INTEGRATOR, the newsletter of Integrity in Canada
copyright 2006 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
Church of Nigeria flouts Lambeth, Dromantine agreements, supports law to ban freedom of association
A GOSPEL OF INTOLERANCE
The Bishop of Washington challenges Anglican support for Nigeria's repressive anti-lesbigay bill
ESSENTIALS CANADA ON THE OFFENSIVE IN OTTAWA
by Ron Chaplin
A TRANSATLANTIC PERSPECTIVE
by the Rev Mike Deed, of the diocese of London, in the Church of England
A NEW MINISTRY IN OTTAWA
Ron Chaplin reports on the newest Integrity chapter in Canada
Church of Nigeria flouts Lambeth, Dromantine agreements; supports law to ban freedom of association
In the December 2005 issue of Integrator, we told the story of Changing Attitude Nigeria: the inaugural meeting of 800 gays, lesbians and their friends was in November. They are working for recognition within the Church of Nigeria. It would be an understatement to call that an uphill battle. Church officials deny the existence of homosexual Anglicans in Africa, and embarked on a smear campaign against CAN's director Davis MacIyalla.
The situation for lesbians and gays in Nigeria has worsened in recent months. Legislation to criminalise meetings of any group such as CAN has come before Nigeria's parliament, with the enthusiastic support of the Church of Nigeria.
Integrity members in Canada are aghast at this development, and particularly at the ecclesiastical endorsement of this oppression of our gay and lesbian Nigerian colleagues. Here is the text of a letter sent to the Primate, and to the Council of General Synod.
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8 March 2006
The Most Reverend Andrew Hutchison
Primate, Anglican Church of Canada
Dear Archbishop Hutchison,
We members of Integrity Canada are writing to you and to the Council of General Synod to express our concerns about the plight of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Government of Nigeria has proposed legislation which will take away the rights of gays and lesbians to freedom of assembly and expression, and severely curtail more basic human rights. This in itself would be sufficient grounds for the Anglican Church of Canada to condemn the proposal, and to affirm the human rights of gays and lesbians in Nigeria.
We are appalled that official spokespersons of the Church of Nigeria have endorsed this affront. We call on Council of General Synod to dissociate the Anglican Church of Canada from this stand, and to remind the leaders of the Church of Nigeria of the commitments they have made at a series of recent meetings of the Anglican Communion.
By way of background, on 18 January 2006, the Federal Executive Council of Nigeria approved legislation with the purported purpose of prohibiting the marriage of same-sex partners, subject to a sentence of five years imprisonment. Because Nigerian criminal law already punishes same-sex activities between adult males with up to fourteen years imprisonment, we question this justification for the legislation.
We question this justification because the legislation would apply the same sentence to the members of any group which promotes such marriages or any "amorous relationships" between same-sex partners. The proposal makes no clear distinction between public and private speech or gatherings.
In other words, the proposal would make an organisation such as Integrity illegal. Not only would our members be subject to arrest and imprisonment; so would any church which supported us, or any news media which reported on our activities.
The Reverend Tunde Popoola, spokesperson for the Church of Nigeria, supported the ban in a statement reported by the Voice of America on 19 January. On 4 March, the Nigerian newspaper The Vanguard quoted the Right Reverend Doctor Ephraim Adebola Ademowo, Anglican Bishop of Lagos: "We commend the Federal Government for the bold step it has taken thus far on the issue and we hope that it will go the whole hog to make the National Assembly complete the process by enacting it into law which will be completed to the letter."
We note that the bishops of the Anglican Communion, meeting at Lambeth in 1998, agreed to the following statement in their resolution on human sexuality: "We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons." Under the proposed legislation, such would be virtually impossible. Meeting in Dromantine, Ireland in February 2005, the Primates agreed to this statement: "The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us."
We ask that you and the leadership of the Anglican Church of Canada reiterate that such is indeed "anathema". We feel profoundly betrayed that our brothers and sisters in the Church of Nigeria seem to have abandoned commitments they have made to us. We call on you and the Anglican Church of Canada to reaffirm the human rights of gay and lesbian persons in all parts of the Communion, and to remind our global partners of the promises they have made.
[signed by 65 Integrity members and supporters, laity and clergy, from Victoria to Moncton]
A Gospel of IntoleranceThe Bishop of Washington challenges Anglican support
for Nigeria's repressive anti-lesbigay bill
By the Rt Rev John Bryson Chane
It's no secret that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion are engaged in a bitter internal struggle over the role of gay and lesbian people within the church. But despite this struggle, the leaders of our global communion of 77 million members have consistently reiterated their pastoral concern for gays and lesbians. Meeting last February, the primates who lead our 38 member provinces issued a unanimous statement that said in part: "The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us."
We now have reason to doubt those words.
Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria and leader of the conservative wing of the communion, recently threw his prestige and resources behind a new law that criminalises same-sex marriage in his country and denies gay citizens the freedoms to assemble and petition their government. The law also infringes upon press and religious freedom by authorising Nigeria's government to prosecute newspapers that publicise same-sex associations and religious organisations that permit same-sex unions.
Were Archbishop Akinola a solitary figure and Nigeria an isolated church, his support for institutionalised bigotry would be significant only within his own country. But the archbishop is perhaps the most powerful member of a global alliance of conservative bishops and theologians, generously supported by foundations and individual donors in the United States, who seek to dominate the Anglican Communion and expel those who oppose them, particularly the Episcopal Church [USA] and the Anglican Church of Canada. Failing that, the archbishop and his allies have talked of forming their own purified communion -- possibly with Archbishop Akinola at its head.
Because the conflict over homosexuality is not unique to Anglicanism, civil libertarians in this country, and other people as well, should also be aware of the archbishop and his movement. Gifts from such wealthy donors as Howard Ahmanson Jr and the Bradley, Coors and Scaife families, or their foundations, allow the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Democracy to sponsor so-called "renewal" movements that fight the inclusion of gays and lesbians within the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches and in the United Church of Christ. Should the institute succeed in "renewing" these churches, what we see in Nigeria today may well be on the agenda of the Christian right tomorrow.
Many countries have laws restricting marriage on any number of grounds. Some of these, such as age, kinship and marital status, for instance, are prudent, while most of us believe other sorts of restrictions, including race and religion, are oppressive and indefensible. Our global community has certainly achieved no consensus on the issue of same-sex marriage or the related issues of civil unions.
But the Nigerian law has crossed the line in several important respects. Its most outrageous provision deals not with marriage but with "same-sex relationships" and prohibits essentially any public or private activity in any way related to homosexuality. It reads in part: "Publicity, procession and public show of same sex amorous relationship through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise are prohibited in Nigeria."
Any person involved in the "sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly" is subject to five years' imprisonment.
The archbishop's support for this law violates numerous Anglican Communion documents that call for a "listening process" involving gay Christians and their leaders. But his contempt for international agreements also extends to Articles 18-20 of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which articulates the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, association and assembly.
Surprisingly, few voices -- Anglican or otherwise -- have been raised in opposition to the archbishop. When I compare this silence with the cacophony that followed the Episcopal Church's decision to consecrate the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, a gay man who lives openly with his partner, as the bishop of New Hampshire, I am compelled to ask whether the global Christian community has lost not only its backbone but its moral bearings. Have we become so cowed by the periodic eruptions about the decadent West that Archbishop Akinola and his allies issue that we are no longer willing to name an injustice when we see one?
I also feel compelled to ask the archbishop's many high-profile supporters in this country why they have not publicly dissociated themselves from his attack on the human rights of a vulnerable population. Is it because they support this sort of legislation, or because the rights of gay men and women are not worth the risk of tangling with an important alliance?
As a matter of logic, it must be one or the other, and it is urgent that members of our church, and citizens of our country, know your mind.
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The Rt Rev JOHN BRYSON CHANE is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.
This article appeared first in the Washington Post in February 2006,
and is reprinted here by permission of the author.
Essentials Canada on the offensive in Ottawa
by Ron Chaplin
On 9 February , a group of seven Ottawa clergy, all associated with the Anglican Essentials Canada movement, fired their strongest public salvo yet in their campaign to challenge the leadership of the Anglican Church of Canada. They challenged the decision of the Ottawa Bishop Peter Coffin to permit a priest from the Diocese of Massachusetts to function.
The Rev Linda Privatera, who had been rector of the Episcopal Parish of Our Savior in Arlington (near Boston) came to Ottawa in the autumn, accompanying her partner who had accepted a teaching post at Carleton University. Linda and Melissa are legally married under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, something which the seven Ottawa clergy maintain to be unacceptable.
The open letter asserts that the bishop's decision "is in breach of the General Synod process in place". "Dialogue, debate and study have been answered by this action," the open letter declares. "The question before the Diocese is no longer, 'Can we bless same-sex unions?' The question now is, 'Can we, as a Diocese, return to traditional Scriptural teaching in all areas of human sexuality?' "
Following some heated debate on the diocesan email listserv, six of the seven signatories to the open letter publicly shared some "additional thoughts". Among them was the following: "If a priest in this Diocese was now to perform a perfectly legal same-sex marriage, on what possible basis can they be disciplined? On what possible basis can the Bishop, or any Diocesan Official, say that a priest in this Diocese cannot officiate at a same-sex marriage? There is now no basis for such policies."
At the two most recent diocesan synods, Bishop Peter Coffin has made it clear that he would not agree to any suggestion that the Diocese of Ottawa endorse any Anglican blessing of same-sex relationships. He has publicly stated that his position has not changed, nor will any such action be contemplated prior to the next meeting of General Synod in 2007. Linda Privatera has agreed to abide by this policy.
The Canadian House of Bishops first formally addressed the issue of sexual orientation in 1979. In carefully crafted guidelines, the bishops stated that they "could not condone homosexual activity", nor would they "call into question the ordination of any homosexual person committed to abstaining from same-sex activity". When revisiting the Guidelines in 1997, the bishops were unable to agree on any revisions to these provisions, from one perspective or the other.
This ambiguity was reflected in the decisions taken by General Synod in 2004. While deferring any decision on the issue of blessing same-sex relationships, General Synod agreed to "affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships." Additionally, an openly gay priest in a public same-sex relationship was elected by members of as Prolocutor, second only to the Primate as an officer of General Synod.
Bishop Coffin, in a telephone interview, stressed how seriously he took both the Guidelines of the House of Bishops, and the resolutions of General Synod. While stressing that the responsibility of granting permission for a priest to function in the diocese was "his and his alone", he asked that I share that he has "constantly affirmed the ministry of gay and lesbian people." He decried what he called the conspiracy of silence by the Church in affirming such, and said that he "could not be in that place any longer." He was dismayed by the virulence of the opposition to his recent actions, stating that his actions were "not particularly courageous".
In a clear demonstration that the time for dialogue and debate had not ended in the diocese, Bishop Peter Coffin also granted full permission to the Rt Rev Donald Harvey, the retired bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, to visit and to preach and to perform any and all priestly functions, as he had been invited to four different parishes on the weekend of February 10 - 12.
Bishop Harvey is regarded as the episcopal leader of the Anglican Network in Canada. The Network is an organisation of individuals and parishes who assert to be in "impaired or broken communion with the Anglican Church of Canada or their diocesan bishop." Their mandate also includes those who "cannot contribute financially to or participate fully in their diocese or the Anglican Church of Canada." In other words, while claiming to be Anglican, they dissociate themselves from the Anglican Church of Canada.
I attended the first of these meetings to which Bishop Harvey had been invited, a meeting of The Anglican Gathering of Ottawa, the local supporters of Anglican Essentials Canada, held at St. George's parish on February 10.
Bishop Harvey was there to "rally the troops" and to encourage their conviction to dissociate from General Synod and cement ties with other Anglican Provinces as the legitimate voice of Anglicanism in Canada. He related his experience of travelling to Singapore, for the consecration of the new Primate of South East Asia. He stressed that, as leader of the Network, he had been so invited at the representative of the Canadian Church.
Although warmly received those who were there gathered, I was profoundly disturbed by much of what Bishop Harvey had to say. One particular part of his homily is embedded in my memory. He related the story of being consoled by someone from [some unnamed part of] Africa where inter-sectarian violence between Christian and Muslim is rampant. He related how this African brother had told him of marauders burning their villages and their churches, and raping and murdering their wives and daughters. Then, the African told him that they were praying for the "orthodox" in Canada, because the Canadians' pain was much worse. "At least we know who our enemies are," Bishop Harvey explained this African brother had told him.
I felt, quite simply, deflated. Am I, and are those who promote the idea of revisiting traditional teachings, "enemies"? I never have considered myself such, nor do I consider those who disagree with me.
The current state of affairs
The current edition of the newspaper of the Diocese of Ottawa, CrossTalk, carries on its front page the story that the Parish of St Alban the Martyr, one of the city's oldest parishes (its architect was Thomas Fuller, who designed the original three buildings on Parliament Hill), has withheld it diocesan apportionment now for two years. No disclosure has been made as to how these funds are now being redeployed.
As for the Rev Linda Privatera, she is now on the second of two part-time, term contracts at my home parish of St John the Evangelist. We have been short-staffed since, in December, our associate priest has moved on to become rector of another parish. Linda has not only helped us out, but been a blessing beyond what we could have asked or imagined. Because of the limited terms of her permission, and her arrangement with our parish, we have had only a glimpse of her gifts. Let me share with you, as I have shared with everyone I have spoken to in this diocese, from the Bishop on down, my appreciation for her gifts of preaching (and, dare I say, from a biblical perspective, this is what the ancients would have called "prophecy"?)
Her homilies have given me, literally, goosebumps. She has a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ which is so powerful it leaves me trembling. If you don't wish to take my word for this, go to one of Linda's sermons on our parish website to get a taste. [More of Linda's sermons can be found from here].
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RON CHAPLIN is Integrator's Ottawa correspondent.
He was a member of General Synod 2004 from the diocese of Ottawa,
and is (as you will read elsewhere) a founding member of the brand-new Integrity chapter in the nation's capital.
A Transatlantic Perspective
by the Rev Mike Deed
I am here in Toronto, many miles and, it seems, even more frosty degrees to observe and study and experience something of the diversity of the Anglican Church of Canada in the Diocese of Toronto. What I have observed here and what I experience in the Anglican Church in England is vastly different.
It seems that the Church has always had a problem at coping with difference, or diversity: right back at the very beginning of the Church in Acts 15, a council is called at Jerusalem to wrestle with division caused by difference -- the difference between Jewish and Gentile Christians.
Unfortunately, the Church has always tackled these scenarios from a 'them' and 'us' standpoint, where 'we' hold the 'truth' (and thus power) and 'they' do not yet have it in its fullness, 'they' need to be brought on board 'our' ship. Often this has been bound up with assumptions about cultural norms, this gave rise to the great sins of colonialism, but also more recently, issues of youth culture, mission and issues of sexuality.
What I observe here in Toronto from the visitor's perspective is a society, and also a Church, which -- however slow moving it may seem to those within it -- is at least 20, maybe 30 years ahead of the Church of England in its dialogue and action. The multicultural policy here, for all its failings, is one which enables differences to co-exist and encourages dialogue; it is not afraid to show the strengths of its colours, nor to engage in learning and participation with the 'other'.
This is a sharp contrast to the UK where the multi-cultural approach of the 'melting pot', has not encouraged dialogue or integration and, as we have seen recently it has meant the pot has bubbled over.
What do I see in the Church of England when I compare it to Toronto? I see very few ethnicities represented among our clergy. I see few women among our clergy, although this balance is slowly being addressed. Take my own deanery for example: of 16 clergy, only one is a woman (and she is currently on maternity leave) -- the rest of us are white, middle-class, and middle-aged, educated men. This is a distinct contrast to the multicultural area of London in which we are called to serve.
There are very few ethnic Anglican congregations; those that exist are in their fledgling days and lack distinctive Diocesan support.
Particularly disheartening, I see reflected in our media, a Church consumed with 'infighting', which the public watches with some incredulity as a storm about sexuality sweeps the Church. That infighting leaves a lot of causalities -- especially gay and lesbian clergy -- in its wake, along with a very battered Archbishop of Canterbury.
It is not all doom and gloom though. There are bright sparks of hope in the Church of England. There are some places where parishes include and reflect the diversity of their local community. There is a high priority on youth work. In fact, young people probably have more opportunity to be involved in all levels of the Church's life than ever before. There are many youth ministers working across denominational boundaries; there is a great sharing of resources; and there is a new initiative to include diverse ways of worship. In addition, the Evangelical Churches are waking up to the idea of social action, while the more Catholic minded Churches are (slowly!) waking up to the idea of mission -- they might actually have to speak about Jesus!
I think that the Church is ideally suited to include and celebrate our diversity: it stems from the ministry of reconciliation which is entrusted to us through Christ, it is a ministry which overcomes human divisions and barriers; a witness to the work of Christ who abolished merely human distinctions: "For he is our peace, who has made both one and has broken down the dividing wall between us". Our life together as the Church is to show that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, , neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus".
We can accomplish this because it is hard wired into the Christian faith; it is our hope, our eschatology, as depicted in Revelation chapter 7, that glorious vision of all nations united as one, bowing down before the throne of heaven.
But if we are to get there, if we are to overcome the 'them' vs 'us' mentality, we need to revisit here and now our understanding of our sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist. Those are the signs of God's welcome and grace that make all one on the journey. Once the rabble of slaves from Egypt had passed through the waters of the Red Sea, they found themselves stuck with one another. They had to move and grow from being the collection of slaves to being the people of God. Today, we have a similar journey to make.
At the table of Christ, where bread is broken and all are welcome, we can sit and eat together and learn the spiritual wisdom that grows in cultures and ways of being that are different to our own. When we do that, then we will truly be the family of God at the Lord's supper -- where all members of the body are shown honour, and all will be members together.
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The Rev MICHAEL DEED is curate of
the parish of St Clement Notting Dale with St James Norlands,
in the diocese of London in England.
He spent the month of February in Canada, "to see how the diocese of Toronto does diversity". One of the diversities Toronto tries to deal with is providing a church home for people of all sexual orientations, and in that connection Mike visited the Church of the Redeemer (Integrity's home parish),and later came to an Integrity/ Toronto Eucharist on a cold Monday in February. This is the text of the talk he gave during that service.
A new ministry: Integrity Ottawa
by Ron Chaplin
As happens, sadly, far, far too often in the gay and lesbian community, out of a fundamental act of injustice comes a rallying. Here in Ottawa, after years of dithering by myself and other committed Anglicans of my ilk, a new chapter of Integrity has been founded.
We have, thus far, held three monthly meetings, never attended by less than two dozen persons committed to this ministry. We are gay, lesbian and straight, in equal measure, male and female, clergy and laity, from (so far) four different parishes. We have gathered, whether gay or straight, to affirm the ministry of gay and lesbian persons in the Church and in the community.
This has been a long time coming. We have come together at this moment for many reasons, which have been brewing beneath the surface for a long, long time.
We were prompted to come together to support our sister, the Rev Linda Privatera, who has been denied the opportunity to serve as a fully functioning priest in this diocese. We have come together to support each other. The recent fuss made by those affiliated with the Essentials movement in this diocese has called into question our role in the church. Are we regarded truly as brothers and sisters in Christ, or as the "enemy"? Are our gifts and our ministry valued, or are they somehow unacceptable?
We are confident that, by working together, and across parish boundaries, we can more effectively evangelise in our communities, can promote awareness and understanding, and affirm the gifts that so many are so generously willing to share.
And we would invite all those who share our conviction to ask the questions to join us. Our current chair is Gillian Wallace, whom you can contact at: firstname.lastname@example.org