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January 30, 2016
Welby's Woes Extend to his Own Church of England
By two-to-one, the English public supports same-gender marriage

This month could go down as one of the most miserable for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.  Aside from managing the current groaning and travail in the worldwide Anglican Communion, the venerable Church of England, which he also leads, appears to be increasingly out of step with the people of England.

The Church's own statistics show that C of E membership has dipped below one million for the first time in modern record-keeping. Church members are dying off and the numbers of new baptisms, new members, and new clergy are not keeping pace.

This month's efforts by the Anglican Communion to punish the Episcopal Church for its embrace of same-gender marriage isn't likely to help.

Last week a survey by YouGov, found that by a margin of 45%-37% people in England who claim to be Anglican, Episcopal, or Church of Englanders say they are okay with same-sex marriages.  Nearly three-quarters of young people in that group say it is fine with them. 

By an even wider margin, Englanders in general support same-gender marriage by 56%-27%.  Read the full story here


January 29, 2016
New Revelations Stun Loyal Anglicans
Failing to punish the Episcopal Church, most GAFCON Primates walked out of Canterbury gathering; 
ACNA representative left early as well

At a news conference on the final day of his historic gathering of Anglican primates two weeks ago, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby sounded upbeat about the prospects of a unified Anglican Communion "walking together" in the future. 

As proof, he brandished a final "communique" from the group outlining a global vision for the worldwide denomination that included addressing crises as diverse as hunger, refugees, and religious persecution, including that of gays and lesbians.

Asked why the leaders of the ultraconservative provinces of the Communion - known as GAFCON -  were not present, he explained they had flights to catch. 

Turns out that was not exactly what was happening.  Read full story from ENS


January 27, 2016
Chaos in the Anglican Communion
by Dr. Ron Caldwell

Dr. Caldwell continues his thoughtful analysis of the issues raised by the recent actions of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Anglican Communion.  Click here for his full commentary


January 22, 2016 (revised 1/26)
Primates' Meeting Ends After Imposing "Consequences" on the Episcopal Church
Primates dodge debate on homosexuality with focus on Church's failure to consult on same-sex marriage

Post-conference briefing  provides more questions than answers

CANTERBURY - Last week Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby convened a kind of peace conference at Canterbury Cathedral to engage the fractious leaders of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion in discussions on the global challenges they are facing.  His hope was they'd find a way to move move beyond their bitter 13-year stalemate over human sexuality.

It was not an easy task. 

Over the past two years, Welby has traveled to each of the provinces to press his case for unity, and discourage disaffected “primates,” like those in Africa, from leaving the Communion altogether. 

He cancelled an every-ten-year conference of Anglican primates and bishops at Lambeth Palace when ultraconservative primates threatened to embarrass him by not showing up. They've even gone so far as to organize their own rival version of the Communion, known by the acronym GAFCON, to cultivate sympathizers and sabotage the Communion’s more modern-thinking elements.


1.  GAFCON Welcomes You (sort of)

Even though GAFCON is not an official body of the Communion, it has repeatedly humiliated Welby and derailed his efforts to unify its member provinces, mostly over the willingness of some provinces to include gays and lesbians into the full life of their Churches.

Readers of this blog remember last summer’s visit to Charleston by GAFCON leaders and the Primate of the tiny Province of South America, who told us that Welby had signed off on GAFCON’s adoption of ex-Bishop Lawrence’s breakaway “Diocese of South Carolina” as a junior member. Turns out Welby never did any such a thing, according to an official spokesman for the Archbishop.  The lie was never admitted to nor was there ever a public apology. 

This has been typical of the disrespect shown by the GAFCON crowd to those with whom they disagree. 

As late as last Tuesday, in spite of the extensive arrangements made by Welby, GAFCON primate Stanley Ntagali of Uganda sneaked out of the conference without saying a word to Welby.  He was apparently back in Kampala when Welby found out he’d left, but not before telling the news media he was tired of talking to people with whom he didn't agree. 

As late as Friday afternoon Welby was saying he had no clue why Ntagali left.


Read about Ntagali's self-serving media stunt


As it turns out, Ntagali was headed home to a series of pre-planned rallies and media events to boost his public image as an international superhero defending Africa from the influence of gay-loving westerners.

2.  Conservatives take control of the agenda


Among GAFCON's complaints about prior Primates' meetings was that their format and pre-set agendas made it difficult for conservatives to engage their colleagues in decisive action on issues of concern to them.

So on Monday, the first day of the
gathering, Welby reportedly asked the primates to suggest issues they wanted to see on the agenda for the rest of the week.  Not surprisingly, disciplining the Episcopal Church over its approval of same-gender marriage rites was among the most popular.

By Tuesday a consensus had formed among the primates that some disciplinary measure against the Episcopal Church would be necessary to preserve the unity and credibility of the Communion. 

However, it was not clear what that disciplining should look like.
 

Our understanding is that there was an emerging sense among the primates to avoid being perceived as punishing one of its members for its openness to a persecuted and widely-despised minority.  They did not want to see the Communion risking its public credibility in a protracted and non-productive debate over homosexuality.

There was also a growing favorability about the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church especially among the conservative non-GAFCON primates. 

Most of them had only known Katharine Jefferts Schori and maybe Frank Griswold, whose integrity, theology, and belief in Jesus Christ had been successfully pilloried by GAFCON allies in the United States even before they ever met their primatial colleagues. 

Curry was not as easily maligned. 
In Curry, conservatives were finding someone whose understanding of the Gospel and commitment to evangelism sounded more like their own.  It was not as easy for African and Asian provinces to imagine him as a mouthpiece of former colonial powers.

3. Moderates check the GAFCON primates

By Wednesday morning, momentum for a severe punishment for the Episcopalians was losing steam.  The vote on just such a proposal - asking the Episcopal Church to voluntarily suspend itself from the Communion for three years - failed 15-20. Those on the losing side were reportedly GAFCON primates, plus some conservative non-GAFCON primates from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

At some point during the morning another, less heavy-handed, proposal emerged. 

This time the focus of the conversation was on procedural missteps the Episcopal Church supposedly failed to follow in approving rites for same-gender marriage. 

By a reported vote of 30-6, the Primates then did agree that members of the Episcopal Church should not be allowed to serve on any policy-making or ecumenical councils of the Communion for the next three years as a consequence of having approved same-gender marriage without consulting the Communion.

The resolution did not condemn homosexuality or the ordaining of gay priests or bishops, and did not propose that the Episcopal Church withdraw from the Communion.
It appeared to be just enough to keep the GAFCON primates and the other conservatives on board, without totally alienating the more progressive provinces.

The action was largely symbolic since the Primates have no authority to discipline any Communion member or to override the official membership structures of the Communion. 

However, the move did give anti-gay primates an opportunity to flex their political muscle, send a message to the progressive provinces, and rob Welby of the image of a somewhat unified, though quarrelsome, Anglican Communion at the end of the conference.


Read the Primates entire official statement

4.  Public backlash

On Thursday, the public got its first sense of the chess game inside the Cathedral when the text of Wednesday's agreement was leaked. The international news media went wild over the story, at times even reporting that the Episcopal Church had been thrown out of the Communion altogether.

All signs suggest it was leaked by one of the GAFCON members. Welby was both embarrassed and furious, but powerless to prevent an immediate onslaught of public criticism and protests. 

The public criticism across the more progressive parts of the Communion was bafflement at the extent to which the Archbishop of Canterbury was willing to bend the rules to appease the ultraconservative primates.

5.  African protesters beg Welby to fight gay persecution in their countries

The unauthorized disclosure of the agreement brought more distractions down on Welby when African protesters arrived outside the Cathedral, demanding that the Anglican Communion speak out more forcefully against the persecution of homosexuals.

During at least a couple of news cycles, the most poignant images from the conference were those of
 African protesters outside the Cathedral begging a powerful Archbishop to use his influence end to the persecution, incarceration, and killings of homosexuals at the hands of African governments with whom many of his provinces are aligned.

And even then the bad news wasn’t over for Welby.

The leaking of the agreement and the heart-rending stories of the African protesters coincided with yet another troubling news story, this one suggesting that membership in the Church of England, the Mother Church of the Communion, had dropped to a modern low of less than a million communicants.


6.  "Disappointed" Curry  urges Episcopalians to keep their eyes on Jesus

The reaction of the Episcopal Church to the primates' action was largely restrained, tempered no doubt by the extraordinary response of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who spoke as passionately behind the closed doors of the gathering as he did on a YouTube video to his flock back home.  

Curry’s inspiring words with his rather ordinary appearance on a sidewalk outside the Cathedral was a stark contrast to the image of a besieged Archbishop of Canterbury trying to hold things together on the inside.


7.  News conference produced more questions than answers

The primates meeting mercifully concluded on Friday morning, after which an exhausted Welby had the bad idea to hold a news conference. 

He was joined by three others in key leadership positions in the Communion: The Most Rev. Paul Kwong of Hong Kong; The Most Rev. Dr. Thabo Makgoba of Southern Africa; and the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon of Nigeria.


Click here to view the four Communion leaders' 55-minute news conference

Not surprisingly the four were keen on having the public know that they had won the unanimous commitment of the 38 primates, minus one, to “walk together” in attending the next Lambeth Conference.  Given the rumors that the GAFCON crowd was planning a mass walkout, this was no small achievement.

However, for all the talk of unity, reporters struggled with the prelates’ assessment of the meeting as positive and upbeat, amid multiple reports of difficult conversations that had produced “pain” and “hurt.” 

After all, the primates had just taken the unprecedented step of punishing one of the Communion's most prominent and loyal members at the insistence of their most aggressively anti-gay colleagues, a move that could hardly have been "joyful" except for GAFCON members.


8.  "Consequences"?

During his news conference, Welby clearly did not want to dwell on the primates' move against The Episcopal Church which, he insisted implausibly, was not punishment.  He repeatedly expressed irritation with its characterization as “sanctions,” instead arguing that it was merely a “consequence” of Episcopalians taking a theological “change of direction” without first consulting the Communion. 

Welby just seemed to make things worse for himself by acting as if the action taken was simply business as usual.  He did not offer an example of such an action ever being taken in the past, nor did he explain how the Primates’ Meeting, one of the Communion’s four “Instruments of Unity”, had authority to act on its own against a member province, and override the membership criteria of another.

Welby also seemed to fumble a couple of times when he was asked for the vote totals on key issues.  

On the question of defining marriage as between one man and woman, a Commnion press release had initially reported a "majority" of the primates had supported the Church's traditional view.  However, when a reporter asked about it, Welby at first didn't seem to remember if a vote was taken, and then seemed to remember that there wasn't one, only a consensus.

When he was asked about the result of the balloting on the imposition of "consequences" against the Episcopal Church, he refused to provide it, claiming even more absurdly, that the gathering was a "private meeting". 

Some of the GAFCON primates had told the news media that more than two thirds of the primates had voted in favor, but other sources said it was just a majority. In fact, we now believe it was the 30-6 vote we reported above.


9.  Africans continue to avoid accountability on human rights

The Archbishop was not helped much by Idowu-Fearon who used his moment with the news media to deflect criticism of the homophobia in the African provinces by insisting that former colonial powers should just “leave Africa alone” to deal with these kinds of issues on their own. 

He did not address long-standing criticism of the Church of Nigeria for its silence and sometimes encouragement of laws that require the imprisonment of gays, including jail time for those who might just seem to be gay.  Over the past decade the leadership of the Church in Nigeria has also been accused of encouraging violence against Muslims.

None of the reporters chose to ask Idowu-Fearon how the Africans’ obsession with punishing the Episcopal Church was not the kind of cross-jurisdictional meddling he was complaining about, in reverse.  In fact, for the past 15 years, the Anglican provinces in Africa have conducted a massive effort to seize control of Episcopal parishes in the United States, including taking them to court as in the case of places like Christ Church in Savannah.

The most obvious hypocrisy of the leave-Africa-alone crowd was their preconference insistence that the leader of the self-described “Anglican Church of North America” be invited to participate in the Primates' Meeting as a condition of their own participation. 

ANCA is comprised of embittered former Episcopalians and members of the Anglican Church of Canada, many of whom used their former positions to create chaos within their former denominations.  They are now demanding that they be considered the one and only Anglican province in North America. 

South Carolinians are well aware of the lengths to which these people will go. 

Welby has said publicly that he does not consider ANCA be part of the Communion or by implication, its “primate” to be part of its governing structure... yet its leader was right there with the all the real primates. 
 
The presence of ANCA's man at the meeting, his participating in the debates and some votes were among one of several long-standing procedures Welby arbitrarily suspended at the meeting.
 

Welby did say he was unsure if the ACNA leader would be invited to the Lambeth Conference.

10.  Some primates appeared hopeful after the conference

The commitment from the remaining 37 primates to attend a future Lambeth Conference was certainly a positive step for those who think it is important, while the conference’s carefully-structured small group interactions apparently produced many extraordinary and inspiring moments that seem to have created more positive relationships between the primates. 

The final communique released by the primates raised urgent concerns about refugees, global warming, and violence against gays and lesbians.
 
A Primate from New Zealand and Polynesia said that for the most part his colleagues made an extraordinary effort to listen to one another in ways he described as intense and exhausting: 

“Before our meeting there was intense media speculation that the Anglican Communion would split, irrevocably, and that there would be a walk out early in our meeting.  There were rumours of cars waiting outside the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral, with motors running, poised to whisk schismatic archbishops to an undisclosed venue, there to proclaim an alternative Anglican Communion.”

11.  Anglican provinces not likely to go to bat for persecuted gays in Africa

The one issue Welby painfully dodged throughout the news conference was the extensive involvement of many African provinces with autocratic regimes that have aggressively persecuted gays and lesbians. 

In many cases the Anglican provinces have largely been bought off by those regimes and consequently turned a blind eye to its abuses of human rights.  In Uganda, the country's dictator has routinely lavished money and gifts - like luxury cars - on the Anglican primates.  The Anglican province, in return, was instrumental in securing the passage of the government's new laws making it a crime for Ugandans to even seem gay.


In the 1990s, the Anglican Church of Rwanda was significantly complicit in the genocide of tens of thousands of men, women, and children... and the Anglican Communion apparently never was inclined to impose and "consequences" in that sorry expression of Anglican leadership.

According the Rev. Ruchard Kirker, an advocate for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Africa:

“I hold the homophobia of the Church of England partly culpable for the even more extreme forms of homophobia in other parts of the collapsing Anglican Communion.

"The failure of the Church of England to understand homophobia, let alone admit that it is endemic and sanctioned in its own life, has made it much easier for the likes of Uganda and Nigeria to go on their own merry way with impunity as the Archbishop of Canterbury has never said their presence in the Communion is incompatible with contemporary understandings of sexuality and faith. Then again he could hardy say that since he and his predecessors have been busy becoming more homophobic – to the relief of the arch-bigots.”

While Welby said repeatedly this week with great emotion that he was outraged at the persecution or imprisonment of anyone because of his or her sexuality, he also was clear that whether any of the Anglican primates would speak up on their behalf was not up to him.

Visit Dr. Ron Caldwell's blog for further insights on the Primates' Meeting in London



January 20, 2016

GAFFE-CON:  Foley Beach Misleads Primates on Church Pensions

Read full story here


January 18, 2016
Anglican Hypocrisy?
Lambeth 1988:  Marriage is also between one man and a few women

SC Episcopalians hates to bring this up when things are going so swimmingly for our Anglican brethren across the Pond. 

However, we just need to get this off our chests.

In their grand condemnation of the Episcopal Church last week, the Primates of the Anglican Communion affirmed their view that, "
The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union."

Traditionalists rightly applauded.  Unfortunately for them, the actual tradition in the Anglican Communion is only sort of like that.
 

Resolution 26

At the 1988 Lambeth Conference, the leaders of Communion agreed that marriage between a man and a woman is the "ideal," but in the real world there may be the need for a little flexibility. 

That's right.  It's called polygamy... and it's all part of that big Anglican family walking together over there.

According to Lambeth 1988, there are circumstances in which it is acceptable for an Anglican in good standing to be married to multiple wives at the same time.


Check it out to see if you qualify.

Back then the leaders of the African provinces believed the one-wife rule was frustrating their efforts to convert Muslim men who were allowed to have multiple wives.  It seems those pesky Muslims were actually posting signs all over the place that read: "Jesus: Three Gods, One Wife.  Allah: One God, Three Wives... Your Choice."

That's pretty much all it took for Anglicanism to broaden its view of the marriage "ideal".

Then there's the small print

Now before any of our readers get too excited, the participants at Lambeth imposed a few limitations on this rule. 

The first is that it only applies to men.  Women can't have multiple husbands as that would be immoral, of course. 

The second is that once you become an Anglican, you can't still go around grabbing up more wives.  You are limited to the wives you have when you join up.  So, plan ahead.

However, the third part of the deal is that when you convert, all your wives automatically convert over as well.  They don't really have a say.  This goes back to that old idea that women are more or less property and, apart from their husbands, not especially unique spiritual beings.

You might be surprised to learn there are many ardent advocates of polygamy in parts of the Anglican Communion and they will tell you that nowhere in the Bible does God condemn polygamy. 

In fact, they will point out that many of God's favorites - like Abraham and Solomon - were practicing polygamists.  Moses even told his male followers that those who were tempted to commit adultery should just find themselves a nice concubine from among their conquered peoples and make the most of a bad situation.

Makes for an interesting time at "family night" down at the local parish.  

Meanwhile, our point is that there is precedent in the Communion for bending the marriage "ideal" a bit to incorporate the political and cultural realities of the Communion's member provinces. 

At least that was the argument put forth by the polygamists' leading advocate in 1988... the Anglican Church of Uganda. 
 

January 18, 2016
The Selective Outrage of the Anglican Church
by Jonathan Merritt in The Atlantic
Read full story here


January 14, 2016
Are Episcopalians Wasting Time with the Anglican Communion?
Politics of ultraconservative provinces have turned "instrument of Anglican unity" into an impotent relic

Read full story here


January 14, 2016
Primates Want Episcopalians Excluded from Anglican Communion Activities for Three Years over Same-Gender Marriages
African Primates organize surprise attack at unofficial conference even though they lack authority

Presiding Bishop delivers moving defense of the Episcopal Church

 

Read full story here

 

 

January 14, 2016
Bishop vonRosenberg to Retire this Summer
Beloved Bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina leaving an extraordinary legacy

South Carolina Bishop Charles vonRosenberg informed his Standing Committee this morning that he will step down as Provisional Bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, in mid-to-late summer. 

The retired Bishop of East Tennessee was elected in January 2013 following the sudden departure of ex-Bishop Mark Lawrence, who quit the Episcopal Church and abandoned the Diocese in late 2012. 

Since that time, vonRosenberg has guided the wounded diocese through seemingly endless legal proceedings in state and Federal courts, fending off legal attacks from Lawrence and his followers and their claim to be owners of "The Diocese of South Carolina." 

Lawrence and 36 parishes aligned with him filed a lawsuit against the Church and vonRosenberg's diocese just days before his election laying claim to parish property and diocesan assets valued at as much as $500 million.  

The case is now on appeal before the state's Supreme Court
.


Read Bishop vonRosenberg's letter to the Diocese

Diocese will consult with the Presiding Bishop on the way forward

The Diocese will consult with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and his staff on the selection of vonRosenberg's successor, creating a process that likely will lead to the election of another "provisional" bishop to continue to rebuild the Diocese on the foundation vonRosenberg has established.

Provisional bishops normally serve until a diocese is strong enough to stand on its own and elect a "Diocesan" bishop.  Three years is usually considered a good run for a provisional bishop, and most of the breakaway dioceses have had a succession of them until they were ready to elect a "Diocesan" bishop. 

Meanwhile, the Standing Committee of the Diocese assumes the authority of the bishop when there is a vacancy in that office.  That could happen next summer as the next regularly scheduled Diocesan convention won't occur until the fall.  However, the Standing Committee are empowered to call a special convention to elect a new bishop if its members feel it is necessary.

Even so, the way forward will not be easy.


VonRosenberg's legacy  

During his tenure vonRosenberg has endured repeated attacks and humiliation at the hands of the breakaways.  Lawrence's attorneys repeatedly belittled "the foreign bishop" and in open court intentionally mangled the pronunciation of his name. He was variously vilified by Lawrence's lieutenants and spin doctors as a stooge for Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Throughout the ordeal, vonRosenberg never publicly criticized Lawrence or any of the parishes that had chosen to follow him.  He insisted that his Diocese remain committed to the idea of reconciliation, and left the door slightly open for a process by which pro-Lawrence clergy could return to the priesthood even as he was "releasing" them from their ordination vows.

Following his election and installation, vonRosenberg led the wounded diocese for months from an office he shared with a third-grade Sunday School class at one of his Charleston parishes.  Lawrence and his cohorts had laid claim to everything that wasn't nailed down, including vonRosenberg's title as the "Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina."


Even today Lawrence still lives in the official Charleston residence of "the Episcopal Bishop of South Carolina. claiming that he is that person. 

With extraordinary patience, vonRosenberg rebuilt the Diocese from the ground up.  He recreated a Standing Committee and Diocesan Council, reorganized its deaneries with new leaders, and secured loans and donations to stabilize the Diocese's shaky infrastructure.  He even had to come up with a new name for the Diocese itself.  

VonRosenberg made history with the very popular appointment of the Ven. Calhoun Walpole as his Archdeacon.  She is the first woman to hold a diocesan office at this level in South Carolina.  

He presided over the formation of eight new mission parishes, formed by loyal Episcopalians who'd been run out of their home parishes by the Lawrencians.  He became the first bishop to celebrate the Eucharist at Po Pigs Barbeque on Edisto Island, the initial location of one of his budding mission parishes and home to one of the best BBQ buffets in the Sea Islands.

VonRosenberg reestablished relationships with Episcopal Church seminaries that the Lawrencans once feared as too liberal, and began sending students to them.  Last fall, vonRosenberg received approval from the Diocesan Convention to establish a new cathedral at historic Grace Church in downtown Charleston.  The former cathedral had cast its lot with Lawrence.

Of great significance was vonRosenberg's organization of an effective legal defense against Lawrence's attacks that would not run the Diocese into the red.  Lawrence's legal team at times included nearly 50 of the best and brightest of the state's law firms.

The wisdom of his strategy became apparent in September 2015 when the Chief Justice of the state' Supreme Court blasted a titanic hole in the central premise of Lawrence's lawsuit. 

Proposed settlement of Lawrence's lawsuit was historic

Much of vonRosenberg's success has been due to the widespread esteem in which he is held in the wider Church.

Last summer he persuaded Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori to sidestep the Church's long-standing refusal to even consider giving away Church property to dissident groups as part of a larger settlement offer to the Lawrencians.

VonRosenberg's plan, which she approved, was for the Church to withdraw any claim to the property and assets of pro-Lawrence parishes in exchange for their dropping their claims to the property and financial assets of the Diocese of South Carolina. 

One of the side benefits of the deal for the breakaway parishes was that they would not be liable for funds misspent by Lawrence, should state's Supreme Court find that he acted illegally in seizing and expending Diocesan assets that rightfully belong to the Episcopal Church. 

It was a win-win for all sides.  Astonishingly, none of the Lawrence parishes took the deal.

Read vonRosenberg's biography


January 12, 2016
Archbishop of Canterbury Seeks to Reel in Dissident Provinces
Breakaways and their allies take aim at Anglican unity with our-way-or-the-highway tactics

LONDON - Leaders of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces have gathered in London for an unusual five-day gathering, convened after two years of extensive prodding and lobbying by Archbishop Justin Welby.
 
The ABC is trying to restore unity to the Communion after years of bickering by its ultraconservative members, mostly from parts of Africa, Latin America, and Asia.   These provincial leaders, known as “Primates”, have spent years threatening to leave the Communion, if western provinces didn’t change their progressive ways, especially around issues of human sexuality. 

Read more from the Episcopal New Service

Apparently seven of the Primates refused to attend the session if their brethren from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada were in attendance.  They want them to "repent" for their tolerance of gays and lesbians in their churches.  They are also unhappy over the role of women in the western provinces.

Welby apparently got dissidents to agree to attend by inviting the Rev. Folly Beach, the leader of the self-styled "Anglican Church of North America", to join the conclave for at least part of the time. 

The Most Reverend Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church and The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz of the Canadian Church were apparently willing to put up with the insult in order to help Welby out.

South Carolina breakaways cheer on Welby critics
 
With some hesitancy, SC Episcopalians provides the link above to the website of the breakaway "Diocese of South Carolina" and a posting by former Bishop Lawrence of a letter from Foley Beach.

We hesitate because it is filled with intentional inaccuracies that tend to make difficult situations even more intractable.  For example, Beach is not a "Primate."  That is simply a self-important title he appropriated for himself. In fact, Welby and his predecessor ABC have been very clear that the ACNA is not even part of the Anglican Communion, much less eligible to use its titles.  

He also refers to the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) which is similarly not recognized by the Communion and his no authority to recognize anyone or anything as "Anglican."

His reference to a lack of "order" in the Anglican Communion is wholly disingenuous since it is he and the ultraconservative with whom he is in league who have created the disorder by boycotting Primates' Meetings and underwriting legal attacks on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada (and now the Church of England) by breakaway groups.

 

January 8, 2016
First Dean of St. Luke & St. Paul Dies
Matt Currin:  "Dear All, I have gone to Glory!"

"The Good News of the Gospel is that God is mindful of us, each and every one of us, and those 'out there." What a glorious future our children have in store for them.  A New Age is dawning, and it staggers the imagination to think what goodness God has in store for His wonderful creation." -  Matt Currin in "Does God Still Speak to Us?"


Friends of The Rev. Beverly "Matt" Currin were only slightly surprised Friday when news of his earthly demise and arrival in Heaven came by way of an email blast … from Matt himself.

“I am no longer on this earth but in my heavenly home.  I look forward to seeing you all again one day.  Thank you for years of Friendship and Love.  Remember to always have Faith.  Continue to have Hope.  Lastly but most important Love one another,” he said.

Matt became the first Dean of the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul in 1963 and one of many intellectual and theological giants drawn to the Diocese of South Carolina under its late Bishop, Gray Temple

Learn more about this remarkable Christian man

He left the Diocese in 1966 for Christ Church in Pensacola, Florida which grew to become the largest parish in the Diocese of the Gulf Coast. Its Episcopal Day School continues to turn out graduates marked with Currin's own brand of Christian hope and commitment.

According to one graduate, "The tales of his life bare an unintentional yet undeniable witness to the inestimable value of his lifelong service to the Episcopal Church, to Pensacola and its communities, to those like myself who ventured beyond armed with the awesome power of his educational convictions."

Matt and his beloved wife, Eleanor, never lost touch with their many friends and admirers in South Carolina.  She is a native of Pawleys Island and can be contacted at Matt's email address, mattcurrin31@gmail.com.

Matt was an avid reader of SC Episcopalians and grieved over the demise of the Diocese.  He was particularly disappointed that St. Luke & St. Paul voted to leave the Episcopal Church in 2012.  At the time of his departure from the Cathedral, there were over 800 active communicants in the congregation.

Read Matt Currin's obituary


December 28, 2015
Lynn Skilton & Martha Horn


Two remarkable women departed this life this week, and it would be a mistake not to note their passing.

The Reverend Martha Horn died today in Charleston.  There was no one more enthusiastic in proclaiming the Gospel than she.  Despite personal tragedy and a long painful struggle with cancer, Martha was tireless in her ministry and only seemed to grow stronger in her faith as challenges mounted.  Hers was a compassionate and encouraging voice to those whose earthly journey has not been easy.  It will be missed by many.  Her husband is the Reverend Robert Horn.

For 52 years Lynn Skilton was widely known as a partner in ministry and mission with her husband, the Rt. Rev. Bill Skilton, formerly the Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina and later Assistant Bishop of the Dominican Republic.  Lynn was a consistent friend and thoughtful mentor to many who knew and loved her. 

She was also a much beloved high school teacher in the Berkeley County school system.  Among the many tributes by former students, one seemed to sum up Lynn's role in their lives saying, "You gave me a fair chance when others wouldn't." 

Her funeral will be held Wednesday afternoon at Old St. Andrews near Charleston.


December 27, 2015
The Gift


It could be that among the next few postings on this site will be a report on the ruling of the South Carolina Supreme Court on ex-Bishop Lawrence's lawsuit laying claim to the "Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina" and 36 of its breakaway parishes and missions. 

Of course, SC Episcopalians has no inside knowledge that this is about to happen, but the justices have had the case for over three months and they seem to be dispensing with pending cases fairly quickly. 

Meanwhile, here's a very good idea for people on all sides to consider:  It would be very short-sighted to look at this decision in the context of winners and losers.  We have all lost and there is little any court can do now to change that.

Friendships have been broken, ministries have be disrupted, and hearts of once joyful congregations torn apart.  Millions of dollars for ministry have been hijacked to pay legal bills.  Longtime members have walked away from our fellowship, while visitors looking for a spiritual home have been repulsed by the vision of the Body of Christ at war with itself. 

Most sadly, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has lost an eloquent and powerful witness in this part of the world, and it will not be easily reconstructed or revived.

During this season of giving, it might be helpful for all of us to imagine this pending Court decision as a gift. 

Surely, clarity can be understood as a gift.  So can an invitation, beckoning us forward onto paths untraveled or even yet imagined.  To think otherwise would be to ignore all we understand about the nature of God and His Kingdom. 

Of course, the Court's ruling will mean hurt and confusion for many.  It will mean the end of that which is familiar and traditional for others, and inspire frustration with the courts, and disappointment with once trusted leaders and friends. 

However, little of that will matter if we imagine this gift as a kind of roadmap for moving ahead in our spiritual journey, and a framework for refocusing our attention away from property and onto ministry. 

Most importantly, this gift will give us the opportunity to reimagine ourselves in our true calling as a People of God - a uniquely divine Gift far beyond the reach of courtrooms, schisms, and church politics.

 

 

 

 

 

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