woman combination of all these things, having voted for Robinson, blessed same-sex couples in her Nevada diocese, prayed to a female Jesus at the Columbus convention and invited former Newark, N.J., bishop John Shelby Spong, famous for denying Christ's divinity, to address her priests.

"When a church doesn't take itself seriously, neither do its members. It is hard to believe that as recently as 1960, members of mainline churches — Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and the like — accounted for 40% of all American Protestants. Today, it's more like 12%...

"According to the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, in 1965, there were 3.4 million Episcopalians; now, there are 2.3 million. The number of Presbyterians fell from 4.3 million in 1965 to 2.5 million today. Compare that with 16 million members reported by the Southern Baptists.

"When your religion says "whatever" on doctrinal matters, regards Jesus as just another wise teacher, refuses on principle to evangelize and lets you do pretty much what you want, it's a short step to deciding that one of the things you don't want to do is get up on Sunday morning and go to church...

"Sociologist Rodney Stark ("The Rise of Christianity") and historian Philip Jenkins ("The Next Christendom") contend that the more demands, ethical and doctrinal, that a faith places upon its adherents, the deeper the adherents' commitment to that faith. Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, which preach biblical morality, have no trouble saying that Jesus is Lord, and they generally eschew women's ordination. The churches are growing robustly, both in the United States and around the world.

"Despite the fact that median Sunday attendance at Episcopal churches is 80 worshipers, the Episcopal Church, as a whole, is financially equipped to carry on for some time, thanks to its inventory of vintage real estate and huge endowments left over from the days (no more!) when it was the Republican Party at prayer. Furthermore, it has offset some of its demographic losses by attracting disaffected liberal Catholics and gays and lesbians. The less endowed Presbyterian Church USA is in deeper trouble. Just before its general assembly in Birmingham, it announced that it would eliminate 75 jobs to meet a $9.15-million budget cut at its headquarters, the third such round of job cuts in four years.

"The Episcopalians have smells, bells, needlework cushions and colorfully garbed, Catholic-looking bishops as draws, but who, under the present circumstances, wants to become a Presbyterian?

"Still, it must be galling to Episcopal liberals that many of the parishes and dioceses (including that of San Joaquin, Calif.) that want to pull out of the Episcopal Church USA are growing instead of shrinking, have live people in the pews who pay for the upkeep of their churches and don't have to rely on dead rich people. The 21-year-old Christ Church Episcopal in Plano, Texas, for example, is one of the largest Episcopal churches in the country. Its 2,200 worshipers on any given Sunday are about equal to the number of active Episcopalians in Jefferts Schori's entire Nevada diocese."

Read the rest here. More here at TitusOneNine.

One Convention, Two Views

Here's a letter to the editor in today's paper from a South Carolina priest who attended GC2006 as (I think) a visitor. I didn't have the pleasure of seeing this priest and his wife in Columbus.

Where was I? Oh, right, I was on the floor of the House of Deputies (for hours and hours each day) watching paint dry.

This letter is so interesting. It sounds like the author attended a different convention. For those of you who were in Columbus, does his experience match yours?

"My wife and I were privileged to attend the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church recently in Columbus, Ohio.

"We were impressed by the city and its convention facilities. We were elated to meet and greet fellow Episcopalians from throughout the country, and we were impressed with their serious attempts to be true to scripture in today's world. We were there for the presiding bishop's forum on reconciliation and heard several wonderful speakers, including John Danforth, an Episcopal priest and former U. S. senator and ambassador to the United Nations.

"We observed the clergy and lay delegates from each diocese deliberating and voting on the many resolutions and issues to come before the convention. We participated in a wide variety of liturgical worship services attended by thousands, which incorporated many styles of music, and were flavored with the diverse cultures and people who are in our communion.

"We heard many fine preachers, and we enjoyed the "table conversation" on the Bible lessons for each day with the people sitting with us. We watched and listened as the House of Bishops prayed, deliberated and voted on key issues...

Read the rest in today's Post and Courier.


Center Stage for a Pastor Where It's Rock that usually Rules

"At the Logan Square Auditorium here one recent night, Rob Bell arrived in a rock band tour bus and strode past posters for Cheap Sex, a punk band performing at the hall later this summer. Following a T-shirted bouncer through the sold-out crowd of about 450, Mr. Bell hopped onto the stage.

"Of his new secular venues, Mr. Bell said, "I just thought, What are the places my brother and I like to go to?" The answer: where bands play.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and earth," he began, without introduction. "Now, it's a very old book."

"This, Mr. Bell believes, is what church can look like. For the hall's bartenders, it was the start of a slow night.

"Mr. Bell, 35, is the pastor and founder of Mars Hill Bible Church, an independent evangelical congregation in Grandville, Mich., outside Grand Rapids. The church has a weekly attendance of 10,000 and meets in a former mall."

Read the rest in today's New York Times.

Church Marketing from the CofE

Another chuckle from Dave Walker at Cartoon Church.

For more tips on congregational development from the Church of England, visit this

Lauren Stanley: Caught in the Middle

To better understand the theology behind her point of view, see this piece from TitusOneNine (along with the comments it generated).

And today's article in The News and Observer:

"Many liberals in the Episcopal Church and throughout the Anglican Communion cheered the actions that took place in 2003 and, claiming that issues of human sexuality are issues of God's justice, want more support for gays and lesbians. We are radical prophets, they claim. If you don't like what we liberals are doing, be gone yourselves.

"Both conservatives and liberals have huge pulpits and use them loudly. Outsiders watching this debate cannot be blamed for thinking that all the Episcopal Church talks about, thinks about and acts on, is sex.

"But many of us caught in the middle believe that neither side speaks for the rest of us. Most Anglicans, both in the United States and throughout the world, do not believe that the core issue of our faith is sexuality. Most of us want to focus on preaching the Gospel, curing the sick, caring for the homeless, feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty.

"Of course, few listen to us in that vast middle, because we don't have big pulpits. And we don't speak in sound bites.

"We don't look at the world as black and white. We can see the justice on both sides of the sexuality debate. And most of us have no idea which side is correct."

This is exactly Rev. Stanley's problem.

Read the rest here.

CofE Gives the Nod to Women Bishops

"Proposals to bring the introduction of women bishops closer to reality have been backed by more than two-thirds of the Church of England's ruling body. The General Synod approved the concept of women bishops as "theologically justified" by 288 votes to 119.

"Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams will address the Synod on Monday to support setting up a legislative group to tackle the issue.

More from BBC News.

And from The Scotsman

LONDON (Reuters) - The Church of England voted on Saturday to ordain women as bishops, a major liberalising step in a faith that has also faced schism over homosexuality, although it could be years before the first woman bishop is named.

The church has ordained women as priests for a decade and one in six parish priests is now a woman. But the church maintained what critics called a "stained-glass ceiling" that prevented women from rising to the rank of bishop.

At their synod in York, the three "houses" of laity, priests and bishops each voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion that declared ordaining women bishops to be compatible with Church teaching.

"This means it is consonant with the faith," a spokesman for the synod said. But while the vote resolves the theological question, the Church must still amend its rules, a process that requires a two-thirds majority vote and could take years.

Opponents of woman bishops are holding out for compromise measures, like a proposal that would allow conservative parishes to secede from woman-run diocese.

The issue has been one of several that pit traditionalists against liberalisers within the world's 77-million-strong Anglican communion.

More here.


And Now for Something Completely Different...

Miss Prudence Dailey (Oxford) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:

Q46 Is the House aware of the pub in Paddington Railway Station named
The Mad Bishop and Bear, and can it shed any light on the identity of the mad bishop?

This is one of 65 questions which were asked this afternoon as part of the General Synod of the Church of England, meeting this weekend at the University of York. I am told that this system of questions is based on the Westminster parliamentary model and is aimed at stating or confirming policy rather than producing a resolution (known as a measure).

The questions are each numbered -- Q1, Q2, and so forth -- and they are preceded by the names of two persons, that of the inquirer along with the one who will give a reply. Here's an example:

The Archbishop of York to reply

Mrs Margaret Condick (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Presidents of the Archbishops’ Council:

Q42 In February 2004 this Synod requested that all future legislation of the Synod referring to offices should be drafted (where legal and drafting considerations permit) so that gender neutral language is employed. What is now being done to encourage the use of gender neutral language within our dioceses, deaneries and parochial church councils and their related committees?

Okay, so this question does sound a bit like those at the General Convention. But this is the General Synod of the Church of England, and so you'll note the absence of multiple resolves relating to this inquiry. It's a question, not a resolution.

For more information on General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England which meets twice each year, visit this page.

Now, are you ready for a demonstration of how this works? Here's the first question which was asked earlier today and which related to the Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division.

The Bishop of Sodor & Man to reply as a member of the Divisional Group.

Mr Roy Thompson (York) to ask the Chairman of the Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division:

Q1 What feedback has the Division had on the use of ‘trench arch drainage’ which is highly suitable for rural churches with low solids production but which can be rejected by a Building Control Officer in ignorance of the environmental benefits?

Now listen to this question being asked by Mr. Thompson (er, Crapper) and addressed to the Bishop of Sodor & Man. Listen to his entire answer.

Theo Hobson's Choice: Catholic or Liberal?

From The Guardian

Find out why Father Giles is irate.

"Deconstruction is a form of analysis in which the internal illusions and rhetorical habits of a cultural tradition are nakedly exposed, its age-old evasions and contradictions finally forced to the surface. As an intellectual sympathetic to postmodernism, it must give Rowan Williams a certain thrill to know that he is presiding over the deconstruction of Anglicanism.

"The essential development of the past few years is the discovery of the impossibility of liberal Anglicanism... What the current crisis has established beyond any doubt is that this liberal middle ground is dead and gone.

"Williams has learned this the hard way: that Catholics cannot afford to be liberals too. A Catholic has very publicly sacrificed his or her belief in the moral rightness of ordaining homosexuals, for the sake of the church's unity...

"Kierkegaard called this the teleological suspension of the ethical: committing a moral crime for the sake of a cause that transcends human morality. Williams is performing the ecclesiastical suspension of the ethical: renouncing the moral good for the sake of the unity of the Church. This is what a Catholic must do.

"The average liberal Anglican priest (let's call him Father Giles) is understandably irate. His former mentor is telling him that he must not push for the ordination of homosexuals while it endangers the church's unity. He must accept the fact that the institution he serves is, for now, structurally homophobic...

"This is what Catholicism demands, Williams is telling Father Giles - and Catholicism trumps liberalism... But Father Giles had always thought that Anglicans were free from this dilemma, that they had a looser concept of authority..."

Here's another piece from Hobson -- a liberal challenging others to 'come out' in You can't have it both ways

The Archbishop Repeats Himself

" the very least we must recognise that Anglicanism as we have experienced it has never been just a loose grouping of people who care to describe themselves as Anglicans but enjoy unconfined local liberties... That is why a concern for unity – for unity (I must repeat this yet again) as a means to living in the truth – is not about placing the survival of an institution above the demands of conscience. God forbid."

++Rowan Cantuar
, July 7, 2006

Church of England General Synod Opens Today

We interrupt this lazy Friday afternoon in America to bring you breaking news from the University of York where the General Synod is in full swing. Thank you, T19 and the Elves

More of today's agenda is available here.

Listen to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Address to General Synod on the Anglican Communion. Below are a few highlights.

"I am glad to have the opportunity of offering in these few minutes a very brief update on the current situation in the Anglican Communion, particularly in the light of the recent session of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention – which was, of course, attended by my brother Archbishop, who made an outstanding contribution to its discussions. The first thing to say is that the complex processes of Convention produced – perhaps predictably – a less than completely clear result.

"The final resolution relating to the consecration of practising gay persons as bishops owed a great deal to some last-minute work by the Presiding Bishop, who invoked his personal authority in a way that was obviously costly for him in order to make sure that there was some degree of recognisable response to the recommendations of the Windsor Report...

"However, as has become plain, the resolutions of Convention overall leave a number of unanswered questions, and there needs to be some careful disentangling of what they say and what they don’t say. This work is to be carried forward by a small group already appointed before Convention by the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC. And I have also written directly to every Primate to ask for a preliminary reaction from their province. The next Primates’ Meeting in February next year will digest what emerges from all this.

"You will be aware of a number of developments in the public arena in the last couple of weeks, notably the request from several US dioceses for some sort of direct primatial oversight from outside the US, preferably from Canterbury. This raises very large questions indeed; various consultations are going forward to clarify what is being asked and to reflect on possible implications.

"There has also been an announcement from Nigeria of the election by the Nigerian House of Bishops of an American cleric as a bishop to serve the Convocation of Nigerian Anglican congregations in the US. I have publicly stated my concern about this and some other cross-provincial activities...

"...this leads me to say a word about my own published reflections in the wake of General Convention. In spite of some interesting reporting and some slightly intemperate reaction, this contained no directives (I do not have authority to dictate policy to the provinces of the Communion) and no foreclosing of the character and content of such a covenant. Were any such arrangement to be proposed, it would of course have to be owned by the constitutional bodies governing Provinces.

Read the entire address here.


Hearing Voices in Central Florida

"A group of mainstream Episcopalians will meet in July to address the Central Florida diocesan Standing Committee's late June decision to seek alternative oversight from the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Standing Committee took action citing disagreement with 2003 and 2006 actions of the Episcopal Church's General Convention."

Read the Standing Committee's 'open letter' here.

"Episcopal Voices of Central Florida, a group of lay people and clergy from all regions of the diocese, which extends to both state coasts, will meet at 10 a.m. on July 29 at St. Richard's Episcopal Church in Winter Park to discuss the standing committee's action and to plan a course for the future.

Episcopal Voices is an organization in Central Florida dedicated to remaining in full support and union with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, according to their spokesperson, Donna Bott.

"We are extremely unhappy about the diocese's hasty decision which indicates an impending break with the Episcopal Church," said Bott. "A handful of people and the bishop have made a knee-jerk decision without thoughtfully consulting the membership of this diocese and seeking a wide consensus. Many people oppose breaking with the Episcopal Church, but our voices have not been considered in this action."

Is she serious? The Standing Committee in Central Florida took unilateral action? Aren't they an elected body representative of the diocese? She must have missed the reports from Columbus...

+Philip C. Linder Seeks Anglican Middle

The Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Columbia, South Carolina shares his perspective on the impasse he witnessed at the General Convention. He writes: "I was stunned to see these two extreme sides actually voting in unison for opposite purposes." Why is it so hard to imagine that South Carolina and Newark could find one thing on which to agree at convention? In the end, both dioceses remained steadfast, seeking absolute clarity, rather than an Anglican muddle.

"The Episcopal Church is certainly at a crossroads in its history, perhaps like none other since our beginnings at the founding of our nation and independence from Great Britain.

"Unlike so many of the predictions of our denomination’s demise, I believe that the Episcopal Church emerged from the 75th General Convention in Columbus, Ohio, with a stronger will, hope and vision for the future. I say this as one who was there as a deputy, fighting for her soul, representing the Diocese of Upper South Carolina. And I believe it is the very soul of our great Anglican heritage that is at stake.

"Three years ago, the 74th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, by consenting to the election of Gene Robinson — a partnered gay man — as bishop of New Hampshire, acted unilaterally and without regard for the challenge that this action would pose to the majority of Anglicans throughout the world. The ramifications were as immediate and severe as many had predicted.

"Above all, what was at stake was the mutual understanding that no member church of the Anglican Communion could on its own accord make such a decision and not expect it to have serious consequences for how that member church would be regarded in the fellowship.

"For the past year and a half, the bishop of Upper South Carolina, Dorsey Henderson, co-chaired the special commission that would offer at the convention a formal response to the Anglican Communion’s Windsor Report on the election of Mr. Robinson. This commission, which represented the broad spectrum of the Episcopal Church, offered a serious response to Windsor. However, during this same time many others worked to break up the Episcopal Church.

"On the floor of the House of Deputies in Columbus, I witnessed the extreme factions of our church — represented in the dioceses of Newark and South Carolina — working from the posture of extreme liberalism and extreme conservatism for the same purpose. I believe that their goal coming into convention was to fracture the Episcopal Church’s place in the Anglican Communion to suit their own objectives, and that breaks my heart. I was stunned to see these two extreme sides actually voting in unison for opposite purposes.
Neither Newark nor South Carolina was interested in coming to what Episcopal priest and former Sen. John Danforth claimed as the “higher calling of reconciliation” and consensus for the greater good of the church.

"Since the convention, this has been further proven in the proclamation of the Diocese of South Carolina that it could not be under the authority of new Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Newark, too, stayed true to form by naming an openly gay candidate as one of the four nominees for bishop within its diocese, thus defying the resolution of General Convention that asks dioceses to refrain from such nominations and elections.

"What is at stake here is the very soul of the Episcopal Church and Anglicanism..."

Read the rest in The State.

Two More Nominees in Newark

Episcopalians name 2 more nominees for bishop

"The Episcopal Diocese of Newark, which gained national attention last week by including a gay man among its four candidates for bishop, announced yesterday that two more candidates -- both heterosexual -- will be added to the ballot through a petition process.

"The new candidates are Newark's Assistant Bishop Carol Gallagher and the Rev. William Potter, rector of St. Luke's Church in Hope, Warren County, whose great-grandfather was bishop of New York.

"Gallagher and Potter made it to the ballot via petition of five clergy and five lay people, after not making the cut in recent deliberations of the diocese's nominating committee. Yesterday was the deadline for petitions.

"Last week, that same committee nominated the Rev. Michael Barlowe, 51, of San Francisco, who lives with his male partner of 24 years..."

Read the rest in the Newark Star-Ledger.

Considering having your marriage or life covenant blessed at St. Luke's Church in Newark? Fr. Potter gives you several choices, including a traditional BCP service, Covenant Blessing I, or Covenant Blessing II. Pay particular attention to the prayers in CBII.


Try the Parish Directory Test

Read this bit from Catholic legal scholar Robert P. George as he is asked to consider how followers of Christ can be 'a counterculture for the common good?'

Now replace the Trenton phone book with an average parish directory and swap the Princeton faculty for the House of Deputies, and you have a great way to explain the disparity between the folks in the pews each Sunday and those making critical decisions for the Episcopal Church.

CT: "Before we can talk about becoming a counterculture, we have to understand the culture. What's your reading of our culture right now?

RG: "I've argued in my book The Clash of Orthodoxies that the contemporary moment is marked by profound cultural division. We have a clash of two worldviews. On the one side are those who maintain traditional Judeo-Christian principles, such as the principle of the sanctity of human life, the principle that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, the principle that sex is integral to marriage but that sex ought not to be engaged in outside of marriage, and so forth.

"On the other side of the cultural divide are people who have abandoned those principles in favor of some alternative ideology. Often it celebrates personal autonomy and freedom from traditional moral constraints, mixed with certain utilitarian elements. Sometimes it manifests itself in radical forms of feminism or quasi-pantheistic forms of environmentalism.

"This division runs between elite and popular opinion. If I may borrow a concept from William F. Buckley Jr., consider what the results would be if we were to ask 800 members of the Princeton faculty about their views on abortion or homosexuality or other issues of that sort, and then make the same inquiry of the first 800 people in the Trenton, New Jersey, phone book.

"Interestingly, the Princeton faculty and people of Trenton are probably going to vote largely alike—for Democratic candidates—albeit for different reasons. But when it comes to morally charged political issues, you're going to get answers from the 800 people consulted in the Trenton phone book that would be similar to those answers that would be given by 800 people from north-central West Virginia (where I grew up) or from Kansas or New Mexico. Their answers would be very different from those that would be given by the Princeton faculty or the editorial boards of The New York Times or The Washington Post.

"That's what I call a clash of orthodoxies.

CT: Why do you call it that?"

Read the rest in Christianity Today.

Report from Nairobi

"The Anglican Church in Nigeria on Tuesday rejected a proposal to accommodate divisions over homosexuality, calling instead for liberal churches in North America to be removed from the religious world body.

"Last week in a message to Anglican Church leaders, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the global Anglican Church, Rowan Williams, called for a dual structure of "Constituent Churches" and "Churches in Association" as a means of preserving church unity threatened by divergent opinions between conservatives who oppose homosexuals in the church and liberals who support them.

"One would have expected that those who had embarked on this religious misadventure would be encouraged to judge their actions against our well-established historic tradition," the Church of Nigeria said in a statement on its website.

"A cancerous lump in the body should be excised if it has defied every known cure," the statement added.

"To attempt to condition the whole body to accommodate it will lead to the avoidable death of the patient."

Read the rest here.

More here from the Church of Nigeria.


Faith, Hope and Parity?

Yesterday, I referenced Alan Cooperman's recent article in the Washington Post regarding the election of ++KJS as the next Presiding Bishop. Toward the end of the article, the author notes that according to the Rt. Rev. Catherine Roskam, "women hold 3 percent of the leadership positions in the Anglican Communion."

Now this is one of my pet peeves -- the reader is given an unsubstantiated statistic.

I wonder if the suffragan bishop of New York can tell us how she arrived at the figure of 3 percent? Is she counting primarily female bishops in the 38 provinces of the Communion? Does this include female members of the Anglican Consultative Council? The membership of the Lambeth Commission?

What about the Daughters of the King, the Episcopal Church Women, and the Mothers' Union? Are these considered positions of leadership? Because they certainly are places of influence for women in the Anglican Communion.

But we aren't given a source, and so having established that a mere 3 percent of the leadership of the Communion are women, Roskam goes on to say that, "many women feel that were we represented even close to the percentage we have in the pews, we would not be having these divisions over human sexuality...Of course, women differ over sexuality. We just wouldn't be dividing over it."

This reminds me of the Jefferts Schori's response to a question posed by Christopher Sugden of Anglican Mainstream. Read about it in Doug LeBlanc's article in Christianity Today. Sugden said "the average Anglican believer today is an impoverished African woman, younger than 30, and an evangelical. How did Jefferts Schori think such a believer would respond to the Episcopal Church's advocacy on behalf of its gay and lesbian members?"

++KJS responded that she "likely would be focused on hunger, safe housing, unclean water, and providing for her children. Concerns about sexuality would appear only later in the hierarchy of need."

I absolutely agree that for the average African Anglican woman, meeting the basic needs of her children and her family would be paramount. A mother's first instinct is always to shelter and feed her children, sacrificing her own needs and desires to provide for them.

But we must never forget that the average African Anglican, male or female, lives in a world increasingly dominated by Islam. In Nigeria alone, according to the U.S. State Department, Christians account for about 40 percent of the population, contrasted with Sunni Muslims at more than 50 percent. This makes it more difficult to be an Anglican, and particularly dangerous to be an American missionary.

So let's go back to Bp. Roskam's supposition that, were there more women in Anglican leadership, we would not be dividing over issues of human sexuality. Well, let's see, according to Dr. Louie Crew, statistician extraordinaire of the Episcopal Church, women made up 42% of the House of Deputies in 2006. This is a record number, overtaking GC2003 (38.8%) and GC2000 (36%). And each convention has been trending toward more ordained women than the last. The voices of more women on the floor of the House of Deputies (and more female clergy).

And here we are, deeply divided on issues of human sexuality.

I do think that if we were to involve the Daughters of the King, the Episcopal Church Women, and the Mothers' Union worldwide in these legislative matters, we would indeed be in a very different place. Because these women, I believe, would carefully weigh a number of factors before making a decision which would rock the Communion. They would prayerfully consider Lambeth 1.10, the statements of the Primates, the Windsor Report, and the impact on our missionary witness throughout the world.

So perhaps we should listen to the voices of more Anglican women. I've heard from Bp. Roskam, from Dr. Jenny Te Paa, and from +Ruth Meyers. But I'd like to hear from real women -- mothers, missionaries, members of the choir and the altar guild. Because I've heard what the women in the 'institutional Church' have to say, and frankly, it's the same old song.

NYT: August 7, 2003

In an article in the New York Times at the close of the 2003 General Convention, it was noted that "prelates of the church tonight rejected a proposal to begin writing an official liturgy for the blessing of same-sex unions."

Those of us who were deputies in Minneapolis know that this is a carefully worded statement. Technically, no, the Episcopal Church would not officially sanction the blessing of same-sex unions. But ECUSA, and especially many of her bishops, would turn a blind eye to the rites taking place in their dioceses. And the number of blessings would greatly increase. Two openly gay men quoted in this article -- +Michael Hopkins and ++Otis Charles -- would have their unions blessed in the years to follow.

In retrospect, therefore, I read this comment from ++Gethin Hughes in a totally different way than I might have in 2003. Sounds like he is referring to a local-option policy, doesn't it?

'"This is best because those of you who have reached a further point of clarity can continue to do what you think is right in your area," said Bishop Gethin Hughes of the Diocese of San Diego. "For many of us who are still struggling," he said, there will be more time for sorting through the issues and coming to some answer together.'

A Look Back: Spong Addresses 2003 Clergy Conference in Nevada

"John Shelby Spong will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Christ Church Episcopal, 2000 S. Maryland Parkway. The lecture, which is open to the public, is titled 'God Beyond Theism.' Spong also will speak Sept. 6 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Reno. His Reno lecture is titled 'Jesus Beyond Incarnation.'

"Spong also will address the clergy of the Diocese of Nevada at a retreat in Lake Tahoe.

"'Bishop Spong continues to be one of the important voices for an intellectually involved Christian theology,' said the Right Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, bishop of the Diocese of Nevada. 'You may not agree with everything he says, but you will not come away from a meeting with him without having examined what you do believe and why.'"

Read the rest from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here. Subscription required.


A Rough Landing?

"To visit Episcopal parishes across her huge but sparsely populated Nevada diocese, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori pilots a small airplane. She often bumps down on tiny airstrips, but wherever her single-engine Cessna 172 lands, she is welcome.

"That's about to change."

Read the rest here.

Here's an interesting bit that mentions the genesis of her call to the priesthood.

"In her study of marine invertebrates, she said, she saw 'the great wonder and variety of creation.' And when federal research funds began to dry up in the 1980s, three members of her congregation in Corvallis, Ore., suggested she become a priest."

Hmmm. Hope that's not how she put it to the Commission on Ministry.

Cephalopods of the Northeastern Pacific Ocean?

If this whets your appetite for more, contact the librarian at Oregon State University for a copy of the 1983 dissertation of Katharine Jefferts (Schori) -- 305 pages on the Zoogeography and Systematics of Cephalopods of the Northeastern Pacific Ocean.

"Collections of cephalopods from the northeastern Pacific north of 20(DEGREES)N and east of 170(DEGREES)E were examined in order to elucidate zoogeographic patterns for the region. Sixty-four species were identified, including two new species of Gonatus. The distributions of Subarctic and Transitional (including California Current) species are now fairly well understood. Less clearly defined are the distributions of central and equatorial species. This is in great part due to the lower sampling density in those areas."

"In several instances, species have been identified for the first time from North Pacific waters, primarily within the central gyre. Ten pelagic distributional types are defined for cephalopods in this area; most coincide with water masses or portions or combinations thereof. In many cases, good correlation is seen with the work of others on other taxonomic groups. The relative abundance of cephalopods in main water mass types is considered, using diversity and evenness statistics. The central water mass is dominated by Enoploteuthidae, and the Subarctic by Gonatidae. The dominant taxa of the Transition Zone and California Current show a mixture of these two families..."

Source: Dissertation Abstracts Online

What does the PB-elect have in common with Mary Baker Eddy and Ellen White?

"When Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori this month became the head of the U.S. Episcopal Church, she wasn't just the first presiding bishop of that faith—she became the first woman in American history elected to lead a major Christian denomination.

"Although there have been influential religious women in the past, like the 1920s evangelist Amy Semple McPherson and modern-day megapreacher Joyce Meyer, only two other American women have reached the pinnacle of a religion's organizational chart: Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science in 1879, and Ellen White, who helped to found the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1863.

"So what, if anything, does Jefferts Schori's election mean for women seeking a similar path?"

Continued in the July 3rd issue of Newsweek


Food for Thought

"We will by God's grace worship not Father, Son and the Episcopal Church, or Father, Son and the Anglican Communion, but Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and it is only that Spirit that can deal with our self-righteousness and the spirit of revenge and self-pity which needs to be purged within ourselves."

The Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison, retired Bishop of South Carolina, on worship, as quoted in The Living Church, June 5, 2005

This was today's Food for Thought from the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham. To receive a gem like this in your mailbox each morning, visit the Advent to subscribe.