Little hope for positive outcome from anglican primates meeting - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
February 21, 2005

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Little hope for positive outcome from anglican primates meeting

-21/02/05

As the Archbishop of Canterbury attempts to save the unity of the 78 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion, imperilled over the issue of homosexuality by a clash of conservatives and liberals, the Lesbian and Gay Christian movement has said it holds little hope of a positive outcome.

As 37 of the 38 provincial primates of the third-largest Christian denomination, which has a presence in 164 countries, gathered last night at a meeting of the church's leaders in Northern Ireland, they were warned that communion had already broken down because of the US Episcopal Church's decision in 2003 to elect the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson to head the diocese of New Hampshire. Dr Williams will chair the meeting as head of Anglicanism's mother church.

Last week he warned there could be "no clean breaks in the Body of Christ". The Rt Rev Greg Venables, primate of one of the church's numerically smallest provinces, the Southern Cone in South America, told the BBC: "This is the straw that has broken the camel's back. We are saying we are not in communion now. Communion is broken." Church leaders are warning that the crisis is the most severe since the Reformation of the 16th century, out of which Anglicanism developed.

At issue are what conservative evangelicals see as the authority of Biblical tradition, under threat in the west from modern secular values, and what liberals say is the church's failure to minister with sensitivity and toleration to the small gay minority within its midst.

Richard Kirker from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement said; ìThe Primates Meeting has no authority to decide matters for the Anglican Communion. Like all the other 'Instruments of Unity' it has an advisory role, it is not the executive arm of Anglicanism.

ìThe Primates Meeting has only been in existence since 1978 and in no small way we feel the responsibility for the current impasse is due to the failure of this newly created group. It is amazing to us that we should now be looking to the Primates to solve a crisis that is mostly of their own making. Primates meetings are not renowned for setting a good example of how to engage positively with lesbian and gay Christians. They are therefore of doubtful value in being able to determine the real contribution we have been, and are making, to the Anglican Communion; for instance, in its missionary and evangelistic
endeavours.

ìFive of those attending have already declared the Windsor Report to be fatally flawed, and refused to accept its assessment or recommendations.

ìLesbian and Gay Anglicans are not expecting much of this meeting. We hold to our position that we will not be the sacrificial lambs in the pursuit of some short term unity as we have made clear.î

Some bishops fear that the two sides are so entrenched that it will be impossible to find a compromise. Conservatives are demanding that the US Church - Ecusa - should openly repent of its action in electing Bishop Robinson and sign up to proposals in a report drawn up by an international commission of senior churchmen, for agreed measures to resolve differences within the traditionally autonomous churches of the communion in future. Otherwise they are demanding that the Americans should be thrown out.

The Church of England at its general synod in London last week gave its backing to the report, not without some misgivings, but other branches of the church in the British Isles have been more critical. Conservative archbishops, drawn mainly from the developing world, have been meeting privately to discuss tactics for the meeting. It was thought last week that they were short of a majority but some may still walk out.

Ecusa says it regrets the effect its actions have had elsewhere but has so far refused to promise a moratorium on future appointments of gays or the blessing of samesex partnerships.

Yesterday, the Most Rev Frank Griswold, Ecusa's presiding bishop, preached in Belfast in advance of the meeting on the need for the church to sail into uncharted waters. He told a congregation at St Anne's Cathedral that there had to be "a willingness to leave home - to quit the unknown and familiar and to go where the spirit might lead ... Are we perhaps being drawn beyond ourselves and our anxious selfconstructs into the realm of God's terrifying goodness?" Threatened demonstrations by Church of Ireland clergy failed to materialise. But the Rev Eric Culbertson, of Dungannon, said in a statement: "It is impossible to view Dr Griswold as other than a false teacher, leading his church away from Biblical truth."

Dr George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, intervened in an interview given to the Mobile Register newspaper in Alabama, where he is on a preaching tour. He indicated that the church's line on ordaining gays might soften in future.

The evangelical archbishop was quoted by the newspaper as saying: "A more pragmatic approach would say at the moment it is clear to ordain practising homosexuals would divide the church greatly, so let's wait and see. In a way I take the pragmatic approach on this ... we simply have to wait and see how the Holy Spirit is going to lead the Church in this ... we must keep in step ... otherwise we'll become just a small sect." But he added: "I think the orthodox part of the church has failed homosexuals by not loving and accepting them as they ought to."

Find books now:

Little hope for positive outcome from anglican primates meeting

-21/02/05

As the Archbishop of Canterbury attempts to save the unity of the 78 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion, imperilled over the issue of homosexuality by a clash of conservatives and liberals, the Lesbian and Gay Christian movement has said it holds little hope of a positive outcome.

As 37 of the 38 provincial primates of the third-largest Christian denomination, which has a presence in 164 countries, gathered last night at a meeting of the church's leaders in Northern Ireland, they were warned that communion had already broken down because of the US Episcopal Church's decision in 2003 to elect the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson to head the diocese of New Hampshire. Dr Williams will chair the meeting as head of Anglicanism's mother church.

Last week he warned there could be "no clean breaks in the Body of Christ". The Rt Rev Greg Venables, primate of one of the church's numerically smallest provinces, the Southern Cone in South America, told the BBC: "This is the straw that has broken the camel's back. We are saying we are not in communion now. Communion is broken." Church leaders are warning that the crisis is the most severe since the Reformation of the 16th century, out of which Anglicanism developed.

At issue are what conservative evangelicals see as the authority of Biblical tradition, under threat in the west from modern secular values, and what liberals say is the church's failure to minister with sensitivity and toleration to the small gay minority within its midst.

Richard Kirker from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement said; ìThe Primates Meeting has no authority to decide matters for the Anglican Communion. Like all the other 'Instruments of Unity' it has an advisory role, it is not the executive arm of Anglicanism.

ìThe Primates Meeting has only been in existence since 1978 and in no small way we feel the responsibility for the current impasse is due to the failure of this newly created group. It is amazing to us that we should now be looking to the Primates to solve a crisis that is mostly of their own making. Primates meetings are not renowned for setting a good example of how to engage positively with lesbian and gay Christians. They are therefore of doubtful value in being able to determine the real contribution we have been, and are making, to the Anglican Communion; for instance, in its missionary and evangelistic
endeavours.

ìFive of those attending have already declared the Windsor Report to be fatally flawed, and refused to accept its assessment or recommendations.

ìLesbian and Gay Anglicans are not expecting much of this meeting. We hold to our position that we will not be the sacrificial lambs in the pursuit of some short term unity as we have made clear.î

Some bishops fear that the two sides are so entrenched that it will be impossible to find a compromise. Conservatives are demanding that the US Church - Ecusa - should openly repent of its action in electing Bishop Robinson and sign up to proposals in a report drawn up by an international commission of senior churchmen, for agreed measures to resolve differences within the traditionally autonomous churches of the communion in future. Otherwise they are demanding that the Americans should be thrown out.

The Church of England at its general synod in London last week gave its backing to the report, not without some misgivings, but other branches of the church in the British Isles have been more critical. Conservative archbishops, drawn mainly from the developing world, have been meeting privately to discuss tactics for the meeting. It was thought last week that they were short of a majority but some may still walk out.

Ecusa says it regrets the effect its actions have had elsewhere but has so far refused to promise a moratorium on future appointments of gays or the blessing of samesex partnerships.

Yesterday, the Most Rev Frank Griswold, Ecusa's presiding bishop, preached in Belfast in advance of the meeting on the need for the church to sail into uncharted waters. He told a congregation at St Anne's Cathedral that there had to be "a willingness to leave home - to quit the unknown and familiar and to go where the spirit might lead ... Are we perhaps being drawn beyond ourselves and our anxious selfconstructs into the realm of God's terrifying goodness?" Threatened demonstrations by Church of Ireland clergy failed to materialise. But the Rev Eric Culbertson, of Dungannon, said in a statement: "It is impossible to view Dr Griswold as other than a false teacher, leading his church away from Biblical truth."

Dr George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, intervened in an interview given to the Mobile Register newspaper in Alabama, where he is on a preaching tour. He indicated that the church's line on ordaining gays might soften in future.

The evangelical archbishop was quoted by the newspaper as saying: "A more pragmatic approach would say at the moment it is clear to ordain practising homosexuals would divide the church greatly, so let's wait and see. In a way I take the pragmatic approach on this ... we simply have to wait and see how the Holy Spirit is going to lead the Church in this ... we must keep in step ... otherwise we'll become just a small sect." But he added: "I think the orthodox part of the church has failed homosexuals by not loving and accepting them as they ought to."

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