The Guardian has news of a compromise resolution being hammered out by Bishops Jenkins, Parsley, Bruno and Chane:
The compromise being worked on over the weekend has seen the US moderate conservative bishops Charles Jenkins of Louisiana and Henry Parsley of Alabama working with liberals Jon Bruno of California and John Chane of Washington DC and Canons Kenneth Kearon and Gregory Cameron, of the Anglican communion council, on a formal statement that would keep the majority of US bishops together.
The resolution would also allow dioceses out of sympathy with the church’s leadership to seek their own Episcopal oversight and also for the setting up of a pastoral council with foreign representatives. No such compromises, however, are likely to appease conservative groups.
I don’t know about that, Mr. Bates. It depends on what they look like.
As Episcopal leaders consider barring more gays from becoming bishops to prevent an Anglican schism, the world Anglican family is already dying by a thousand cuts.
Theological conflict over the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, is draining the Anglican Communion of its global influence.
And while the number of Episcopal parishes that have broken with the national church is relatively small, observers say there’s another threat that’s harder to measure: that some parishioners upset by how leaders have handled the crisis are falling away from the church.
“It’s turning people off,” said David Hein, a religion professor at Hood College in Maryland who specializes in Episcopal and Anglican history. “They never endorsed gay marriage. They never said ordaining gay bishops was all right. They just did this as an ad hoc thing.”
The 77-million-member Anglican Communion is a fellowship of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England. It is the third-largest Christian body in the world, behind the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, and is represented in the U.S. by the Episcopal Church.
After four years of emergency summits and failed talks over Robinson’s consecration, Episcopal bishops are meeting here under enormous pressure to roll back their support for gays.
Well, let’s pray that AP’s prediction doesn’t come to pass, but I think the AP understands the situation.
Bishop Epting had to face a congregation in the Diocese of Louisiana regarding the presenting issues, and at least we know what part of the problem is – the 815 office itself:
I presided at the Eucharist and preached at a small mission congregation in the Diocese of Louisiana this morning. Before the liturgy, I led an adult forum with about 15 folks around a table in the parish hall. After an overview of the House of Bishops meeting and a little bit on our ecumenical relations, I opened the floor for their questions.
Lots of concern about the “September 30 deadline” (which, of course, is not a deadline but as the Archbishop of Canterbury has reminded us “perception is reality” in real life). I spoke of my hopes that we will find a way forward, and then said something like:
“Two things I hope you’ll hold in tension: I want you to be concerned about these larger issues, about the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, and all the rest of it. But, bottom line, no matter what happens at this House of Bishops meeting, it doesn’t have to derail your local efforts. The cutting edge of our mission and ministry is the local congregation and you need to build a healthy and vital congregation!”
A 40-something big guy, with a red face and tears in his eyes said, “I disagree with you. What happens does affect our local congregation! I invite people but nobody in this part of the world wants to come to a church where, when you open the paper, is all about gay bishops and being thrown out of the world wide communion!”
I conceded that there are local consequences, but reminded him that I was only arguing for some balance in all this…that we shouldn’t be consumed by “the issues” but dedicate ourselves to mission. Then we went on to the predictable argument about “do we believe the Bible or not…why won’t the bishops defend the plain Scriptural truth…why is the Episcopal Church going against worldwide Christian opinion on these matters, etc., etc., etc.”
So, I did what bishops do every Sunday in the 50 minutes we are given in adult forums like this…trying to summarize decades of biblical scholarship, cultural differences, Anglican polity — things which parish clergy should have been doing for years in little places like this! In the end, I think I did OK. They trusted me enough to come to the liturgy, listen carefully to the sermon, receive the sacrament. All in all, it was a good day.
But, over a glass of wine at lunch with the rector and his wife, I had to confess that I do not know if we can hold this fractious Church together. Where I live, in New York, we bishops will be pilloried if we make any concessions in a conservative direction. An 815 staff person walked out on Katharine Jefferts Schori after she reported on General Convention Resolution B033. It was too conservative.
Finally what we will have to do, over these next two days, is say our prayers…listen deeply to each other…come to a consensus decision which is faithful to what this church is and what this church desires to become…and offer it to the larger Church.
As we said in an earlier communication from this House: all we can offer you is who we are. Not who you might wish we were.
Well, I commend Bishop Epting for visiting a parish and taking some heat, but he doesn’t give any solid answers. What TEC has done hurts evangelism in this part of the world – namely Louisiana, but oh well. So, he’s all worried about catching hell from the 815 staff. Why? They work for the PB and him, right? Of course, one of the major issues in the church today is the fact that the 815 staff DOES NOT REFLECT WHO WE ARE AS A CHURCH, BUT ONLY THE MOST LIBERAL PARTS OF THE CHURCH. This is primarily why a lot of folks don’t like sending money to 815.
Stay tuned; I have court this morning, but will be back in the game of monitoring this situation this afternoon.