ANGLICAN COMMUNION NEWS SERVICE
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THE PRIMATES MEETING
Pastoral Letter from the Primates of the Anglican Communion
The Primates of the Anglican Communion send this pastoral letter to all bishops, clergy and
people of our churches, with the desire that it be read or distributed at public worship on the
Feast of Pentecost, 2003.
“I have called you friends.” (John 15.15)
United in Common Prayer and Witness
To our sisters and brothers of the Anglican Communion: Greetings in the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ and in the joy of the Holy Spirit.
We met as Primates of the Anglican Communion in Gramado, Southern Brazil from 19th to 26th
May 2003, at the invitation of the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil, to bring before God our
common life as the Anglican Communion and to take counsel together on the life of our
churches. Five Primates were unable to be with us, and we prayed especially for the Archbishop
and people of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, facing the difficulties of the SARS situation.
We gathered first and foremost in a spirit of common prayer and worship, listening for the voice
of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures and manifested in the lives of our communities. We
give thanks to God for what was shared among us – for the welcome of the Brazilian Church; for
the music and worship led by local Christians; for the Bible studies led by the Archbishop of
Canterbury, Rowan Williams; for the theological reflections by Dr Esther Mombo and Professor
David Ford; and for the stories of witness and Christian discipleship from across the Anglican
In particular, we listened to stories of the growth of our churches in mission, of the creation of
new dioceses and provinces and of the fruits of discipleship. They reflect the richness of our
diversity across the globe, and the abundant resources of the Gospel to address all people in
We heard accounts of how many people, including faithful Anglicans have faced extreme
situations of natural disaster, disease, the threat of terrorism, social unrest, war and its
aftermath. We were moved by stories of Christian witness:
– in Sudan, where the Episcopal Church faces the huge challenge of helping to transform a
culture of war to a culture of peace;
– in other African nations, such as Burundi and the Congo, where despite war, death and
disease, the Anglican Church is courageously expanding its mission in circumstances of
deprivation and hardship;
– in the Holy Land, where we are saddened by the unbroken chain of violence but encouraged by
some recent signs of progress towards a resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict;
– in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the humanitarian crisis is in many ways worse than before the
recent conflicts, and where we see a need for greater United Nations involvement in repairing
– in some island states in the Pacific, where the Anglican Church is playing a peacemaking role
in conditions of great political instability and corruption.
We thank God for the courage and wisdom that he has given in these situations, and affirm our
solidarity with all who face alienation, persecution or injustice. We are mindful of those who live
out their Christian faith as small minorities within their societies.
We give thanks for our life together in the Anglican Communion, for the way in which churches of
the Communion support one another and, in particular, for the contribution which the Episcopal
Church (USA) continues to give to many provinces across our Communion. We send our
brotherly greetings to George and Eileen Carey, with thanksgiving for all they achieved in their
ministry among us.
We rejoice in the fellowship we share with other churches and denominations, at the same time
recognising that any true ecumenical endeavour has to be built on the mutual recognition and
respect which we must accord each other as fellow members of the Body of Christ.
Our Work Together
We take to heart the words of Dr Esther Mombo, who urged us to “talk to each other rather than
about each other”. We welcomed our brother in Christ, Rowan Williams, to his first meeting with
us as Archbishop of Canterbury. We listened to him as he shared some of the priorities for his
ministry. As reflected in the agenda of our meeting, these are:
– Theological education, which is facing different kinds of crisis in all provinces;
– The continuing engagement of our churches with HIV/AIDS;
– The nature of communion itself and, in particular, how we might be drawn together and
renewed in an Anglican Gathering.
It is our conviction that all Anglican Christians should be theologically alert and sensitive to the
call of God. We should all be thoughtful and prayerful in reading and hearing the Holy Scriptures,
both in the light of the past and with an awareness of present and future needs.
We discussed what basic standards of theological education should be provided for and
expected from all members of the Church. All regions face major challenges in this area,
particularly in the provision of resources in non-English speaking provinces, and we considered
how these should be met.
We recognise that there is a distinctive Anglican approach to theological study. This is reflected
not only in the way our worship and liturgical life express our belief, and in our attention to
Scripture read in the light of tradition, but also in our respect for exploration and experiment.
Theological education in the Anglican Communion honours each local context and, at the same
time, calls us together into communion and mutual accountability. Therefore, though we wish to
develop common standards of theological education worldwide, we value the uniqueness of the
work of the Holy Spirit in each place.
Supportive of the Archbishop of Canterbury and, with him, convinced of this need, we affirm and
encourage the work of the Anglican Communion Task Group on Theological Education.
We pondered the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on our lives and in our communities and
provinces as we shared our experiences and sorrows. HIV tears at the very fabric of our nations
and homes. We admitted that the “Body of Christ has AIDS”.
Adhering to the teachings of the Church, we determined to engage more deeply in challenging
cultures and traditions which stifle the humanity of women and deprive them of equal rights. We
agreed that our greatest challenge is to nurture and equip our children to protect themselves
from HIV, so that we can fulfill the vision of building a generation without AIDS.
AIDS is not a punishment from God, for God does not visit disease and death upon his people:
it is rather an effect of fallen creation and our broken humanity. We were reminded at our
meeting that Christ calls us into community as friends so that we might befriend others in his
name. In that spirit, we resolved to build on what has already been achieved and to re-commit
our efforts, prayers and support for all who are living with, and dying from, the effects of
Our Shared Communion in Christ
As Primates, we believe that the 38 provinces and united churches in the Anglican Communion
are irrevocably called into a special relationship of fellowship with one another. We thank God
for our common inheritance of faith, worship and discipleship – an inheritance which has
sustained our journey as one Christian family, and in which we have been united in our
proclamation of the Gospel.
We recognise that all churches, and not just Anglicans, face challenges in applying the Gospel
to their specific situations and societies. These challenges raise questions for our traditional
teaching and understanding – questions which require of the Church a careful process of
thought and discussion in order to discover a way forward that is true to our inheritance of faith
in Christ and to our duty as Christians to care for all people.
Recalling the Virginia Report’s exhortation that we should strive for “the highest degree of
communion possible with tolerance for deeply held differences of conviction and practice”
(Report of the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission, 1997, chapter 1), we are
committed as Primates:
– to the recognition that in each province there is a sincere desire to be faithful disciples of Christ
and of God’s Word, in seeking to understand how the Gospel is to be applied in our generation;
– to respect the integrity of each other’s provinces and dioceses, acknowledging the
responsibility of Christian leaders to attend to the pastoral needs of minorities in their care;
– to work and pray that the communion between our churches is sustained and deepened; and
to seek from God “a right judgement in all things” (Collect of Pentecost).
We take seriously the duty laid upon us by the Lambeth Conference 1998 to monitor ongoing
discussion of this matter and encourage continued study and reflection in the context of
common prayer and worship. We are grateful to the Archbishop of the West Indies, Drexel
Gomez, for taking forward our discussion on matters of sexuality by introducing the booklet “True
Union in the Body?”, which fruitfully illuminated our study. We are also grateful to Presiding
Bishop Frank Griswold for drawing our attention to the Report of the Theology Committee of the
House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) on this issue. We commend the study of both
The question of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions is still a cause of potentially
divisive controversy. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke for us all when he said that it is
through liturgy that we express what we believe, and that there is no theological consensus
about same sex unions. Therefore, we as a body cannot support the authorisation of such rites.
This is distinct from the duty of pastoral care that is laid upon all Christians to respond with love
and understanding to people of all sexual orientations. As recognised in the booklet “True
Union”, it is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual
We discussed the proposal for an Anglican Gathering of lay and ordained people, drawn from
all parts of our Communion, which could be held in association with the next Lambeth
There would be significant financial costs, but we firmly believe that such an event would offer
the Communion an important opportunity to renew its life, witness and mission together. The
Archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu Ndungane, has offered to welcome a Gathering and the
Lambeth Conference in Cape Town , which has the facilities for such events. We encouraged
the Archbishop of Canterbury to move ahead with planning for the Gathering in 2008. This would
be an occasion for celebration, learning and the deepening of our communion.
Invitation to Prayer
Having been renewed in the fellowship of our meeting, we invite Anglicans everywhere to pray
with us. In his Bible studies, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of the joy we have as friends of
God in Christ. “Jesus’ joy is given to us”, he said, “so that we might become nourishing to one
another, nurturing and feeding one another in the Body of Christ.” It is this vision of the rich
blessings to be found in the fellowship of Christ’s Body that inspires us.
Give thanks to God for the vibrant life of the Brazilian Church; for the diversity of the Anglican
Communion, with its 75 million Christians, witnessing in 164 countries in a thousand
languages; and for the faithful and courageous witness of Anglicans as they seek to bring God’s
love into situations of hardship, danger and despair. Pray that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the
Anglican Communion may everywhere be a faithful witness to what God has done in Christ, and
to the abundant fullness of life to which he calls us.
The fire of love which binds together the Father and the Son be shed abroad in our hearts by the
ministry of the Holy Spirit, and renew us in our lives and in our discipleship; and the blessing of
God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you
Published by the Anglican Communion Office
©2003 Anglican Consultative Council
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ANGLICAN COMMUNION NEWS SERVICE
16 OCTOBER 2003
A Statement by the Primates of the Anglican Communion meeting in Lambeth Palace
The Primates of the Anglican Communion and the Moderators of the United Churches, meeting
together at Lambeth Palace on the 15th and 16th October, 2003, wish to express our gratitude to
the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for calling us together in response to recent
events in the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada, and the Episcopal Church (USA), and
welcoming us into his home so that we might take counsel together, and to seek to discern, in
an atmosphere of common prayer and worship, the will and guidance of the Holy Spirit for the
common life of the thirty-eight provinces which constitute our Communion.
At a time of tension, we have struggled at great cost with the issues before us, but have also
been renewed and strengthened in our Communion with one another through our worship and
study of the Bible. This has led us into a deeper commitment to work together, and we affirm our
pride in the Anglican inheritance of faith and order and our firm desire to remain part of a
Communion, where what we hold in common is much greater than that which divides us in
proclaiming Good News to the world.
At this time we feel the profound pain and uncertainty shared by others about our Christian
discipleship in the light of controversial decisions by the Diocese of New Westminster to
authorise a Public Rite of Blessing for those in committed same sex relationships, and by the
74th General Convention of the Episcopal Church (USA) to confirm the election of a priest in a
committed same sex relationship to the office and work of a Bishop.
These actions threaten the unity of our own Communion as well as our relationships with other
parts of Christ’s Church, our mission and witness, and our relations with other faiths, in a world
already confused in areas of sexuality, morality and theology, and polarised Christian opinion.
As Primates of our Communion seeking to exercise the “enhanced responsibility” entrusted to
us by successive Lambeth Conferences, we re-affirm our common understanding of the
centrality and authority of Scripture in determining the basis of our faith. Whilst we acknowledge
a legitimate diversity of interpretation that arises in the Church, this diversity does not mean that
some of us take the authority of Scripture more lightly than others. Nevertheless, each province
needs to be aware of the possible effects of its interpretation of Scripture on the life of other
provinces in the Communion. We commit ourselves afresh to mutual respect whilst seeking
from the Lord a correct discernment of how God’s Word speaks to us in our contemporary world.
We also re-affirm the resolutions made by the bishops of the Anglican Communion gathered at
the Lambeth Conference in 1998 on issues of human sexuality as having moral force and
commanding the respect of the Communion as its present position on these issues. We
commend the report of that Conference in its entirety to all members of the Anglican
Communion, valuing especially its emphasis on the need “to listen to the experience of
homosexual persons, and…to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised,
believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of
Christ”; and its acknowledgement of the need for ongoing study on questions of human
Therefore, as a body we deeply regret the actions of the Diocese of New Westminster and the
Episcopal Church (USA) which appear to a number of provinces to have short-circuited that
process, and could be perceived to alter unilaterally the teaching of the Anglican Communion on
this issue. They do not. Whilst we recognise the juridical autonomy of each province in our
Communion, the mutual interdependence of the provinces means that none has authority
unilaterally to substitute an alternative teaching as if it were the teaching of the entire Anglican
To this extent, therefore, we must make clear that recent actions in New Westminster and in the
Episcopal Church (USA) do not express the mind of our Communion as a whole, and these
decisions jeopardise our sacramental fellowship with each other. We have a particular concern
for those who in all conscience feel bound to dissent from the teaching and practice of their
province in such matters. Whilst we reaffirm the teaching of successive Lambeth Conferences
that bishops must respect the autonomy and territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other
than their own, we call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal
oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the
Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates.
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (USA) has explained to us the constitutional
framework within which the election and confirmation of a new bishop in the Episcopal Church
(USA) takes place. As Primates, it is not for us to pass judgement on the constitutional
processes of another province. We recognise the sensitive balance between provincial
autonomy and the expression of critical opinion by others on the internal actions of a province.
Nevertheless, many Primates have pointed to the grave difficulties that this election has raised
and will continue to raise. In most of our provinces the election of Canon Gene Robinson would
not have been possible since his chosen lifestyle would give rise to a canonical impediment to
his consecration as a bishop.
If his 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, 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.
We have noted that the Lambeth Conference 1998 requested the Archbishop of Canterbury to
establish a commission to consider his own role in maintaining communion within and
between provinces when grave difficulties arise . We ask him now to establish such a
commission, but that its remit be extended to include urgent and deep theological and legal
reflection on the way in which the dangers we have identified at this meeting will have to be
addressed. We request that such a commission complete its work, at least in relation to the
issues raised at this meeting, within twelve months.
We urge our provinces not to act precipitately on these wider questions, but take time to share in
this process of reflection and to consider their own constitutional requirements as individual
provinces face up to potential realignments.
Questions of the parity of our canon law, and the nature of the relationship between the laws of
our provinces with one another have also been raised. We encourage the Network of Legal
Advisers established by the Anglican Consultative Council, meeting in Hong Kong in 2002, to
bring to completion the work which they have already begun on this question.
It is clear that recent controversies have opened debates within the life of our Communion which
will not be resolved until there has been a lengthy process of prayer, reflection and substantial
work in and alongside the Commission which we have recommended. We pray that God will
equip our Communion to be equal to the task and challenges which lie before it.
“Now I appeal to the elders of your community, as a fellow elder and a witness to Christ’s
sufferings, and as one who has shared in the glory to be revealed: look after the flock of God
whose shepherd you are.” (1 Peter 5.1,2a)
Published by the Anglican Communion Office
©2003 Anglican Consultative Council
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October 23, 2003
For the Primates of the Anglican Communion
by The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
[Episcopal News Service]
My dear brothers in Christ,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I returned home from our meeting at Lambeth grateful for the spirit of
candor in which we shared our thoughts and feelings. I thank God for the
opportunity to come together in Christ’s name and for the strong bonds
and mutual affection that exist between us. I pray that our common
commitment to mission and God’s ongoing work of reconciliation will
continue to bind us together in Christ in the days and years ahead. I
remind myself that the church is not our possession but the risen body
of Christ of which each one of us is a limb and member in virtue of our
As I tried to make plain in the course of our meeting, we in the
Episcopal Church have been dealing openly with the place of homosexual
persons in the life of our church for at least thirty years. Though the
question still remains unresolved, the presence among us of deeply
faithful men and women whose lives reveal the fruit of the Spirit, and
whose primary affections are ordered to persons of the same sex, has
brought us to this difficult, and very public, moment. I recognize that
while many in our church give thanks for where we have come, many others
are deeply pained and distressed. I further recognize how our decisions
have also affected you and I hope you know how profoundly I regret the
pain our Province’s action has caused many of you.
One of you once said in the context of our Bible study: “The Holy Spirit
can be up to different things in different places.” As hard as it might
be for sisters and brothers in Christ in other contexts to understand
and accept, please know that broadly across the Episcopal Church the New
Hampshire election is thought to be the work of the Spirit. This does
not mean everyone in our church is of that mind. There are also those
who honor the decision of New Hampshire but are not sure it is of the
Spirit. As well, I am keenly aware that there are faithful
Episcopalians who are deeply unsettled and believe what we have done is
contrary to God’s will. However, for the greatest part, these persons
are committed to remaining within the Episcopal Church and, in a spirit
that is truly Anglican, believe that those with divergent points of view
can live and pray together within the same household of faith.
As I promised you, upon my return to the United States I spoke with
Canon Robinson and shared with him the deep concern that so many of you
expressed and the gravity of what may lie ahead. In my conversation
with him, and in public comments, he has expressed both his anguish and
his continuing sense that he is called to go forward.
I must tell you that at this point there is every reason to believe the
consecration will take place on November 2 as scheduled. I appreciate
that when the consecration takes place, as we said in our statement:
“.we will have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the
Anglican Communion.” As much as this is true, the prediction made in the
statement that the Communion’s future “will be put in jeopardy” will
not, I pray, come to pass. I believe it is for us to live into this
unknown future in faith knowing that, as we declared in our statement,
“.what we hold in common is much greater than that which divides us.”
It is my hope and my prayer that the Spirit of truth, who makes known to
us the mind of Christ, will be our guide as each of us in our own
context seeks to embody and proclaim the gospel of the One who is our
I much valued Archbishop Rowan’s comments about the nature of communion.
I agree that communion is not primarily about structures. Communion is
a gift from God manifested in the various webs of relationship among and
between us. Our communion strengthens us so that we can carry out God’s
mission on earth. Though we affirm our allegiance to the Scriptures and
the Creeds, our unity in the body of Christ does not mean we have only
one way of reading the Bible, nor do we need to be in agreement about
all of the contemporary issues with which we are called to struggle.
Concerns of sexuality present themselves differently in our various
contexts. I believe that as we continue to struggle deeply and honestly
with matters of sexuality we will have much to learn from one another
and we will become more mutually responsible and interdependent in the
Body of Christ. Being in communion, however, does not in any way mean
that you as Primate or your Province necessarily agree with the actions
taken by the Diocese of New Hampshire or the General Convention of the
Please be assured of my prayers for each one of you. Please pray for me
as I try to oversee the life and witness of this Province and as I seek
in these difficult days to advance God’s ministry of reconciliation.
Yours ever in Christ’s love,
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA
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This article appeared in the December 2003 Interchange.
ANGLICAN COMMUNION NEWS SERVICE
3 NOVEMBER 2003
Mixed feelings as first openly gay Anglican bishop is consecrated Over 3,000 people, including 54 bishops and ecumenical guests, gathered today at the Whittemore Center – part of the University of New Hampshire, Durham – to celebrate one of the most controversial and momentous occasions in the history of the Anglican Communion.
The Rt. Rev. V Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, was consecrated as Bishop-coadjutor of New Hampshire this
afternoon in a three-hour long ceremony that involved choirs, bell ringers, brass bands and thunderous applause, but also heard the witness of some Episcopalians who were not so happy with the first openly gay bishop to be
consecrated in the Anglican Communion.
There is always a point during a consecration service when people are asked whether they know of any just reasons why the person should not become a bishop. Before any objections were raised the Presiding Bishop of the
Episcopal Church, USA (ECUSA), reminded everybody that “the people who are to speak are our brothers and
sisters in Christ and there should be no public responses voiced from the congregation”.
One of the objections was read by Meredith Harwood, a parishioner of St Mark’s Episcopal Church, Ashland, NH.
“To press forward with this consecration will be to turn our backs on Almighty God,” she said. “This is the defiant
and divisive act of a deaf church…. The vast majority of Anglicans worldwide have told us not to take this step which many of them see as a scandal, yet we are deaf to their cries.” She concluded her speech by saying, “We must not proceed with this terrible and unbiblical mistake which will not only rupture the Anglican Communion, it will break God’s heart.”
The Rt. Rev. David Bena, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Albany, read a statement that endorsed the
“assessment of the Primates of the Anglican Communion”. Part of the statement, which was signed by 38 bishops
from the Episcopal Church, said, “All Christians, and bishops in particular, are called to guard the unity of the faith
and of the knowledge of the Son of God… It is impossible to affirm a candidate for bishop and symbol of unity
whose very consecration is dividing the whole Anglican Communion.”
After the pronouncements had been raised, Bishop Griswold said that, as there were no objections other than those which had already been debated extensively at General Convention and at other times, the consecration would proceed. He added that “one of the African Primates at the meeting in Lambeth Palace [two weeks ago] had said that the Holy Spirit can be doing different things in different places and I think that’s precisely what we are doing here.”
During the sermon the Rt. Rev. Douglas Theuner, VIII Bishop of New Hampshire, expressed his confidence in Gene Robinson’s consecration to the episcopate saying, “Because of who you are Gene, you will stand as a symbol of the Church like none of the rest of us can. Because of your presence, the episcopate will be more of a symbol of unity than it ever has been.”
Bishop Theuner continued by describing what he called “defining moments” in the Christian life. “When an abused
woman attends a bible study in a local church and feels enough love and support there to realize that she is a child of God filled with worth and value…that’s a defining moment in Christian life. When a young man unsure of his sexual orientations reads ‘The Episcopal Church welcomes you’ on a sign outside a church and enters that church and finds out through the love and acceptance of its members that the church really means what the sign says, that’s a defining moment in the Christian life.”
It is biblical interpretation that is the driving force behind the entire altercation regarding human sexuality, and the conservative debate is grounded firmly in the belief that the Bible is clear on homosexual practice, not to be altered or interpreted in light of cultural developments. Many societies in the West are coming to terms (however uneasily) with the presence and participation of homosexual people in the church and in society but countries in the southern hemisphere are far more uncomfortable with the matter.
Questioned by an interested news editor, the Sub-Dean of the Anglican Cathedral in Harare said, “It is the Bible that decides on the way forward because it is the final authority or reference point on this matter. Bishop Robinson must be expelled from the Church and no Anglican must pull out of the Church in protest.”
The American Anglican Council issued a strong statement shortly after the consecration asking for people to redirect their financial giving “to ministries or organizations that call Jesus Lord”. The statement also included such lines as “Heresy has been held up as Holy” and “Blasphemy has been redefined as blessing”.
On the other side of the dispute the Rev. Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude – a national organization of
Bishops, Priests and Lay People in the Church of England calling for the full participation of lesbian and gay people
in the Anglican Communion – said that “Gene Robinson’s ministry will inspire lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual Christians with new confidence that we have a full place at the communion table of our Lord. The highest offices of the church can be open to lesbian and gay people without pretence.” He added that “a new honesty is present, undermining the secrecy of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policies and the fear of discovery and abuse which many lesbian and gay Christians live with.”
Outside the hall protestors gathered from both sides of the issue. One person told ACNS that “Gene Robinson is
living his life in defiance of the Lord God almighty”. Marshall Greenleaf, a student from the University of New
Hampshire, said that he felt it was about time that people came together and accepted one another.
The Rev. Richard Kirker, General Secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said, “Despite all the
furious debate this ordination has stirred, what strikes me as I speak to people here, is the admiration and love felt by all who know Gene Robinson. Even those who are troubled by his sexuality are full of praise for him as a Man of God, pastor and teacher.”
He added, “We Christians have so much to unite and inspire us, let us seize the moment and let our love for each
other triumph over our divisions.”
Bishop Robinson told the congregation this afternoon that, although he felt deeply honored, he urged compassion
towards church members angered and upset by his consecration.
“Our God will be served if we are hospitable and loving and caring towards them,” he said, fighting back the tears.
“If they must leave, they will always be welcomed back into our fellowship.”
Published by the Anglican Communion Office
©2003 Anglican Consultative Council
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For the latest response from our Presiding Bishop, click on the icon below…
November 28, 2004
Notes on “The Windsor Report” from Diocesan Convention Session
In general: How to deal with controversy while retaining communion. Top flight people responsible for the WR. Most important document on theology of the Anglican Communion.
Section A: Heart of identity of who we are as members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Webs of mutual relationships and responsibilities, rather than just a denomination.
We are members of a parish which belongs to a diocese, and that diocese is part of a group of dioceses, and that group is in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The church is the body of Christ, and the Bible points to The Living God.
Anglican theology is not constant; we explore it only when needed.
“Subsidiarity”: all critical decisions should be made at the highest appropriate level. We have no central authority; it is dispersed and based on concepts received, tested and authenticated…
Section B: Most significant part, says what we believe in. Webs of ever expanding size, more than just a parish or a diocese, even beyond a group of dioceses. The Episcopal Church could’ve become independent in 1776 but kept up the relationship. The Apostolic Succession was/is valued. First challenge came in the 1860s when an African Bishop (Colenzo) stirred up controversy and was deposed. US and Canadian churches wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury , asking him to assemble all the bishops so that all Anglicans could speak together, explore rights and responsibilities. There was agreement not to tromp on the weaker brethren but to provide a level of care for the rest of the church. How can we live together with all our differences?
What has emerged is a desire for a more structured dialog with the rest of the Anglican Communion. There is a perception in the rest of the world that TEC says “we will teach you”.. .American imperialism in ecclesiastical form. What is required is a measured study of our ecclesiastical boundaries.
Section C: We have no juridical structure. Lambeth is close to it, but just on one level. The Anglican Consultative Council is also close but not authoritative. How can we be autonomous and responsible at the same time. This section proposes a covenant to deal with matters in an orderly way
Section D: The recommendations: that we regret the actions of the Robinson consecration and the New Westminster same-sex unions and also that primates and other bishops chose to interfere in the internal affairs of other dioceses. We are invited to express regret in a formal way, that those who took part in the various controversial activities are invited to withdraw to create space, and we are invited to observe a moratorium on the ordination of gays. There is no unqualified freedom to issue texts on same-sex unions, and those who have done that are invited to express regret and/or withdraw.
To those dissenting groups, they must uphold the authority of the diocesan bishops. It commends the principle of diocesan oversight recently proposed by the TEC House of Bishops, such oversight to also include retired bishops. For those who have intervened, they should express regret, declare a moratorium on future interventions and seek accommodation with the local bishops affected.
What happens next? There will be a meeting in December of the Presiding Bishop with members of his advisory council. The House of Bishops will review the recommendations at their next meeting on January 12. The Annual Meeting of diocesan clergy with Bishop Thompson will take place at Proctor Conference Center on February 19. The Anglican Consultative Council (over 100 bishops and lay people) will meet in Nottingham, England in June.
There is much sentiment for our coming to the table together while agreeing on the centrality of the authority of scripture. Bishop N. T. Wright is reported to be the principal (the only?) author of the Scripture section. One question: how does TEC express regret when official decisions can only be made at General Convention (Columbus in June 2006)?