General Convention, The Windsor Report and ECUSA’s Relationship to the Anglican Communion- ACI

02 August 2006 - Print Version

The Anglican Communion Institute

The significance of the General Convention’s response to the Windsor Report should not be in any doubt. The Report itself concluded

We have already indicated (paragraphs 134 and 144) some ways in which the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Diocese of New Westminster could begin to speak with the Communion in a way which would foster reconciliation….There remains a very real danger that we will not choose to walk together. Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart. We would much rather not speculate on actions that might need to be taken if, after acceptance by the primates, our recommendations are not implemented…..
(Paras 156 and 157)

When the Primates received the Report at Dromantine, ECUSA had only just begun to consider its responses and so the Primates requested all provinces to consider whether they were willing to be committed to the interdependent life of the Anglican Communion in the terms set out in Sections A and B of the Report (para eight). They were also persuaded that ‘in order for the recommendations of the Windsor Report to be properly addressed, time needs to be given to the Episcopal Church (USA) and to the Anglican Church of Canada for consideration of these recommendations according to their constitutional processes’ (para 13). However, they requested ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada to withdraw their members from the ACC and requested ‘that both churches respond through their relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the Anglican Communion. (cf. paragraph eight)’ (para 14). This communiqué was subsequently supported by the ACC meeting in Nottingham.

The General Convention has now met but the number of relevant resolutions, the complexity of their content and the processes by which they were finally agreed, and the obvious divisions that remain in response, have caused confusion as to the extent to which ECUSA at GC has done what was asked of it by the wider Communion.

The Communion’s own final and authoritative verdict most likely awaits the Primates Meeting, scheduled for early 2007. A small group, including two of the Primates who were on the Eames Commission (the Archbishops of Wales and Central Africa) is meeting between now and then to make recommendations to the Primates. Until then, there must be a certain tentativeness about all judgments. Judgments as to the adequacy or otherwise of GC’s actions are, however, clearly being made. Although a number of people, especially those most involved in the process at GC, have asserted or argued that the final resolutions were a sufficient and adequate response from ECUSA to the Windsor Report (e.g. the statements of Bishop Dorsey Henderson), there are already signs that many believe GC has not chosen the path of walking together, with the result that we would need to begin to learn to walk apart. These include significant Communion voices:

• “We are, however, saddened that the reports to date of your elections and actions suggest that you are unable to embrace the essential recommendations of the Windsor Report and the 2005 Primates Communiqué necessary for the healing of our divisions” (CAPA, Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa).
• “The recent resolutions of the General Convention have not produced a complete response to the challenges of the Windsor Report, but on this specific question there is at the very least an acknowledgement of the gravity of the situation in the extremely hard work that went into shaping the wording of the final formula” (Abp Rowan Williams, The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today)
• “There was some degree of recognisable response to the recommendations of the Windsor Report in this regard…However, as has become plain, the resolutions of Convention overall leave a number of unanswered questions, and there needs to be some careful disentangling of what they say and what they don’t say” (Abp Rowan to General Synod)
• “And yet in spite of the hard work of the Legislative Committee, and its numerous hearings, the Convention failed to meet the precise request of Windsor. It left too much room for doubt and didn’t stop the rumour and impression of doing ‘our own thing’” (Abp of York to General Synod).
• Internally, a number of dioceses have appealed directly to Abp of Canterbury for Alternative Primatial Oversight and other bishops have declared full support for Windsor Report and stated they believe this full support to be lacking in General Convention’s response

In order to evaluate the GC’s response, three different areas can be identified:
1. General resolutions in response to the Windsor Report and relating to the Anglican Communion
2. Resolutions specifically relating to ‘the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report’
3. Other resolutions considered which have a bearing on the issues of Communion teaching on sexuality

(1) General Resolutions

Here there were 3 resolutions passed
• A159 on ‘Commitment to Interdependence in the Anglican Communion’
• A165 on ‘Commitment to Windsor and Listening Process’
• A166 on ‘Anglican Covenant Development Process’

A159 reaffirms ‘the abiding commitment of The Episcopal Church to the fellowship of churches that constitute the Anglican Communion and seek to live into the highest degree of communion possible’ and that ‘The Episcopal Church is in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer’. The implications of this are then stated by ‘making a commitment to the vision of interdependent life in Christ, characterized by forbearance, trust, and respect’. General Convention also commended ‘the Windsor Report and process as a means of deepening our understanding of that commitment’. A concrete expression of this was proposed by the resolution that the ‘Presiding offices of both Houses work in partnership with the churches of the Anglican Communion to explore ways by which there might be inter-Anglican consultation and participation on Standing Commissions of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church’.

A165 covers three areas – the Windsor Report, the Windsor Process and the Listening Process on same gender relationship. In relation to the Report, GC commends it as, in the words of the Primates Communiqué, ‘offering a way forward for the mutual life of our Communion’ and also as ‘an essential and substantive contribution to the process of living into deeper levels of communion and interdependence across the Anglican Communion’. In relation to what it describes as the ongoing Windsor Process, there is a commitment to this as ‘a process of discernment as to the nature and unity of the Church, as we pursue a common life of dialogue, listening, and growth, formed and informed by the bonds of communion we share’ and an appeal to ‘all members of this church to commit themselves to the call of greater communion and interdependent life’. Four further resolves make commendations and commitments in relation to the listening process.

A166, ‘as a demonstration of our commitment to mutual responsibility and interdependence in the Anglican Communion’, supported ‘ the process of the development of an Anglican Covenant that underscores our unity in faith, order, and common life in the service of God’s mission’.

These three resolutions clearly show a desire to signal appreciation for the Windsor Report and commitment to the Anglican Communion and its various processes (Windsor, listening, covenant). They also show a willingness to embrace as Conventions’ own the language of the Instruments and to speak of such disciplines of life in communion as ‘interdependence’, ‘forebearance’, ‘trust’, ‘respect’ and ‘mutual responsibility’.

The test of these commitments must, however, be the Convention’s response to the specifics of Windsor and Dromantine, reaffirmed by the ACC.

(2) Responses to Specific Questions Asked in the Windsor Report

The ‘ways in which the Episcopal Church (USA)…could begin to speak with the Communion in a way which would foster reconciliation’ are explicitly stated to be those which are addressed in paras 134 and 144 of the Report.

These cover three areas
a) expression of regret
b) the election of and consent to bishops living in a same gender union, and
c) blessing of same-sex unions.

A fourth specific area, that of pastoral care and Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO), was addressed by General Convention in A163 but was not one of ‘the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report’.

(A) Expression of Regret

This was requested in para 134 of Windsor and General Convention responded to in A160. The two are best examined side by side. In what follows the key words in common in the statement of regret are in italics while words which appear in one but not the other are in bold.

TWR 134
GC A160

Mindful of the hurt and offence that have resulted from recent events, and yet also of the imperatives of communion - the repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ - we have debated long and hard how all sides may be brought together. We recommend that:
• the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire, and for the consequences which followed,

and that such an expression of regret would represent the desire of the Episcopal Church (USA) to remain within the Communion
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, mindful of ‘the repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ’ (Windsor Report, paragraph 134),

express its regret for straining the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003 and the consequences which followed;

offer its sincerest apology to those within our Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion;

and ask forgiveness as we seek to live into deeper levels of communion one with another.

It is clear here that, although GC was happy to use many of the words in para 134, it also significantly reworded its expression of regret. Four aspects stand out:

First, the original wording of this resolution (proposed after much hard work by the relevant committee) was consciously taken explicitly from TWR para 134 so as to speak of expressing regret for ‘breaching the proper constraints of the bonds of affection’. The House of Deputies rewrote this, removing a reference to ‘the proper constraints of’ and replacing ‘breached’ with ‘strained’. These are clearly intentional and significant alterations and so their meaning and significance must be explored.

Second, the omission of ‘the proper constraints of’ must be seen as a way of refusing to acknowledge an essential element of TWR’s case. It consciously rejects any sense that there are any ‘proper constraints’ arising from the life of interdependence in communion which are relevant in relation to evaluating the New Hampshire election, consent and consecration. This idea of ‘proper constraints of the bonds of affection’ is, however, foundational to TWR and its analysis of recent events in ECUSA. It has been specifically and meaningfully omitted by GC.

Third, the language of ‘strained’ is clearly weaker than that of ‘breached’. It would appear to be closer to expressing regret for hurt caused by an action still held to be fundamentally correct rather than regretting an action which in itself was wrong. It is unclear how it is stronger than the statement made pre-Dromantine by the House of Bishops which regretted ‘damage caused to our Anglican bonds of affection’ and yet that expression of regret for causing damage was not sufficient for the Primates at Dromantine.

Fourth, there is the refusal to be specific about the events for which regret of some form is being expressed – ‘events surrounding the General Convention of 2003’ is much more general than ‘the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire’

The question, especially given the explicit quotation and other echoes of para 134, is whether there is any explanation for such changes. The most obvious explanation is that the substance of the expression of regret was being consciously and significantly altered and watered down by GC.

The additional apology and request for forgiveness added into A160, above and beyond Windsor’s explicit language, also fails to accept the analysis of Windsor. There are very few people in the Anglican Communion who are offended simply by ECUSA’s ‘failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion’. Rather, in the words of TWR, ‘The overwhelming response from other Christians both inside and outside the Anglican family has been to regard these developments as departures from genuine, apostolic Christian faith’ (para 28). The resolution refuses to recognise that, in addition to Lambeth I.10, there had been regular and clear requests of the Communion not to proceed and that – if one genuinely accepts the vision of communion and interdependence, ‘forbearance’ and ‘respect’ articulated in TWR – these had moral authority and placed constraints on ECUSA that were ignored by GC 2003. Para 128 of TWR is important here. It acknowledges a possible level of ignorance about such prior appeals may have been present in 2003. This reduces the blameworthiness of those at GC 2003 but subjective ignorance at the time does not alter the fact there was an objective wrong. That wrong has now clearly been named as such by Communion Instruments, and it amounts to ‘breaching the proper constraints of the bonds of affection’. Any apology following the logic of Windsor should, therefore, have focussed not on failure to calculate future consequences of the action but on disregard for the past councils and appeals of the Communion.

Here it is important to understand there are different forms of regret and apology. Expressions of regret and apologies can be offered for actions which we have come to believe were wrong, which we therefore acknowledge we should not have done, and which we therefore will seek not to repeat. One can, however, also express regret for actions one still believes to be right (even right actions have regrettable aspects and consequences) and one can apologise for the negative impact of such actions on others. The wording of TWR clearly sought the former sort of apology from ECUSA, GC has offered something which appears to be simply the latter. In refusing to accept TWR’s moral description and instead rewriting para 134, one must conclude that GC 2006 departed from TWR’s evaluation as to the moral significance and meaning of the events which the Primates had earlier described in terms of ‘tearing the fabric of our Communion at the deepest level’.

Para 134 clearly stated that ‘such an expression of regret’ (i.e. of the form and substance stated in that paragraph) would ‘represent the desire of the Episcopal Church (USA) to remain within the Communion’. In so clearly rewriting the expression of regret found in TWR 134 General Convention has specifically not said what TWR asked it to say and so has not given the Communion the requested expression of ECUSA’s desire to remain within the Communion.

(B) Bishops

At the last minute, following the failure of the original proposal (A161) in the House of Deputies, General Convention agreed Resolution B033. Before examining its substance, it must be noted that major questions continue to be raised about both the process by which it was proposed and passed and about the level of support and force it really has within ECUSA, especially given the distancing from it that has already occurred.

The table below shows again the differences (in bold) and the only exact parallel here is the italicised phrase ‘the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate’

TWR 134 GC B033
• the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges.
Resolved, that this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.

Once again the crucial question is whether these are simply minor matters of form or matters of more substance. The following four features suggest it is the latter:

First, to ‘call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting’, though construed by many as being effectively a moratorium, is not the same thing. It apparently (like Lambeth I.10 and statements from the Anglican Communion Instruments) has no binding legal force within the polity of the American church – it is simply a call from General Convention to certain other bodies within the church to act in a certain way. In fact, it is weaker than the general moratorium of the HOB covenant of March 2005 where a clear and explicit commitment was made: ‘those of us having jurisdiction pledge to withhold consent to the consecration of any person elected to the episcopate….’. Windsor clearly had in mind a resolution that would have binding canonical and hence legal force and an earlier resolution included wording which would have met this but it was ruled out of order. B033 falls short of that. The question of whether, canonically, GC could have ‘effected a moratorium’ is one which should not have been left to the final days of Convention but should, if controversial, have been fully worked through in the nearly two years between TWR’s publication and GC.

Second, importantly B033 made clear how the restraint was to be shown – ‘by not consenting’. This is what makes it stronger and closer to a moratorium than many would like (hence the declarations from various bishops that they would not heed the call and the protests from many pressing for ‘full inclusion’ which has perhaps led some to conclude that GC must have done exactly as requested by Windsor). The inclusion of ‘to exercise restraint’ here is an oddity, perhaps to be explained by its echo of the weaker original proposal from the Special Commission which called on people ‘to exercise very considerable caution in the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion’. Rather than clearly speaking of ‘refraining’ (as did A161) it perhaps seemed to some, particularly in the confusion surrounding its passage, simply to urge ‘restraint’.

What it urged restraint in was, however, in the final agreed resolution, narrower than both the Special Commission proposal and the failed A161. These sought to recognise the request of Windsor, which clearly and explicitly referred to ‘election and consent’ (and indeed they extended it to nomination). Presumably deliberately, B033, as passed, has omitted all of this and referred simply to ‘not consenting’.

Third, the phrase ‘whose manner of life…’ etc., though construed to refer to those living in same-sex unions, avoids (as did the amendment to TWR noted in A160) explicit mention of the problem. Those advocating it when it was originally proposed were clear that: ‘The resolution does not specify what constitutes a ‘manner of life’ that ‘presents a challenge to the wider church;’ we leave this to the prayerful discernment of those involved in nominating, electing, and consecrating bishops.’ The next sentence indicates a spirit going exactly against TWR: ‘Concerns we discussed were by no means limited to the nature of family life; for example, the potential of bishops to serve effectively as pastors for all within their diocese [i.e. ruling out bishops who disapprove of homosexual activity, begging the question of what ‘serving effectively as pastors’ actually means], and their level of commitment to respect the dignity of and strive for justice for all people are also relevant’. Some in ECUSA have already stated their intention of applying B033 in exactly this way, i.e. to exclude anyone who will not ordain practising gays and lesbians. Thus, while GC when voting on B033, did see it principally as barring practising homosexuals from becoming bishops, the wording of the resolution – and it is the wording that will be appealed to in days to come – omitted any reference to specifically does not say what TWR asked it to say and which the Primates expressed in terms of ‘living in a sexual relationship outside Christian marriage’ (para 18). (Both the earlier proposals which used the ‘manner of life’ clause also named the immediate context by referring to the fact ECUSA ‘contributed to strains on communion and caused deep offense to many faithful Anglican Christians as we consented to the consecration of a bishop living openly in a same-gender union’).

Fourth, in line with its understanding of the nature of communion, TWR explicitly said that such a moratorium would have to be ‘until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges’. That is omitted in B033 and, in urging its passing, the Presiding Bishop-elect made quite clear that this was to be seen as a short-term, holding measure, open for review at the next General Convention. It is therefore clear that the commitment to ‘interdependent life in Christ, characterized by forbearance, trust, and respect’ (A159) does not entail a willingness to wait for the wider Communion as requested by TWR 134 in line with the logic of its vision of communion.

Once again, it is clear why the Archbishop of York, present at GC, told General Synod, ‘and yet in spite of the hard work of the Legislative Committee, and its numerous hearings, the Convention failed to meet the precise request of Windsor. It left too much room for doubt and didn’t stop the rumour and impression of doing ‘our own thing’’.

(C) Blessings

Here the inadequacy of General Convention is most evident in that it failed to pass any resolution on this subject. Para 144 of Windsor was quite clear that:

We call for a moratorium on all such public Rites, and recommend that bishops who have authorised such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorisation. Pending such expression of regret, we recommend that such bishops be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion. We recommend that provinces take responsibility for endeavouring to ensure commitment on the part of their bishops to the common life of the Communion on this matter.

The last recommendation was reaffirmed by the Primates explicitly when they stated at Dromantine, ‘In the meantime, we ask our fellow primates to use their best influence to persuade their brothers and sisters to exercise a moratorium on public Rites of Blessing for Same-sex unions…’ (para 18).

The significance of this omission at GC is even greater because the Presiding Bishop-elect (elected by the House of Bishops and confirmed at GC by the House of Deputies) has herself authorised public rites of blessing in her own diocese and never (despite the request above in TWR 144) expressed regret that she breached the proper constraints of the bonds of affection by so doing.

The defence that has been offered for this startling omission by a number of those arguing that GC has given an adequate response is that (a) GC 2006 rejected all calls for it to authorise such rites and (b) GC 2003 never strictly authorized a rite (in the sense of GC approving a set liturgy). As a result, it is claimed there was no need for GC 2006 to respond to TWR’s requests to effect a moratorium on blessings.

This defence is, however, clearly seen to be inadequate by reference to three areas: The Windsor Report itself, ECUSA responses to Windsor prior to GC 2006, and the reality of recent and current practice within ECUSA.

First, the Windsor Report explicitly addresses the matter of what ECUSA had already done, noting (TWR 140) that GC 2003, in resolution C051 (printed in TWR Appendix 3.9), commended the development of public Rites of Blessing for same sex unions as being within the bounds of ECUSA’s common life. C051 stated, in clause 5, ‘that we recognise that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions’. The Dioceses of Nevada and Vermont among others went ahead to authorize same-sex blessings, citing this Resolution. It is actions such as these that TWR has in mind throughout 136-146.

Windsor recognises that within the polity of ECUSA this ‘commendation’ from GC institutes what has been called ‘local option’ by passing the question of ‘authorisation’ to diocesan bishops and synods. TWR 144 therefore calls for a moratorium on all such public Rites, recommends that bishops who have authorised such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorisation and further recommends that provinces take responsibility for endeavouring to ensure commitment on the part of their bishops to the common life of the Communion on this matter. In other words, ECUSA (and Canada) are asked, as a whole, to act to prevent individual bishops doing what was done by New Westminster and by several American bishops, including Bishop Jefferts Schori in Nevada.

The reason for being so insistent on provincial responsibility is clear in the preceding paragraph 143. This shows the importance of the subject by explicitly referring to the principle of interdependence referred to by GC in A159 and stating,

We believe that to proceed unilaterally with the authorisation of public Rites of Blessing for same sex unions at this time goes against the formally expressed opinions of the Instruments of Unity and therefore constitutes action in breach of the legitimate application of the Christian faith as the churches of the Anglican Communion have received it, and of bonds of affection in the life of the Communion, especially the principle of interdependence. For the sake of our common life, we call upon all bishops of the Anglican Communion to honour the Primates’ Pastoral Letter of May 2003, by not proceeding to authorise public Rites of Blessing for same sex unions.

If there should remain any doubt as to the fact that Windsor addresses the situation in ECUSA, para 141 clearly states that ‘we believe that it must be
recognised that actions to move towards the authorisation of such rites in the face of opposition from the wider Anglican Communion constitutes a denial of the bonds of Communion’ (italics added). There can be no doubt that GC in 2003 took such actions by passing resolution C051 and in so doing it denied the bonds of Communion.

Second, there is clear evidence that, until GC 2006 failed to pass any relevant resolution, various authorities within ECUSA recognised that there needed to be a response to these specific requests within TWR as explicitly asked to do by the Primates. So, even while denying GC had authorised such rites, the House of Bishops meeting after Dromantine in March, stated ‘Nevertheless, we pledge not to authorize any public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, and we will not bless any such unions, at least until the General Convention of 2006’. Similarly, both the Special Commission’s proposed resolutions for General Convention (in A162) and the resolution defeated by the House of Deputies (A161) sought to respond to this request from the Commission by means of some form of moratorium and/or statements of regret by bishops. Indeed, the fact that the original A162 dealing with authorisation of blessings was never formally rejected by the House of Deputies led to suggestions that the House of Bishops could still address this subject but it failed to do so in its proposed B033 which was restricted to the confirmation of bishops.

Third, although arguments have been advanced that C051 at GC 2003 did not amount to authorisation of such rites it clearly permitted their authorisation within dioceses through ‘local option’. As a result, since GC 2003 there has been an increase in the number of bishops and dioceses granting such authorization and one bishop has personally presided at such a blessing. Since GC 2006, the Bishop of Arkansas has announced he will now proceed to authorise such blessings and claims that GC 2003 supports his view that ‘seeking ways of recognizing and blessing faithful, monogamous same-sex relationships falls within the parameters of providing pastoral concern and care for our gay and lesbian members’. In the light of this reality on the grounds, the final sentence of Windsor 144 and the Dromantine Communiqué clearly demanded for action to be taken at GC whatever GC believed concerning whether or not it has itself ever authorized such public rites.

Although there are debates about interpreting B033 and A160 and comparing them to TWR 134, it is beyond dispute that GC failed to respond to TWR 144. It has neither expressed nor called for regret in relation to such blessings. It has neither reversed nor even clarified the resolution (C051) of GC 2003 on the subject which introduced ‘local option’. There is no way round this: at this crucial and non-negotiable point, ECUSA has clearly failed to do what Windsor asked. On this point alone the rest of the Communion is fully justified in drawing the conclusion that ECUSA has chosen to ‘walk apart’.

How did GC answer TWR?: Summary

The test of the general commitments and aspirations in A159 and A165 is how GC responded to the specific requests made of ECUSA in TWR 134 and 144. It is vital to remember that TWR was itself a hard-won compromise document, expressing not a series of general aspirations, not simply a ‘process’ without any specific decisions, not only a ‘conversation’ to be continued, but a series of requests which were the minimum that could be asked of ECUSA if the ‘tear in the fabric’ was to be mended (‘some ways in which the Episcopal Church (USA)…could begin to speak with the Communion in a way which would foster reconciliation’).

ECUSA has had two years to consider the three-fold request for an apology, for a moratorium on elections and consents and for a moratorium on blessings. Rather than begin to speak in a way which would foster reconciliation, it has answered ‘not quite’ to the first, ‘not exactly’ to the second, and, by its silence, a firm ‘No’ to the third.

(3) Other Resolutions

In addition to the six resolutions discussed above, three others are also important and also illustrate how far GC remains from the rest of the Communion and the spirit of the Windsor Report.

Resolutions A095 and A167 were both seemingly passed without difficulty and, had they not been overshadowed by those relating specifically to TWR, would in themselves have been seen by many to constitute further breaches in the bonds of affection. A095 affirms that the ‘civil rights’ of gay and lesbian couples include civil marriage or civil unions, and commits ECUSA to work for them and to oppose any constitutional prohibition of them. A167 affirms that all baptized persons, i.e. specifically practising gays and lesbians, are to be welcomed as they are, including a pledge ‘to include openly gay and lesbian persons on every committee, commission or task force’ dealing with the relevant issues, ‘and request the same of our sister churches in the Anglican Communion and Anglican Communion bodies.’ Those drafting these resolutions and voting for them must have known that they went against the letter and the spirit of Lambeth 1.10, successive Primates’ meetings, and TWR.

The content of debate on every day of the Convention indicated very clearly that it is these resolution, rather than A159 and A165 (commitment to the Windsor Report) that express the real mind and heart of General Convention. This was further confirmed by the treatment of proposed resolution D066 which read ‘Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 75th General Convention endorses, embraces, and pledges to uphold in its teaching and practice of common life Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference’. No action was taken by GC in relation to this resolution.

Conclusion

It cannot be disputed that many people, especially those on the Special Commission and the General Convention Committee, worked hard to frame a response to Windsor from ECUSA. Many of them aware of the importance of a clear and faithful answer to Windsor’s carefully worded analysis and recommendations. Although the three general resolutions from GC clearly express a desire to be committed to the Communion and to Windsor, the responses to the three specific questions asked of ECUSA (along with the treatment of other resolutions by GC) make clear that such a commitment is being made only on ECUSA’s own terms and these fall significantly short of those sought by the Communion as a whole. Astonishingly, the answers given in the resolutions passed at GC 2006 at no point explicitly refer to any of the specific actions which violated Communion teaching, led to the Lambeth Commission, and were explicitly addressed in the Windsor Report and its requests to ECUSA.

Archbishop Rowan Williams in his recent reflection spoke of the fact that ‘no member Church can make significant decisions unilaterally and still expect this to make no difference to how it is regarded in the fellowship; this would be uncomfortably like saying that every member could redefine the terms of belonging as and when it suited them’. Having undertaken such unilateral action in 2003, GC 2006 appears now to wish to redefine the terms of walking together which the Communion has articulated and commended in the Windsor Report as a remedy for the earlier unilateralism.

Despite the claims and wishful thinking on the part of some, there is therefore only one conclusion that can be drawn: ECUSA has ‘walked apart’, and the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates must say so and likely will say so early in 2007, if not before. The Instruments of Communion must also take the consequent actions, however difficult, which will enable those within ECUSA who wish to remain loyal to Windsor, and hence to the Communion, to be recognised as full constituent members of the Communion. In preparation for that response it is important that those bishops and parishes loyal to Windsor clearly declare their allegiance and commit themselves to the disciplines of life together in communion with one another and with Anglicans around the globe.

The Anglican Communion Institute

 

6 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. mccabe Says:

    It is clear that the House of Delegates wished to express its’ valid concern that ‘communion’ is sharing and is unwilling to bow to outside constraints. It also seems that the continued large majorities voting for altered forms of ‘regret’ are the true reflection of the ECUSA membership. The response now starting in ECUSA to bring Bishops to trial for failure to remain ‘faithful’ stewards in the church is a reflection of the general will of the membership. Thanks be to God!

  2. Marlin Says:

    McCabe:

    “It also seems that the continued large majorities voting for altered forms of ‘regret’ are the true reflection of the ECUSA membership.”

    How True. It, along with the decisions of GC06, shows contempt for the Anglican Communion, and no desire to show any kind of real regret; or repentance, recanting of what was called for in the first place. They keep wanting to have discussion (we talk: you listen) while walking their own path.

    “The response now starting in ECUSA to bring Bishops to trial for failure to remain ‘faithful’ stewards in the church is a reflection of the general will of the membership. Thanks be to God!”

    Get real! Where have you been lately. The truth is the radical revisionist liberal bishops are on a rampage of persicution of true believers in Holy Scripture, and the real Anglican Tradition. I would like to know what “god” you worship. You support TEC and by accepting panthetetic doctrine. Schori’s interview responce about many paths to god, passing C001 (The Bible has objectionable content), dismissel of D058 (Reafermation that salvation is only through Jesus Christ, John 14:6), and Schori’s hearasy with the call to “Mother Jesus” has showen there is nothing Christian about TEC.

    The only remaining faithful that are true Christians and Anglicans are the “orthodox” Episcopalians.

    You just show just how far down the broad path you are.

  3. mccabe Says:

    Revisionist? Christ Jesus was a ‘revisionist’ to the orthodox Jews of His time. How are we to deal with His ‘liberal’ interpretation of the Law and Judaism taught and practice in His time? I have it. Let’s crucify Him! While we are at it, why don’t we crucify any ‘liberal’ member of the Episcopal Church that fails the purity laws pushed by the minority neo-reactionary christian faction attempting to disrupt the Episcopal Church.

    I don’t see myself as an Anglican; I see myself as an Episcopalian. Thanks be to God for the difference.

  4. Marlin Says:

    Once agan you display your ignorance mccabe.

    Jesus was in no way a revisionist. Read your Bible for a change. Really read it. Jesus was against the leaders of the synagog for the same kind of thing that is going on in the Episcopal Church today and he would be against TEC if he were here now. Jesus was the fullfillment of the Law.

    The Church in Jesus day were ignoring Gods law in favor of man made law. Check Matthew 15:1:7-9, Mark 7:6-13. What about the money lenders in the temple.

    You believe what you are told by corrupt priests. You follow a false doctrine based on secular law, not God’s law. Just as Jesus said, refering to Isaiah, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” GC03 and GC06 proved the same exists in TEC today. The Church is apostate as it was in the time of Jesus. I really feel sorry for you because of your blindness.

    You will be in my prayers in the hope you will recieve inlightnment before it’s too late.

  5. mccabe Says:

    Marlin, I do read the Bible. The difference between you and myself is that I don’t worship it as an idol. It still remains a fascinating document. I also enjoy reading Buddhist Sutras but wouldn’t think about worshiping them either.

  6. Marlin Says:

    mccabe

    “I do read the Bible…......It still remains a fascinating document.”

    First I don’t worship the Bible, I worship God and the Bible is God’s Word Written (Holy Writ).

    You, like TEC, have abandond scripture in favor of the fables spun by the TEC apostate Bishops. Talk about the blind leading the blind. You say you read the Bible but you have no understanding of what it says. You deny it’s validity and think that you have true wisdom. You are wrong. The pantheism of the TEC doctrine supported by the hereatic Schori   is wrong. I refere you to John 14:6, in the words of Jesus Christ, my only mediator and advocate with the Father (not Mother).

    My faith is firm and sound. What of yours?