Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dispatch from the U.K.

Our English-born friend Nigel Taber-Hamilton [rector, St. Augustine's-in-the-Woods Episcopal Church, Diocese of Olympia] has recently begun his sabbatical, beginning with stops in the U.K. One goal of The Episcopal Majority is to "establish ties with national churches or groups abroad who are sympathetic to the Episcopal Church." We asked Nigel+, in the midst of his busy travels, to share some anecdotes about what he is hearing from other Anglicans about The Episcopal Church. These are his off-the-cuff remarks, as he moved from one WiFi site to the next.

As I journeyed on my sabbatical through England and Scotland I made a point of speaking with as many Anglicans as possible, always seeking to get a sense of how they understand what is going on in our Communion, their opinions of the Archbishop of Canterbury, of the Episcopal Church, and of the folk I call “neo-Puritans.”

I was very encouraged by what I heard. Of course, I wasn’t attending any rabidly evangelical parishes (which make Baptists look “High Church”!). Here are some of the responses.

In a small parish outside of Bristol (in the west of England) I found a sense of “I wish this would all go away.” When pressed, most folk really didn’t like what they saw as a sort of evangelical imperialism coming out of Africa. No one liked Archbishop Akinola, though not all had heard of him.

On Iona, one New Zealand priest (very active in her province) said “[the Episcopal Church and other progressive provinces] have lots of friends in New Zealand, but our bishops are essentially ‘keeping their heads down,’ having seen the way TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada have been excoriated by Akinola and his cronies.”

A lay person from Kent was less willing to say she supported TEC, but was very clear that she found the conservative stance of the Global South and the English Evangelicals to be deeply offensive.

I stayed with a Scottish Episcopalian who is a member of St. Matthews Episcopal Church which worships at Rosslyn Chapel. (Her tales of the changes that have come as a result of The DaVinci Code were fascinating!)

She was as outspoken as the New Zealander – said it was typical of the English to want to gloss over differences and not confront the Global South – that it was appeasement without a plan. [At least Chamberlain used the time he gained from his agreement with Hitler to rebuild British armaments.] She said that former Primus (=Primate) Richard Holloway would have been even more outspoken than the current Primus, that the Scottish Episcopal Church stood firmly with The Episcopal Church, but, again, its bishops were trying to stay out of the line of fire. She thought (as the New Zealander also thought) that if push came to shove, the Scots would stand by us.

A retired priest at Lincoln had nothing good to say about the way the Archbishop of Canterbury was handling the situation.

I chose not to ask the Vice Dean of Canterbury, Clare Edwards, about the situation, since she is, after all, a prominent cleric at the Archbishop’s cathedral. But she did indicate her admiration for The Episcopal Church, especially with regard to our role in the process that led to the ordination of women and our continued ministry of inclusion.

No one had anything good to say about the Archbishop of Canterbury. The best that they could say can be summed up as “Damned with faint praise”! “Well, he was a great academic at Oxford,” and “He could be more outspoken when he was Archbishop of Wales.”

The more outspoken wished him gone, and felt that he was doing more harm than good – that he had “sold his soul to Archbishop Akinola,” in one memorable phrase.

No one seemed to think that “holding the Communion together” was a particularly high value if it was achieved at the sacrifice of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

I was actually quite surprised by the antipathy toward Archbishop Akinola. I think the best way to describe their perspective is that they viewed his actions as a sort of "imperialism-in-reverse."

As I noted at the beginning, none of the folk I spoke with came from the "evangelical" wing of the English Church. [I don’t think the Scots even have an “evangelical wing”!] I do know, however, that they have no love for the Archbishop of Canterbury because he comes from the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England. In addition, they believe he hasn’t gone far enough.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Still Remaining Faithful (Christopher Wilkins)

Still Remaining Faithful:
A Message to the National Gathering of the Episcopal Majority
Christopher Wilkins

Editor's Note: Christopher Wilkins is Facilitator of Via Media USA and Vice President of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. The author of "T.S. Eliot's Theology of Style" and holder of the Ph.D. in Religious Studies, Dr. Wilkins lives and works in southwestern Pennsylvania. He has experience in leadership and faculty development, theological education, religious studies education, health care reform, and sustainable international development. A postulant in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, Dr. Wilkins has served on vestries in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and currently attends Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh. He is also a violist, a poet, and the father of two young sons.

Who We Are and Why

As facilitator of Via Media USA (VMUSA), I will be proud to join many members of our allied groups and other Episcopalians in “Remaining Faithful: A National Gathering of the Episcopal Majority” this November in Washington, DC. The VMUSA groups have been gathering with this purpose since our founding in 2004. Our goal remains what it was at our beginning: to preserve and protect The Episcopal Church as the American expression of Anglican tradition. As political machinations long familiar to us tool their way further into the fabric of The Episcopal Church and of the Anglican Communion, this is a good purpose to keep in mind.

As an Episcopalian, I give thanks for our church with its heritage, polity, and particular style of Christian ministry. It has a wide range of ways to celebrate and extend Christ’s love, address issues of justice, and inspire moral courage, particularly in the midst of controversy.

We are very much in the thick of one at present, and it threatens to get worse before it gets better. This controversy is about nothing less than what kind of church The Episcopal Church will be, and what kind of Anglican witness will be borne in America in the 21st century. Since Via Media USA ministers chiefly, but not exclusively, in dioceses that have joined or are heavily influenced by the Anglican Communion Network (ACN), we have seen more than a glimpse of what their future for the church holds. The ACN is an outgrowth of the American Anglican Council (AAC), a right-wing think tank and reactionary religious organization created by the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD), which focuses on furthering rightist agendas and dominance in several mainline denominations. For background on the IRD and its connections to the AAC/ACN, see James Naughton's "Follow the Money," Daniel Webster's "This Schism is Brought to You by the IRD," and Father Jake's review of Hardball on Holy Ground.

The ACN is also the latest installment in a thirty-year series of reactionary groups opposed to progressive developments in The Episcopal Church, and increasingly opposed to the entire church itself. The distinctions between these two organizations are minor enough to warrant their treatment as a single entity, even if they remain themselves conflicted over such issues as the role and status of women, particularly ordained women, in the life of the church. Well-funded and increasingly intransigent, the AAC/ACN designs not merely to reform, but to replace, our church in the Anglican Communion and diminish it among American denominations. It has successfully brought its agenda upon the Anglican Communion, even though that agenda is inherently divisive and involves what its own prime movers are pleased to call “guerrilla warfare.”

Significantly more information about the related strategies of the IRD, AAC, and CAN is provided in the following analyses:

As the song says, they’ll know we are Christians by our love. In our experience, people who plot and act in such ways are not simply good neighbors who think differently than most but agree to disagree and live at peace and work for change, if at all, within the system as it exists. In addition to welcoming moderates and liberals, Via Media USA groups welcome loyalist conservatives who are troubled by some things that The Episcopal Church has done but find them no reason to destabilize or reject the whole church. By contrast, at least as far as I can tell, the AAC/ACN sees every reason to do these things, and goes ahead and does them. This is why its members are more accurately called radical and reactionary, instead of reformist or conservatives. They have put forth a narrowed and totalizing (re)vision of the Gospel and the church that makes it impossible for them to tolerate difference or sit quietly with critical questions, alternatives, or dissent. In my experience, wherever these emissaries go, they divide parishes and dioceses on a host of theological, doctrinal, liturgical, and pastoral questions, and, at this stage of the game, over the fundamental issue of whether or not people should remain with The Episcopal Church at all. If AAC/ACN influence grows, if the questions it raises continue to disrupt the church’s agenda, or if the divisions it seeks to institutionalize in the church stick, the entire Episcopal Church will suffer, much as Episcopalians have suffered in ACN dioceses for quite a while.

Reconciliation within parishes and dioceses will be needed, no matter what happens. It will take mutual trust and goodwill to achieve, but cannot emerge from the capitulation of an entire institution before the claims of its most disgruntled despisers. God’s truths do not admit of compromise, but call us to an ever-greater comprehension of them, and of each other, held together in Christ’s saving embrace.

Crisis? Whose Crisis?

Despite the controversy noted above, neither The Episcopal Church nor the Anglican Communion is really in crisis. Those parts that experience a "crisis" at present do so because their leaders fomented it and benefit from having it continue. In The Episcopal Church, it is only where AAC/ACN members have come into leadership or influence that there is a struggle over whether to continue with the denomination. What deep splits exist in the church, whether at the provincial, diocesan, or parochial level, are not ones between conservatives and liberals or between “orthodox” Anglicans and “pagan/apostate” Episcopalians. The splits are between a majority that is able to hold diverse opinions and worship and serve together, and a self-designated minority that cannot. This group seeks either to bend the church to its will or to get out of it with as much as they can carry.

This is not to say that the disagreements and tensions in the Church are not real. They are, and should be taken seriously. They should not be overblown, however, and will not be solved by destabilizing or decentralizing the church. Out of more than 7,000 parishes within The Episcopal Church, precious few have sought to leave. Out of 111 dioceses that make up The Episcopal Church, only seven are seeking ecclesiastical oversight from someone other than our newly elected Presiding Bishop. These attempts to post structural solutions to manufactured pastoral problems mask a grasp for power—the very sort of behavior against which the gospels and the apostles repeatedly witness, and which has proved so destructive to Christian communities in the past.

Members of VMUSA groups intend to remain in their dioceses as constituent members of The Episcopal Church. No individual and no group can remove part of this church from the rest. Just as the people of a parish are part of a diocese, so also each diocese is part of The Episcopal Church. That being said, the church is not a prison. Any individual is free to leave it at any time. Indeed, those who continue as Episcopalians should not make it more difficult than it needs to be for individuals to leave, if that is their choice.

However, the church is also not a convenience store or liquor store to be looted by those who happen to be inside it at any given moment. What Episcopalians have been given as this church they hold in trust for those who will come to it after them. To treat the institutional church, at the parochial, diocesan, or provincial level, as if it were fit for division into “mine” and “thine” is to betray its heritage and its integrity.

Recent Challenges to The Episcopal Church

There is a wideness in God’s mercy that graciously accommodates faithful intentions by forgiving the ways in which people fall short of Christ’s glory. If we seek it honestly, we will find it to be healing. When, despite the best intentions, we err, God enables us to repent of it, forgives us, and guides us as to how best to correct faulty decisions. The love Christians share in this way, and others, is Christ’s love. It enables us to disagree about political, economic, and social issues without ignoring their importance or diminishing those who debate them.

The 2006 General Convention showed great respect for the diversity of opinions within this church and within the Anglican Communion. Through many resolutions the church opened itself to continued conversation with others – even though in the end almost everyone found something to criticize, and many found diverse reasons to weep or express regret. Despite it all, the church continues, as does its worldwide fellowship with the Anglican Communion. As head of the communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams continues to work for reconciliation, just as the 2006 General Convention did, and as Via Media USA groups and others do at the grassroots level. No one does this perfectly or without taking steps here and there that require retracing. Unfortunately, however, the AAC/ACN and its international allies continue to move toward schism. Their words and actions are more a bid for control than they are an effort on behalf of reconciliation. Indeed, Archbishop Williams' initial responses to the 2006 General Convention – reported here and here – were so quickly misappropriated by the AAC/ACN that he felt compelled to issue this further clarification of them, refuting their claims.

If I read him correctly, Archbishop Williams is adamantly opposed to having the differences in The Episcopal Church and among Anglican Communion provinces lead to further divisions. He is critical of each thing that he sees increasing tension and division. This is the case whether or not the thing in question has been done with a purpose in mind, or whether or not it were otherwise good. He has repeatedly called Anglicans to account for those things we have done, and those we have left undone, that have hampered the healing and reconciling work to which we are called throughout the world.

The committees and legislative bodies of General Convention had to respond to the Windsor Report. They did so. The Windsor report has become many things to many people, and been the cause of more than one reader’s confusion by its multiple uses, misuses, and elisions. The repeated violation of diocesan and national provincial boundaries by such leaders as the primates of Nigeria, Uganda, and the Southern Cone demonstrates a disregard for the Windsor Report and for the provinces in which they intervene. Archbishop Williams has also noted this, most recently in his July 7, 2006, address. Such disregard for the Windsor Report calls into question the sincerity of these same leaders when they condemn The Episcopal Church for not responding sufficiently to the report, at least in how they read it. The report was meant to facilitate reconciliation, but has too often been used to further anger and division.

The ACN dioceses’ appeal for “alternate primatial oversight” is tricky, but ultimately destructive. On its face it makes little sense, because there are no provisions for anything like it in either The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion. It would be like Utah appealing to the United Nations for permission to become a canton of Switzerland. For a diocese to leave The Episcopal Church, or even to change diocesan boundaries or province designations, requires permission from General Convention.

These late requests by the church’s most ingrained opponents repeat a pattern of action that Via Media USA group members have witnessed for years, and in some cases decades, in ACN-dominated dioceses and parishes. Such actions bespeak a deep-seated disquiet that is not merely institutional, but theological as well as emotional. The kind of church that the AAC has long sought, and the ACN now is building, is fundamentally different from what The Episcopal Church has come to be. This is one major reason why these groups should be understood to be radical, reactionary opponents of the church, and ultimately incompatible with its thriving in Christian ministry.

In my judgment, there is little likelihood of reconciliation with the AAC/ACN under present conditions, although some members of these organizations may choose to continue as Episcopalians and should receive the support they need to do so. If the church these organizations seek to create comes into being, it will alter The Episcopal Church and many of its Anglican Communion partners for the worse.

A United Church for a Diverse Human Community

A tragic element in the current controversy in the church is that few, if any, of the major actors lack passionate commitment to Jesus Christ and zeal for the Gospel. Indeed, if anything, we have an abundance, not a lack of enthusiasm, in both the good and bad senses of that term. Although it may be impossible for us, for example, to accept certain prevailing local applications of the Scriptures toward homosexuality, female clergy, and a host of other matters, such perspectives should not cause us to dismiss or disparage those who hold them. Episcopalians are known for being a people who are generous with each other, and we should show respect for one another even when it is difficult to do. Traditionally embracing a broad range of liturgical expressions and scriptural interpretations, Episcopalians have every reason to continue to do so, and no good reason not to. Respecting the conscience and intelligence of everyone who studies the Scriptures, whether they come to agree or disagree about it, will help the church remain true to itself.

Such study requires, and enables us to delight in, interpretation. As those who have lived longest with these books attest, the Scriptures speak in different ways at different times,. Living with them in the fullness of humanity allows their way with any reader to be God’s way, and to thus be opened to its changes as God wills. This is not faithlessness, but a deep trust in the living Word once made flesh, and always there for those who would receive it. Such openness requires not reifying received readings as limits to any text’s meaning or authority, lest one substitute a human reduction for God’s entire living Word. All Christians need to be honest about how the Bible lives as the Word of God and as an icon of Christ, and not use it as a weapon against each other – a static repository of historical facts or traditions – or as something that stands like a golden calf above, and in judgment over, all else that is true.

Human diversity, which is one of God’s most evident gifts to humanity, should be treasured, and not least in matters of reason and conscience. It is difficult to live together amid passionate disagreements, but it is in their very tension that the grace and mercy of Christ abound, most clearly in a community seeking coherence and faithfulness instead of separation or isolation. The Anglican tradition has traditionally supported a diversity of opinions within the unity of Christian faith. It does not do this for the sake of the opinions themselves, but of those who hold them; people are worth more than what they believe, or affect to believe, on any given issue.

However, the unity of each Episcopal diocese under the leadership of a bishop properly subordinate to the church’s authority must be maintained. All Episcopalians are under the authority of the General Convention and Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, within the providence of the Holy Spirit. That Spirit binds us as baptized and adopted children of God, not merely as living emblems of our particular opinions on various matters, but as the church, the only body Christ has left on earth, and – most fortunately – a living one. Its unity is a gift from God to those who are made stewards of this oneness in Christ.

For this reason, movements toward schism, whether transparent or veiled, must be rejected. In their place Episcopalians should cultivate a spirit of reconciliation. In it, we would learn to see ourselves united by the strife that divides us. We would see beyond such strife into a Christian unity that would be worthy of a living, and a loving, God.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Necessary but not Sufficient (Mark Harris)

Necessary but not Sufficient
The Episcopal Majority is not the answer, but it is a great response

The Rev. Canon Mark Harris

Editor's Note: The Rev. Canon Mark Harris lives in Lewes, Delaware, where he is assistant at St. Peter's Episcopal Church. He is a member of The Episcopal Church's Executive Council and is author of The Challenge of Change: The Anglican Communion in the Post-Modern Era. Mark is a regular columnist for The Witness and maintains a blog of his writings at Preludium. He may be reached by email at

The Church is the answer, but only for some of our friends

Reynolds Price begins his book A Serious Way of Wondering (Scribner, New York, 2003) with this comment: "Though I am not a churchgoer, for more than sixty years I’ve read widely in the life and teachings of Jesus; and since at least the age of nine, I’ve thought of myself as a Christian."

I can understand very well what he means. It has not been my way; my way has been filled with church. But it is the way of many of my friends. The followers of Jesus do not all necessarily find their ways into church life. For some the church as gathering, ecclesia, is unenlightening, preoccupied as it is with determining the order of things – from service language to grounds for inclusion or shunning. For some the church as overt fellowship of mutuality in the Lord, as koinonia, is too much like families of origin or bad intimate relationships. So they stay away, believing as did many of our forbears that the best government is no government at all and the family we came from is not nearly as interesting as the trip we are on.

Reynolds Price’s way is not my way. I am not the better for it. It is just true. I am immersed in the Church, both as organized community and as a community of mutuality. I am informed by the collected odds and ends of theology and spiritual practice that shore up the morphology of the Church. I have a hard time thinking of being a Christian and not thinking of 'church' as home away from home, home away from, let us say, the coming reign of God.

My friends and I are fellow travelers, pilgrims, but where I turn off to go to church, they turn off into the fields of other organized intellectual, spiritual and familial play. We are all, however, loafing wherever we turn, for the pilgrimage still calls us on beyond all the places we call home, be they churches or other edifices of our minds.

The Episcopal Majority is the answer, but only for some of my friends

It is an honor to be gathered together with other folk who live out their Christian faith in the context of The Episcopal Church. It was an honor to be a Deputy to several General Conventions, each with its notable successes and failures, and it is an honor to be part of the gathering called The Episcopal Majority.

Both gatherings tax the minds and hearts of my friends who are Christian but not church-going. Huge amounts of energy are spent on matters of governance and particularly on categories for inclusion and exclusion from membership – that is to say, on matters of discipline and purity. This is distressing to my friends (and, in a cold moment at three in the morning, to me). They see all of this as a distraction from the attraction they feel towards life in the light of Christ, and from the spread of that light.

And who can blame them? Most of the subjects of concern to General Convention and even to The Episcopal Majority are increasingly irrelevant to my friends outside the church. Creeds, covenants, orders of ministry, agreements on common prayers, moral pronouncements, calls to action, all seem marginal to the life of the civic community and the efforts to seek justice and pursue it.

For my non-church-going Christian friends, The Episcopal Church (or any church for that matter) seems inadequate to Micah’s charge, "He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8) And, to be honest, the Church’s life seems an inadequate response to Jesus’ desire to move beyond the purity codes to some new sense of ethical engagement with others. (On this see Simon Mein’s interesting essay, "Whatever Happened to Mark 7:19?" at this site.) Worse, of course, is the church’s blindness to Jesus’ radical sensibility that "the last shall be first and the first last." This sensibility is radical for at least two reasons: the riff-raff gets the first seating, and everyone gets to eat. Tell that to the shunning and the purists! Or – for that matter – to The Episcopal Majority. We are too often concerned about our place at the table to notice that the last get fed, too.

On the shaky grounds that criticism is of value, let me then remind myself and my friends in The Episcopal Majority that the goals of this organization, goals I completely agree with, still fall far short of those to which Micah and Jesus call us, and far short of what our non-church-going Christian friends might hope from us.

The Episcopal Majority is not the answer; it is a response

To remind you, The Episcopal Majority has the following as its current statement of goals:

  • Affirming the orthodoxy of The Episcopal Church in the United States and its adherence to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral
  • Affirming the traditional Anglican value of national autonomy and toleration of views involving matters of church discipline
  • Affirming the inclusive nature of The Episcopal Church where people actively work to get along
  • Opposing all attempts at home and abroad to curb or demean this Church, dismember it or evict it from the Anglican Communion
  • Establishing ties with national churches or groups abroad who are sympathetic to The Episcopal Church
Let me stress again that I believe these are incredibly valuable as goals for those of us who are part of The Episcopal Church. I have been talking, preaching and writing about these matters for the last fifteen years and agree wholeheartedly that The Episcopal Church is faithfully living life in koinonia and as ecclesia, and is doing so with the highest regard for and steadfast allegiance to the spirit of Anglicanism and the life of the Anglican Communion. That is what The Episcopal Majority is asserting, and it does so in good company.

In 1993 the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission published a paper, "Belonging Together," in which several principles of engagement across the Communion were proposed. They said the Anglican Communion ought to be

“A humane community in which there was mutual sensitivity, consideration and support, and where sharp intellectual and emotional differences as well as agreements and disagreements about theological, ethical and pastoral [issues] were possible without destroying community.” (p.4)
About mature interdependence they also observed,

“Maturely interdependent Christian communities must sustain an image of the church in which there is an appreciation of the radical importance of difference, not as impediment, but as powerful catalyst…” (p.5)
I believe that the actions and the deliberations of The Episcopal Church have assumed the Anglican Communion is both humane and maturely interdependent, and that our church has tried to act within its own membership in the same way. We cannot flinch from the fact that sometimes we have not acted humanely among ourselves or maturely interdependent with others, but on the whole we have not done badly. The Episcopal Church, particularly through its governance, is as likely as any autonomous church to seem willful. But our intention has been to act on the best authority not as willful, but as faithful.

Much gets said about diocesan and provincial authority. However, the ACC document, "Belonging Together," observes that – beyond those authorities,

“There are three other sources of authority which overlap but are not coterminous: the authority of church leaders by election or appointment to office, the authority inherent in professional competence and, not least, the authority of men and women who by prayer, loving relationships and reflection on daily experience have grown wise in holy living and exercise a profoundly prophetic role in the life of the church.” (p. 26)
The Episcopal Majority, in its goals, is not so much supporting the authority of The Episcopal Church leaders or its competent professionals, but "the authority of men and women who by prayer, loving relationships and reflection on daily experience have grown wise in holy living and exercise a profoundly prophetic role in the life of the church."

It is, in other words, supporting the possibility of the authority of the laity – here meaning the "whole people." The Episcopal Majority is claiming that the authority of The Episcopal Church rests with its whole people, and what wisdom and prophetic judgment they can bring. It is thus suggesting that its goals reflect the desire by this church to be a "church in which there is an appreciation of the radical importance of difference, not as impediment, but as powerful catalyst . . ." and that those differences arise in the whole people and require deliberative democratic processes for working through difficult issues.

Critical Issues

All this is to say that The Episcopal Majority must hold to its goals, but at the same time hear and reflect on the critique that comes from elsewhere. It is this "elsewhere" that concerns me.

The second stated goal is: "Affirming the traditional Anglican value of national autonomy and toleration of views involving matters of church discipline." But beyond the toleration of views (opposing or contrary, I suppose), there is no real acknowledgment there of the need to listen deliberately and with full attention to the voices from other parts of the Communion. I believe, by the way, that we have listened deliberately and fully to the views of others on matters of human sexuality. We have not, in the last analysis, agreed.

But beyond that, I believe The Episcopal Majority needs to be committed, as a positive value, to deliberate and full attention to the many voices in the Communion. This does not mean a commitment, at all costs, to being invited to this or that Anglican Communion function. Rather, it means a commitment to a tolerant interchange of opinions and ideas.

The place to insert something on this commitment would be in the fourth goal, on the Anglican Communion. It would then read as follows: "Opposing all attempts at home and abroad to curb or demean this Church, dismember it or evict it from the Anglican Communion, and to affirming the constant need for mutual critique and encouragement from and with Anglicans elsewhere in the world." [Italics mine]

Micah and Jesus, to name a couple, call us well beyond that to which The Episcopal Majority calls us, and of course The Episcopal Majority does not claim otherwise. The Episcopal Majority calls us to protect and defend The Episcopal Church as a valid orthodox and mildly progressive autonomous and interdependent member of the Anglican Communion that stands by its decisions. That is a big order, big enough for the moment.

Still, God’s prophet Micah, God’s very own presence in the world, Jesus, and "men and women who by prayer, loving relationships and reflection on daily experience have grown wise in holy living and exercise a profoundly prophetic role in the life of the church," call us further.

Let me suggest some examples of that further call.

We need to listen better to some voices from the Global South. For example, Michael Nai-Chiu Poon, Singapore, who is Director, Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia, has written an essay which merits considerable attention: Till They Have Homes: Christian Responsibilities in the 21st Century. At the core of his paper is this sentence, "To rebuild homes among peoples whom we have wronged is the practical task of love in present-day churches." Listening to him requires setting aside the prejudice against the particular vehicle in which his articles have appeared, "The Global South" web pages – which themselves reflect only the voices of those Provinces of the "Global South" selected by its steering committee.

Michael Poon is not only an important voice in the Global South. He is an important voice for us in The Episcopal Church. He is profoundly critical of both the liberal and conservative missionary work of Western Christendom, and of their reflections in the Global South. For those of us in The Episcopal Majority, listening to Michael Poon is an important reminder that there are voices in the Global South that call us more to Micah and Jesus and less to the interminable battles within the Communion over matters of church discipline and ethics.

We need to listen more to Christian voices not “within the Church.” Reading Reynolds Price's A Serious Way of Wondering is an example. What can he tell us about our own efforts as The Episcopal Majority to cast the Good News in ways that reflect values of mutuality and tolerance of difference?

We need to listen to voices outside the Christian community that point the way beyond the edges of our boxed-in thinking as Christians.

We need to listen, for example, to people like Michael Krausz, whose book Limits of Rightness (Rowman & Littlefield, New York, 2000) begins a critique of the notion of "right interpretation" which is continued in a new work in progress. Philosophical in nature and sometimes hard to read for us non-professionals, his argument has profound implications for any of us who want to place all our money on "one-on-one" relations between belief statements and the truths to which they are meant to refer. After reading his work, one can never go back to "simply" reciting the Creed or maintaining that there is a real present entity that conforms to the phrase, "the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church."

Micah and Jesus didn’t have to read Krausz or Price or Poon, and these writers might not actually see themselves as furthering the prophets' radical agendas. However, listening to them breaks down the isolated sort of agendae that The Episcopal Majority or any other organization is sometimes prone to propose.

Better, of course, is to return to hearing the voices of those we have wronged. As Dr. Poon says, "To rebuild homes among peoples whom we have wronged is the practical task of love in present-day churches."

We need to do a lot of listening to and then acting with the peoples of so many places: Palestine and Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Haiti, Nicaragua, New Orleans, in the hard places in so many cities, in the mountains of Appalachia, and on and on.

But those only represent the homes in the cities and states we have occupied, bombed, crushed, ignored, or otherwise disposed of. There are more. There are the homes of honorable people we have wronged because they are different, strange or threatening. These are the homes of people who are "the last" – the last who shall be first. These are the people for whom restitution begins by giving place.

The Episcopal Majority needs to not be too puffed up. As regards the churches of American Christendom, we are ourselves a minority, both numerically and in position of influence. Louie Crew, amazing friend, says often, "God loves absolutely everybody!" And he is right, of course. But God has a particular predilection for the poor and the poor in spirit. So God may indeed . . .

  • put fellow travelers like Reynolds Price first,
  • put outrageous queer prophets like Walt Whitman first,
  • put lay black women like Verna Dozier first,
  • put folk who feel put out and discounted -- like many members of the Network of Anglican Communion Parishes and Dioceses -- first,
  • put strung-out pundits like Hunter S. Thompon first,
  • put the Dalai Lama first,
  • put Gandhi first,
  • put the Archbishop of Nigeria first,
  • and those of us in The Episcopal Majority last.

  • That is all according to plan: The last shall be first and the first last. But I am not worried. They may get the first seating, but we all will be fed.

    Still, perhaps The Episcopal Majority could put in its last agenda item something like the following, just to cover our bets:

    "Establishing ties with national churches or groups abroad who are sympathetic
    to The Episcopal Church, and with them rediscover a vocation to serve “the
    whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery
    ." [Italics mine.]

    Friday, August 25, 2006

    Joining Voices with the Episcopal Majority

    We are pleased to post this message we received today from Fort Worth Via Media (FWVM). The e-mail had as its subject heading: "Joining Voices with the Episcopal Majority."

    Greetings from Fort Worth Via Media, a member of the alliance of groups which formed Via Media USA in 2004. We come from dioceses wherein the diocesan leadership threatened to leave the Episcopal Church after General Convention 2003. We share your objectives and fully support your efforts. We are extremely pleased to hear your voices and we join our voices with you.

    Yours in Christ,

    The FWVM Executive Committee:
    George Komechak, President
    Ed Adcock, Vice President
    Laura Adcock, Secretary
    Merritt Farren, Treasurer
    Barbi Click, Membership
    Lynne Minor, VMUSA Representative
    John Morgan, Webmaster,
    Mr. Komechak reports that the vote was unanimous at FWVM’s August 21 meeting.

    Welcome, Fort Worth. We are honored.

    We’ve Got Mail!

    Several readers have expressed a wish to be able to correspond with The Episcopal Majority. We have now obtained an e-mail account and posted a “Contact Us” link at the left side of this page, in the “About …” links.

    Do you have a question or want to volunteer to help with the National Gathering on November 3-4? Send us a note.

    Do you want your name to be included in the "Who We Are" list of signatories? Send us an e-mail, including your title, name, parish (if you wish), and diocese.

    Do you have a question or comment for one of our authors? Use the “Contact Us” link, and we’ll direct it to the author. (But we will not forward to them any e-messages that breach the bonds of good taste. We are Episcopalians, after all!)

    Is an idea burning inside you, and you want to write an essay for publication here? Do you have a first-hand story that speaks to you of all that is best about The Episcopal Church? Send us an abstract or draft, and we’ll send it along to the editorial team.

    While sorting through the mountain of papers around my computer today, I came upon the printout of an e-mail sent at 3:59 p.m. on Wednesday, August 9. That message is the “birth certificate” for this website – issued at the moment of its creation.

    Little did we think, a mere sixteen days ago, that so many people would come here to express their support for the church we so love. Nor did we expect the amount of “traffic” we have had.

    Those of you who have followed this website from its earliest hours and days will notice we’ve made many improvements. The addition of a link to our e-mail is the most recent, but you may trust others are in development.

    Let us go forth in the name of Christ. Alleluia, alleluia.

    From ENS: Anglican women respond with joy to Jefferts Schori's election

    We note with pleasure this press release from the Episcopal News Service (dated August 24, 2006):

    Anglican women respond with joy to Jefferts Schori's election
    Equal representation upheld as essential in decision-making processes

    By Matthew Davies

    [ENS] More than two months after the historic election of the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori as 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, congratulatory letters and messages of joy continue to flow, in particular from fellow Anglican women committed to gender equity and a world equally represented by men and women in its decision-making processes at all levels.

    On behalf of the International Anglican Women's Network (IAWN), coordinator Priscilla Julie from the Diocese of the Seychelles in the Province of the Indian Ocean said, "We rejoice with so many others and congratulate you on this great achievement."

    Describing the election as God's will, Julie noted that the timing is right, especially "when we need to heal the rift within the Anglican Communion worldwide," she said. "I strongly believe that, as a woman, your Grace will be instrumental in healing the wounds..."

    Many other statements and reactions worldwide are reported in the full story, available here.

    A House Divided

    by The Rev. Dr. Robert G. Certain
    Diocese of San Diego

    First, I need to state for the record that I am a moderate in the Episcopal Church. In spite of my current residence, I am also a Southerner, born and bred in Georgia, who believes that secession and civil war are not only particularly bad ideas, they have long and unpleasant consequences.

    At the 75th General Convention I voted “yes” on both Resolution A161 and Resolution B033. I voted that way on A161 because the chairman of the Special Committee on Windsor noted that it was the best the committee could report out, even though all of us would find elements in it that were offensive. He also urged us to “hold our nose” in order to pass this flawed piece of legislation because we needed it to stay at the table with our sisters and brothers in other provinces of the Anglican Communion. With only two days to go in the Convention, and a parliamentary process that would prevent us from making anything better, I concluded that the best course of action was to endorse the committee’s recommendation.

    Since the conclusion of the 75th General Convention in June, there has been much lamenting about the House of Deputies’ failure to pass appropriate legislation in response to the concerns of the Windsor Report, particularly A161, which called for a moratorium on consents to the ordination to the episcopate of anyone living in a same-sex union. As we all know by now, the following day both Houses passed B033 which was a complete revision of the original. That rewording was necessitated by the parliamentary fact that the House of Deputies could not reconsider its action of the previous day. Surely by now we are all aware of the extraordinary actions of both Presiding Bishop Griswold and Presiding Bishop-elect Jefferts Schori to get B033 adopted by both Houses.

    One bit of history that I have not seen discussed concerns the votes by order in the House of Deputies on these two pieces of legislation. In mid-August I received a copy of the record of the House and discovered that these deputations were among those who voted to defeat A161: Albany, Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Rio Grande (Lay), San Joaquin (divided clergy, counted as “no”), South Carolina, Springfield, Western Louisiana. These dioceses are all known for their very conservative stances on the issues addressed by A161. All but Western Louisiana are members of the Anglican Communion Network. Except for Quincy, every diocese formally affiliated with the Network is included.

    When I looked at the results for B033, which was adopted, I noted again that nine of the ten ACN dioceses (except for San Joaquin this time) voted to defeat this resolution, too. In light of these votes, I have to ask, “Did the Anglican Communion Network dioceses really want to defeat the Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report?”

    I also note that the bishops of both Dallas and Rio Grande have joined with the bishops of Texas and West Texas to call “Windsor Compliant” bishops to a conference. Do those two ACN bishops stand in opposition to their deputations? How many other “Windsor-compliant” bishops had deputations that voted against A161?

    Without attributing motives to any Deputy, it seems to me that we – bishops, priests, lay people, Deputies, etc. – would do well to get seriously honest with one another about our motives and our actions. We need to think through the consequences of our actions and to ask if we really intend to bring those consequences about. We also need to think through the wisdom of taking separate counsel on matters of deep societal as well as ecclesiastical concern. If our goal is to discern God’s guidance, we must change our behavior and work together across the spectrum of insight and opinion. Separate counsel will only confirm our hardening positions and will close out the Holy Spirit from our deliberations. If our goal is to damage the Church out of our anger, fear, or arrogance, then we seem to be going in just the right direction.

    I am confident that every Deputy to the General Convention cast flawed votes. I am equally confident that a vote of any kind will never settle many of the theological and ecclesiastical concerns we bear. To this moderate priest, the question is not “what did we do wrong?” It is rather “how are we as a community of faith going to witness to the saving grace of Jesus Christ in spite of our sinful nature, our flawed votes, and our inadequate words?”

    Here is the bottom line: We did a lot that was “right” at this General Convention to further the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ in the world. We are in danger of allowing one issue to damage or destroy the good. We need to find God’s guidance for us in relation to our Anglican partners as well as in relation to our gay and lesbian members and neighbors. That is likely to take much more time than we would prefer. Wanting a different schedule will accomplish nothing. A better course would be to join forces with those with whom we have deep disagreements as we seek to accomplish our many shared goals and purposes. As we do so, I believe God will lead us through the fog of human relations to find his divine will in the matters that mark our divisions.

    Be angry if you must, but do not let the sun go down on that anger. Instead, let us reason together, pray together, work together. Differences remind us that God alone is sovereign – not you, me, theologians, or doctrines. Divergent ideas and actions, even heretical ones, will not destroy us, our faith, or Our Lord. But they will lead us to ask more questions, find new answers, correct old errors, and rediscover the depths of the love of God in Christ Jesus.

    Thursday, August 24, 2006

    On the Consecration of Martyn Minns by +Nigeria

    The Archbishop of Nigeria, The Rt. Rev. Peter Akinola, on August 20 consecrated as missionary bishop to America the Rev. Martyn Minns (rector of an Episcopal parish in Virginia). The Archbishop has defended his actions once more with the usual overblown and spurious claims. His continues to insist (1) that the consecration of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson was "traumatic" (when in fact it was the Archbishop who belatedly chose to be offended), (2) that the Episcopal Church had failed to "turn back" to the Windsor Report (when in fact our church made every effort at our General Convention to establish a moratorium as asked by the report) and (3) that the Episcopal Church was "pursuing their unbiblical revisionist agenda," when in fact the church remains orthodox in all respects and has no such agenda.

    The intrusive actions of Archbishop Akinola (supported by a variety of disaffected Episcopalians) should be seen for what they are. Their actions continue to disrupt and harm this church. They will not work. This church will not back down on its support of Bishop Robinson or other gay and lesbian persons. And we will continue to remain faithful to the central teaching of our faith and loyal to the traditional Anglican view of comprehensiveness. Archbishop Akinola and his cohorts may continue to pursue this radical campaign to remake the Anglican Communion into their own image. This ideologically motivated campaign so redolent of Paul's description of the "principalities and powers" (Ephesians 6:12) must be resisted; we must uphold the gospel in the face of these threats.

    For additional news and analysis regarding Archbishop Akinola’s consecration of now-Bishop Minns, see the following:

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    Falsely Accused

    Falsely Accused (by The Rev. Thomas B. Woodward)


    The impetus for Tom Woodward’s “Falsely Accused” is the widely circulated “justification” for the establishment of a Nigerian mission to The Episcopal Church to save us from ourselves. This “justification” echoes similar false charges by self-styled “orthodox” in this country.

    Thomas B. Woodward is an Episcopal priest who has served The Episcopal Church over 23 years as university chaplain at a number of campuses and as rector of St. Paul's, Salinas, California, John Steinbeck's parish church. He has written two books for Seabury Press, Turning Things Upside Down and To Celebrate, and his book, The Parables of Jesus Your Pastor Never Preached, is being considered by Fortress Press for publication. He and his wife, Ann, now live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

    Falsely Accused

    One of the most frustrating things about being a moderate in The Episcopal Church is the constant need to respond to various bizarre charges made against you by groups like the Anglican Communion Network (ACN), American Anglican Council (AAC) and allied groups. Those groups have now been joined by leaders in the Nigerian church who are organizing a mission to cleanse our church of its traditional teachings.

    These groups justify their attacks on The Episcopal Church by claiming our leaders hold and teach “pagan or alien doctrines.” They seem to take delight in claiming we hold beliefs such as the following:

    1. Jesus is only one of many paths to God instead of the Only Way (John 14:6).
    2. Loving a person means acceptance and love of that person’s sins.
    3. The Holy Scriptures are merely historical relics and are not be taken seriously.
    4. People can propound any new teaching as long as it makes the listeners feel good (2 Timothy 3:3-4).
    5. Heaven and Hell are only figurative terms used in the Bible; liberals believe it is wrong to frighten people with such old ideas in the modern world.
    6. The resurrection of Jesus never happened.
    7. The Episcopal Church has abandoned its faith and embraced the heresies of Bishop Spong and Marcus Borg.

    It is quite possible to find some or all of these views extant somewhere within The Episcopal Church; but you have to look very, very closely to find them. However, it is dishonest and a complete distortion to jump from finding one person holding such a view to charging hundreds or thousands of others with holding the same belief. For example, a couple of years ago a clergy couple was discovered to be interested in Wicca (pagan religion). Anglican Communion Network (ACN) spokesmen immediately rushed to charge the entire progressive leadership of our Church as embracing paganism!

    That kind of attack reached its peak in the DVD produced by the ACN for distribution to households across the country loyal to the Episcopal Church. In it an ACN spokesman charges, amongst even more outrageous statements, that “the leadership [of The Episcopal Church] have embraced a foreign and alien and pagan religion.” That sort of thing takes one’s breath away by its sheer ignorance and vindictiveness.

    I hope you can begin to understand the frustration of a solidly orthodox Episcopalian upon reading such accusations. But out of a need for both charity and clarity in addressing the characterization of mainline Episcopalians, we respond as follows:

    Charge against Episcopalians: Jesus is only one of many paths to God instead of the only way.

    As Bill Coats notes, most in our church believe Jesus to be the sole path to salvation. However, there has always been room for other views, including St. Paul’s argument to the contrary in his Epistle to the Romans (chapters 9-11), where he argues that the Jews remain the people of God and Christians have been grafted into Jewish holy history, a reading which has become the norm in most Christian churches in understanding our relationship to Judaism.

    Through the ages, Anglicans have embraced both these views as responsive to the Biblical record – so it is unclear why the ACN and the Nigerian Mission to the U.S. want to insist that everyone submit to their own conclusions or – failing to submit – be charged as heathen or heretic. Even the Southern Baptist Convention is not that arrogant.

    Charge against Episcopalians: Loving a person means acceptance and love of that person’s sins.

    This was a charge made against Jesus by religious leaders, that by sharing meals with the tax collectors and sinners, he was not only affirming them as people but also accepting and affirming their sins. The Network people are surely not suggesting that in loving felons, the leaders in The Episcopal Church are condoning or loving the felonies – or that in following Jesus’ command to love our enemies, we are encouraging them to defeat us?

    The issue here seems to be the growing understanding throughout the church that the homosexual practice condemned in Leviticus and Romans 1:27 is far different from what more and more Episcopalians know first hand in the gay and lesbian people they see in loving, caring relationships which are based on commitment, fidelity and the desire to reflect the presence of God in their common life. Again, most Episcopalians believe that homosexuality is an inborn affect, something St. Paul did not know. This new understanding then has altered the original context of Paul’s prohibition and allows us to focus on the qualities of intimate relationships, whether homosexual or heterosexual, rather than on externals.

    St. Paul, himself, shifts the ground somewhat as he moves from his attack on abusive sexual relationships in the first chapter of Romans, where he argues for restraints, to his very powerful statement about how to value and judge relationships which are marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit:

    The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
    faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. (Galatians

    One thing that has changed is our understanding of how difficult it has become for the church to condemn human relationships that are filled with the marks and the presence of the Holy Spirit. To judge those relationships as sinful – when God’s presence in them is so apparent – is most likely a matter of a lack of faith than anything else.

    Liberal and moderate Episcopalians condemn sexual relationships that are promiscuous, exploitive or outside the bonds of love and commitment. For the Network/Nigerian coalition to claim otherwise is reckless and, basically, a smear job on faithful Christians. It represents a misrepresentation of the Jews, as well, in that Reformed and much of Conservative Judaism have stated that the Levitical laws condemning homosexuality are in conflict with the broader scope of their Scripture which affirms the goodness and holiness of loving, committed relationships between both heterosexual and homosexual couples.

    Charge against Episcopalians: The Holy Scriptures are historical relics and are not be taken seriously.

    Anglicans around the world have held different beliefs about the nature of the authority and interpretation of Holy Scripture. What is new is the Network/Nigerian contention that there can now be only one way of interpreting the Bible and only one way of considering its authority.

    We believe that the Bible is the Word of God and that it is primary in encountering and experiencing the living God. We value the Bible for what it reveals, which is often in parable and through the experience of those living in the stories, rather than in lists of rules and proscriptions. Most of us believe that improvements in translations of the Bible and the light that has come from recent discoveries and new tools for understanding the Bible can only deepen our understanding of the meaning and message of Scripture.

    The majority of Episcopalians believe there is room for various approaches to and interpretations of the Bible – and that part of our common life is to be spent in dialogue between and among those understandings. The Network/Nigerian coalition seems to want to excise from The Episcopal Church any interpretations other than their own narrow and restrictive interpretations. It is destructive of the whole church for them to claim that anyone who does not agree with their peculiar point of view is a heretic, apostate, or enemy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We invite them to coexist with us, but not to attempt to destroy us with this new, rigid exclusivism.

    Charge against Episcopalians: People can propound any new teaching as long as it makes the listeners feel good.

    We find it preposterous and insulting to claim that The Episcopal Church espouses a "feel good theology." This is an ideologically motivated fabrication, and we reject it out of hand

    Liberal and moderate clergy and laypeople have always focused on the Cross as central to our salvation as well as to our understanding of the world. To suggest otherwise is ignorant and mean-spirited.

    Charge against Episcopalians: Heaven and hell are only figurative terms used in the Bible; liberals believe it is wrong to frighten people with such old ideas in the modern world.

    The exact meaning of heaven and hell have been in dispute in Anglicanism, as well as in other branches of the whole church, for some time. In fact, there are several conflicting notions of each throughout both Christian and Jewish Scriptures. When the ANC, AAC or any other group claims that those holding a different but valid Biblical position other than its own are heretical or disingenuous, they reveal a spiritual arrogance not seen since the Crusades. While that attitude has marked the multitude of Christian sects around the country, it does not reflect our Anglican tradition of comprehensiveness.

    There is certainly room in today’s church, as there has been throughout our history as Anglicans, for more than one interpretation of the meaning and reality of heaven and hell, as well as other key understandings of the Christian faith found in Scripture and our tradition. What is new is the arrogance of dismissing and demeaning any interpretation other than one’s own.

    Charge against Episcopalians: The assertion that the Resurrection of Jesus never happened.

    The charge that liberal and moderate Episcopalians do not believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is ill-informed and reckless. There have always been variations of belief in the resurrection, even among the writers of the Gospel and in the Epistles, and those differences persist today in our church as well as in others. Until recently, it has only been in fundamentalist churches that believers were attacked for holding Paul’s understanding of the Resurrection instead of Matthew’s. When we talk about essentials and the heart of our faith, those who are attacking us who believe in the resurrection of Jesus and who hold that this resurrection is the ground of the new life for all believers, owe us a formal apology.

    We say the Nicene Creed proudly, and we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ every Sunday with great joy and thanksgiving. What could bring anyone visiting our churches and observing the faith and devotion of our people to say anything different? We not only believe in the Resurrection, we are both proud and humbled to be called “resurrection people.” We will not be deterred in our faith by anyone seeking to demean or diminish that resurrection faith.

    Charge against Episcopalians: The Episcopal Church has abandoned its faith and embraced the heresies of Bishop Spong and Marcus Borg.

    This charge is familiar to those who were on high school debate teams. If you were willing to do anything to win, you would first lay out the extremes of your opponent’s side and then the centrists of your own – and then characterize the struggle as between those two straw men.

    Neither Bishop Spong nor Marcus Borg represents the center of the Episcopal Church, but both have contributed to the welfare of the whole spectrum of our church. Bishop Spong does not represent his teaching as a replacement for our Catechism. His life has been dedicated to reaching those outside the Christian church who have found the Christian faith to be incomprehensible. His purpose is not to insist that others believe as he does, but to provide a door into the Christian faith so young and older people outside the faith can hear our preaching and be involved in our worship, and be caught up in the living presence of Jesus Christ in our life in the church and in the world.

    If we are going to be open and honest about the accusations about John Spong, it is crucial to know what Bishop Spong is doing: he is not speaking for the church, but to the unchurched – and God has used his peculiar witness for good. If one were to compare records of various bishops in drawing people into the Episcopal Church, often to become some of our best conservative, moderate and liberal lay people, clergy and bishops, the two at the top of the list would probably be Jack Spong and James Pike.

    Has the Episcopal Church abandoned its faith and taken on the teachings of Bishop Spong? Of course not. All anyone has to do is to visit our seminaries, listen to the preaching and teaching of our clergy, read through the Catechism at the back of the Book of Common Prayer and the liturgies of the Prayer Book. It all hangs together as the core of our faith, even though it is not lock-step uniform.

    As Episcopalians, we are part of a wonderful whole, with a full spectrum of witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At a recent House of Bishops meeting, note was taken of Bishop Bob [as he signs himself] Duncan, the head of the ACN, and Bishop Gene Robinson in deep conversation. What a powerful image of our church! We have liberals, moderates and conservatives and everything in between, all celebrating a common faith. May we never be reduced to commonality – for the same reason none of us would ever go to a circus which had only thirty-five elephant acts. I want the trapeze artists, the clowns, the jugglers and lion tamers. We have them all in the episcopate, in the clergy and in our congregations.

    Beware when church leaders want to claim the whole of church for themselves, whether of the right, left or middle. Beware, especially, when those who believe they, alone, are the orthodox begin talking about the real orthodoxy as “the faith first handed down to the saints.” Up until thirty five years ago, “the faith first handed down to the saints” meant no women on vestries, no women allowed in church without a hat or head covering, no remarriage after divorce no matter what the circumstances, separate churches for Black people, no use of birth control measures, and a thoroughgoing marginalization of gay and lesbian people and others.

    Change and reassessment of our understanding of Scriptures and our tradition has not been an enemy of the Christian Church over the past several decades. Our task as the Church of Jesus Christ is to hold onto the core of the Gospel handed down to us by the faithful of previous generations, while letting go of the parts of that tradition which contravene and contradict Jesus’ commandment of Love.

    The demonizing of John Spong has spilled over onto such Biblical scholars as Marcus Borg, who has also been called a “heretic” by spokesmen of the ACN and AAC. Dr. Borg is not an Episcopalian. As a Biblical scholar he has few peers. He is not orthodox in some of his beliefs but he has, like Bishop Spong, inspired great numbers of the unchurched to reassess their faith and to commit themselves to traditional Anglican orthodoxy. One of the great gifts of Marcus Borg is that he makes it possible for large numbers of people to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ – and has probably put more Bibles on bedside tables than any other living Christian!

    Those who have the most trouble with theologians and Biblical scholars like Marcus Borg are those who insist on the literal meaning of Scripture or something close to that. That quasi-fundamentalist approach to Scripture, so often found in the “orthodox” rants is one, but only one of many strains of Anglican approaches to Scripture – and a recent strain at that. Many in The Episcopal Church believe that approach does not honor Holy Scripture, tending to take a dynamic revelation and reducing it to a dictated document, tied to an ancient culture.

    A lively and faithful Episcopal Church will welcome the insights and the prodding of a wide variety of scholars, teachers and leaders, just as we welcome the prophets and sages who prod us into new awareness of the church’s role in the world. This has been our genius.

    I am proud to be a member of The Episcopal Church, and I regret with great sadness the attacks from those who style themselves as the “orthodox.” I do not want to impugn the character or the purposes of those who are in the Anglican Communion Network, because I know many who are fully dedicated to the life of Jesus Christ and his Church and who want only that their own theological commitments be more fully honored in the church. I apologize if I have seemed to disparage honestly held opinions about Scripture and tradition by these same people. Of course, there is room for them in The Episcopal Church, just not as the sole arbiters of what God is speaking to us through the Bible or our tradition. The one thing I would ask of those with significant differences from the heart, the majority of The Episcopal Church is that they renounce the tactics and distortions noted above – and that their attacks cease and be replaced with dialogue and some form of mutual regard. Our Communion deserves better than the false accusations addressed in this article.

    To quote the wisdom of Bill Coats, from an informal conversation:

    “Anglicanism has always been marked by a particular generosity. The various
    schools within the church appealed to different audiences. Each approach may not
    be exactly compatible, biblically or theologically, with each other, but the
    trust which was the glue for the church was that each group intended in their
    approach that the Lord Jesus be accepted and worshiped. …What made you doubt the same intent and sincerity on our part, particularly when we kept denying as we
    do now the outrageous charges you make against us? We say speaking openly as
    Christian brothers and sisters: What happened to your generosity of spirit?”

    Note: The quotes containing the language of “heretic, apostate” and the like come directly from the DVD, Choose This Day, produced and distributed by the ACN for distribution to non-ACN households to lure them away from their congregations. You can download the video here.

    Sunday, August 20, 2006

    “Salvation through Christ Alone” -- Well, Of Course!

    The Debate on D058

    [Editor's note: Some pundits and dissidents intent on attacking The Episcopal Church have used simple-minded "soundbytes" to charge that -- in declining to adopt resolution D058 -- The Episcopal Church denied the divinity or uniqueness of Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth, as this first-hand account explains in detail.]

    I have seen with some alarm the way in which resolution D058 is being used around the church, including in a newsletter article by Bishop Stanton of Dallas. Since I am the one who moved discharge of that resolution, I want to share my reasoning with the wider church.

    On the final day for Deputies to submit legislation for consideration at the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church held in the summer of 2006, a resolution titled "Salvation Through Christ Alone" (D058) was entered. The Dispatch of Business Committee chose to refer it to the Cognate Committee on Evangelism for consideration.

    When it came to us as the final piece of legislation we would consider, I was concerned about the public perception of any debate on the resolution. No matter what we did with it, a bad headline would result. The resolution was introduced late into the Convention, and the debate would be limited to about 15-20 minutes. Since our procedure in General Convention is to alternate between those for and those against, it would always appear to people unfamiliar with our procedures that the debate indicated a major division in the Church. That parliamentary situation would clearly give an erroneous picture to the outside observer.

    I moved to request the House to discharge us from considering the resolution because it had already been dealt with at previous General Conventions. That motion was passed by a large majority of the committee, and we expected it to go to the "consent calendar," where debate is not allowed. However, it appeared on the "debate calendar" instead.

    When it came to the floor of the House of Deputies, the debate, which consisted of four speakers before the question was moved, was on the motion to "discharge from further consideration." It was never on the subject matter itself! Any interpretation of the action of the Committee or the House of Deputies to the contrary is simply erroneous and misleading. The House agreed with the Committee to discharge the resolution because it had already been dealt with at previous Conventions.

    When I rose to explain the Committee's action, here is what I said in response to each "Resolved."

    "Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church declares its unchanging commitment to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the only name by which any person may be saved (Article XVIII);"

    * First, this is an inappropriate subject for legislation. It is part of the historic doctrine of the Church, and such cannot be changed except in Ecumenical Council, the last of which was held in the 10th century.

    * It was acted upon by previous General Conventions in each edition of the Book of Common Prayer (and by the English Church since 1549). In the Prayer Book we have all of the 39 Articles of Faith (save one dealing with the English monarchy); we have the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds; we have the Baptismal covenant; and we have the statement signed by all ordinands that we "do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation."

    "And be it further Resolved, That we acknowledge the solemn responsibility placed upon us to share Christ with all persons when we hear His words, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6); "

    * This, too, is covered in the Baptismal covenant, as well as in the welcome of the newly baptized: "We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood."

    * These words are affirmed at every Baptism and every renewal of Baptismal promises.

    "And be it further Resolved, That we affirm that in Christ there is both the substitutionary essence of the Cross and the manifestation of God's unlimited and unending love for all persons;"

    * First, I don't have any idea what "substitutionary essence of the Cross" refers to.

    * "Substitutionary Atonement" is one interpretation of the doctrine of the Atonement, but not the only one. This "Resolved" should go to the House of Bishops Committee on Theology, not the Cognate Committee on Evangelism.

    * Regardless of the theological meaning of the words, the structure of the English sentence is very strange, since it suggests that the Cross alone accomplishes the Atonement and must logically be a person of the Trinity. In fact, Jesus is the one who accomplishes the Atonement on the Cross. He, not the cross, is the sacrifice. Jesus is God, not the cross on which he was crucified.

    * I think this particular "Resolved" is both bad English and bad theology.

    "And be it further Resolved, That we renew our dedication to be faithful witnesses to all persons of the saving love of God perfectly and uniquely revealed in Jesus and upheld by the full testimony of Scripture."

    * This final Resolved is covered in nearly every liturgy contained in the Book of Common Prayer.

    I ended by stating my embarrassment that anyone would introduce a debate on the substance of this resolution on the floor of the House of Deputies. The commitment to Jesus as Lord is not debatable, it is the foundation and first Creed of the Church since New Testament times. The House should discharge the Committee on Evangelism (and itself) from further consideration of this resolution because it has already been dealt with at previous General Conventions. Jesus is, and always has been, LORD.

    The Rev. Dr. Robert G. Certain
    Deputy, Diocese of San Diego
    Member, the Cognate Committee on Evangelism

    Saturday, August 19, 2006

    September Meeting in New York

    The following statement was released on August 18 by the Anglican Communion Office:

    Following consultation with the Presiding Bishop the Archbishop of Canterbury
    has asked Bishop Peter Lee of Virginia and Bishop John Lipscomb of Southwest
    Florida to convene a small group of bishops from the Episcopal Church (USA) to
    meet together to discuss some of the difficult issues facing the Church and to
    explore possible resolutions. Along with Bishop Griswold, those invited include
    Bishop Katherine [sic] Jefferts Schori, Bishop Bob Duncan, and Bishop Jack Iker.
    The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion will also attend. The first
    meeting will be taking place in New York in the first half of September.

    The story has also been reported, with considerable background, by Episcopal News Service.

    Response of The Episcopal Majority

    We have just received word of the meeting being convened in New York under the auspices of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    For some time now we have been dismayed at the actions of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to wit:
    • the Archbishop’s quick disapproval of the actions of our General Convention;
    • his approval of a "two-tiered" Anglicanism;
    • his continued support (implicit or explicit) of those forces in The Episcopal Church seeking our displacement within the Anglican Communion;
    • his support - through his appointment of legates - of a gathering of so called "Windsor bishops," those who have themselves denounced our General Convention; and
    • his support of the missionary endeavor in America (CANA) under the auspices of the Church of Nigeria, despite the fact that such an effort was explicitly forbidden by the Windsor Report which the Archbishop otherwise upholds.
    We wish to express our support to Presiding Bishop Griswold, Presiding Bishop-elect, and all other faithful Episcopal bishops as they enter these discussions. We urge them to hold fast to the legitimate Anglican tradition through the following:
    • to deny any “alternate primatial oversight” for Episcopal dioceses;
    • to oppose firmly the CANA initiative;
    • to make clear that our sincere attempt at moderation at General Convention has been rebuffed by forces at home and abroad; and
    • to affirm once more the consecration of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson and the legitimate right of homosexual persons to all the Sacraments of this church.

    Who We Are

    The Episcopal Majority is a grassroots organization committed to the values and vitality of The Episcopal Church and working to neutralize the negative influence of the American Anglican Council (AAC), the Anglican Communion Network (ACN), and related groups. The impetus for our group began in Columbus, Ohio, during the recent General Convention of The Episcopal Church. Initially, we were a group of former university chaplains, but our membership has grown to include many people and organizations from different places (both theologically and geographically). We welcome their participation.

    We have felt for some time that there needed to be an organized response to the well-financed and well-organized groups whose words and actions have been largely destructive. Many others, clergy and lay alike, are looking for ways to counteract the damage done and to build a coalition representing the majority of The Episcopal Church.

    Additional signatories are being sought, and this list is updated periodically to reflect those.

    News Flash 08.25.06: We have now established an e-mail account. If you want to be included in this list, please use the "Contact Us" button, located in the upper left section of this page, in the “About …” links. At a minimum, please include your title (the Rev., Ms., Dr., etc), name, and diocese. You may also note the name of your parish and town, but we are not publishing those in this list.

    September 19 additions:
    The Rev. David K. Fly, Diocese of Missouri
    The Rev. Dr. George C. Bedell, Diocese of Florida
    The Rev. William R. Coats, Diocese of Newark
    Ms. Lisa L. Fox, Diocese of Missouri
    The Rev. Canon Mark Harris, Diocese of Delaware
    Ms. Judy Wright Mathews, Diocese of Florida
    The Hon. Robert P. Smith, Diocese of Florida
    The Rev. Richard F. Tombaugh, Diocese of Connecticut
    The Rev. Thomas B. Woodward, Diocese of the Rio Grande
    The Rev. William Starr, Diocese of New York
    Ms. Marge Christie, Diocese of Newark
    The Rev. David A. Ames, Diocese of Rhode Island
    The Rev. Christopher Smith, Albany Via Media, Diocese of Albany
    The Rev. Susan Russell, Diocese of Los Angeles
    Kathryn and Bruce MacAlister, Diocese of Virginia
    Christopher Wilkins, Ph.D., Via Media USA, Diocese of Western Massachusetts
    The Rev. Robert Russell Smith, Diocese of Newark
    The Rev. M. Gayland Pool, Diocese of Fort Worth
    The Rev. Elizabeth A. Zivanov, Diocese of Hawaii
    The Rev. Vinnie Lainson, Diocese of Virginia
    The Rev. Barnum McCarty, Diocese of Florida
    Ms. Dixie Hutchinson, Via Media Dallas, Diocese of Dallas
    Ms. Katie Sherrod, Diocese of Fort Worth
    The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Lee, Jr., Diocese of Western Michigan
    The Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton, President, Episcopal Women's Caucus, Diocese of Newark
    Adrienne E. Anderson, J. D., Diocese of Missouri
    Martha K. Baker, M.A., Diocese of Missouri
    The Rev. Mary Margaret (Peggy) Blanchard, Diocese of East Tennessee
    Donna Bott, Episcopal Voices, Diocese of Central Florida
    The Rev. Teresa T. Bowden, Diocese of Hawaii
    The Rev. Kate Chipps, Diocese of Virginia
    John E. Clifford, Ph.D., Episcopal School of Ministry, Diocese of Missouri
    The Rev. Ann Fontaine, Diocese of Wyoming
    Mr. David Huff, Via Media, Dallas, Diocese of Dallas
    Joanna Hynes
    The Rev. Zula Johnston, Diocese of Olympia
    The Rev. Ross Jones, Diocese of Oklahoma
    The Rev. Canon Thomas A. Kerr, Jr., Diocese of Delaware
    The Rev. Canon J. Fletcher Lowe, Jr., Diocese of Delaware
    Nancy Lowry, Diocese of Western Massachusetts
    Mr. Knute E. Malmborg, Diocese of Southwest Florida
    (The Rev.) Linda M. Maloney, Diocese of Vermont
    Dr. James Masters, Diocese of Albany
    Denise Ray Mueller, Diocese of Southern Ohio
    The Very Rev. Canon James A. Newman, Diocese of Los Angeles
    The Rev. Canon Ronald D. Osborne, Diocese of Iowa
    (The Rev.) Robert E. Stiefel, Ph.D., Diocese of New Hampshire
    Ms. Carrie Tucker, Diocese of Northern California
    The Rev. Brinton W. Woodward, Jr., Diocese of New Hampshire
    The Rev. Kenneth B. Yerkes, Diocese of Missouri
    Ms. Dianne Aid, Diocese of Olympia
    Dr. Penny Phillips, Diocese of Missouri
    The Rev. Katherine Tupper Gray, Diocese of Southern Virginia
    Bettye Anderson, Diocese of Texas
    The Rev. Edmund James, Diocese of Oklahoma
    The Rev. Jean McLean, Diocese of Wyoming
    John Robert Robison, Diocese of Maryland
    The Rev. Robert Francis Solon
    The Rev. Anne Bathurst Gilson, Ph.D., Diocese of Washington
    The Rev. Mary L. Allen, Diocese of Olympia
    Chaz Hill, Diocese of Hawaii
    The Rev. Catherine Windsor, Diocese of Oregon
    Joan R. Gunderson, Ph.D., Diocese of Pittsburgh
    Ms. Rachel Furer, Diocese of New York
    Mr. Alvin W. Lynn, Diocese of Springfield
    Mr. R. Stephen Gracey, Diocese of Ohio
    Mr. Kim Byham, Diocese of Newark
    Mr. Brian Alms, Diocese of Missouri
    The Rev. Ruth Meyers, Diocese of Chicago
    The Rev. Richard S. Brooks, Diocese of Western Kansas
    Dr. Lucinda Allen Mosher, Diocese of New York
    The Rev. James F. Moon, Diocese of Western Missouri
    The Rev. Henry Galganowicz, Diocese of Pennsylvania
    Mr. Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Diocese of Maryland
    The Rev. A. Patrick L. Prest, Diocese of Virginia
    The Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd, Diocese of Los Angeles
    The Rev. Carole McGowan, Diocese of Rio Grande
    The Rev. Lynne Chester Edwards, Diocese of Pittsburgh
    Susan J. Boulden, Diocese of Pittsburgh
    The Rev. Dr. Peyton G. Craighill, Diocese of Pennsylvania
    Mr. Ron Jones, Diocese of Missouri
    Mr. Joseph S. Ferrell, Diocese of North Carolina
    The Rev. Susan Wiltsey, Diocese of Utah
    The Rev. William B. Easter, Diocese of Chicago
    Mr. Timothy Orwig, Diocese of Massachusetts
    The Rev. Canon Carol Cole Flanagan, Diocese of Washington
    The Rev. and Mrs. William E. Crews, Diocese of Colorado
    Joe T. Gilliland, Diocese of Western North Carolina
    The Rev. Mike Dobrosky
    The Rev. James H. Pritchett, Jr., St. John's, College Park, GA, Diocese of Atlanta
    The Rev. Karen Lemon, Diocese of Western Kansas
    Ms. Donna L. Blakeley, Diocese of Colorado
    The Rev. Matt Currin, Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast
    Mr. Louie Crew, Diocese of Newark
    The Rev. Gary Mitchener, Diocese of Ohio
    The Rev. Jim Bradley, Diocese of Connecticut
    Mr. Casey Walters, Diocese of Kentucky
    Mr. Rowland W. Folensbee, Diocese of Kentucky
    Mr. Doug White, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Ms. Susann M. Eller, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Mr. Jim Vandernaald, Diocese of the Rio Grande
    Peter & Nob Tringham, Diocese of Fort Worth
    The Rev. Marilyn M. Sanders, Diocese of Albany
    The Rev.Canon Dr. Normal Alexandre, Diocese of Oklahoma
    Cynthia & Flint Harding, III, Diocese of South Carolina
    Mr. George Swanson, Diocese of Newark
    Ms. Tasse Little, Diocese of North Carolina
    Ms. Anne M. Wyatt-Brown, Ph.D., Diocese of Maryland
    Meghan Vesel, Diocese of Virginia
    The Rev. Giles Asbury, Diocese of Los Angeles
    The Rev. Harry Allagree, Diocese of Northern California
    Ms. Alison K. Bush, Diocese of Milwaukee
    The Rev. Ted E. Durst, Diocese of Chicago
    Ms. Linda Odom, DO, Ph.D., Diocese of Western Kansas
    Mr. Ed Weissman, Diocese of Vermont
    Mr. Steve Smith, Treasurer, Diocese of VT, Diocese of Vermont
    Mrs. Barbara Neville Click, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Olen J. Click, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Ms. Rosemary C. Lindsey, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Mr. Jackson Reynolds, Vestry, Diocese of Oklahoma
    Ms. Dianne Leedy, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Mr. David Leedy, Diocese of Fort Worth
    The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth A. Betty Belasco, Diocese of Long Island
    Peggy Blanchard, Diocese of Tennessee
    Ms. Joanna Hynes Haas, Diocese of Central Florida
    The Rev. Canon J. Fletcher Lowe, Jr., Diocese of Delaware
    The Rev. Dr. Trawin E. Malone, Diocese of Atlanta
    The Rev. Bill Teska, Diocese of Minnesota
    Robert P. Gaines, Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast
    The Rev. Christine Gilson, Diocese of West Missouri
    The Rev. Peter F. Casparian, Diocese of Long Island
    Dr. Ann Tucker, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Ms. Sharon Mahood, Diocese of Iowa
    Mr. Paul Linxwiler, Diocese of West Tennessee
    The Rev. Scott Gunn, Diocese of Rhode Island
    The Rev. Sidney Breese, Diocese of West Missouri
    Mr. Robert F. Brown, Diocese of Missouri
    Dr. Robert J. Schneider, Diocese of Western North Carolina
    The Rev. Alma Beck, Diocese of Arkansas
    The Rev. Karen Johanns, Diocese of Nevada
    The Rev. John W. Cruse, Diocese of Alabama
    Stafford Matthews, Diocese of California
    George Komechak, President, Fort Worth Via Media, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Ed Adcock, Vice President, Fort Worth Via Media, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Laura Adcock, Secretary, Fort Worth Via Media, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Merritt Farren, Treasurer, Fort Worth Via Media, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Ms. Barbi G. Click, Membership Coord., Fort Worth Via Media, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Lynne Minor, VMUSA Representative, Fort Worth Via Media, Diocese of Fort Worth
    John Morgan, Webmaster, Fort Worth Via Media, Diocese of Fort Worth
    The Rev. Wesley Konrad, Diocese of New York
    Ralph Fogg, Diocese of New York
    Lois Phillips, Diocese of the Rio Grande
    The Rev. Charles A. Forbes, Diocese of Olympia
    The Rev. Susan McGarry, Diocese of Michigan
    The Rev. Al Minor, Diocese of West Tennessee
    Br. Maurice John Grove, Diocese of Central Luzon, Episcopal Church of the Philippines
    August 26 additions:
    The Rev. Michael Russell, Diocese of San Diego
    The Rev. Jon A. Egger, Diocese of West Missouri
    Dr. Jane E. Dysart, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Dianne C. Betts, Ph.D., Diocese of Dallas
    The Rev. Ann Markle, Diocese of East Tennessee
    Bart Bartosh, Diocese of El Camino Real
    Tony Saponate, Diocese of El Camino Real
    The Rev Peter Keese, Diocese of East Tennessee
    The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, Diocese of New Hampshire
    James Lynn Culp, Diocese of Texas
    Kendall Lockerman, Diocese of Atlanta
    Clyde Beswick, Diocese of Los Angeles
    Dr. Owanah Anderson, Diocese of Fort Worth
    The Rev. James V. Stockton, Diocese of Texas
    Margaret MacQueen Murray, Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast
    The Rev. Robert J. McCloskey, Diocese of Western North Carolina (canonically, Diocese of Southeast Florida)
    Mrs. Kathleen (Kay) McCloskey, Diocese of Western North Carolina
    Karen & Tad Pound, Diocese of the Rio Grande
    Gordon Broom, Diocese of Southeast Florida
    Ann Duvall, Diocese of South Carolina
    Shirley Friend, Diocese of Rhode Island
    August 30 additions:
    Mark B. A. Cappetta, Diocese of California
    Dr. Gordon W. Gritter, Diocese of El Camino Real
    Patricia Hatfield, Diocese of Central Florida
    Larry Jordan, Diocese of Southeast Florida
    Judith M. Todd, Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast
    The Rev. Joan Yetter, canonically, Diocese of Montana, Diocese of Missouri
    The Rev. George F. Woodward, Diocese of Los Angeles
    The Rev. D. Edward Emenheiser, Diocese of Michigan
    The Rev. Donna L. McNiel, CRC, Diocese of Delaware
    Shelley Machock, Diocese of Los Angeles
    The Rev. Manuel C. Olmo, Diocese of Puerto Rico
    Barbara A. Hickey, Diocese of East Tennessee
    Dr. David E. Linge, Diocese of East Tennessee
    Susan Russell, Diocese of New York
    Simon B. Pete Ross, Diocese of Michigan
    Mrs. Margaret Jo Peg Ross, Diocese of Michigan
    Dr. Charlotte Pressler, Diocese of Central Florida
    The Rev. Robert S. Bates, Diocese of Chicago
    Timothy Cole, Ph.D., Diocese of Connecticut
    Rex Eaton, Diocese of Southwest Florida
    Brant Wiley, Diocese of Los Angeles
    The Rev. Dr. Philip Culbertson, University of Auckland, New Zealand
    The Rev. Canon Curtis R. Zimmerman, Diocese of Olympia
    The Rev. Mason Wilson, Diocese of Massachusetts
    The Rev. Robert James Laws, II, Diocese of North Carolina
    The Rev. Glynn C. Harper, (canonically, Diocese of Louisiana), Diocese of Texas
    Donald R. Reynolds, Diocese of Albany
    H. Thomas Farmer, Diocese of North Carolina
    The Rev. Polly M. Bowen, Diocese of Western New York
    Ms. Robin M. Rhyand, Diocese of Fort Worth
    The Rev. Charles M. Hawes
    The Rev. Columba Gillis, Diocese of Maryland
    August 31 additions
    Nicholas D. Finke, Diocese of Southern Ohio
    The Rt. Rev. Allen Bartlett, (retired), Diocese of Pennsylvania
    The Rev. Amelia Hagen, licensed in California, Diocese of Maine
    William F. Hammond, Diocese of Albany
    The Very Rev. Edward H. Harrison, Dean, Diocese of Florida
    John W. Lasher, Diocese of Western Mexico
    The Rev. Kay Reynolds, Diocese of Western North Carolina
    Dr. Peter L. Yeager, Diocese of Washington
    The Rev. Dr. Alex Nagy, Diocese of San Diego
    The Rev. Nancy Nagy, Diocese of San Diego
    The Rev. Craig A. Dolack, Diocese of Georgia
    September 2 additions
    Ms. Jennifer Ann Woodroff
    The Very Rev. Canon Peter D. Haynes, Diocese of Los Angeles
    Sandy Tull
    Jaroslaw Richard Kubacki, Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe (Church of England)
    The Rev. William Bippus, Diocese of Fond du Lac
    Jeff Clearman, Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast
    The Rev. R. Edgar Wallace, Diocese of Fond du Lac
    David L. Fleer, Diocese of Chicago
    Diane Butler, Diocese of the Rio Grande
    Richard C. Angelo, Diocese of Albany
    The Rev. Charles F. McCarron, Diocese of Long Island
    The Rev. Frank I. Durkee, II (licensed in Colorado), Diocese of Washington
    The Rev. Michael Dresbach, Diocese of El Camino Real
    Sept. 8 additions:
    John M. Denton, Diocese of West Tennessee
    The Rev. Dr. Ellen K. Wondra, Diocese of Chicago
    Ms. Deborah Sproule, Diocese of Milwaukee
    James Cowan, Diocese of Texas
    William Taylor, Diocese of Texas
    James S. Kersey, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Ms. Lesley J. Mortimer, Diocese of Rio Grande
    The Rev. Richard E. Helmer, Diocese of California
    Mr. Stephen E. Stanley, Diocese of New Hampshire
    Barbara Curry, Diocese of Connecticut
    The Rev. Phillip Carlyle Cato, Ph.D., Diocese of Washington
    Ms. Mary Ann Starrett, Diocese of Southwest Florida
    Richard Cavender, Diocese of Missouri
    Amy Johnson, Diocese of North Carolina
    The Rev. John D. Talbird, Jr., Diocese of East Tennessee
    Nicol Kennedy Tillou, Diocese of Newark
    Ms. Ellie Chapman, Diocese of Missouri
    September 13 additions
    The Rev. Dan Burke, Diocese of Rhode Island
    Ms. Marge Doyle, Diocese of Arkansas
    The Rev. Seamus Doyle, Diocese of Arkansas
    Mr. Bruce Garner, Diocese of Atlanta
    Elizabeth Byrd, Diocese of Louisiana
    The Rev. Dr. Ralph M. Byrd, Diocese of Louisiana
    The Rev. R. William Carroll, Diocese of Southern Ohio
    The Rt. Rev. Charlie F. McNutt, retired, Diocese of Central Pennsylvania
    The Rev. Richard Dick Corry, Diocese of Virginia
    The Rev. & Mrs. Lou Mitchell
    Dick & Virginia Kerner, Diocese of Dallas
    Mr. John Cash, Diocese of Dallas
    The Rev. Peter R. Coffin, Diocese of New Hampshire
    The Rt. Rev. Michael W. Creighton, Diocese of Central Pennsylvania
    The Rt. Rev. Haines, retired
    The Rt. Rev. Nathan Baxter, Bishop-Elect, Diocese of Central Pennsylvania
    The Rt. Rev. Bill Sanders, retired, Diocese of East Tennessee
    The Rt. Rev. Allen L. Bartlett, Jr., retired, Diocese of Pennsylvania
    The Rt. Rev. David C. Bowman, retired, Diocese of Western New York
    The Rt. Rev. Sam B. Hulsey, retired, Diocese of Northwest Texas
    Mr. Steve Skiffington, Diocese of Northern California
    Mr. Stephen Fox, Diocese of Texas
    Mrs. Alice T. McNutt, Diocese of Central Pennsylvania
    September 14 additions:
    The Rev. Donna Dambrot, Diocese of Pennsylvania
    The Rev. Chaplain Michael H. Day, Diocese of Southwest Florida
    Ms. Juliana Day, Diocese of Southwest Florida
    Ms. Terri Jo Barron, Diocese of Florida
    The Rev. Mimi Savidge, Diocese of West Missouri
    The Rev. Marshall Scott, Diocese of West Missouri
    The Rev. Robert Viggiano, Diocese of Texas
    Ms. Virginia Cuthbert Ginga Wilder, M.Ed., Diocese of South Carolina
    David & Sandra Alig, Diocese of Kansas
    October additions:
    The Rev. Gary Green, Diocese of Milwaukee
    The Rev. Canon Dr. Richard T. Nolan, (Canonically, Diocese of Connecticut), Diocese of Southeast Florida
    Jean Turkiewicz, Diocese of Washington
    The Rev. Charles M. Hawes, Diocese of North Carolina
    Phyllis Amenda, Diocese of Central New York
    Dr. Robert Dodd, Diocese of New York
    Marya Dodd, Diocese of New York
    The Rev. Canon D. Wallace Adams-Riley, Diocese of Florida
    Elizabeth L. Lyle McLevain, Diocese of Tennessee
    Dr. Barbara Starrett, Diocese of Southwest Florida
    Dr. Elizabeth J. Jordan, Diocese of Southwest Florida
    The Rev. Connie Jones, Diocese of Alaska
    The Rev. Glyn L. Ruppe-Melnyk, Diocese of Pennsylvania
    Mr. James Belmont, Diocese of Utah
    Mr. Nathan Spofford, Diocese of Utah
    November 26 additions:
    The Rev. Dr. George Clifford, Diocese of North Carolina
    Mr. Richard N. Taliaferro, Jr., Diocese of Virginia
    Ms. Norma S. Taliaferro, Diocese of Virginia
    The Rev. Hugh Tudor-Foley, Diocese of Connecticut
    Mr. Tommy Osborne, CSI, Diocese of Dallas
    Mr. James L. Bowditch, Ph.D., Diocese of Maine
    Mr. Leonardo Ricardo Clark Beardsley, Diocese of Puerto Rico
    The Rev. Canon Timothy M. Nakayama, Diocese of Olympia
    Dr. Sylvia Fleming Crocker
    Allen Mellen, Diocese of New York
    The Rev. Dr. Brad Smith, Diocese of Atlanta
    The Rev. Jim Littrell, Diocese of Pennsylvania
    The Rev. John L. Janeway, Diocese of Tennessee
    The Rev. Shawn J. Clerkin, AOJN, Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania
    The Ven. Reese S. Rickards, Diocese of Easton
    The Rev. John D. Hortum, Rector, Diocese of Virginia
    The Rev. James Papile, Diocese of Virginia
    The Rev. Edwin T. Shackelford, III, (Canonically, Diocese of Northern California), Diocese of Oregon
    2007 June 17 additions:
    The Rev. Kit Carlson, Diocese of Washington
    Ms. Chepi DiCalogero, Diocese of Virginia
    Mr. Robert DiCalogero, Diocese of Virginia
    The Rev. Hugh Magee, (currently living in Scotland), Diocese of Spokane
    The Rev. Dr. Kris Lewis, Diocese of Massachusetts
    The Rev. Dcn. Dick Schisler, Diocese of Southern Ohio
    J. Gregory Morgan, Diocese of West Missouri
    The Rev. Marya DeCarlen, Diocese of Massachusetts
    Gertrude Smith Bagdon, Diocese of Southeast Florida
    Mr. Dennis Roberts, Diocese of Olympia
    The Rev. Cathy Montgomery, Diocese of Southwestern Virginia
    The Rev. Richard H. Fife, Diocese of Southwestern Virginia
    Ms. Frances S. Robin Drake, Diocese of Virginia
    The Rev. Louie Skipper, Montgomery Episcopal Campus Ministries, Diocese of Alabama
    Mrs. Susan Skipper, Montgomery Episcopal Campus Ministries, Diocese of Alabama
    Mr. William Peltz, Diocese of Albany
    Mr. W. Lee Hicks, DD, vestry member, Diocese of Pittsburgh
    The Rev. Canon Mary Ann Taylor, Diocese of Maine
    The Rev. Rebecca Black, Diocese of Massachusetts
    Mr. Robert Copp, Diocese of Michigan
    The Rev. John M. Good, (canonically, Eastern Michigan), Diocese of Missouri
    Ms. Mary Jane Amick, Diocese of Lexington
    The Rev. Michael Milligan, Diocese of Utah
    The Rev. James T. Prevatt, Jr., Diocese of North Carolina
    Dr. Anne Russell, Diocese of Eastern North Carolina
    Rachel Furer, Diocese of New York
    The Rev. William Wells, Diocese of Virginia
    Michelle Peattie, Diocese of Vermont
    Jerry Hannon, Diocese of Long Island
    Ms. Julia Spencer-Fleming, Diocese of Maine
    Bruce Chandler, M.D., Diocese of Springfield
    The Rev. L. D. Wood-Hull, Diocese of Oregon
    The Rev. Katherine Merrell Glenn, Diocese of Olympia
    The Rev. Lori M. Lowe, Diocese of Atlanta
    Andrew T. Nadell, M.D., Diocese of California
    Eleanore Edwards Ramsey, Diocese of California
    The Rev. Ormonde Plater, Diocese of Louisiana
    The Rev. Deacon Patrick J. Bradley, Diocese of Western New York
    The Rev. Dr. Charles Winters, Diocese of Western North Carolina
    The Rev. Dr. Edward O. deBary, (canonically, Diocese of Mississippi), Diocese of Western North Carolina
    The Rev. Rick Brewer, Diocese of Oklahoma
    The Rev. Susan Buchanan, Diocese of New Hampshire
    Taff Etatsopa, M.D., Diocese of Chicago
    The Rev. Dr. Howard Hanchey, Diocese of Southern Virginia
    The Rev. Donald J. Frye, Diocese of Chicago
    Dr. W. Frank Hull, IV
    The Rev. Robert R.M. Bagwell, Diocese of Massachusetts
    Parker S. Allen, Diocese of Los Angeles
    The Rev. Jerrold Thompson, Diocese of Nebraska
    The Rev. Charles H. Morris, D.Min., Diocese of Missouri
    The Rev. Robert Thomas, St. Peter's (& Chaplain, Spring Creek Correctional Center), Diocese of Alaska
    Elaine Hood Culver, Diocese of Dallas
    Phillip Maiden, M.D., Diocese of Ohio
    Mr. Jack Swinney, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Elizabeth Adams, Diocese of Connecticut
    The Rev. Michael W. Merriman, Diocese of Dallas
    Bonnie McNamara, Diocese of the Rio Grande
    The Rev. Kenneth E. Martin, Diocese of Florida
    John A. Huston, Diocese of Olympia
    Virginia "Ginny" Gibbs, Diocese of Chicago
    2007 October 20 additions:
    Sheila B. Rice, Diocese of East Tennessee
    Patricia Quattlebaum, Diocese of South Carolina
    Robert W. Claus, Diocese of Albany
    Kenneth Witherspoon
    Marvin Long, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Gloria Long, Diocese of Fort Worth
    The Rev. Charles Scott May, Diocese of Atlanta
    James L. Lancaster, Ph.D., Diocese of South Carolina
    Ms. Susan Heather Myers, Diocese of Atlanta
    Thomas E. Britt, Diocese of Connecticut
    Joseph V. Staiano, LTC, USAR (Ret.), Diocese of Atlanta
    The Rev. Dr. Vicki L. Smith, (canonically, Diocese of Southern Ohio), Diocese of North Carolina
    The Rev. Lauren A. Gough, Diocese of Central New York
    The Rev. George D. Young, Jr., Diocese of Florida
    The Rev. David Charles Walker, (retired), Diocese of Los Angeles
    The Rev. Charles Sheerin, (retired), Diocese of Virginia
    The Rev. Brent Carey, Diocese of San Diego
    Ms. Kirstin Paisley, Diocese of California
    The Rev. Raymond C. Ball, Diocese of Dallas
    2008 February 22 additions:
    Charlotte & Ralph Andreas, Diocese of Fort Worth
    Ms. Susan C. Gage, Diocese of Florida
    Pegram Johnson, III, (canonically, Diocese of Washington), Diocese of Virginia
    Corinne Denegre, Diocese of Montana
    The Rev. Randall J. Keeney, Diocese of North Carolina
    The Rev. Dr. David J. Rolfe, British Columbia, Canada
    The Rev. Justo R. Andres, Diocese of San Joaquin
    The Rev. Dr. Paul J. Carling, Diocese of Connecticut