New U.S. Anglicans launch, to ban women, gays as bishops
By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY
Hundreds of formerly Episcopal parishes are meeting this week to unify as a new national church: the Anglican Church in North America.
Organizers, led by former Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh Robert Duncan, expect 300 delegates, including 50 bishops, in Bedford, Texas, for a three-day gathering that begins Monday. The group is scheduled to adopt church laws that will exclude women and homosexuals as bishops. It also is expected to elect and install Duncan as archbishop.
The new group, which says it represents 100,000 believers, calls itself a province, echoing the language of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the third largest Christian denomination. The Anglican Communion is a loosely governed collection of 38 regional and national churches, including the 2.1-million-member U.S. branch, the Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Church of Canada. However, it may take years for the new group to be recognized as a member of the Communion.
The Episcopal Church has been in turmoil for years over key issues such as whether the Bible allows gays or women to be clergy or bishops. In 2003 the Episcopal governing body ratified the election of an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Divisions deepened with the 2006 election of presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Duncan and other conservative leaders have urged about 10% of Episcopal Church parishes to align with archbishops in Africa and South America, the "Global South" where the majority of the world's 80 million Anglicans live now.
In 2008, The Episcopal Church removed Duncan from ministry. He immediately was claimed as a bishop by the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, in South America.
The new church will link eight groups, some founded decades ago, to emphasize biblical authority, church discipline and evangelical missionary outreach.
But once the Episcopal-Anglican split itself is no longer news, then what? asks Jim Naughton, canon for communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C., a liberal diocese that supports Robinson and Schori.
"There's already a crowded marketplace on the right wing of the American religious spectrum. I think the challenge is to move beyond the events that spawned them," says Naughton. Duncan, however, looks foward to the new church attracting anyone who seeks "the reliability of Scripture, the Catholic tradition and Pentecostal power. The Anglican Church bridges all three … If you see the love of Jesus in us, you will join."
The new church's proposed constitutional preamble, however, looks back with a swipe at the "those who have embraced erroneous teaching and who have rejected a repeated call to repentance."
And the governing structure for the Anglican Church in North America is designed to make sure that parishes and dioceses in the new church don't meander off with different biblical interpretations.
Bishops will have the final say in the choice of future bishops. Only men, and no gays, will be accepted.
Duncan says the church may continue to ordain women as deacons and priests. But pushing forward to name them as bishops, he says, is seen by the rest of the Anglican Communion as "a sad and arrogant American approach. The bishop is the symbol of the diocese and putting someone other dioceses do not recognize as capable of holding the office in the post is divisive in the international church."
The head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, is sending a "pastoral visitor" from his staff, says Duncan, which he says shows that "we are part of the family."
Williams himself will attend the Episcopal Church's governing meeting this summer to give a seminar on combating global poverty.
Jurisdictions that have joined together to form the 28 dioceses and dioceses-in-formation of the Anglican Church in North America are: the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin; the Anglican Mission in the Americas (including the Anglican Coalition in Canada); the Convocation of Anglicans in North America; the Anglican Network in Canada; the Reformed Episcopal Church; and the missionary initiatives of Kenya, Uganda, and South America's Southern Cone. The American Anglican Council and Forward in Faith North America also are founding organizations.
For those who opine that the US is headed towards “socialism” and then “communism,” I thought a few definitions of these words might be in order as well as the word “capitalism.” So with thanks to MSN Encarta:
so·cial·ism [ sṓshə lìzəm ] or So·cial·ism [ sṓshə lìzəm ] noun Definition: 1. political system of communal ownership: a political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles 2. movement based on socialism: a political movement based on principles of socialism, typically advocating an end to private property and to the exploitation of workers 3. stage between capitalism and communism: in Marxist theory, the stage after the proletarian revolution when a society is changing from capitalism to communism, marked by pay distributed according to work done rather than need
com·mu·nism [ kómmyə nìzzəm ] noun Definition: classless political system: the political theory or system in which all property and wealth is owned in a classless society by all the members of that society[Mid-19th century. < French communisme< commun "common" < Latin communis]
cap·i·tal·ism [ káppit'l ìzzəm ] noun Definition: free-market system: an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods, characterized by a free competitive market and motivation by profit
To those who receive a monthly Social Security check or government retirement and/or disability pension, it is a form of Socialism. So while you are decrying “socialism” and it’s evil ways, please return your money to the U.S. Treasury to pay down the national debt. Thank you.
With thanks to Brother John for fowarding this to me.
From the Pentecost Edition of The Anglican Digest.
Why I Come to the Altar of God
I come, not because I am worthy, but because I have sinned and fallen short of what, by God’s help, I might have been.
I Come, not that there is magic in partaking of Christ’s body and blood, but because of the Lord’s commend, “Do this for the remembrance.”
I come, because Christ bids me come. It is His table and He invites me.
I come, because here is portrayed the sacrifice of my Lord who gave Himself for me.
I come, because I find myself drawn closer to God, the Christ of Calvary, and to those who kneel with me at Holy Communion. Yes, I am made to feel my kinship to all those everywhere who proclaim Christ as Saviour.
I come, because I rise from the Lord’s Table with a new strength, courage, and power to live for Him who died for me.
I am also posting this prayer request on my blog as well as A/E and Facebook. Thanks so much for your prayers. Joan
Joan, I'm having computer problems with limited access right now, so would ask a favor of you if you don't mind.My daughter-in-law has gone on bed rest for the next two weeks. She is pregnant with my granddaughter and is due July 3. However, they are now talking about taking the baby as early as June 20. She has been small all along - in the 37th percentile - but her growth has dropped off. She is growing symmetrically, just very small.
Obviously, this is hard on all of us, so would you please post a prayer request on the Episcopal/Anglican Board for me? My computer will be out for repairs for a few days and I am working on a clunker until it comes back.
I subscribe to the theory, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" However, the gang in Washington has decreed that the digital TV conversion will take place on Friday. I understand the reasons why. But that doesn't help the fact that I had to buy a new TV yesterday.
In my kitchen is a little TV/radio combo... black and white TV that is!!! I just watch it while I'm cooking during meal times and to catch the news. My little set works perfectly for being an ancient ruin. I simply plug it on wherever I want to take it, turn it on and watch TV.
Yesterday that changed when I bought a new 19" TV. Sure it has all the bells and whistles and a DVD built in. And this was the LEAST complicated TV that I could find. The salesman assures my that it's a piece of cake to set up and oh by the way, don't forget to the buy the antenna. I wasn't going to add the TV to our cable. So home I trudge with TV and antenna.
I take out the quick and easy instruction sheet and start unpacking the box. Good Lord... it's got more parts than a 747!! The back of the set has some many plug holes, etc. and I'm like what the hell??
OK so now I grab the big instruction booklet and start reading from page 1. I'd like to think that I am a reasonably intelligent person. I understood the Spanish part of the booklet better then the English part and I don't even speak Spanish!! Frustration sets in... big time.
Time to call for help. Thankfully I have a very dear friend who works in tech support for a computer company. I call him with my tale of woe. He down loads the booklet for my TV to TRY to understand what I'm babbling about and to help. After much trial and error, the TV is set up. Then I have to deal with the antenna. More cursing and swearing... good ole military training is coming back in full force!!! Talked like a drunken sailor and cursed until I was red in the face. It doesn't do a damn thing for the TV or antenna but it sure made me feel better! My friend had not experienced my colorful language before and just roared with laughter.
Meanwhile, spousal unit who knows LESS about technology then I do wants to know what's going on and why don't I just call Comcast and add the TV to our account. Nevermind that this is the same person who tells me he doesn't want me to put it on the cable.
In frustration, I call Comcast. The tech just left the house! My TV is wonderful.... getting all my channels... life is good! The antenna gets returned to the store tomorrow.
Please dear God.... no more tech changes for me for a very long, long time!!
Church leaders appear to have vetoed a bishop-elect for the first time since the 1930s. But few opponents are celebrating.
Frank E. Lockwood in Little Rock, Arkansas posted 6/08/2009
Barring a last minute change of heart by opponents, it appears certain that Episcopal Church leaders have rejected the consecration of a bishop-elect who denies traditional Christian teachings about sin, salvation, and Christ's atoning death at Calvary.
Evangelicals inside and outside the Episcopal Church say they would have been concerned if Kevin Thew Forrester had been given a ceremonial shepherd's staff and a sacred charge to "feed and tend the flock of Christ" in the Diocese of Northern Michigan, where he was elected on February 21. But few are seeing the rejection as a cause to celebrate.
According to church rules, elections of bishops must be confirmed by a majority of the church's House of Bishops (though not all members are allowed to vote) and a majority of its 111 diocesan governing boards, known as standing committees. While the results will not be official until mid-July, a majority of standing committees have voted to withhold consent, according to a survey by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Unofficial surveys show the bishop-elect trailing badly among bishops as well.
Thew Forrester, who has rewritten the church's baptismal covenant, the Apostles' Creed, and the Book of Common Prayer's Easter Vigil liturgy to remove historic Christian doctrines, would be the first bishop-elect to be vetoed by denominational leaders since at least the 1930s, according to the church's Office of Communication.
The 2.3-million-member Episcopal Church has had bishops who have denied core Christian doctrines like the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection of Jesus. But the most prominent bishops to make such claims (such as John Shelby Spong and James Pike) reportedly did not do so until after they had been made bishop.
Critics on the theological left and the right said Thew Forrester's abandonment of church doctrine and liturgy, as contained in the Book of Common Prayer, placed him too far outside the mainstream to serve as a bishop and a successor to the Apostles.
Thew Forrester's rejection of atonement theology and his claims that the crucifixion was not the will of God were particularly troubling to some Episcopalians. According to Thew Forrester, Christ's blood doesn't wash away sin and Christ's death doesn't redeem and restore humanity. Jesus doesn't make us one with God, but simply reveals to us that we're already and always one with God, the bishop-elect maintains.
Such doctrinal innovations were too much for some bishops.
"There are a few things that are absolutely non-negotiable in the Christian faith because without them it ceases to be the Christian faith," said Bishop of West Texas Gary R. Lillibridge.
But a Thew Forrester supporter, Wyoming Bishop Bruce Caldwell, said Thew Forrester's theology "stretches us, but not to the point of breaking."
The bishop-elect defended his liturgical and theological changes, saying they reflected the "continually evolving" Christian faith.
"What we've done is quite responsible and appropriate, and indeed the church needs to do it in order to stay relevant in the 21st century," he said.
In addition to rejecting orthodox Christian teachings about the Cross, Thew Forrester denies that Satan exists, calls the Qur'an the Word of God, describes sin as being blind to our own goodness, and questions whether Jesus is truly the only begotten Son of God. A student of Zen Buddhism, Thew Forrester took Buddhist lay ordination vows and adopted a new Buddhist name—Genpo—meaning "way of universal wisdom."
Critics charged that Thew Forrester had also altered Christian liturgies to add Buddhist, Unitarian-Universalist, and New Age principles.
In a message posted on his blog, Bishop of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) Paul V. Marshall warned that the denomination's failure to uphold historic Christian teachings had made it an embarrassment.
"As a Church we are increasingly a laughing-stock … because we do not consistently proclaim a solid core, words as simple as 'all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,' yet 'God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself,'" Marshall wrote.
Thew Forrester's theological and liturgical innovations are too extreme for a majority of the Episcopal Church, said Greg Griffith, founder of the conservative Anglican website StandFirmInFaith.com. But that doesn't mean that the Episcopal Church is ready to embrace the faith once delivered to the saints, he added. "All the Episcopal Church has done is to say that someone who is clearly not a Christian may not be one of its bishops," Griffith said. "It may be history in the making, but it's hardly a grand or noble achievement, and certainly not a signal that the Episcopal Church is returning to orthodoxy."
Bill Carroll, rector at Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Athens, Ohio, says the vote may be a turning point for his denomination. "I think history will remember this as the point when the Episcopal Church began to show some backbone about basic Christian doctrine," he wrote in a comments thread at EpiscopalCafe.com. "For too long, we have allowed our respect for difference to mean anything goes. There are boundaries." [Emphasis mine.]
The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado says a legal dispute with 1,200 former members over church property has been resolved.
Diocese officials said Tuesday both sides agreed to uphold an El Paso County District judge's ruling that gave the property to the diocese in March.
"This has been a long, difficult and distressing dispute and we believe that this settlement is the first step towards reconciliation and healing," Lawrence R. Hitt II, chancellor of the diocese, said in a written statement.
The dispute began in 2007 after some members of the Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish in Colorado Springs broke away from the Episcopal Church. They joined the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a missionary diocese of the Church of Nigeria. Both sides contended they were the rightful owners of the Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish buildings.
The former Episcopal Church members left because they thought the national church was taking a liberal theological direction. They were also upset over the diocese's investigation of the parish's rector, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, who is suspected of taking thousands of dollars from his church and a trust fund to pay for his children's college education from 1999 to 2006. Armstrong, 60, has denied wrongdoing.
A grand jury indicted him last month on 20 counts of theft and he is free on $20,000 bail. Diocese officials also said Tuesday that both sides have agreed to dismiss all damage claims and that each side will pay its own attorneys' fees.
It has taken me awhile to get here but I do humbly and profusely apologize for any pain or hurt that I have caused you by my actions. It was not my intention. However, I realize that I did in fact cause you pain that you did not deserve. I am so sorry. I hope that you will find it in your heart to accept this apology.
Please know that you are in my daily prayers. Thank you.