On the Jerusalem Declaration

These are wonderful times to be alive, friends. For years, conservative Anglicans in the United States have either been ignored, been told to “be patient”, or (in some extreme cases) to “shut up and join the Roman Church”. How offensive is that, honestly?

Imagine that you’re a lifelong Republican, and suddenly a small group of people took control over the Republican Party leadership and changed all of the party’s beliefs. They held a secret meeting somewhere, and suddenly proclaimed that all Republicans must believe in gay rights, abortion rights, universal health care, full support for labor unions and a dismantled military. Regardless of your personal opinion on those issues, you wouldn’t consider yourself a “non-Republican” if you continued to hold the “old party’s” beliefs would you? Wouldn’t it be more like Ronald Reagan’s famous quote: “I didn’t leave the Democratic party – the Democratic Party left me”?

That’s exactly what’s happened in the Episcopal Church. Orthodox Anglicanism has had the same beliefs since (at least) 1662, and that’s not counting the 1500+ years of belief that Anglicanism is based on. Yet, in the past 30 years or so, liberal Western attitudes have come to take control over the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the United States. For centuries, priests were only male. In the 1970s, the Episcopal Church said that women could now be priests, and that there was nothing that conservatives who opposed such a move could do about it.

The Episcopal Church’s liberal bent continued. In 2003, the openly homosexual Gene Robinson was elected Bishop of New Hampshire, over the strenuous objection of conservatives throughout the Anglican communion. In fact, many conservative bishops and primates (bishops that are “leaders” of national churches) in the United States, Africa and other parts of the world begged the Episcopal Church not to go through with the ordination. But, in all its hubris, the Episcopal Church did anyway. The crisis was so bad, in fact, that the Archbishop of Canterbury commissioned a group called the Lambeth Commission on Communion to investigate the matter. The result was the Windsor Report of 2004, which “recommended a moratorium on further consecrations of actively homosexual bishops and blessings of same-sex unions, and called for all involved in Robinson’s consecration ‘to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion’.

On June 2006, the Episcopal Church voted Katharine Jefferts Schori as the presiding bishop of the United States. Since then. Ms. Schori has used the power of her office to “exorcise” the American church of any conservatives that disagree with her liberal interpretation of Anglicanism. She has used canon laws intended for use in dire emergencies to remove conservative bishops from office. She has misused those same laws by approving the votes of a “majority of bishops present”, instead of a “majority of all bishops”, as is plainly required by canon law. She has unleashed armies of lawyers to sue bishops, priests and even lay members of parishes that wish to leave the Episcopal Church in favor of alternative oversight. Such lawsuits take away emphasis on the Church’s true mission, cost money that the Episcopal Church can ill afford, and alienate members both here and overseas.

Because of the actions of Ms. Schori, her henchmen here in the US, and the like-minded individuals in the Anglican Church of Canada, conservative Anglicans from all “Anglican nations” got together to form the Global Anglican Future Conference, or GAFCON for short. Their first meeting, in Jerusalem, just ended. 1148 orthodox lay and clergy delegates, including 291 Anglican bishops, attended. They discussed several issues and, in the end, released their statement, The Jerusalem Declaration (read it in full here).

The Declaration isn’t as forceful as I’d hoped. However, read it carefully and you’ll see that it actually says this:

“Dear Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada, and Archbishop of Canterbury:

For years you have marginalized those Anglicans which have desired to remain faithful to the tenets of orthodox Anglicanism. You have treated the bishops and priests of the Global South with condescension and contempt. You have ignored the protests of orthodox Anglicans in the United States and Canada.

We have waited patiently while you continually promised some form of relief for orthodox believers. However, under Katharine Jefferts Schori and Rowan Williams the situation has gotten much worse, not better. The Presiding Bishop of the United States has started a ‘slash and burn’ campaign against faithful members of her own church, while His Grace has sat idly by and ignored the Instruments of Communion to force the discipline of the majority of the communion on her.

This bullshit will stop, and it will stop soon. If not, orthodox Anglicans are willing to go it alone. His Grace may come with us, or he may not. Communion with the See of Canterbury is important to Anglicans, but not so important that we will turn a blind eye to heresy and apostasy to have it. We will create our own provinces and administer them as we see fit, and will bear no interference from Ms. Schori or His Grace when we do so. And when we come, we will come bearing not the 1979 Prayer Book, but the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the ‘true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer’, and we will translate and adapt it for every province we take back.

The time for discussion is past. We, the undersigned, throw down the gauntlet to Ms. Schori and His Grace. After all, we are not the ones changing “Anglicanism”, they are.

Yours Truly,

48 Million Anglicans”

Whew! OK, maybe I embellished a little… But it’s all there. And soon, in the next couple of days, I’ll have calmed down and will offer a more nuanced look at the situation in the Anglican communion.

Until then, though… I’ll be joyful of the Orthodox Revolution that’s finally happening!

The Whore Responds

Here’s the latest:

Much of the Anglican world must be lamenting the latest emission from GAFCON. Anglicanism has always been broader than some find comfortable. This statement does not represent the end of Anglicanism, merely another chapter in a centuries-old struggle for dominance by those who consider themselves the only true believers. Anglicans will continue to worship God in their churches, serve the hungry and needy in their communities, and build missional relationships with others across the globe, despite the desire of a few leaders to narrow the influence of the gospel. We look forward to the opportunities of the Lambeth Conference for constructive conversation, inspired prayer, and relational encounters.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

God, I feel dirty just reading that. I guess Ms. Schori doesn’t like being “called out” by half the Anglican communion! Seriously though, whatever you might think of GAFCON, with her latest missive, KJS shows her true colors: condescending and colonial. Oh – and “a few leaders”? 291 bishops is not “a few leaders”.

Once again, 815 blinks at reality!

VICTORY in Virginia!

A couple of months ago, a Virginia judge ruled in favor of 11 Episcopal parishes that wanted to break away from the Diocese of Virginia. The churches wanted to leave the Episcopal Church and become part of the “Anglican District of Virginia”, a part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a mission of the (Anglican) Church of Nigeria. At that time, the judge ruled that Virginia’s “Division Statute” (Virginia Code § 57-9) did apply to those church’s efforts efforts to keep their property.

This morning, the judge issued a further ruling which upheld the constitutionality of the statute. Here’s a (delicious) excerpt from the ruling:

this Court finds their arguments unpersuasive, not least because their arguments are predicated in no small measure on a characterization of this Court’s April 3rd opinion that bears only a passing resemblance to the opinion itself.

Read all about it here.

Anglican Update…

There are a couple of good editorials out there today for those interested in the Anglican communion.

The first one (subtitled “The Diocese Is Attacking the Faithful”) is about the current situation in Virginia. It has a lot of good background information about the case, if you’re not familiar with it:

It’s a sad day for Christendom when a national church attacks faithful Christians instead of encouraging them in the faith. Typically, churches attack the sins of this world and offer solutions to the world’s problems.

Yet this is the situation that 11 Anglican churches find themselves in since the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church attacked us with lawsuits.

Read all about it here.

The second is from the Church of England newspaper, and it paints a bleak picture of Britain’s spiritual future:

If recent reports of trends in religious observance prove to be correct, then in some 30 years the mosque will be able to claim that, religiously speaking, the UK is an Islamic nation, and therefore needs a share in any religious establishment to reflect this. The progress of conservative Islam in the UK has been amazing, and it has come at a time of prolonged decline in church attendance that seems likely to continue.

Read all about it here.

KJS: On The Rocks?

A memo is circulating around the House of Bishops that claims that “sufficient legal grounds exist for presenting Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for ecclesiastical trial on 11 counts of violating the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church”. Read all about it here.

While I’m holding out hope that something could come of this, the realist in me knows that this isn’t going to go anywhere.

I like Iker!

Archbishop Greg Venables, Primate of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone (South America) has taken in many American parishes that can no longer, in good conscience, remain in the Episcopal Church. He’s even taken in an entire diocese (San Joaquin, CA).

As you might guess, this doesn’t sit will with Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the United States, Whore of Babylon, and Destroyer of the Episcopal Church. Venables was scheduled to go to Fort Worth to meet with the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, Bishop of Forth Worth, so she sent him this “nastygram”:

Dear Gregory,

I write to urge you not to bring further discord into The Episcopal Church. Visiting a special convocation of the Diocese of Fort Worth with the expressed purpose of describing removal to the Province of the Southern Cone is an unprecedented and unwarranted invasion of, and meddling in, the internal affairs of this Province. I ask you to consider how you might receive such a visit to your own Province from a fellow primate. The actions contemplated by some leaders in Fort Worth are profoundly uncanonical. They also prevent needed reconciliation from proceeding within this Province.

I urge you to focus your pastoral ministry within your own Province. May your ministry there be fruitful. I remain

Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori

In response, Bishop Iker sent the following to Kate:

Dear Katharine,

I am shocked and saddened by the rude letter you released yesterday to Archbishop Greg Venables, concerning his visit this weekend to the Diocese of Fort Worth. Far from being “an unwarranted interference,” he is coming at my request as an honored visitor and guest speaker.

You should know that under the canons this does not require either your approval or your support. You have no say in this matter. A diocesan bishop is free to invite other bishops to visit and speak in his diocese.

There are no efforts at reconciliation proceeding within this Province, which is one reason why faithful people continue to leave TEC in droves. Your attitude and actions simply reinforce alienation and bring further discord.

Once again, you are the one meddling in the internal affairs of this diocese, and I ask you to stop your unwelcome intrusions.

Faithfully in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth

cc: The Archbishop of Canterbury

Man… Bishop Iker KICKS ASS! I love that guy! I also love how Rowan Williams was cc’d on the letter! tehehehehehe – you GO Bishop Iker!

Another Sign of Doom

The Rev. Bryan Owen found this following ad in the latest issue of Episcopal Life:

THE ANGLICAN USE SOCIETY in America in communion with the Holy See of Rome offers to Clergy, Religious and Laity of the Anglican Tradition an information booklet explaining THE PASTORAL PROVISION, the canonical instrument that has made possible their reconciliation with the Holy See as units of common identity which preserve their Anglican heritage of liturgy, hymnody and spirituality.

As he notes, this amounts to “an official publication of the Episcopal Church includ[ing] an advertisement from an official Roman Catholic organization that invites Episcopal congregations to leave the Episcopal Church and become Roman Catholic”. Additionally, “Episcopal priests of those congregations will be ordained as Roman Catholic priests, even if they are married. Those congregations and clergy will also be allowed to ‘retain certain liturgical elements proper to the Anglican tradition’.”

Wow. Read all about it here.

BREAKING: Court Sides With Parishes!

From various sources:

A Fairfax circuit judge has awarded a favorable judgment to a group of 11 Anglican churches that were taken to court last fall after breaking away from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in late 2006.

In an 83-page opinion released late last night, Judge Randy Bellows ruled that Virginia’s Civil War-era “division statute” granting property to departing congregations applies to the Northern Virginia congregations, which are now part of the Nigerian-administered Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

“The court finds that a division has occurred in the diocese,” the judge wrote. “Over 7 percent of the churches in the diocese, 11 percent of its baptized membership and 18 percent of the diocesan average attendance of 32,000 [per Sunday] have left in the past two years.”

The lawsuit, which is the largest property case to date in the history of the Episcopal Church, involves millions of dollars of real estate and assets. With the finding that a division has occurred, the congregations get to keep the property under Virginia law.

Because the diocese and the national Episcopal Church are expected to challenge the constitutionality of Virginia’s division statute, the judge has already scheduled arguments for that trial for May 28.

The 11 parishes, which include some of Virginia’s most historic churches such as Truro Episcopal in Fairfax and The Falls Church in Falls Church, voted in December 2006 to leave the Episcopal Church over longstanding disputes on biblical authority and human sexuality, most specifically the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The Episcopal Church has been called to repent the Robinson consecration by much of the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and its standing as the U.S. representative of Anglicanism is in question over the issue.

Thanks to Stand Firm and Baby Blue for keeping us updated!

How We Got Into This Mess

A couple of months ago, I went through the site and added a bunch of new categories, one of which was the “Anglican News” section. The Anglican Communion is in deep trouble these days, and I’ve been keeping tabs on it since I converted to Anglo-Catholicism back in 1995. I haven’t really said much about the matter on this website, though. And when I set up the “Anglican News” category, I kind of just “jumped right in” to the fray, without giving you much of an explanation as to what was going on.

The Church of England began as the Church in England (the Roman Catholic Church). In the year 597, Saint Augustine of Canterbury arrived in England and established the first “official” Catholic Church. He was the first Archbishop of Canterbury, and his actions caused the Roman church to become the “official” church of the island of Great Britain.

Things were groovy for the next 1000 years, but by Henry VIII’s time, the Roman church was in deep trouble. In Europe, Calvinists and Lutherans ran amok, threatening the Roman church throughout Northern Europe. This horrified King Henry, who wrote a book called Assertio Septem Sacramentorum (Defense of the Seven Sacraments), against both sects, for which Pope Leo X gave Henry the title Fidei defensor (“defender of the Faith”), which to this day appears on British coins as Fid:Def.

The Protestants made several good points, though. The medieval Church was overrun with… earthiness, for lack of a better word. Monasteries owned huge tracts of land, which gave them considerable power. Priests, bishops and the Pope were everywhere involved in secular disputes. Some clergymen had mistresses, some had many mistresses, and a surprising number of them had children. Perhaps the final nail in the coffin for Martin Luther were indulgences. Basically, the Roman Church sold slips of paper as “get out of hell free” cards. If you were an unimportant little farmer that cheated on his wife, you could give your local bishop a little bit of money and you’d be officially forgiven. If you were a prince that led a life of whoring, drinking and slaughtering your enemies, you could pay your bishop a lot of money and you’d be off the hook as far as the Church was concerned.

While Henry was decidedly Catholic, he wasn’t insensitive to these issues. He allowed the seeds of Protestantism to flow somewhat freely, as long as they weren’t “too extreme”. And then, of course, Ann Boleyn happened. You probably know the story: Henry’s older brother Arthur was in line for the throne. Henry’s father, wanting an alliance with Spain, had Arthur marry Katherine of Aragon of Spain. Arthur ended up dying, and Henry, wanting the alliance with Spain to continue, convinced his son to marry her. But they had to have a special dispensation from the Pope, as the Book of Leviticus clearly forbids a man from marrying his brother’s wife. The Pope was more than happy to make the dispensation, as that was basic SOP for Popes and Kings at the time. Katherine, of course, never produced a male heir, and Henry became convinced that the Lord was punishing him for marrying his brother’s sister. Henry then met and fell in love with Ann Boleyn, and thereafter sought an annulment from the Pope. The only problem was that Clement VII was a virtual prisoner of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V… who was Katherine’s nephew. The Pope then stalled as best he could, not wanting to offend the English king, but not wanting to lose his head to Charles, either. Henry eventually got sick of waiting and named himself head of the newly independent Church of England.

After Henry’s death, England went back and forth between being a “Protestant nation” and a “Catholic nation”. This continual to-and fro worked something like an “idea sieve”, and by the end of Elizabeth I’s reign, the doctrine and organization of the Church of England was more or less set. And of course, at around this time, England became a sea-faring nation, with colonies stretching across the globe. Wherever the English went, so too did the Church of England.

The American Revolutionary War would create the first “independent” Anglican church, the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America. In time, other colonies would either go independent too, or would be built up to such a point that a “national” church was necessary. So you have a loose network of national Anglican churches “in communion” with each other. Unlike the Catholic Church – which is a hierarchy if ever there was one – the Anglican churches work on consensus. Meetings of bishops from all countries happen every ten years at something called the Lambeth Conference. Consensus is there reached (or, as is the case lately, not reached) on issues that affect the entire Communion.

And for a quick summary of what’s happened in the last 50 years, and why it’s tearing the Communion, see this incredible piece from Australian Anglican Dr. Mark Thompson. It’s really not that long, but it’s a fantastic summary of recent events that’ll quickly get you up to speed. If you’re one of those that prefers hearing to reading, you can download an MP3 of Thompson reading the speech here.