267 bishops say they will attend Gafcon conference

May 8, 2008 by

By George Conger for CEN Organizers of the June Gafcon meeting in Jerusalem report that as of April 25, 267 bishops have registered for the June meeting in Jerusalem. Denounced as a rival gathering to the July Lambeth conference, a detailed agenda has yet to be released. Like Lambeth much of the conference will be devoted to worship and spiritual reflection. However, Gafcon will play host to bishops, clergy and lay leaders, and will also seek to formulate a common approach to the divisions of doctrine and discipline within the Anglican Communion. Approximately 150 bishops and conferees from Muslim majority countries unable to travel freely to Israel along with the Gafcon leadership team will meet at a resort on the Dead Sea in Jordan from June 18-22, while a further 600 are expected to join the self-styled “pilgrimage” in Jerusalem from June 22-29. Organizers note that many of the bishops attending Gafcon will also be among the 625 bishops attending the Lambeth Conference. While the Archbishops of Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda and their bishops have said that as it is currently organized, they will not attend Lambeth, the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone Gregory Venables announced last week that he will go to Lambeth. Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh announced on May 6 that he would attend Lambeth and Gafcon, joining Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker and the other conservative American bishops in attending both meetings.   Read the whole story...

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Pope Welcomes Archbishop Williams

May 7, 2008 by

From The Living Church Discussions of America, ecumenism and theology animated the May 5 meeting of Pope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was a “friendly and informal meeting in which we discussed a number of ecumenical issues; some of the Pope’s impressions of his American visit; and common issues in Christian-Muslim dialogue,” Archbishop Rowan Williams told The Living Church, as reported by his press secretary Marie Papworth. Speaking to Vatican Radio before his meeting with the Pope, Archbishop Williams said he hoped to inform the pope about the latest plans for the Lambeth Conference and touch base with him about churches in China, among other concerns. Archbishop Williams acknowledged the Anglican Communion was passing through an “unprecedentedly difficult time, no two ways about that.” He said, though, that relations with the Roman Catholic Church remained strong, partly through the work of the Anglican Centre, whose directors had laid “deep foundations” of “personal trust and confidence and in terms of ease of access and honesty of discussion, I think we’re in a very good phase.” On May 7, Archbishop Williams will install the new director of the Anglican Centre in Rome at an ecumenical service at the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Basilica. The Very Rev. David Richardson, the former dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, Australia, will also serve as Archbishop Williams’ representative to the Vatican in Rome. (The Rev.) George Conger...

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Pittsburgh Bishops to attend Lambeth Conference

May 7, 2008 by

From  Pittsburgh Diocese Document Actions Bishops Robert Duncan and Henry Scriven confirmed today that they will be attending both the Global Anglican Future Conference in June and the Lambeth Conference of Bishops this July and August.    Bishops Robert Duncan and Henry Scriven confirmed today that they will be attending both the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jordan and Jerusalem in June and the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in Kent, England, this July and August. "After consulting with the people of Pittsburgh and our friends around the globe, we have come to the conclusion that it is necessary for us to be present at both gatherings," said Bishop Robert Duncan. The Global Anglican Future Conference is focused on moving forward with the work and witness of the church even as the crisis in the Anglican Communion over discipline and biblical authority continues. It brings together hundreds of bishops who have, as a matter of conscience, decided not to attend the Lambeth Conference, as well as other bishops who believe that global partnerships and the current conflicts necessitate their presence at both meetings. Among those going to Jerusalem and Jordan are many of the strongest supporters of orthodox Anglicans in North America. "We will be among friends, focused squarely on the Gospel, and dealing openly with how we build the missionary relationships, covenantal boundaries and responsible structures for the future of Anglicanism," said Bishop Duncan. Bishops Duncan and Scriven will then join some six-hundred bishops and archbishops (about two-thirds of all Anglican bishops) who will be attending the Anglican Communion’s once-a-decade Lambeth Conference of Bishops. "Given the expense and the stated-intent of the Archbishop of Canterbury that Lambeth can no longer be considered a decision making council of the church, choosing to be present was not easy," said Bishop Duncan. In an effort to limit costs connected to the meeting, an estimated $12,000 per attending bishop and spouse for the entire two-and-a-half week Lambeth Conference, Bishop Duncan will attend July 16-25 and Bishop Scriven will attend July 26 – August 3. Both bishops believe it is important that the diocese be represented throughout the Lambeth Conference, if for no other reason than to provide an alternative perspective on the situation in The Episcopal Church. "Those who accuse us of abandoning the Anglican Communion will certainly be present and vocal. It is important for us to be able to respond directly to their claims about the situation in The Episcopal Church and our place in the Communion," added Bishop Duncan. As with the Global Anglican Future Conference, both Pittsburgh bishops will also work to strengthen missionary partnerships with bishops from every corner of the world. Bishop Scriven asked that Pittsburgh Episcopalians pray for both meetings. "We hope that many join us in praying for God’s clear presence and guidance in the Holy Land and Canterbury. With God, all things are possible," he said....

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Bishop predicts gay union blessings ‘in our lifetimes’

May 2, 2008 by

From Dallas Voice Head of Episcopal Church USA visits predominantly gay Dallas congregation, urges listeners to ‘pray blessings’ on those with whom they disagree on church policies Speaking at the predominantly gay parish that was the site of her first official visit to Dallas, the leader of the Episcopal Church said Monday, April 28 that she expects the denomination to sanction same-sex union ceremonies “in our lifetimes.” Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the U.S. branch of the 80-million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, also said she believes openly gay bishop Gene Robinson’s exclusion from the upcoming Lambeth Conference will only serve to increase his impact on the event. And Jefferts Schori assured supporters from Fort Worth that the church hasn’t forgotten them even though their diocese took steps last fall toward leaving the denomination as a result of a dispute about the role of gays and women. Jefferts Schori spent about 15 minutes answering questions inside The Episcopal Church of St. Thomas the Apostle after participating in an elaborate blessing ceremony for the parish’s new community vegetable garden outside. She prefaced her remarks by suggesting that she didn’t necessarily choose St. Thomas for the visit because of its unofficial status as Dallas’ gay parish or its long history of progressive stances on other social issues. “A number have people have asked me, ‘How did you decide to come here?’” said Jefferts Schori, who was invited by members of the congregation to bless the garden. “Well, somebody asked, and that’s really all it takes — that and the consent of your bishop here in Dallas.” The reference to James Stanton, bishop of the Dallas Episcopal Diocese, drew laughter from the crowd of hundreds who gathered at St. Thomas, 6525 Inwood Road. Stanton, a conservative who’s been a leader in the fight against gay Anglican bishops, approved Jefferts Schori’s visit but was not in attendance. Stanton didn’t respond to a request for comment from Dallas Voice, but he reportedly told The Dallas Morning News that his absence was due to a scheduling conflict created by a longstanding family commitment. “This is not a protest of any sort whatsoever,” Stanton told The Morning News. One audience member asked Jefferts Schori how openly gay Episcopalians should respond to church leaders, such as Stanton, who aren’t supportive. “Recognize that people come to different conclusions out of a deep sense of faith, and honor that,” Jefferts Schori said. “I think a lot of our difficulty right now is because we’re assuming the worst of people who disagree with us. When we can recognize another person as a faithful Christian who’s simply come to a different conclusion, we start at a much better place than we do when we assume that person is our enemy. So pray blessings on people who disagree with you.” Another gay audience member who said he met his partner of 10 years at St. Thomas asked when the couple will be able to walk down the aisle together and have their relationship...

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“Catholics” Do Not Dither

May 2, 2008 by

By Matt Kennedy, Stand Firm When a church or province presumes to violate the plain teaching of God’s Word and established doctrine and refuses to repent, there is little need for "consultation" or study. The only council that is necessary is the council that meets to issue the formal anathema and excommunication. The substance of the matter has already been decided. Commentary on Dr. Philip Turner’s essay: "A Self-Defining Moment for the Anglican Communion" – read HERE. Dr. Harmon highlights this phrase by Dr. Turner in particular: "The basic issue before the Communion as it struggles to adopt a covenant is that of the identity of the Anglican Communion as an expression of catholic Christianity." I agree. The fundamental problem, however, with Dr. Turner’s paper–as with almost everything produced by the Anglican Communion Institute, Fulcrum and others from among that circle–is that he seems to be working with a novel and strange view of "catholicity" that has been reduced to a simple sort of conciliarity. It is in no way "catholic" to tolerate a church or province that has officially embraced a soul-destroying behavior condemned plainly by both scripture and the tradition of the church until the "community" comes to a final decision. When a province or church presumes to bless and promote behavior that God condemns and the Church has always forbidden, then that church or province is no longer part of the Church whether the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates, the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Consultative Council say so or not. Dr. Turner objects to what he calls the "confessional" position, arguing that to agree to a common set of doctrines prior to articulating a covenant does not help to escape the problem of contextualizing those doctrines. To agree, for example, that the bible holds primary authority in the Church does not necessarily mean that that primacy will be applied/understood in the same way in every province nor does such an agreement help to determine whether or not a particular provincial action violates or is consistent with that proposition. Contextualization is certainly a problem. And yet not every doctrine is subject to the process of contextualization. There are some very plain teachings and doctrines that transcend both culture and context. The Trinity, the dual natures of Christ, the sole mediatorial role of Christ, the inspiration and primary authority of God’s Word, the necessity of faith, the right employment of the dominical sacraments…all of these are necessary doctrines, professions, and acts and while perhaps the language used to articulate them may change from culture to culture, the content and substance cannot and must not. When a church or province presumes to violate the plain teaching of God’s Word and established doctrine and refuses to repent, there is little need for "consultation" or study. The only council that is necessary is the council that meets to issue the formal anathema and excommunication. The substance of the matter has already been decided. In our present circumstances, "Do not lie...

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Bishop Iker to attend 2008 Lambeth Conference

May 2, 2008 by

Bishop Jack Iker of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth confirmed today that he has accepted the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, which is to meet July 16 thru August 3 at the University of Kent in England. Given the strained relations in the Anglican Communion and the role of the Lambeth Conference as one of the Four Instruments of Communion, Bishop Iker believes it is important for him to attend this gathering of Anglican Bishops from around the world that takes place once every 10 years. "I stand in solidarity with all those Bishops who have decided, as a matter of conscience, that they are unable to be at Lambeth," said Bishop Iker. "However, given the situation the Diocese of Fort Worth finds itself in with the unfolding realignment that is taking place in Anglicanism, I think it is important for me to be there to make our case and to face our detractors." In addition to demonstrating a willingness to work with the Instruments of Communion for the unity of the Church, Bishop Iker believes it is important for him to be present to defend orthodox believers who are being accused of abandonment of communion by the TEC leadership, including the Presiding Bishop. "We need to refute the claims that the leadership of this Church is trying to accommodate us and provide a secure place for us, and we need to testify to the fact that TEC is not in compliance with the Windsor Report or the requests made of TEC by the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam," he said. Bishop Iker had previously announced his plans to participate in GAFCON in mid-June to consult and pray with many of the Bishops who have decided against participation in the Lambeth Conference.    ...

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