Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bishop Ingham Calls 'em as He Sees 'em

[That's a Texas phrase, y'all.]

According to an article on the website of the Diocese of New Westminster (Canada), Bishop Michael Ingham has urged members of his diocese to take the long view and the persistence of faith through the failures of human discipleship. “Above all, let’s get on with the normal work of being the church,” he stated on Nov. 23 in a memorandum sent to his 125 active clergy. The story goes on to say:
His letter followed the announcement by a breakaway group, the Anglican Network, announcing in Burlington, Ontario, that it was setting up a parallel Church structure in Canada, but attempting to maintain Anglican ties through a South American Province of the Anglican Communion.
Bishop Ingham said the announcement was not surprising, for there have been signs of today’s developments for years.
At least ten years ago some groups have been laying the groundwork for separation from their national Anglican Churches, stating their intention to be in communion only with those who held their view of human sexuality, the bishop said.
For the groups to attempt now to lay blame for their departure on the Diocese of New Westminster’s actions in 2002 or the US Episcopal Church’s decisions in 2003 is “a denial of history and an avoidance of responsibility.”
“The seeds of this breakaway movement were laid long before same sex blessings were authorized in [the Diocese of] New Westminster or a partnered gay bishop was elected in New Hampshire.”
Thank God for his truth-telling. The schismatics have been plotting this move and looking for an opportunity to shake the dust off their oh-so-pure sandals for over a decade. The consecration of Gene Robinson and Canada's authorization of same-sex blessings are merely a handy excuse to carry out the schism they've been planning for a long time. The ultra-pure have been looking for this exit opportunity for a long time. Many have been looking for a High Holy Way Out ever since the first women were ordained in Philadelphia.

Thank God that Bishop Ingham is willing to expose their lies.

And I'm impressed by the final points in his memorandum. He's clearly more Christian and generous than I am.

Here's the full text of Bishop Ingham's memorandum to the clergy of his diocese, posted with his permission:

+ + + +

To: All Diocesan Clergy
From: Bishop Michael Ingham
Date: November 23, 2007
Subject: Individuals and Groups Leaving the Anglican Church of Canada

Dear Friends in Christ:

By now you will have heard the announcement from Burlington, Ontario, by the Essentials Network of a formal separation from the Canadian Church. You may well be asked about it this on Sunday and for some time to come, so I thought I would offer you my own preliminary reflections on what should be our principal responses.

First, this development, while not unexpected (the signs have been therefor several years, see below) is both unwelcome and unnecessary. Unwelcome because it violates both the ancient traditions of our church and also the consistent urgings of Scripture for unity among Christians. Unnecessary because no Canadian Anglican is being compelled to act against their conscience in matters of doctrine or ethics, and so there is no need for‘safety’ from ecclesiastical oppression.

Second, Anglicans in this country do not want to see their church at war with itself. The prospect of costly and bitter litigation will rightly be regarded as a waste of the church’s precious resources given for mission.Further, our efforts at evangelism and outreach will be hampered by the media’s coverage of our organization in conflict. People searching for a spiritual home will be wary of involving themselves in a place of turmoil.Sadly, these consequences will be increased by the Network’s announcement.

Third, it has been the cry of every breakaway group that “we haven’t left them – they’ve left us.” Apart from the tiredness of the cliché, it is an attempt to avoid responsibility for personal choices. Every effort has been made, both in New Westminster and across the Anglican Church of Canada, to provide space for genuine differences of conviction on non-essential matters of faith. We have recognized the difficult place in which those of minority opinion find themselves (and there are several minorities, not just one) and have sought to foster mutual respect and mutual support. The vast majority of conservative and traditional Anglicans in Canada understand and accept this, and will stay with their church. This is not, therefore, a conservative breakaway. It is a decision to leave by those who feel uncomfortable with reasonable accommodation within the Body of Christ.

Fourth, the Network blames the church for its own decisions. Let us remember a brief chronology. It was ten years ago in 1997 that we first heard the term ‘global south.’ This was from the Kuala Lumpur meeting of certain bishops prior to the Lambeth Conference the following year. They issued the “Second Trumpet From the South” stating their intention to be in communion only with those who held their view of human sexuality. At the 1998 Lambeth Conference a well financed and organized lobby succeeded in raising this position to the level of Resolution 1:10, effectively marginalizing a careful statement prepared during the Conference by abroad spectrum of bishops.

We saw the development in North America of groups called the ‘Anglican Mission in America” and the “American Anglican Council” and the irregular and provocative consecrations, in Singapore in 2000 and Denver in 2001, of‘missionary’ bishops to serve in the United States against the wishes of the Episcopal Church. During this time, congregations in the US and Canada were being urged by these groups to withhold financial contributions from the church.

Thus the seeds of this breakaway movement were laid long before same-sex blessings were authorized in New Westminster or a partnered gay bishop was elected in New Hampshire. The attempt now to lay blame for this development on events that took place in our diocese in 2002 and in the US in 2003 is in my view both a denial of history and an avoidance of responsibility.

Lastly, I think we need to respond to the Network’s announcement in several ways.

1.
Pray for the unity of Christians, for a spirit of charity towards those with whom we may disagree, and for God’s forgiveness of our mutual failure to honour the prayer of Christ in St. John’s Gospel “that they may be one.”

2.
Give particular support to those conservative and traditional Christians who remain with their church and grieve the departure of friends.

3.
Teach our members about the genius of Anglicanism and its balance of Scripture, reason and tradition within the boundaries of common prayer.

4.
Emphasize in our preaching and leadership the centrality of mission and its priority over ecclesiastical politics.

5.
Challenge the false stereotypes that foster polarization – e.g. the ‘heartless conservative’ or the ‘unbiblical liberal.’

6.
Give thanks that our church, for all its messiness, is honestly and openly facing issues some other bodies cannot.

7.
Press forward in ministry and evangelism at the local level.

8.
Deepen our study and immersion in Scripture. Place ourselves under the authority of the Christ it reveals. Avoid both an empty relativism and a harsh literalism.

9.
Encourage both local media and the non-churchgoing public to understand the deeper roots of this development.

10.
Take the ‘long view’ – i.e. remember the consistent triumph of the Gospel over the historic fragmentation of the church, and the persistence of faith through the failures of human discipleship.

Please remember our diocesan and national leaders in your prayers too. And above all, let’s get on with the normal work of being the church.

Kindest regards,
The Right Reverend Michael Ingham
Bishop

18 Comments:

Anonymous Cranmer49 said...

This is truly one of best pieces of advice I've read from any bishop in the past 4+ years. It sounds like he was able to somehow divert the spinectomy that the other purple shirts experienced.

11/24/2007 9:34 PM  
Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

Lisa, I felt compelled to post the letter in its entirety, too. It's excellent.

11/25/2007 12:27 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I agree, Mimi. Of course, folks are commenting on yours. Few ever comment here. {pouty face} Thanks, Cranmer49, for being the exception!

BTW, one of the best lines I've seen is from The Postulant, who says at Ember Days: Remember when Bishops used to make clear, bracing statements in recognizable English prose? Neither do I. So you might find this statement by the Bishop of New Westminster a welcome development.

11/25/2007 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, Lisa, did you read point 5? If so, maybe you will refrain from the things you say about people who happen to disagree with you. For one, you might want to quit calling those who, far from being schismatic, are calling for realignment. At a minimum. I won't hold my breath, tho'

11/25/2007 9:15 PM  
Blogger Lauralew said...

(And notice, when people who want to point out what they consider to be inconsistencies in your postings post themselves, they are anonymous?)

Thanks for bringing this up! To a fellow Missourian...

Lauralew (originally from Sedalia)

11/25/2007 9:45 PM  
Blogger Caminante said...

I have enjoyed meeting the bishop at Executive Council. In March he said that Canada looks to what we are doing here. While we may feel isolated (which is how the realigners want us to feel), we do have many people walking with us and supporting us. Lee

11/25/2007 9:47 PM  
Blogger Malcolm+ said...

See also the pastoral letter from the somewhat more conservative and soon to be retired Bishop of Edmonton.

http://edmonton.anglican.org/pdf/Pastoral%20Letter%20November.pdf

11/26/2007 10:23 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Hi Lisa,

Congrats on the scoop.

I know what you mean about comments. I count anything over 2 a triumph on my little space. ;-) If I may, I shall add a link to yours there. Who knows, both of my readers might use it!

I see you allow 'anonymous' unidentified posts. I am a bit less tolerant I guess. That said, a note to anonymous.

There is no 're-alignment.' The fact that someone made up a word to disguise what they are doing should tell you something. One only hides evil.

FWIW
jimB

11/26/2007 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimmy Boy
So traditionalists are 'evil' in your sight. Nice. If they are trying to stay in The Anglican Communion how can it not be realignment? Surely the burden is on those who have made the fateful decisions to eg., consecrate VGR and perform SSB's as Windsor and The Primates statements have made clear. Surely they must explain why they are not the ones who have chosen to walk apart. As I see it, it is a bit rich for the leaders in America and in Canada to proceed with their 'progressive' vision and then label those who disagree 'schismatic.' I don't call it evil though I think it is more like laughable.

And FFIW points 1 and 3 by in the bishop's post are hardly persuasive. And I will be happy to tell you why if I have more time after lunch. In the meantime, give some thought to the(Orwellian?) way 'catholic' has come to be deployed by the revisionists like Ingham, KJS and FTG: it now means, really, whatever is going on somewhere based on 'rights for all' and unqualified or unrestrained 'diversity' or 'all manner of life and behavior.' It hardly means the gospel faith in all places as it once did.

JOHN 2007

11/26/2007 11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Concerned' people and groups who oppose what some Anglican provinces and dioceses have been doing towards the normalization within their pastoral care, proclamation, constitution, canons and liturgies, of the role and place of non-heterosexual people in the Church and, particularly, within its ministerial order, appear to do so on account of what they claim are biblical texts that both support their own position as that from ‘the faith once delivered to the saints’ and condemn both non-heterosexual orientations and practices as well as the support for and creation of social, ecclesial spaces where said non-heterosexual people are welcome to be who they are and enabled to grow as who they are to the stature of Christ.

For the last few months, I have made the point of pleading with ‘concerned conservative Anglicans' (the people within our churches who are, at least, opposed to the celebration of Same Sex Blessing in the Church) to account then for their seeming approval –by voice or silence- for the Church’s changed stance towards what would assume are ‘clear’ biblical condemnations of either divorce or the ordination of women. And I say approval, since neither of these seeming contraventions of ‘the Word of God writ’ has led any of the conservative zealots the rest of us have been left to suffer, to work for the dismemberment of the Anglican Communion or any of its constituting provinces.

Because of the conservatives’ contradicting attitudes towards different kinds of biblical witness, because of their refusal to embrace –from the top of my head- Matthew 25.31-46 with not even a thread of the same enthusiasm –superstition?- they have engaged and apparently will go on engaging with a string of otherwise unconnected fragments of different books in the Bible with an allegedly common gay–bashing theme, because of the lack of transparency of these same conservatives in regards to their own –allegedly- holier and Bible-bound-ier sexual life (should they have one) which appears to lead them to claim some right to judgement over the way other people behave in the intimacy of their adult, mutually consented and committed sexual relationship… because of all of that, from now on, I will not entertain as valid any other SSB-related conservative argument but that which would acknowledge, in a plain, simple and humble manner, their either disgust or despise towards non-heterosexual people.

Anything else, this far down the road, is a lie. And I may not be willing to smear or call names on Rowan or any other bishop or priest or deacon or lay person who chooses to stay and grow and learn within the Communion, but I will surely call out any liar who may want to justify –and promote- his/her repulsion towards non-heterosexual people with claims to what they claim to be the authority of the Bible.

They are lying, and I will not waste another second entertaining any other thought -or words, for that matter- about them.

Leonel

11/26/2007 3:50 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

John 2007,

Nope, I did not say that. Sorry, I refuse to have conversations with people who play the strawman game. Have a nice day.

FWIW
jimB

11/26/2007 5:43 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Yes, Jim, I have decided to allow anonymous comments. Partly because some friends don't have Blogger IDs, but they do sign their posts, as do Grace and NancyP. The other ones, who remain totally cloaked, sometimes make my point better than I could make it. Until they really start talking trash, I let their comments stay here, believing "by their fruits we shall know them."

Anonymous at 9:15 last night asked/said: Uh, Lisa, did you read point 5? If so, maybe you will refrain from the things you say about people who happen to disagree with you. For one, you might want to quit calling those who, far from being schismatic, are calling for realignment. At a minimum. I won't hold my breath, tho'
I did indeed read Bishop Ingham's point 5. In fact, over the last few months, I've worked consciously to become more temperate in my language here. Sometimes my anger gets the best of me, but I'm making an effort. Others will have to judge whether I've been successful in my attempt.
However, I will continue to use "schismatics" and "dissidents" to describe those who are trying to tear our church apart. Anonymous, there simply is no such thing as "realignment." It's a fantasy that the schismatic leaders are using to try to cloak what they are doing.
Now … while we're trying to consider our language … if you have any influence with the Network, I hope you'll ask them to withdraw their Choose This Day DVD, in which they call mainstream Episcopalians "heretics," "apostates," and "not even Christian." Or do you concur with those characterizations in that Network production, at StandFirm, and at "Virtue"?

11/26/2007 5:50 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks for the encouraging words, Caminante. Sometimes, it's easy to start believing the dissidents' spin that it's the whole world against TEC.

11/26/2007 5:51 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Malcolm+ points us to this pastoral letter from Bishop Victoria Matthews (Diocese of Edmonton).

Yes, I saw it, and mostly appreciated it. Like Bishop Ingham, she decries the incursions into the Anglican Church of Canada. She also calls for priests and bishops not to allow or perform blessings of gay/lesbian marriages.

However, according to this article in the Anglican Journal, there's some debate about the results of the 2007 synod. That article says: During its meeting in June, General Synod voted to study revising the marriage canon to allow clergy to marry all legally qualified persons. Marriage for same-sex couples has been legal in Canada since 2005. General Synod also agreed that same-sex blessings are “not in conflict” with core church doctrine, but declined by a slim margin to affirm the authority of dioceses to offer them. Some bishops have stated that the defeat of the motion affirming the authority of dioceses to offer same-sex blessings bars dioceses from going forward on the matter. Some canon law experts opined, however, that there is nothing in the church’s canons or constitution preventing a diocese from acting on the matter now that General Synod has said that the blessing of same-sex unions are “not in conflict” with core church doctrine.

I'm too far from Canada and your canon law to know how to parse this. Can you talk more about it, Malcolm?

11/26/2007 6:06 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Most certainly, JimB, you may link to this. I'm delighted you visited here. I usually see your comments on the HoBD, Father Jake's, etc., and I'm always grateful.

Thanks for your succinct statement on the fallacy of a "realignment." As usual, you hit the nail on the head.

11/26/2007 6:10 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Anonymous (John 2007):

There's no call for calling JimB "Jimmy Boy." Kindly mind your manners when you talk to my friends in my living room. (And, yes, I'll also chastise anyone who calls you "Johnny Boy.")

Also, please note that Jim never called the "traditionalists" "evil." He said – and I agree – that there's a duplicity in their twisting of language, and that duplicity hides an evil.

It seems you have bought into the myth that there is something called "realignment." I don't believe there is any such thing. For evidence, I point you to the former Bishop of Recife (Brazil), who fled to the Southern Cone and now is not among those invited to the Lambeth Conference. I fear the bishops in TEC who pretend there is such a thing as "realignment" are just hoodwinking their followers that there will be some good outcome of their schism. I fear many good people will be sorely disappointed.

I fully agree TEC has made some fateful decisions, including the consent to the consecration of Bishop Robinson. We have paid some prices, including withdrawing ourselves from voting membership in the Anglican Consultative Council a while back. Now we are seeing the primates' and ACC members' votes come in. We are paying some price for our decisions.

John2007, TEC has made it clear for over 4 years now that we are not the ones who wish to "walk apart." We have bent over backwards to make that clear. At our most simple, I see us doing two things: Many of our dioceses (mine included) are in full communion with – and engaging in ministry with – Global South Dioceses, some of which really do not like what we did in consecrating Bishop Robinson. Also, we have not "shunned" anyone else in the Communion. As I see it, we are trying to be faithful to Christ in this time and place, as we see many others in the Communion doing in their own contexts.

If you argue with points 1 and 3 of Bishop Ingham's prayers, then I truly don't know what else I can say to you.

I suppose we disagree about the meaning of "catholic." To me, it speaks of that basic unity in Christ that all faithful followers enjoy, though in different modes and manifestations. I think it's been about a thousand years since "catholic" meant a uniformity of belief and practice.

I'm pretty sure you won't agree with me about much of anything I've said here. But I'll stay at the keyboard talking.

11/26/2007 6:31 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Leonel, I would point you to a few sites where some truly amazing discussions have occurred in the past few days, as several of us try to wrap our heads around the question of why +VGR's consecration & SSBs seem to be a communion-breaking issue for some folks.

Over at Telling Secrets, Elizabeth Kaeton wondered whether it was a result of the classism in our church.

A related dialogue broke out at MadPriest's, where Mary Clara suggested the divide has to do with "a perceived threat to the cosmic order."

Father Jake contributed to the discussion in terms of our relative comfort with order and chaos.

I commend all those sites to you. And be sure to read the comments -- not just the blogger's initial posting -- for a full sense of the dialogue.

Leonel, I think many of us are beginning to realize that this schism cannot simply be a result of the "ick factor" about homosexuality, nor is it really about a "plain" reading of Scripture. Something else must be at work. And I think those three bloggers and their commenters are fruitfully exploring what may really be at work.

At base, after this weekend of reading, I am concluding that we don't simply disagree about the interpretation of Scripture. There is, I think, something about the whole issue of accepting GLBTs and SSBs that rends the very heart of the dissidents' world view. And, thus, I am beginning to understand their fear and anger a little better.

11/26/2007 6:49 PM  
Blogger Malcolm+ said...

I don't know that I'd have too much insight about the canonical status in Canada. General Synod defeated a resolution that would have authorized dioceses to proceed with blessing same sex unions. The essential question is whether this is the same as saying that dioceses therefore do not have the authority to proceed, particularly since another resolution declared that the issue is not a matter of "core doctrine."

In the context, I'm inclined to take a conservative reading of the canonical situation - that dioceses should not proceed further, and that the one diocese that already has (New Westminster) should not authorize the rites in any more parishes.

It creates a canonical dog's breakfast, but isn't it the nature of Anglicanism to be a bit muddled?

11/27/2007 9:36 AM  

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