Methodist delegates vote to reject same-sex unions

May 3, 2008 by

From Anglicans United [Ed. Note: The United Methodist Church is ending their General Conference, held every four years. The Conference has been the target of gay activists, including Soul Force, which almost closed the last General Conference by refusing to leave the meeting rooms and forcing police to physically remove them so the meeting could continue. This Conference, dealing with many of the same issues that failed 4 years ago, has been less combative. Cheryl M. Wetzel] Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram By Terry Lee Goodrich May 1, 2008 Delegates at the United Methodist Church’s General Conference voted Wednesday to adhere to the church’s position that marriage should not include same-sex unions and that homosexual acts are not compatible with Christian teaching. Those guidelines are included in church’s Social Principles, which do not have the force of church law but are to instruct the denomination’s 11 million members. The nearly 1,000 delegates at the international conference at the Fort Worth Convention Center are struggling with social issues at the conference that ends Friday.   While affirming the existing guidelines about sexuality, delegates also approved a resolution Wednesday opposing homophobia. Numerous delegates at the crowded session spoke into microphones placed around the convention center floor. One man from Africa said that "we love homosexuals, but we detest what they do." Others said condemnation of homosexual behavior conflicts with Jesus’ message of love and acceptance. The church must guard against "denying companionship and intimacy in loving relationships just because there are differences of understanding," a Texas pastor said. The Methodist Book of Discipline says all people are welcome to become members and receive sacraments, and at past conferences delegates have reaffirmed that gays and lesbians are people of "sacred worth." One man, who said he is gay, said the church is a "safe place. … That should not be sacrificed." A woman suggested that the Social Principles should be modified: "Let’s just say we are all faithful Christians and agree to disagree." WEDNESDAY’S VOTES Approved, 517-416, keeping the statement that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Rejected, 574-298, a measure that would have changed the church’s definition of marriage to include same-sex unions. Approved, 544-365, a resolution opposing homophobia and discrimination against lesbians or gays....

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Dr Packer's Licensing Raises Stakes in Canada row

May 2, 2008 by

By Toby Cohen  CEN, 2nd May 2008 THE Rev Dr James Packer has been licenced to preach under the jurisdiction of the Primate of the Southern Cone, the Most Rev Greg Venables, to a standing ovation at a conference in Vancouver. Dr Packer, named by Time magazine as one of the 10 most influential theologians of the 20th century, left the Anglican Church of Canada after breaking with the Bishop of New Westminster, the Rt Rev Michael Ingham, following his blessing of same-sex unions. Dr Packer prayed that God would purge the old west of its “poisonous liberalism”. He said: “God’s way of purging is letting a thing grow to its full stature so that its real nature can be seen so that finally it is squeezed out. Dr Packer is part of the Anglican Network in Canada, which has attracted 15 churches so far. Two of their bishops were commission by Archbishop Venables despite protests by the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Most Rev Fred Hiltz. He said: “Stop interfering in the life of this province,” to the undeterred Archbishop  Venables. Dr Packer was one of nine clergy to write to Bishop Ingham on April 21 in answer to his Notice of Presumption of Abandonment of Ministry. The priests said: “With deep reluctance and regret we have concluded that we cannot continue the Anglican ministry to which we were ordained under your jurisdiction. The Diocese, under your leadership, has departed from historic, orthodox Anglican teaching and...

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Canada: Athabasca synod supports breakaway churches

May 2, 2008 by

Solange De Santis, Anglican Journal May 1, 2008   Archbishop assures his diocese’s commitment to Anglican Communion The archbishop of Athabasca has issued a letter confirming his diocese’s commitment to the Canadian church and the Anglican Communion after its synod passed motions supporting churches that have left the Anglican Church of Canada and criticizing bishops who have gone to court over property issues. The letter was released after the leader of the Anglican Church of Canada asked the archbishop to explain his synod’s motions. According to one resolution, the synod, meeting in High Prairie, Alta. April 24 to 27, voted to “inform the parishes and the bishops who have joined the Anglican Network in Canada and the Province of the Southern Cone that we are in full communion with them.” Fifteen churches, including 10 former Anglican Church of Canada parishes, have joined the network, which is opposed to the blessing of same-sex unions, among other issues. Since they have left the Canadian church, they have allied themselves with the Southern Cone, an Anglican province that includes southern South America, and its primate, Archbishop Gregory Venables. None of the 33 congregations in the diocese of Athabasca, which encompasses the northern half of Alberta, are members of the network and none have voted to leave the Canadian church. A second resolution expressed synod’s “dismay” that bishops “have resorted to secular courts when parishes … have found it necessary to align themselves with the (network) and the … Southern Cone.” In a background information note, the mover and seconder said the issues “should be settled with prayerful negotiation.” Archbishop John Clarke, the area archbishop and diocesan bishop, did not return calls from the Anglican Journal seeking comment. Archdeacon Paul Feheley, principal secretary to the primate (national archbishop), Fred Hiltz, said in an interview that Archbishop Hiltz “sought clarification” of the synod’s intentions. (Archbishop Hiltz is out of the country and did not speak directly with Archbishop Clarke.) In an open letter written after the synod ended, Archbishop Clarke wrote that “there seems to be some confusion over certain resolutions passed at our recent synod. I am also aware that there are those who for their own particular motives have attempted to ‘spin’ our decisions in directions very different than we intended.” The members of the diocese “are committed to being ‘in communion’ with as wide a range of our brothers and sisters in Christ as is possible,” he wrote. “We are also concerned that the term ‘in communion’ is being increasingly interpreted in a legalist sense. Our understanding of ‘in communion’ is more relational. We recognize that some feel we must be in agreement with each other before we can come to the Lord’s Table together. We believe, however, that it is by coming to the Lord’s Table together that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to find the wisdom, courage, and grace to overcome our differences,” he said. As members of the Anglican Communion, both the Canadian church and the Southern Cone...

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Anglican realignment begins in BC, parishes leave ACC

Apr 10, 2008 by

From the Anglican Planet  By Sue Careless Canada’s largest Chinese Congregation votes unanimously to leave The largest Chinese Anglican congregation in Canada has voted unanimously to leave the Anglican Church of Canada and come under the spiritual care of a South American archbishop. It was not alone. This past February saw an unprecedented exdous of congregations and clergy from the national church as more dioceses voted to bless same- sex unions. The Church of the Good Shepherd in Vancouver, a 119 year-old Cantonese-speaking congregation, attracts 300 people each Sunday with another 100 attending midweek services and fellowship groups. Although many of its members are young, it is the oldest Chinese Anglican church in Canada. It has a remarkable outreach into Vancouver’s substantial Chinese community. And it helped plant a Chinese ministry at St. Luke’s in 1993. Most of the Chinese who take part in home fellowship groups are first-generation immigrants. Once they learn more about Christianity, many begin to attend church and are baptized as adults. On Feb. 17 this vibrant, thriving church voted unanimously 203-0 with no abstentions to leave the national church and affiliate instead with the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). “When you have to defend your faith, you grow stronger,” said the Rev’d Stephen Leung, the rector. A total of ten congregations have voted to leave the ACC yet all hope to retain the church buildings in which they have long worshipped. However, legal battles have begun for some of the ten. Another five congregations, which had roots in the ACC but who now meet in non-ACC buildings, are not expected to be entangled in any court proceedings.The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Fred Hiltz, warned in a letter dated Feb. 13: “In our Anglican tradition, individuals who choose to leave the Church over contentious issues cannot take property and other assets with them.” All fifteen churches also voted to come under the “temporary emergency oversight” of the Most Reverend Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone. This move will ensure that the clergy and congregations, while under a new jurisdiction, are still part of the global Anglican Communion. Archbishop Venables has appointed Bishops Donald Harvey and Malcolm Harding of the ANiC to offer episcopal oversight. Both former ACC bishops came out of retirement in November and have relinquished their ACC licences. All fifteen churches are now under their spiritual care. In April 2007 the Primates of the global Anglican Communion had recommended a Pastoral Council to oversee Anglicans and Episcopalians in North America in “serious theological dispute” with their bishops, but the scheme was never implemented by the ACC or The Episcopal Church. Leslie Bentley, a spokeswoman for St. John’s Shaughnessy, one of the Anglican Network churches, said that the offer of “temporary emergency oversight” from the Southern Cone “is supported by Primates representing well over half the members of the Anglican Communion.” The 15 churches that are now aligned with the Southern Cone were originally members of or rooted in six ACC dioceses:...

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Legalizing gay marriage will spark lawsuits against churches

Apr 8, 2008 by

By Roger Severino, The Examiner WASHINGTON – After years of litigation and debate, the California and Connecticut supreme courts are about to decide the question of marriage. If, as some suspect, the courts redefine the institution to include same-sex couples, they will have entered a minefield of unintended consequences — especially with regard to religious liberty. The experience of legalizing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, and of civil unions elsewhere, cannot be ignored. It shows that, even with the best of intentions, legalizing same-sex marriage will seriously undermine the religious freedom citizens have enjoyed since the founding. Although the First Amendment protects dissenting houses of worship from being forced to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies against their will, that is not the end of the story — it is barely even the beginning. Simply changing the definition of marriage opens the door to a flood of lawsuits against dissenting religious institutions based on state public accommodation and employment laws that prohibit marital status and sexual orientation discrimination. Additionally, religious institutions that refuse to recognize a new state-imposed definition could be stripped of access to government programs, have their tax exemption denied and even lose the ability to solemnize civil marriages. We need only look at Massachusetts for a preview of what to expect. There, in 2004, justices of the peace who refused to solemnize same-sex unions due to religious objections were summarily fired. It did not matter that other justices of the peace were available to do the job because, by Massachusetts law, same-sex unions were now entitled to equal treatment. A religious belief became a firing offense. It is but a small step for the state to impose this rationale on churches and other houses of worship and end legal recognition of religious marriage ceremonies that do not comply with the state’s expanded definition of marriage. This is not the only example of what is to come. Massachusetts, like many other states, strictly regulates private adoption agencies through licensing. Historically, this has not posed any difficulties for religious institutions, but Massachusetts now demands that all licensed adoption agencies be willing to place children with legally married same-sex couples. However, Catholic Charities, the largest private social service provider in the state, could not in good conscience place its orphan children into homosexual households. After a bitter struggle, Boston Catholic Charities was forced out of the adoption business because it refused to embrace the state’s new definition of marriage. The result was doubly tragic because both orphan children and religious liberty took the hit for this misguided attempt at equality. Two more real-world examples illustrate the danger. In New Jersey, the city of Ocean Grove recently yanked a Methodist institution’s real estate tax exemption because it refused to perform civil unions in its outdoor wedding pavilion. In Iowa, the Des Moines Human Rights Commission found the local YMCA in violation of public accommodation laws because it refused to extend “family membership” privileges to a lesbian couple that had entered a civil union...

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The Road towards or away from Lambeth 2008?

Jun 4, 2007 by

July-August 1998, Lambeth: Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which rejects ‘homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture’ and cannot advise ‘the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.’ October 2003, Primates Meeting:  ‘If his (Robinson’s) 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 (our emphasis ed.), 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.’ November 2003, Gay Bishop: Ordination of Victoria Eugenia (baptismal name) Gene Robinson, first openly gay priest to the bishopric of New Hampshire October 2004, Windsor Report:  ‘Actions to move towards the authorisation of such rites (of blessing same-sex unions) in the face of opposition from the wider Anglican Communion constitutes a denial of the bonds of Communion. In order for these bonds to be properly acknowledged and addressed, the churches proposing to take action must be able, as a beginning, to demonstrate to the rest of the Communion why their proposal meets the criteria of scripture, tradition and reason.’ February 2005, Primates Meeting Dromantine: Twelve primates do not take Communion with Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.  ‘We request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference. During that period we request that both churches respond through their relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the Anglican Communion.’ September 2006, Kigali: ˜Road to Lambeth’ published for Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA). ‘We will definitely not attend any Lambeth Conference to which the violators of the Lambeth Resolution are also invited as participants or observers.’ November 2006, Changing Attitude notes official same-sex blessing policies in the US: Dioceses in the states of Arkansas, California, Delaware, Long Island, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Vermont and Washington now have written guidelines on the performance of same-gender blessings. December 2006, Changing Attitude publishes UK Civil Partnership survey: 46 couples are presently in civil partnerships, including 36 ordained gay men, 2 ordained lesbians, 31 lay gay men and 6 lay lesbians. February 2007, Tanzania: Eight primates do not take Communion with Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.  ‘The Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of...

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