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April 19, 2016
Episcopal Church Delegation Upbeat after ACC Gathering in Zambia
Letter from our three delegates say they were treated as "honored guests" by the Province of Central Africa

If there is bitter hostility toward the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion, it has not been evident at the recently concluded Anglican Consultative Council Meeting in Lusaka, Zambia.  Seventy delegates from across the Communion worshiped, prayed, debated, worked, and even danced together for nearly two weeks in what appeared to be a joyous celebration of worldwide Anglicanism.

The one possibility of dissention came in the form of a resolution "accepting" a report from January's Primates Meeting, but it was eventually withdrawn... apparently with the agreement of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  At that meeting the Primates had voted to apply "consequences" to the Episcopal Church for its approval of marriage rites for same-gender couples.

Delegates from three of the 38 provinces boycotted the ACC meeting because the three Episcopal Church delegates were enthusiastically welcomed by the Council's leadership.  However, the boycott only seemed to underscore the extent to which the hardline anti-gay Provinces have become marginalized.

Read full letter here


April 18, 2016
Anglican Consultative Council Sidesteps Confrontation with Primates over "Consequences" against the Episcopal Church
Episcopalians quietly taking a lower profile, while Primates' action in January languishes

Members of the Anglican Consultative Council, one of four Instruments of Unity that govern the Anglican Communion, refused to respond to a declaration by its 38 Primates (provincial leaders) in January that "consequences" should be imposed on the Episcopal Church for its support of same-gender marriage.

ACC delegates, meeting in Zambia for the past week and a half, generally felt the Primates had overstepped their authority in "requiring" that representatives of the Episcopal Church be excluded from representing the Communion on policy, theological, or ecumenical matters for three years. 

ACC delegates did approve the Primates' call to the Communion's 38 provinces to "walk together,"  but a separate resolution formally "accepting" the Primates statement was quietly withdrawn.

Even ACC delegates, who do not support same-gender marriage, were concerned that the singling out the policies of an individual province - like the Episcopal Church - would set an unwelcomed precedent for the Communion in the future.

The four Instruments of Unity also include the Primates Meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the every-tenth-year Lambeth Conference of all bishops.  All are semi-independent, somewhat autonomous bodies that pledge to respect and cooperate each other, but they do not govern each other.

Generally, it appears that, while the Episcopalians have no plans to withdraw from active participation in the affairs of the Communion, they do seem to be avoiding high profile involvements that might exacerbate tensions.  Earlier this month Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas withdrew his name from consideration as the new leader of the ACC.

Read full story here


April 16, 2016
"Bishop, Reformer, and Martyr":  Canterbury Cathedral to Honor Murdered South Carolina Bishop
The life of William Alexander Guerry will be celebrated annually at the heart of the Anglican Communion and in a service of remembrance in June 2018

CHARLESTON - Canterbury Cathedral, the center of Anglicanism for more than five centuries, is set to honor the life and martyrdom of the late South Carolina Bishop William Alexander Guerry, according to Dean J. Michael A. Wright of Grace Episcopal Cathedral this morning.  Guerry was one of the longest serving bishops in the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, but for years racial politics have kept his part of Episcopal Church history on a back burner. 

A native of Charleston and a graduate of what is now Porter-Gaud School, Guerry was assassinated in 1928 by a fellow clergyman, who believed the Bishop's work to include African Americans in the full life of the Church was undermining God's plan for white supremacy. 

In recent years, a resurgence of interest in Bishop Guerry have been championed by Archdeacon Callie Walpole and Diocesan Chancellor Thomas Tisdale, both of whom have ties to the University of the South, where Guerry was once a professor of homiletics.

Among the few memorials to Guerry is a special chapel in Grace Cathedral, where his story continues to be told.

Canterbury Dean Robert Willis learned about the murdered bishop last week when he visited Grace and expressed interest in the origins of the Chapel.  Upon his return to England, he authorized the inclusion of Bishop Guerry on the Cathedral's roll of Anglican martyrs, and scheduled a special service of remembrance at Canterbury Cathedral in June 2018 on the 90th anniversary of his death. 

Dean Wright said he hoped all those who draw inspiration from Bishop Guerry's life and example will accept Dean Willis' invitation to the special celebration two years from now.  Dean Willis has also offered to have a candlelight service and other special activities for visitors from South Carolina that week.

Guerry was murdered in his office in what is now the parish house at St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Charleston.  He is buried in the parish cemetery.  

St. Philip's is currently suing the Church and its South Carolina diocese, claiming in court that it was never part of the Episcopal Church.

It was more than a small irony last week when the Diocese Bishop Guerry once led hosted a tumultuous three-day celebration welcoming the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry to South Carolina.  Curry is the first African American to serve as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.



Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori signed off on the deal.  Astonishingly, none of the parishes took her up on it. 

Lawrence's lawsuit is currently pending before the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Here's the opinion

Here's the story from Episcopal News Service


April 15, 2016
Newest Episode in GAFFE-CON Melodrama Features  Lawrencians' Pastoral Overseer in Lead Role
Kenyan Primate accuses Bishop of Nairobi of bullying, Anglican Communion of corruption, and unknown bad guy of forging his name and hacking his website


The antics of the American Presidential campaign have been minor league stunts compared to the recent intrigues of the four most prominent anti-gay Primates in Africa.  This week's brouhaha is over the current meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Zambia and how a delegation from one of their provinces ended up attending. 

Since January, these leaders of the ultraconservative provinces of Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Rwanda have been stewing over their spectacular failure to convince the most recent Primates' Meeting to kick the Episcopal Church out of the Anglican Communion. 

They've also been stung by criticism for then stalking out of the meeting and abandoning their protégé - the leader of the so-called “Anglican Church of North America” - without even asking for a vote on whether he and his renegade organization had a future in Anglicanism.

The row was significant in that the Primates' Meeting and the ACC are two of the four interdependent Instruments of Anglican Unity that govern the 85-million-member Communion.  The Archbishop of Canterbury and the every-tenth-year Lambeth Conference of bishops are the other two.

Anti-gay primates take aim at ACC Conference in Zambia

The dust had barely settled in February when we and other websites reported that the chairman of the ACC was telling colleagues that delegates from the Episcopal Church had the “right and responsibility” to participate in the organization's meeting in Zambia which actually convened this past week.   

The four African primates were officially steamed.  The Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga, their colleague and former Bishop of Southern Malawi, was practically rolling out a red carpet for the gay-loving Episcopalians. 

As expected, they announced they would boycott the ACC meeting but, in a surprise to everyone, the three-person delegation from Kenya was mysteriously present when the roll was called on its opening day.

Meanwhile, back in Nairobi...

No one appeared to be more surprised than The Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, the leader of the Anglican Church of Kenya, who went ballistic on hearing the news that his three ACC representatives had "defied my authority" and were actually representing him at the ACC meeting. 

Wabukala wasted little time publicly accusing (a) the Rt. Reverend Joel Waweru, Bishop of Nairobi, of bullying the other two delegates into going, (b) the Anglican Communion staff of "corruption" in providing them tickets and accommodations, and (c) an unknown ally of Waweru of forging his name on a fake letter then hacking into his website and posting it.


Add to this volatile mix the reporting of one most irresponsible journalists in the Anglican Communion and you have, well, yet another episode in the long-running melodrama known as GAFFE-CON. 

Facts begin to emerge, but not many answers follow

As nearly as we can determine, the Kenyan delegates received their airline tickets and hotel reservations from the "corrupt" Anglican Communion staff in London long before Wabakala began making noises about not going.  This appears to be a common practice with the ACC, and was not a specific intervention on behalf of the Kenyan delegates.

A few days before the April 8th opening session, Wabukala reportedly told his three ACC representatives that he was not going to the meeting and neither were they. This communication apparently took place over a static-filled cell phone that left everyone on the call hearing what they wanted to hear. 

However, within 24 hours of that conversation, a letter mysteriously appeared on Wabukala's website, saying that he had changed his mind about the three attending the ACC gathering.  The organization had important work to do and Kenya, he felt, should be a part of it.  The letter appeared to bear Wabukala's signature. 

When Wabukala discovered the letter, he denounced it as a forgery, and immediately ordered his staff to take it down.  He claimed that he neither wrote nor posted it.  After a cursory investigation, he determined that the signature was created by a rubberstamp in his office that was sometimes used to affix his signature to letters when he was unavailable. 

However, the question of who wrote the letter, stamped it, and then hacked into the website to post it remained a mystery.

Wabukala was furious and lashed out at what he imagined was a broad conspiracy among his detractors to embarrass him. The rightwing blogosphere happily fanned the flames and eventually word got back to London.

Anglican Communion leader fires back
 
African Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, General Secretary of the Anglican Communion, was incensed by Wabukala's accusations and issued his own public response:

There have been “suggestions of criminal action including forgery and corruption in which the Archbishop of Canterbury and Anglican Communion Office staff have been mentioned.

“It is the practice of the ACO to book the flights and cover the costs for all delegates attending ACC meetings, though some choose to cover their own costs. To imply that on this occasion this established practice is corrupt is disingenuous. Tickets were arranged well before any indications of non-attendance by a small number of Provinces.

“The unsubstantiated public allegations of forgery against the members of the Kenyan delegation are scurrilous and untrue and are made in a manner against all biblical principles of appropriate behaviour.”
 

Read Idowu-Fearon's full response here

Theories of the crime

There are two theories of what happened that seem to be gaining some credibility. 

The first is that Archbishop Wabukala is right that Waweru manipulated the whole business to go to a gathering he knew Wabukala did not want him and his two colleagues to attend.  Wabukala said that, because the cell-phone conversation he had with the ACC delegates repeatedly broke up, he did not understand everything that was being said or what others on the call thought he was agreeing to.

According to this theory, Bishop Waweru then wrote the controversial letter giving himself and the others permission to go the ACC meeting, bullied the other two delegates into agreeing to go, then high-tailed it to Zambia before the Archbishop could discover the treachery.

The challenge with this theory is it would have required an extraordinary level of sophistication and insider assistance to pull off. 

It also doesn't make a lot of sense.

Waweru certainly would have to have been a very effective bully to convince the two other ACC delegates that they somehow heard Wabukala give them permission to attend the meeting when he didn't.  He also somehow had to recruit confederates in Wabukala's employ to cook up a fake letter and get it onto the Province's official website without being detected. 


The letter would have made no difference in whether they could go.  The delegates already had their paid-for tickets and hotel accommodations, so there was nothing forcing them to stay in Kenya.  Surely they would have known that the Archbishop would discover the letter, so the idea that Waweru or someone else in the delegation went to all this trouble needlessly, seems far-fetched at best.

The conspirators would also have had to know Wabukala's password to his computer, and then to his website... to say nothing of locating the rubberstamp and getting a confederate into his office to post the letter when no one was around. 

An alternate theory is that that Wabukala and his allies may have staged the entire business to embarrass Waweru.  Wabukala is retiring this year and Waweru is a strong contender in next month's election to succeed him. 

According to Wabukala, the Nairobi bishop has not been overly supportive of his anti-Episcopal Church stance and his years of boycotting of Anglican Communion activities.  In the past few days, Wabukala has happily reminding bloggers and reporters that Waweru has defied his authority on other occasions as well and "wonders" if he will pay a price for his disobedience and disloyalty when the election is held.

And this has something to do with South Carolina why?

At this point you may be asking why SC Episcopalians would even be interested in this silliness. 

Well, the main reason is that these four primates - Wabukala in particular - are the spiritual leaders of what is left if the breakaway “diocese” led by ex-Bishop Mark Lawrence.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Two years ago the Lawrence's leadership team steered its flock into an ill-advised relationship of “pastoral oversight” with a group calling itself GAFCON.  The GAFCON is an unauthorized affiliation of dissident conservative primates who have sought to rid their counties and the Anglican Communion of gays and lesbians, and anyone else who thinks they are okay.

Wabukala is actually the Chairman of GAFCON so, in essence, he is the highest spiritual authority for the followers of Mark Lawrence.  We know, hard to believe.

These four primates are the backbone of the GAFCON leadership. They are the same ones who made fools of themselves at the Primates’ meeting in January, and now again, by refusing to attend this week’s meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council because they might have to talk to Episcopalians. 

Their antics have pretty much cost them any relevant role in the Communion.  Their ongoing battle of over homosexuality appears to have become a sideshow, especially with the rising star of Michael Bruce Curry, the new Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church.

However, the damage the GAFCON primates have done to the Communion is nothing compared to the havoc they have reeked on their respective countries through dark alliances with autocratic leaders, who have rewarded them with political influence, monetary gifts, and – as in the case of Uganda – luxury automobiles. 

Among the dubious fruit of those relationships has been the passage of criminal laws that have resulted in the harassment, torture, and incarceration of gays and lesbians.  In some instances, thanks to support from these African Christian leaders – and even Christians in the United States – homosexuality became punishable by death.

The question is: How long will the followers of Mark Lawrence’s “diocese” put up with this perversion of God’s call to love mercy and do justice and get themselves back on track?


April 10, 2016
Grace Church in Charleston Recognized as Anglican Communion's Newest Cathedral
Dean of Canterbury Cathedral affirms historic ties to the Diocese with an ancient stone from Anglicanism's  "Mother Cathedral"

Amid the pomp and pageantry at Grace Church Cathedral this morning, a visitor at first might not have noticed the distinguished priest with the shock of white hair and very distinct British accent. 

However, as the service moved forward, The Very Reverend Robert Willis quickly won the hearts of his American cousins as he spoke movingly of the importance of the Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina in the "Anglican family."

Willis was at Grace to join Presiding Bishop Michael Bruce Curry in celebrating the life of the "newest Cathedral in the Anglican Communion" and commemorating those ties with the gift of an ancient stone from historic Canterbury Cathedral, which he leads.  According to Dean Willis, the Cathedral at Canterbury presents each cathedral in the Communion with such a stone that includes the imprint of a Canterbury cross as a sign of their solidarity.

Willis also announced that he and his staff were eagerly looking forward to a visit of South Carolina "pilgrims" to Canterbury later this year.  More details on that to come.

Read more on Presiding Bishop Curry's historic visit to the Diocese and see photographs of each event on the website of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
April 10, 2016
Archbishop of Canterbury Stunned by DNA Test
His dad was actually a diplomat and top aide to Winston Churchill

Read entire story here


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.


Read the full story here

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 23, 2016
Others Views
Here's a roundup of mostly American reaction to the Primates Meeting
Click here to read all


January 20, 2016
Michael Curry Speaks to Episcopalians after Primates' Gathering
"The Jesus Movement moves forward"
See PB's video comments from Canterbury


January 19, 2016
Anglican Legal Scholar Says Sanctions are Meaningless
Primates have no authority to sanction anyone
Read full story here


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



January 16, 2016
Bishop vonRosenberg Comments on the Disarray in the Anglican Communion
Read full comments here


January 15, 2015
Anglican Communion in Confusion
The Primates don't even  have authority to impose sanctions

Yesterday's decision by the Primates' gathering in London to sanction the Episcopal Church for its embrace of same-gender marriage was a stunner for many reasons.

For one thing the Primates meeting is a relatively new innovation of the Anglican Communion which was created to encourage “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation” among the leaders of the 38 Anglican provinces.  It has no authority to legislate or impose sanctions against a member province.

Lionel Demiel is a blogger on Episcopal Church and Anglican matters.  He has posted a thoughtful analysis of the actions of the Primates.


Read his full column (even if you have to sign up)


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
Lacking authority, African Primate organize PR attack on Episcopal Church

Presiding Bishop delivers moving defense of the Episcopal Church


Read full story here


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.

 

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