Conservative Anglicans U.S. Propose England Clergy Swap

Conservative Anglicans in North America are inviting priests in the Church of England to take part in a clergy swap as a show of solidarity.

Formed last year by conservative Anglicans who broke away from The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in North America is proposing the swap in the wake of the consecration of TEC’s first partnered lesbian bishop last Saturday.

ACNA said the clergy swap would be an opportunity for Church of England parishes and clergy to express their solidarity and friendship with ACNA churches.

According to the proposal, participating clergy would be matched to churches with similar preaching and ministry styles and serve the pulpit for a period of three to four weeks in January and July or August next year.

In a letter of invitation to Church of England clergy, Paul Perkin, chair of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and Chris Sugden, executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream, said the swap would be of “mutual benefit.”

“We are writing in the wake of the letter from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to the Primates of the Anglican Communion that her consecration of a woman in a partnered same-sex relationship represents the mind of the majority of elected leaders in the Episcopal Church,” wrote the conservative Anglican leaders, referring to the letter from Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

“Institutionally the CofE seems to be sitting on the fence. The Archbishop of Canterbury (head of the worldwide Anglican Communion) has said that the consecration of Mary Glasspool in TEC is ‘regrettable’; yet the CofE has not fully embraced ACNA,” they added.

“An important contribution at this stage will be for parishes and clergy to express solidarity and friendship with clergy and parishes in ACNA,” they concluded.

Following the consecration of Glasspool as one of two new suffragan bishops in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Anglican Mainstream said The Episcopal Church should withdraw or be excluded from the Anglican Communion’s representative bodies.

The consecration of Glasspool has forced traditionalists in the 77 million-member global Anglican body to further distance themselves from The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism.

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Frustrated Anglicans Seek Way Forward

As the Anglican Communion continues to deal with divisions and tension within the global body, the Archbishop of Canterbury reminded leaders on Tuesday that there are no quick solutions for the wounds.rowan-williams-druid

“It is the work of the Spirit that heals the Body of Christ, not the plans or the statements of any group, or any person, or any instrument of communion,” Dr. Rowan Williams said in a video address to the Fourth Global South to South Encounter.

Dozens of conservative Anglican leaders opened a five-day conference Monday in Singapore. Participants intend to build on the vision of the “One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ” as they confront the brokenness of the 77 million-member body.

They are there to discuss the Anglican Covenant – a document aimed at preventing a split in the Anglican Communion.

“Initially, it was felt that a comprehensive Anglican covenant would help heal the wounds and restore confidence in our relationships within the Anglican family, as it would provide for accountability,” said retired Archbishop of Nigeria the Most Rev. Peter Akinola in his opening address Monday.

“But as things stand today in the Communion, this Encounter gathered here in Singapore needs to assure itself if the proposed covenant offers any such hope.”

“More importantly,” he added, “has the real problem that tore the fabric of the Communion been addressed? Can the Covenant address the problem?”

Akinola, chairman of the Global South Primates Steering Committee, contended that signing the Anglican Covenant would not stop The Episcopal Church “from pursuing its own agenda.”

He also lamented the hesitancy to exercise discipline against The Episcopal Church.

“We are God’s Covenant to the world, yes, but we are divided,” he said. “We lack discipline. We lack the courage to call ‘a spade a spade.’ Our obedience to God is selective.”

“I am troubled, I am sad in fact I am confused.”

Nevertheless, his desire is for “a genuine healing” of the church, he said.

And Anglican churches cannot continue focusing on the internal crisis and neglect their mission of making Christ known, Akinola added.

Global South leaders are seeking to find a way forward during their meeting this week.

The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – caused uproar in 2003 when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop. Last summer, Episcopal leaders further passed resolutions opening the ordination process to all baptized members, which would include practicing homosexuals, and calling for the development of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships.

Despite calls by Anglican leaders worldwide to practice gracious restraint in regards to the ordination of partnered gays, The Episcopal Church most recently approved the ordination of an openly lesbian bishop in Los Angeles.

Williams, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, acknowledged in his brief message that recent decisions by The Episcopal Church in the U.S. have made the brokenness and tension that are present even more acute.

“All of us share the concern that in this decision and action The Episcopal Church has deepened the divide between itself and the rest of the Anglican family,” said Williams, who is currently discussing what consequences should follow the controversial decision.

But amid the crises, Williams urged Global South Anglicans to “allow the Holy Spirit to lift your eyes to that broader horizon of God’s purpose for us as Anglicans, for us as Christians, and indeed for us as human beings.

“[W]e must all share in a sense of repentance and willingness to be renewed by the Spirit.”

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by Lillian Kwon

April 20, 2010

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N.Y. Episcopal Priest to Marry Gay Partner

The priest heading an Episcopal parish in Bath, N.Y., has decided to marry his longtime gay partner, according to a recent announcement.

The Very Rev. J. Brad Benson, rector of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, plans to get married this summer in a state where same-sex marriage is legal.

“After twenty years of loving relationship, my partner Carl Johengen and I have decided that it is time that we were legally married,” he wrote in the church’s most recent newsletter.

The St. Thomas rector explained that he has begun to see the word “marriage” in purely legal terms and has come to realize that he and his partner “need” the legal rights and responsibilities afforded in a marriage.

“No one questions the rights and responsibilities of a married couple; simply saying, ‘I’m his wife’ or ‘I’m her husband’ opens many legal doors,” he stated.

Benson was one of hundreds of clergy and lay leaders from across New York State who signed a petition in 2008 urging the state legislature to legalize marriage for gays and lesbians. The same-sex marriage measure was defeated by a wide margin in December.

After seeking legal marriage in another state, the gay couple will then seek the church’s blessing through a liturgy which will be attended and presided by three bishops – Rochester Bishop Prince Singh, retired Bishop Jack McKelvey, and Maine Bishop Stephen Lane.

The announcement comes as more dioceses within The Episcopal Church have permitted clergy to wed homosexual couples despite the call by leaders in the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which The Episcopal Church is the U.S. arm, to practice gracious restraint in regards to the blessing of gay and lesbian couples.

Last summer, The Episcopal Church approved a resolution allowing “bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal” to “provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.”

The resolution also noted the need to consider providing theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships. The Episcopal Church does not permit its “Order of Marriage” to be used in the marriage of same-sex couples.

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by Lillian Kwon

April 19, 2010

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Archbishop Peter Jensen: Glasspool election Sanctifies Sin

Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney, has released the below media statement regarding the election of the Reverend Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, as a Bishop in Los Angeles in The Episcopal Church.

The American Episcopal Election

Media Statement 18/3/10

With the election of the Reverend Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, as a Bishop in Los Angeles in The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion reaches another decisive moment. It is now absolutely clear to all that the national Church itself has formally committed itself to a pattern of life which is contrary to Scripture. The election of Bishop Robinson in 2003 was not an aberration to be corrected in due course. It was a true indication of the heart of the Church and the direction of its affairs.

There have been various responses to the actions of TEC over the years. Some have been dramatic and decisive, such as the creation of the Anglican Church of North America, an ecclesiastical body recognized by the GAFCON Primates as genuinely Anglican. For others, however, the counsels of patience have prevailed and they have sought a change of heart and waited patiently for it to occur. Those who have sought a middle course may be found both inside and outside the American Church.

This is a decisive moment for this ‘middle’ group. Their patience has been gentle and praiseworthy. But to wait longer would not be patience – it would be obstinacy or even an unworthy anxiety. Two things need to be made clear. First, that they are unambiguously opposed to a development which sanctifies sin and which is an abrogation of the word of the living God. Second, that they will take sufficient action to distance themselves from those who have chosen to walk in the path of disobedience.

Peter F. Jensen,

Archbishop of Sydney

Click here for media statement

(Source: Sydney Anglican Network, 18/03/10)

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