TEC Presiding Bishop & Arch Bishop of Canterbury reflect on GC-2009
July 28, 2009

Arch Bishop of Canterbury issues 26 point letter on future of Anglican Unity

In This Issue:
Presiding Bishop's letter to the church on General Convention
Arch Bishop R. Williams on "Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future"
Leadership of Diocese of SC Meet Today 7/28/09
EPISCOPAL FORUM SPRING CONFERENCE DVD AVAILABLE
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Presiding Bishop's letter to the church on General Convention
July 22, 2009-[Episcopal News Service]

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued a letter to the church about General Convention, which was held July 8-17 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. "Above all else, this Convention claimed God's mission as the heartbeat of The Episcopal Church," Jefferts Schori says.

ABSTRACTS From the full text of the Presiding Bishop's letter follows:

My brothers and sisters in Christ:

The 76th General Convention is now history, though it will likely take some time before we are all reasonably clear about what the results are.
………... The worship was stunning visually, musically, and liturgically, with provocative preaching and lively singing.
The budget adopted represents a significant curtailment of church-wide ministry efforts, in recognition of the economic realities of many dioceses and church endowments………………….

As a Church, we have deepened our commitments to mission and ministry with "the least of these" (Matthew 25). We included a budgetary commitment of 0.7% to the Millennium Development Goals…………

That is in addition to approximately 15% of the budget already committed to international development work………………………..

What captured the headlines across the secular media, however, had to do with two resolutions, the consequences of which were often misinterpreted or exaggerated. One, identified as D025, is titled "Anglican Communion: Commitment and Witness to Anglican Communion." It reaffirms our commitment to and desire to pursue mission with the Anglican Communion; reiterates our commitment to Listening Process urged by Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, and 1998; notes that our own participation in the listening process led General Convention in 2000 to "recognize that the baptized membership of The Episcopal Church includes same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships 'characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God'";
recognizes that ministry, both lay and ordained is being exercised by such persons in response to God's call; notes that the call to ordained ministry is God's call, is a mystery, and that the Church participates in that mystery through the process of discernment; acknowledges that the members of The Episcopal Church, and of the Anglican Communion, are not of one mind, and that faithful Christians disagree about some of these matters.

The other resolution that received a lot of press is C056, titled "Liturgies for Blessings." The text adopted was a substitute for the original, yet the title remains unchanged. It acknowledges changing circumstances in the U.S. and elsewhere, in that civil jurisdictions in some places permit marriage, civil unions, and/or domestic partnerships involving same-sex couples, that call for a pastoral response from this Church; asks the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, and the House of Bishops, to collect and develop theological and liturgical resources for such pastoral response, and report to the next General Convention; asks those bodies to invite comment and participation from other parts of this Church and the Anglican Communion; notes that bishops may provide generous pastoral responses to the needs of members of this Church; asks the Convention to honor the theological diversity of this Church in regard to matters of human sexuality.

The full text of both resolutions is available here: http://gc2009.org/ViewLegislation. I urge you to read them for yourself. Some have insisted that these resolutions repudiate our relationships with other members of the Anglican Communion. My sense is that we have been very clear that we value our relationships within and around the Communion, and seek to deepen them. My sense as well is that we cannot do that without being honest about who and where we are. We are obviously not of one mind, and likely will not be until Jesus returns in all his glory. We are called by God to continue to wrestle with the circumstances in which we live and move and have our being, and to do it as carefully and faithfully as we are able, in companionship with those who disagree vehemently and agree wholeheartedly. It is only in that wrestling that we, like Jacob, will begin to discern the leading of the Spirit and the blessing of relationship with God.

Above all else, this Convention claimed God's mission as the heartbeat of The Episcopal Church. I encourage every member of this Church to enter into conversation in your own congregation or diocese about God's mission, and where you and your faith community are being invited to enter more deeply into caring for your neighbors, the "least of these" whom Jesus befriends.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
Link to ENS - Episcopal news Service Source

Arch Bishop R. Williams on "Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future"
ABSTRACT of: Reflections on the Episcopal Church's 2009 General Convention from the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion:

1. No-one could be in any doubt about the eagerness of the Bishops and Deputies of the Episcopal Church at the General Convention to affirm their concern about the wider Anglican Communion. …………….. The relationship between the Episcopal Church and the wider Communion is a reality which needs continued engagement and encouragement.

2. However, a realistic assessment of what Convention has resolved does not suggest that it will repair the broken bridges into the life of other Anglican provinces; ………………….. The statement that the Resolutions are essentially 'descriptive' is helpful, but unlikely to allay anxieties.

3. There are two points which I believe need to be reiterated and thought through further, and it seems to fall to the Archbishop of Canterbury to try and articulate them. ………………………….

4. ……………….. Appeal is made to the fundamental human rights dimension of attitudes to LGBT people, and to the impossibility of betraying their proper expectations of a Christian body which has courageously supported them.

5. In response, it needs to be made absolutely clear that, on the basis of repeated statements at the highest levels of the Communion's life, no Anglican has any business reinforcing prejudice against LGBT people, questioning their human dignity and civil liberties or their place within the Body of Christ. Our overall record as a Communion has not been consistent in this respect and this needs to be acknowledged with penitence.

6. However, the issue is not simply about civil liberties or human ………………. It is about whether the Church is free to recognise same-sex unions by means of public blessings that are seen as being, at the very least, analogous to Christian marriage.

7. In the light of the way in which the Church has consistently read the Bible for the last two thousand years, it is clear that a positive answer to this question would have to be based on the most painstaking biblical exegesis and on a wide acceptance of the results within the Communion, with due account taken of the teachings of ecumenical partners also. A major change naturally needs a strong level of consensus and solid theological grounding.

8. This is not our situation in the Communion. Thus a blessing for a same-sex union cannot have the authority of the Church Catholic, or even of the Communion as a whole. And if this is the case, a person living in such a union is in the same case as a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond; whatever the human respect and pastoral sensitivity such persons must be given, their chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church's teaching sanctions, and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires.

9. In other words, the question is not a simple one of human rights or human dignity. It is that a certain choice of lifestyle has certain consequences. So long as the Church Catholic, or even the Communion as a whole does not bless same-sex unions, a person living in such a union cannot without serious incongruity have a representative function in a Church whose public teaching is at odds with their lifestyle. (There is also an unavoidable difficulty over whether someone belonging to a local church in which practice has been changed in respect of same-sex unions is able to represent the Communion's voice and perspective in, for example, international ecumenical encounters.)

10. This is not a matter that can be wholly determined by what society at large considers usual or acceptable or determines to be legal. Prejudice and violence against LGBT people are sinful and disgraceful when society at large is intolerant of such people; if the Church has echoed the harshness of the law and of popular bigotry – as it so often has done – and justified itself by pointing to what society took for granted, it has been wrong to do so. But on the same basis, if society changes its attitudes, that change does not of itself count as a reason for the Church to change its discipline.

11. The second issue is the broader one of how a local church makes up its mind on a sensitive and controversial matter. It is of the greatest importance to remember this aspect of the matter, so as not to be completely trapped in the particularly bitter and unpleasant atmosphere of the debate over sexuality, in which unexamined prejudice is still so much in evidence and accusations of bad faith and bigotry are so readily thrown around.

12. When a local church seeks to respond to a new question, to the challenge of possible change in its practice or discipline in the light of new facts, new pressures, or new contexts, as local churches have repeatedly sought to do, it needs some way of including in its discernment the judgement of the wider Church. Without this, it risks becoming unrecognisable to other local churches, pressing ahead with changes that render it strange to Christian sisters and brothers across the globe.

13. This is not some piece of modern bureaucratic absolutism, but the conviction of the Church from its very early days. The doctrine that 'what affects the communion of all should be decided by all' is a venerable principle. On some issues, there emerges a recognition that a particular new development is not of such significance that a high level of global agreement is desirable; in the language used by the Doctrinal Commission of the Communion, there is a recognition that in 'intensity, substance and extent' it is not of fundamental importance. But such a recognition cannot be wished into being by one local church alone. It takes time and a willingness to believe that what we determine together is more likely, in a New Testament framework, to be in tune with the Holy Spirit than what any one community decides locally.

14. Sometimes in Christian history, of course, that wider discernment has been very fallible, as with the history of the Chinese missions in the seventeenth century. But this should not lead us to ignore or minimise the opposite danger of so responding to local pressure or change that a local church simply becomes isolated and imprisoned in its own cultural environment.

15. There have never been universal and straightforward rules about this, and no-one is seeking a risk-free, simple organ of doctrinal decision for our Communion. In an age of vastly improved communication, we must make the best use we can of the means available for consultation and try to build into our decision-making processes ways of checking whether a new local development would have the effect of isolating a local church or making it less recognisable to others. This again has an ecumenical dimension when a global Christian body is involved in partnerships and discussions with other churches who will quite reasonably want to know who now speaks for the body they are relating to when a controversial local change occurs. The results of our ecumenical discussions are themselves important elements in shaping the theological vision within which we seek to resolve our own difficulties.

16. In recent years, local pastoral needs have been cited as the grounds for changes in the sacramental practice of particular local churches within the Communion, and theological rationales have been locally developed to defend and promote such changes. Lay presidency at the Holy Communion is one well-known instance. Another is the regular admission of the unbaptised to Holy Communion as a matter of public policy. Neither of these practices has been given straightforward official sanction as yet by any Anglican authorities at diocesan or provincial level, but the innovative practices concerned have a high degree of public support in some localities.

17. Clearly there are significant arguments to be had about such matters on the shared and agreed basis of Scripture, Tradition and reason. But it should be clear that an acceptance of these sorts of innovation in sacramental practice would represent a manifest change in both the teaching and the discipline of the Anglican tradition, such that it would be a fair question as to whether the new practice was in any way continuous with the old. Hence the question of 'recognisability' once again arises.

18. To accept without challenge the priority of local and pastoral factors in the case either of sexuality or of sacramental practice would be to abandon the possibility of a global consensus among the Anglican churches such as would continue to make sense of the shape and content of most of our ecumenical activity. It would be to re-conceive the Anglican Communion as essentially a loose federation of local bodies with a cultural history in common, rather than a theologically coherent 'community of Christian communities'.

19. As Anglicans, our membership of the Communion is an important part of our identity. However, some see this as best expressed in a more federalist and pluralist way. They would see this as the only appropriate language for a modern or indeed postmodern global fellowship of believers in which levels of diversity are bound to be high and the risks of centralisation and authoritarianism are the most worrying. There is nothing foolish or incoherent about this approach. But it is not the approach that has generally shaped the self-understanding of our Communion – less than ever in the last half-century, with new organs and instruments for the Communion's communication and governance and new enterprises in ecumenical co-operation.

20. The Covenant proposals of recent years have been a serious attempt to do justice to that aspect of Anglican history that has resisted mere federation. They seek structures that will express the need for mutual recognisability, mutual consultation and some shared processes of decision-making. They are emphatically not about centralisation but about mutual responsibility. They look to the possibility of a freely chosen commitment to sharing discernment (and also to a mutual respect for the integrity of each province, which is the point of the current appeal for a moratorium on cross-provincial pastoral interventions). They remain the only proposals we are likely to see that address some of the risks and confusions already detailed, encouraging us to act and decide in ways that are not simply local.

21. They have been criticised as 'exclusive' in intent. But their aim is not to shut anyone out – rather, in words used last year at the Lambeth Conference, to intensify existing relationships.

22. It is possible that some will not choose this way of intensifying relationships, though I pray that it will be persuasive. It would be a mistake to act or speak now as if those decisions had already been made – and of course approval of the final Covenant text is still awaited. For those whose vision is not shaped by the desire to intensify relationships in this particular way, or whose vision of the Communion is different, there is no threat of being cast into outer darkness – existing relationships will not be destroyed that easily. But it means that there is at least the possibility of a twofold ecclesial reality in view in the middle distance: that is, a 'covenanted' Anglican global body, fully sharing certain aspects of a vision of how the Church should be and behave, able to take part as a body in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue; and, related to this body, but in less formal ways with fewer formal expectations, there may be associated local churches in various kinds of mutual partnership and solidarity with one another and with 'covenanted' provinces.

23. This has been called a 'two-tier' model, or, more disparagingly, a first- and second-class structure. But perhaps we are faced with the possibility rather of a 'two-track' model, two ways of witnessing to the Anglican heritage, one of which had decided that local autonomy had to be the prevailing value and so had in good faith declined a covenantal structure. If those who elect this model do not take official roles in the ecumenical interchanges and processes in which the 'covenanted' body participates, this is simply because within these processes there has to be clarity about who has the authority to speak for whom.

24. It helps to be clear about these possible futures, however much we think them less than ideal, and to speak about them not in apocalyptic terms of schism and excommunication but plainly as what they are – two styles of being Anglican, whose mutual relation will certainly need working out but which would not exclude co-operation in mission and service of the kind now shared in the Communion. It should not need to be said that a competitive hostility between the two would be one of the worst possible outcomes, and needs to be clearly repudiated. The ideal is that both 'tracks' should be able to pursue what they believe God is calling them to be as Church, with greater integrity and consistency. It is right to hope for and work for the best kinds of shared networks and institutions of common interest that could be maintained as between different visions of the Anglican heritage. And if the prospect of greater structural distance is unwelcome, we must look seriously at what might yet make it less likely.

25. It is my strong hope that all the provinces will respond favourably to the invitation to Covenant. But in the current context, the question is becoming more sharply defined of whether, if a province declines such an invitation, any elements within it will be free (granted the explicit provision that the Covenant does not purport to alter the Constitution or internal polity of any province) to adopt the Covenant as a sign of their wish to act in a certain level of mutuality with other parts of the Communion. It is important that there should be a clear answer to this question.

26. All of this is to do with becoming the Church God wants us to be, for the better proclamation of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ. It would be a great mistake to see the present situation as no more than an unhappy set of tensions within a global family struggling to find a coherence that not all its members actually want. Rather, it is an opportunity for clarity, renewal and deeper relation with one another – and so also with Our Lord and his Father, in the power of the Spirit. To recognise different futures for different groups must involve mutual respect for deeply held theological convictions. Thus far in Anglican history we have (remarkably) contained diverse convictions more or less within a unified structure. If the present structures that have safeguarded our unity turn out to need serious rethinking in the near future, this is not the end of the Anglican way and it may bring its own opportunities. Of course it is problematic; and no-one would say that new kinds of structural differentiation are desirable in their own right. But the different needs and priorities identified by different parts of our family, and in the long run the different emphases in what we want to say theologically about the Church itself, are bound to have consequences. We must hope that, in spite of the difficulties, this may yet be the beginning of a new era of mission and spiritual growth for all who value the Anglican name and heritage.

+ Rowan Cantuar:From Lambeth Palace, Monday 27 July 2009


Link to Full Text

Leadership of Diocese of SC Meet Today 7/28/09
Your Prayers Requested for Diocese's Leadership Meeting Today, July 28 - Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today, the Bishop, the Standing Committee, and the Deans will meet at the Church of the Good Shepherd to discuss our Kendall Harmon: Your Prayers Requested for a Diocese of South Carolina Leadership Meeting Today

Today, the Bishop, the Standing Committee, and the Deans are having a meeting of real importance. This is a matter of public record and I take the call to pray for such meetings very seriously.

Here (see link below) is a list of current Standing Committee members (Jeff Miller is the chairman). The current deans are John Barr, John Scott, Ed Kelaher, Peet Dickinson, Craige Borrett, Chuck Owens and John Burwell. I am quite sure Jim Lewis, our new Canon to the Ordinary, will be there and, yes, I have been asked to be present.

You all know we are not gathering to have tea and crumpets. There is no way we as a diocese can function in the way we have before. How to move forward--together--in a truthful, loving and godly way is the issue. This is a considerable challenge, but we worship the God who is able to do far more abundantly than anything we can ask or imagine (Ephesians) and God has brought us together now for such a time as this (Esther).

It would mean a lot to me if you could pray by name for the people in this meeting--KSH.
List of Diocese of SC Standing Committee

EPISCOPAL FORUM SPRING CONFERENCE DVD AVAILABLE
The conference, “What happens to the Episcopalians who wish to remain a part of The Episcopal Church when diocesan leadership chooses to leave it?”, was held on March 28 in Bluffton, SC.
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To order Conference DVD send $10 to THE EPISCOPAL FORUM OF SOUTH CAROLINA, P.O. Box 1772, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29465.
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This disassociation from TEC has occurred in four dioceses within the Episcopal Church during the past year. All of these dioceses were members of the Anglican Communion Network of which the Diocese of SC is a founding member. A goal of this conference will be to understand better why this disassociation happened and how it can be prevented in our diocese.

The keynote speaker is Walt Cabe, who has been a lay member in the Diocese of Ft Worth. This diocese experienced the withdrawal of its bishop along with many clergy and laity following a vote in its diocesan convention to disassociate from The Episcopal Church and associate with the Anglican Communion Province of the Southern Cone. Walt Cabe became co-chair of “The Steering Committee of North Texas Episcopalians”. That group provided coordination and leadership among those in the diocese who have remained within The Diocese of Ft. Worth of The Episcopal Church. He now serves on the vestry of St Alban’s Church where he has served three terms as Vestry member and Warden. St. Alban’s is known for its diversity of membership and inclusion of a broad range of theological perspectives.

The Episcopal Forum of SC sponsors forums and conferences on a regular basis around the diocese to sustain conversation among Episcopalians, holding diversity in a holy tension that leads to reconciliation, spiritual growth and unity. Previous conferences have included a wide range of speakers such as Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies, and Kendall Harmon, Cannon Theologian of our diocese.

A Fall 2009 is being planned to focus on events following GC 2009.

The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, Inc (EFSC) was formed five years ago by a group of concerned Episcopalians following the Diocesan Convention in October of 2003 at which certain resolutions were passed which could have led to separating our diocese from The Episcopal Church. EFSC is committed to preserving unity with diversity within the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of South Carolina, and the greater Anglican Communion. Today EFSC has over 400 members state wide.


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