INTEGRATOR, the newsletter of Integrity/Toronto
copyright 2003 Integrity/Toronto.
The hard-copy version of this newsletter carries the ISSN 0843-574X
Integrity/Toronto Box 873 Stn F Toronto ON Canada M4Y 2N9
NEW WESTMINSTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE AND LAMBETH
recent developments in the Anglican world, by Bill Morrison
A STATEMENT BY THE PRIMATES OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION,
MEETING IN LAMBETH PALACE,
A STATEMENT BY THE BISHOP OF NEW WESTMINSTER, 16 October 2003
by the Rt Rev Michael Ingham
A MESSAGE TO CANADIAN ANGLICANS
FROM THE METROPOLITANS OF THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF CANADA
Archbishops Michael Peers, David Crawley, Terence Finlay, Andrew Hutchison and John Clarke
DIOCESE OF TORONTO UPDATE
NEW INTEGRITY CHAPTERS!
Welcome Integrity/Niagara and Integrity/Bow Valley
RAINBOW LIVES STILL WANTED
CLAIMING THE BLESSING
ARCHBISHOP PEERS COMMENTS ON LAMBETH
by Bill Morrison
In October the Primates of the Anglican Communion met at Lambeth Palace to discuss the "crisis" the Communion faces as a result of the ratification of Gene Robinson's election as its first openly gay bishop, and, to a lesser extent, the decision of the synod of New Westminster to bless same sex unions.
While pulling no punches about how serious they regard this crisis to be, and implying that there will be dire consequences for the Communion's continued existence should Robinson's consecration go ahead, the Primates also upheld the autonomy of individual provinces and decried the interference of primates and bishops from outside in their internal affairs.
In that the Primates' statement echoes an earlier statement from the five Canadian archbishops to our church. The Canadian statement talks specifically about the situation in New Westminster (where Yukon Bishop Terry Buckle is acting as bishop to the nine parishes that walked out of synod in response to the approval of the blessing of same sex unions, and where two foreign primates were among a number of bishops who laid hands on Bishop Buckle and "commissioned" him to his ministry in New Westminster at a service held last summer in a Vancouver-area Baptist church) and says how unhelpful it is when outsiders intervene and undermine the process the Canadian church is using to deal with this difficult matter.
While clearly alarmed by the developments in Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the United States, and fearing for the Communion's future in the light of those developments, the Primates also clearly reaffirmed those parts of the Lambeth 1998 resolutions on sexuality that call on the church to listen to the stories of its gay and lesbian members and that affirm that we are full members of the church.
And, while recognising the potential of the same-sex issue to tear the church apart, they were careful to say that "what we hold in common is much greater than that which divides us in proclaiming Good News to the world."
The Primates' statement from Lambeth is probably the best Integrity supporters could expect, given the circumstances. It and the letter from the Canadian Metropolitans call for the church to use its proper channels and procedures to give careful consideration to the issues it faces, and not to try to short-circuit or derail those procedures. While it is clear that much of the church is not happy with what is happening in Canada and the United States with respect to the place of gays and lesbians in membership and ministry, there is no denying that it has happened, and that the church is moving forward.
After the Primates' statement was released on 16 October, the Diocese of New Hampshire announced that the ordination of Canon Gene Robinson would proceed as planned on 2 November 2003.
16 October 2003
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 sexuality.
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 Communion.
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)
The Primates' statement from Lambeth today should be welcomed by members of the Diocese of New Westminster.
Pressures from certain parts of the Communion to have dioceses such as ours and provinces like ECUSA expelled from the Communion have been firmly rejected by the Primates.
Efforts to seek legitimisation for schismatic attacks on the fundamental structures of the church - by such bishops as Terrence Buckle of the Yukon - have received no support whatsoever.
Instead, the Primates have reaffirmed "the teaching of successive Lambeth Conferences that bishops must respect the autonomy and territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other than their own."
We should welcome the strong recommendation that special care be taken in every part of the Communion for "dissenting minorities." In many places, this must mean that gay and lesbian Christians may now expect to be given the episcopal pastoral care they have not been receiving.
I hope conservative bishops in Canada will now make provision for the dissenting minorities within their own jurisdictions, as we have done here in New Westminster for those who disagree with their own Synod.
The statement speaks of the pain caused in some places by the actions of New Westminster in supporting permanent, faithful relationships between persons of the same sex. We acknowledge this. We have taken great care in our deliberations to listen to the voices of others in the church. Our concern has not been to cause pain, but to end discrimination and prejudice.
We call upon others to do the same for gay and lesbian Christians, and in this respect we welcome the Primates' commending of the entire report of the Lambeth Conference (not merely Resolution I:10) "valuing especially its emphasis on the need to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and to assure them they are loved by God."
We continue to believe that discrimination against homosexuals, not inclusivity, is dividing the church. We hope the Commission being established by the Archbishop of Canterbury will examine this too, and especially that it will include gay and lesbian Christians in its membership.
9 October 2003
Since the late 1960s our society and our church have been discerning how we might respond to the life of gay and lesbian persons in church and society. Their presence in our midst makes this more than a philosophical exercise. Their contributions to the common good of society and the mission of the Body of Christ make it more than a matter of tolerance.
Recent events in our church and in our nation have brought these issues into sharp focus. The Diocese of New Westminster, through its synod and bishop, has authorised and made available a rite for the pastoral blessing of persons in committed same-sex relationships. The courts have ordered our three largest civil provinces (Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia) to provide for same-sex marriage, and the Prime Minister has said he intends to introduce legislation legalising same-sex marriage. The Anglican Church of Canada has not affirmed same-sex blessings. Our bishops have asked General Synod to consider the question of how our church will relate to persons in committed same-sex relationships. Preparations are well underway to bring a question to General Synod that will enable it to address these issues. The range of response, in our church and in our society, is predictably wide, and the positions taken are held with conviction. These issues will not be lightly resolved, and we invite the prayers of all Anglicans as General Synod prepares to address them.
Though disagreement on critical issues need not threaten the gift of communion, recent events have strained our unity. On one hand, although members of our church hold a variety of views, there is little evidence that they see this as a church-dividing issue. Even in the Diocese of New Westminster, there are many Anglicans who disagree with their synod and bishop on this matter, but who choose to remain in the continuing conversation within their diocese. Such conversation, along the willingness to sustain it in trying times, is a costly and valuable gift we give one another. On the other hand, the intervention of leaders from other parts of the Anglican Communion in the life of this Province, and the intervention of one Canadian bishop in the life of another diocese, contrary to the order of the church, have not contributed to our common faithfulness.
At our April meeting, the members of the House of Bishops heard of and supported the provision of supplementary pastoral care to parishes at odds with the Bishop and Synod of New Westminster over the issue of same-sex blessings. Bishop William Hockin, retiring Bishop of Fredericton, has agreed with Bishop Ingham to provide that pastoral care, an offer that has not been taken up by the parishes calling themselves the Anglican Communion in New Westminster. The partnership between Bishops Hockin and Ingham received the overwhelming support of the House of Bishops. The House also agreed by an overwhelming margin to ask Bishop Terry Buckle of the Yukon to withdraw his offer of episcopal oversight to some parishes in New Westminster.
Bishop Buckle's offer, along with his subsequent action in licensing a priest for ministry in the Diocese of New Westminster, is contrary to the Canons of the Church, and at odds with the direction given by the Metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon, Archbishop David Crawley. Archbishop Crawley required Bishop Buckle to withdraw his offer and cease intervention in a diocese in which, by the canons of the church and the laws of British Columbia, he has no jurisdiction or canonical authority. Those who have encouraged him in his course of action have in fact counselled him to disobey the oaths of his episcopal ordination and to disregard the order of the church, the order upon which we depend as we struggle with this and other contentious issues.
The bishops have asked the General Synod of 2004 to consider the question of the blessing of same-sex relationships, and the Council of General Synod has commissioned the Committee on Faith, Worship and Ministry to prepare a process by which the Synod may work toward resolution. Though the context in which that work takes place has changed, with the provision of a rite for such blessings in New Westminster and with court decisions and intended legislation in Parliament, those changes do not pre-empt the work of our General Synod.
It is, rather, those who intervene from outside the Anglican Church of Canada, and those within who do not abide by the church's order, who undermine the necessary and difficult conversation in which members of General Synod will engage. We are committed to the practices of episcopal leadership and synodical governance that have guided the Anglican Church of Canada in its discipleship since the first General Synod of 1893.
We are committed to those practices because they have served us well over our history. They provide a framework within which we continue in communion with one another in the Body of Christ while addressing issues that could otherwise divide us. Through these practices, we have in the past found a way to move forward together. We remain convinced that they will help us once more to renew our common life in the face of disagreement.
"Impaired communion" is not a threat one part of the Anglican Communion can impose on another. Impaired communion is a fact with which we live. Women priests and bishops in the Anglican Church of Canada are not welcome to exercise their offices in many parts of the Communion. We have found ways to live together in the Body of Christ under those constraints. To say that we cannot similarly live together in light of different practices with respect to same-sex relationships simply is not true. The unwillingness of some to live in communion ought not to be interpreted as a necessity but rather as a choice they make.
Moreover, the Primates of the Anglican Communion included the following in their April, 2000 communiqué from their meeting in Portugal:
"Within our ministry to each other and our learning from one another challenge and disagreement are not only made possible but can be life-giving because of our commitment to one another in the family of the Communion. As in any family, the assurance of love allows boldness of speech. We are conscious that we all stand together at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ, so we know that to turn away from each other would be to turn away from the Cross."
They also said this of the difficult question of what would place a Province outside the household of the Anglican Communion:
"We believe that the unity of the Communion as a whole still rests on the Lambeth Quadrilateral: the Holy Scriptures as the rule and standard of faith; the creeds of the undivided Church; the two Sacraments ordained by Christ himself and the historic episcopate. Only a formal and public repudiation of this would place a diocese or Province outside the Anglican Communion." (italics added)
As archbishops in the Anglican Church of Canada, we are committed to the authority of the biblical witness. The meaning of that witness is, however, always a matter for a community's interpretive conversation. The same bible that speaks harshly of homosexual practices speaks equally harshly of the practice of lending money for interest. To say that one prohibition has more weight than another is to have entered already into interpretation, weighing the texts and struggling with their meaning and our response in the present age. We write out of the conviction that it is God's gift of communion that sustains us in the face of diverging interpretations, and that, over time, it is God's Holy Spirit who invites us to enter together into the presence of Truth.
Some within the Anglican Church of Canada, and others encouraging them from afar, wish to end the conversation, abandon communion, and divide our church. They want to make agreement on difficult issues the entry point for communion, rather than receiving the gift of communion as a basis for exploring those issues together. There is no life-giving future in dividing the church, or in founding its unity in anything other than the self-giving love of God revealed in the cross. Uniformity is not a prerequisite for unity.
The House of Bishops has asked the General Synod to find a way forward together. The retired bishop of Fredericton has offered to serve in a delegated pastoral ministry, sharing the work of the Bishop of New Westminster in caring for all congregations in New Westminster. The bishops as a body have done everything possible both to sustain communion and to use the order of the church, especially through the deliberations of General Synod, to seek truth together. Those who undermine those efforts assert that they alone possess the truth, and that others must either embrace their truth or be cast out.
As Metropolitans, we are not of one mind on issues concerning same-sex relationships. We are of one mind that the order of the church, exercised by its bishops and synods, is entrusted to our care. Across Canada, Anglicans live with an absence of consensus on this issue, but agree, in practice as much as in theory, that the table to which God in Christ welcomes us is a place we belong together.
There are things that time alone can reveal. Failure to respect that time can create wounds that time alone can heal. We appeal to Anglicans across Canada to allow the time between now and General Synod 2004 to be a period of renewed commitment to the gift of communion, to make it a time of seeking truth together, rather than only defending versions of truth in mutual hostility.
And we appeal to other leaders in the Communion not to claim authority beyond their Provinces that is not theirs, or to engage in actions that damage our Church and the Communion. Resolutions of the Lambeth Conference of Bishops and communications from the Primates Meetings are neither legislative nor canonical. The decisions of synods are. The Synod of the Diocese of New Westminster has taken a decision that is not welcome in many parts of our common life. The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has been asked to take a decision that - no matter what it decides - will be neither easy nor universally welcomed. We ask you now for the prayers of Christians, rather than seeking leverage for your point of view; we ask you to seek the good of our church, and to pray for and work for its capacity to receive and embrace the gift of communion for which our Lord gave himself on the cross.
Yours in the Body of Christ,
Michael G. Peers
Archbishop and Primate, Senior Metropolitan
David P. Crawley
Archbishop of Kootenay and Metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon
Terence E. Finlay
Archbishop of Toronto and Metropolitan of Ontario
Andrew S. Hutchison
Archbishop of Montreal and Metropolitan of Canada
John R. Clarke
Archbishop of Athabasca and Metropolitan of Rupert's Land
There's been lots of excitement on distant stages, but events in Toronto are moving along too. The biennial Diocesan Synod will take place in late November 2003.
Diocesan Council will recommend to Synod that a special session of Synod be held in fall 2004, to consider same-sex blessings. To prepare for that special Synod, three single-day teaching and information events would be held (in various regions of the diocese) for synod members, wardens, clergy and other interested persons. These forums would feature talks on biblical insights, church authority, theology, and human sexuality from various experts, and discussions for the participants. The process is designed to allow the synod members - who are the ones who will be voting - to gather insights and reflect on the questions to be discussed at the proposed special Synod.
As mentioned in the last issue of Integrator, the Church of the Holy Trinity is sending a motion to Synod asking Archbishop Finlay to designate various parishes in the diocese as venues where same-sex blessings could take place, at the request of the parishes concerned. Diocesan Council is recommending to Synod that only preliminary discussions take place this November on the same-sex blessing question, and that the Holy Trinity motion be deferred to the November 2004 session. By then, the information forums will have taken place, General Synod will have held its deliberations on same-sex blessings, and Council hopes a more informed (and extended) discussion can take place before any decisions are made.
Within the past couple of months, two new chapters have started up in different
parts of the country. We welcome Integrity/Bow Valley (southern Alberta,
outside of Calgary) and Integrity/Niagara (centred in Hamilton ON) to
the Integrity family. We'll be printing news of their doings in upcoming issues
of Integrator. If you'd like to get in touch with them in the meantime, go to
the Integrity/Canada website
for contact information.
We're still hoping to collect some thumbnail biographies of GLBT Anglicans. If you'd be prepared to share up to 500 words on their life in church, and whether you feel you can be out and/or included in the church. Pseudonyms are ok, and people from outside major metropolitan areas particularly welcome. [For more details see last month's article about Rainbow Lives.]
Please send responses to In the Pew Next to You, c/o Integrity Toronto, Box 873 Stn F Toronto M4Y 2X3, or email email@example.com .
Claiming the Blessing Canada is a newly formed group of Anglican clergy and lay people who wish to see the Anglican Church extend blessings to same-sex couples. It takes its name from a similar organisation in the United States.
CBC is sponsoring two events coming up very soon!
At this Eucharist, we will celebrate committed GLBT relationships, celebrating a wide variety of sexuality and relationships, integrity in relationships, a healthy response from left of centre, while sharing the blessing of these relationships.
Church's acceptance of gays and lesbians has not changed, Anglican Primate says
21 October 2003 Toronto
Canadian gays and lesbians will continue to be "welcomed and received in our churches and to have their contributions to our common life honoured," says Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
In a statement released today, Archbishop Peers said that reports quoting him as implying that the Canadian church would seek to dissociate itself from the U.S. Episcopal Church because of its election of a gay bishop were "wildly inaccurate."
Archbishop Peers was quoted after a meeting of Anglican Primates in England last week. The Primates admitted, in a statement following the meeting, that they remained divided on issues involving the blessing of same-sex relationships.
The Canadian Anglican church, Archbishop Peers noted, has embarked on a process to bring issues of same-sex relationships to next year's General Synod, the church's chief governing body. "That has not changed," he said.
The full text of Archbishop Michael Peers' statement to Canadian Anglicans follows:
The communique from last week's meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion and the Moderators of the United Churches has created a flurry of reports and speculation as to its implications.
I am particularly concerned at one recent report that I suggested that the Anglican Church of Canada was ready to join the church in Nigeria in dissociating ourselves from the Episcopal Church, USA. That report is, of course, the result of an interpretation made by the reporter in question, and is wildly inaccurate.
The General Synod of 1995 welcomed and affirmed the presence of gay and lesbian persons in the life of the Anglican Church of Canada. That has not changed. The Council of General Synod has asked the Committee on Faith, Worship and Ministry to design a process by which the General Synod of 2004 may prepare to address questions concerning our church's response to same-sex relationships. That has not changed.
Though the Primates "as a body" expressed regret at events and decisions in New Westminster and the Episcopal Church, USA, as Primate, I have formally expressed neither regret nor affirmation of those events and decisions. I refrain from doing so because I am committed both to the resolutions of the 1995 General Synod and to the hope that in 2004, the General Synod will find a way for us to move forward together on the basis of whatever decision emerges from that Synod.
Similarly, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA, while supporting the letter as an accurate reflection of the Primates' stance, presided at the General Convention at which the confirmation of Canon Robinson's election in New Hampshire was confirmed. These qualifying observations were registered by us and accepted by the other members of the meeting.
Gay and lesbian persons may continue to expect to be welcomed and received in our churches, and to have their contribution to our common life honoured. Those on all sides who are dismayed over recent developments may continue to expect a faithful, charitable and thoughtful hearing within the life of our church at all levels.
As Canadian Anglicans, we are part of a world-wide communion that faces divisive issues in the months and years ahead. Our role in addressing those issues will, I hope, continue to be one of attending carefully to the diversity within the Anglican Church of Canada, and within the wider Communion.
I invite your continuing prayers, not just for some, but for all, that the world may see in us a compelling witness to the redeeming power of our Lord, and that we may be renewed in the gladness of our common life. May we find together the grace, strength and charity to sustain the gift of communion, strained though it may be at this time. It is a gift entrusted to us, not for our sakes alone, but for the sake of the world and of generations yet to come.