Reaction to Primates Meeting

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Jude, Oct 17, 2003.

  1. Jude

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    Jan 11, 2001
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    The primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion concluded their meeting with
    Archbishop Rowan Williams at approximately 4 p.m. London, England, time and
    released a statement that reveals a crucial intervention in the affairs of
    North American Anglicanism. The statement is clear. The teaching of Lambeth has
    been upheld. No province has the right to move forward unilaterally from the
    teachings of the Lambeth Conference. Any province which departs from this
    teaching unilaterally jeopardizes the communion.

    The statement calls for the provision of adequate alternative Episcopal
    oversight to dissenting minorities in any diocese where these innovations have been
    instituted. Alternative Episcopal oversight will be under the direction of
    the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    The statement states with great clarity that these unilateral actions have 1)
    jeopardized the unity of the communion; 2) adversely effected ecumenical
    relationships; 3) hurt witness and mission in the Anglican tradition and 4)
    imperiled interfaith relations.

    The Bishop wishes to thank the people of the diocese for the fervency of
    their prayers and we thank God for what the primates have done.

    Below is the statement released by the primates:

    A Statement by the Primates of the Anglican Communion meeting in Lambeth
    Palace, Oct. 15 and 16, 2003

    [Episcopal News Service] The Primates of the Anglican Communion and the
    Moderators of the United Churches, meeting together at Lambeth Palace on the 15th
    and 16th October, 2003, wish to express our gratitude to the Archbishop of
    Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for calling us together in response to recent
    events in the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada, and the Episcopal Church (USA),
    and welcoming us into his home so that we might take counsel together, and to
    seek to discern, in an atmosphere of common prayer and worship, the will and
    guidance of the Holy Spirit for the common life of the thirty-eight provinces
    which constitute our Communion.

    At a time of tension, we have struggled at great cost with the issues before
    us, but have also been renewed and strengthened in our Communion with one
    another through our worship and study of the Bible. This has led us into a deeper
    commitment to work together, and we affirm our pride in the Anglican
    inheritance of faith and order and our firm desire to remain part of a Communion,
    where what we hold in common is much greater than that which divides us in
    proclaiming Good News to the world.

    At this time we feel the profound pain and uncertainty shared by others about
    our Christian discipleship in the light of controversial decisions by the
    Diocese of New Westminster to authorise a Public Rite of Blessing for those in
    committed same sex relationships, and by the 74th General Convention of the
    Episcopal Church (USA) to confirm the election of a priest in a committed same sex
    relationship to the office and work of a Bishop.

    These actions threaten the unity of our own Communion as well as our
    relationships with other parts of Christ's Church, our mission and witness, and our
    relations with other faiths, in a world already confused in areas of sexuality,
    morality and theology, and polarise Christian opinion.

    As Primates of our Communion seeking to exercise the "enhanced
    responsibility" entrusted to us by successive Lambeth Conferences, we re-affirm our common
    understanding of the centrality and authority of Scripture in determining the
    basis of our faith. Whilst we acknowledge a legitimate diversity of
    interpretation that arises in the Church, this diversity does not mean that some of us
    take the authority of Scripture more lightly than others. Nevertheless, each
    province needs to be aware of the possible effects of its interpretation of
    Scripture on the life of other provinces in the Communion. We commit ourselves
    afresh to mutual respect whilst seeking from the Lord a correct discernment of
    how God's Word speaks to us in our contemporary world.

    We also re-affirm the resolutions made by the bishops of the Anglican
    Communion gathered at the Lambeth Conference in 1998 on issues of human sexuality as
    having moral force and commanding the respect of the Communion as its present
    position on these issues. We commend the report of that Conference in its
    entirety to all members of the Anglican Communion, valuing especially its
    emphasis on the need "to listen to the experience of homosexual persons, and ... to
    assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and
    faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body
    of Christ"; and its acknowledgement of the need for ongoing study on questions
    of human sexuality.

    Therefore, as a body we deeply regret the actions of the Diocese of New
    Westminster and the Episcopal Church (USA) which appear to a number of provinces to
    have short-circuited that process, and could be perceived to alter
    unilaterally the teaching of the Anglican Communion on this issue. They do not. Whilst
    we recognise the juridical autonomy of each province in our Communion, the
    mutual interdependence of the provinces means that none has authority
    unilaterally to substitute an alternative teaching as if it were the teaching of the
    entire Anglican Communion. To this extent, therefore, we must make clear that
    recent actions in New Westminster and in the Episcopal Church (USA) do not
    express the mind of our Communion as a whole, and these decisions jeopardise our
    sacramental fellowship with each other. We have a particular concern for those
    who in all conscience feel bound to dissent from the teaching and practice of
    their province in such matters. 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.

    The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (USA) has explained to us the
    constitutional framework within which the election and confirmation of a new
    bishop in the Episcopal Church (USA) takes place. As Primates, it is not for us
    to pass judgement on the constitutional processes of another province. We
    recognise the sensitive balance between provincial autonomy and the expression of
    critical opinion by others on the internal actions of a province.
    Nevertheless, many Primates have pointed to the grave difficulties that this election
    has raised and will continue to raise. In most of our provinces the election of
    Canon Gene Robinson would not have been possible since his chosen lifestyle
    would give rise to a canonical impediment to his consecration as a bishop.

    If his consecration proceeds, we recognise that we have reached a crucial and
    critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to
    conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy. In this
    case, the ministry of this one bishop will not be recognised by most of the
    Anglican world, and many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of
    Communion with the Episcopal Church (USA). This will tear the fabric of our
    Communion at its deepest level, and may lead to further division on this and
    further issues as provinces have to decide in consequence whether they can
    remain in communion with provinces that choose not to break communion with the
    Episcopal Church (USA).

    Similar considerations apply to the situation pertaining in the Diocese of
    New Westminster. We have noted that the Lambeth Conference 1998 requested the
    Archbishop of Canterbury to establish a commission to consider his own role in
    maintaining communion within and between provinces when grave difficulties
    arise[1]. We ask him now to establish such a commission, but that its remit be
    extended to include urgent and deep theological and legal reflection on the way
    in which the dangers we have identified at this meeting will have to be
    addressed. We request that such a commission complete its work, at least in relation
    to the issues raised at this meeting, within twelve months.

    We urge our provinces not to act precipitately on these wider questions, but
    take time to share in this process of reflection and to consider their own
    constitutional requirements as individual provinces face up to potential

    Questions of the parity of our canon law, and the nature of the relationship
    between the laws of our provinces with one another have also been raised. We
    encourage the Network of Legal Advisers established by the Anglican
    Consultative Council, meeting in Hong Kong in 2002, to bring to completion the work which
    they have already begun on this question. It is clear that recent
    controversies have opened debates within the life of our Communion which will not be
    resolved until there has been a lengthy process of prayer, reflection and
    substantial work in and alongside the Commission which we have recommended. We pray
    that God will equip our Communion to be equal to the task and challenges
    which lie before it.

    "Now I appeal to the elders of your community, as a fellow elder and a
    witness to Christ's sufferings, and as one who has shared in the glory to be
    revealed: look after the flock of God whose shepherd you are." (1 Peter 5.1,2a)

    [1] In view of the very grave difficulties encountered in the internal
    affairs of some provinces of the Communion, [this conference] invites the Archbishop
    of Canterbury to appoint a commission to make recommendations to the Primates
    and the Anglican Consultative Council, as to the exceptional circumstances
    and conditions under which, and the means by which, it would be appropriate for
    him to exercise an extraordinary ministry of episcope (pastoral oversight),
    support and reconciliation with regard to the internal affairs of a province
    other than his own for the sake of maintaining communion with the said province
    and between the said province and the rest of the Anglican Communion. (IV.13.b)
  2. Jude

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    Jan 11, 2001
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    by William Wantland

    There is so much comment and confusion about the statement
    today of the Primates.

    It is important for us to understand the diplomatic language, but look beyond
    it to what was said. There were four major points made:

    1. The teaching of ECUSA and Canada do not represent the official
    teaching of the Anglican Communion, nor does any single Province have
    the authority to reject the official teaching of the Anglican
    Communion, found in the Resolutions of Lambeth Conference.

    2. For those minorities who cannot accept the erroneous teaching of
    the Churches in Canada or the U.S., there must be pastoral oversight,
    under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    3. The consecration of Gene Robinson will cause a break of communion,
    not only with those Provinces who oppose this erroneous teaching, but
    possibly with those Provinces which do not break communion with ECUSA.

    4. The commission called for by Lambeth 1998 should be established
    immediately, and must complete its work within 12 months.

    Other issues were raised, but we need to remember the extreme
    importance of what is asked in these four points.

    Be of good cheer!

    Bishop William Wantland is the retired Bishop of Eau Claire. He is retired
    and lives with his wife in Oklahoma.
  3. dumbox1

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    Dear Jude,

    Maybe it's because I'm not fluent in Anglican bishop-ese, or skilled in "looking beyond the diplomatic language to what was said," but as an outsider, I was a bit disappointed by the statement.

    Reading between the lines, my "gut" senses a hope that by the time the Commission completes its work in 12 months, things may have cooled off and the issue may have been forgotten by many. I hope my gut is wrong, though.

  4. Jude

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    Jan 11, 2001
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    I'm sure that Frank Griswold and his 'spinmeisters' are hoping that as well, but they, this time are wrong. The gathering in Dallas was a clear representation to the world that there is a substanstial number of conservative Anglicans in the US, and that are not going to 'take it any longer.' Read the following...


    Source: AAC News
    October 17, 2003

    -- American Anglican Council applauds bold stand of the mainstream Anglican Primates
    The worldwide Anglican leaders (Primates) yesterday sent a stern rebuke to the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) over the decision of its General Convention to give consent to the election of an actively homosexual man as bishop in New Hampshire.  The leaders said that they "deeply regret" ECUSA's actions and that the actions "do not express the mind of our Communion" but rather "jeopardize our sacramental fellowship with each other." They also warned that if ECUSA proceeds with the consecration, "many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of Communion with ECUSA" and that the consecration would "tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level."
    "The Anglican Primates have issued a clear rebuke to the leadership of the Episcopal Church," said the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, American Anglican Council (AAC) President.  "ECUSA has now been put on notice – with warnings. We are grateful for this action and applaud the mainstream Anglican Primates for boldly standing firm for the Gospel."
    In their statement the Primates re-affirmed the landmark 1998 Lambeth Conference resolutions on human sexuality, which said that homosexual practice is incompatible with scripture, and they commended the resolutions to the entire Anglican Communion, stating that the resolutions have "moral force."
    "In reaffirming the Lambeth Resolutions on human sexuality, the Primates have solidly affirmed that orthodox Episcopalians represent the mainstream of theology and practice in the Anglican Communion," said the Rev. Canon Martyn Minns, AAC Board member and Rector of Truro Church, Fairfax, VA. "The Primates stated clearly that Holy Scripture is central to the life and witness of the Anglican Communion."
    The Primates also signaled their commitment to insure that provinces such as ECUSA make "adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates."  This means that orthodox Episcopalians experiencing harassment for their beliefs would be able to receive appropriate pastoral care and oversight from non-hostile bishops instead of from their own diocesan bishop.
    Additionally, the Primates asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to establish a commission (as requested by the Lambeth 1998 conference) to "consider his own role in maintaining communion within and between provinces." But they further extended the duties of that commission to include "deep theological and legal reflection" on how the actions of ECUSA and other similar actions of Provinces or dioceses "will have to be addressed." The commission is to report back to the Primates within 12 months.
    "This commission represents the beginning of the development of a mechanism for discipline within the Anglican Communion," said Canon Anderson.  "This is an unprecedented but essential step that will help insure that provinces will no longer be able to shatter the Communion with reckless unilateral and unbiblical actions." 
    In the wake of the release of the Primates' statement, the American Anglican Council praised the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams.
    "The Archbishop of Canterbury has shown a deep commitment to lead the Anglican Communion in affirming both received truth and Gospel unity," said the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh and Chairman of the AAC Bishops Network. "The AAC is grateful for Archbishop Williams' leadership and we continue to pray for healing in our Church."
    The AAC Board of Directors will convene next week for a special meeting to begin to assess how the Primates statement will impact orthodox parishes and dioceses in the Episcopal Church.
  5. Yelsew

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    By the title of this topic, this sounds like "monkey business"!
  6. BobRyan

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    Aug 27, 2002
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    Well for once I have to agree with them.

    #1. However - that same group has also observed that the doctrines of evolutionism are incompatible with scripture - and then had scripture take a back seat to them. Humanism over the integrity of the "details" of the Genesis "account".

    #2. Why wouldn't we expect to see the same result for the case made in Romans 1 and Lev 18 regarding homosexuality?

    And if you don't see a connection - consider this - if evolution is true - then the morals you select for part 2 above - are truly "relative". Each evolved person makes his own truth with equal validity. It is simply "humanism again" coming into conflict with the teachings of scripture.

    In Christ,

  7. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    Feb 25, 2003
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    The Primates' statement in many respects represents a victory for the conservatives/ evangelicals, in that it throws down the gauntlet to NH to consecrate Gene Robinson on Nov 2 "if you dare". NH has retorted robustly to this 'threat', so it looks as if a split is inevitable post Nov 2. The real question is which faction will leave and which will stay? Personally I think the evangelicals should leave (and become Baptist congregations of course ;) :D ), certainly in the UK at least, in the tradition of good old separatism; they tend to be the parishes with the money so shouldn't have any difficulty setting up shop on their own. Also, the liberals need a bolthole. So, I predict a mass exodus of evangelicals, probably on the congregational rather than provincial level, leaving a liberal, pro-gay Anglican 'rump' (if you'll pardon the double entendre :eek: :D )

    Yours in Christ

  8. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    Feb 25, 2003
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    I think that that is an unfair reference to ++Rowan, the Hairy Primate!

    Yours in Christ


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