Friday, September 22, 2006

Observers respond to Kigali, Camp Allen statements [ENS]

Editor's note: As other groups are, The Episcopal Majority is drafting responses to the Kigali and Camp Allen statements. Once the group has approved those written responses, they will be published here.

Observers respond to Kigali, Camp Allen statements

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
Friday, September 22, 2006

[Episcopal News Service] Reactions to statements issued September 22 by a group of Episcopal Church bishops meeting in Texas and the Global South Primates meeting in Rwanda included both praise and criticism.

Statements were made by Via Media USA, the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NACDAP), the American Anglican Council (ACC) and the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC).

The Episcopal Church's two presiding officers, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson, are also expected to comment.

The text of the meeting of the Global South Primates, held September 19-22 in Kigali, Rwanda, is available here.

The text of the meeting of some Episcopal bishops, held during the same dates at Camp Allen Conference and Retreat Center northwest of Houston, Texas, is available here.

Dr. Christopher Wilkins, facilitator of Via Media USA, said that the two statements "are hard to reconcile" given the Camp Allen bishops' stance toward unity and what he called the Kigali statement's "breathtaking rejection of the entire Episcopal Church, except for those segments of it that the signatories consider truly faithful."

The Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, AAC president and chief operating officer said the statement is "what we have hoped and prayed for since 2003."

"It is sure to inspire and encourage biblically faithful Anglicans in North America," he said.

NACDAP, a group made up of 10 of the Episcopal Church's 110 dioceses, along with congregations and individual clergy, said it welcomed the Kigali Communiqué.

"We are deeply humbled by the care shown for us by our Fathers in God in the Global South," said Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, the network's moderator.

Meanwhile, ANiC said the Kigali statement was a "grave warning" to the Anglican Church of Canada, "demonstrating the consequences for churches that stray from authentic, biblically-faithful Anglican teaching."

Wilkins of Via Media USA said that the contrast between the statements was notable.

"The statement from Camp Allen shows Episcopalians, once again, attempting to find ways to express their longstanding commitment to other Anglican Communion provinces, to the faith we have received, and the truth to which it bears witness. It even flirts with accepting greater division in the church as the price of its continued unity, which would be difficult for the church to accept," Wilkins said. "By contrast, and as though in rebuke, the Global South Primates' Kigali Communiqué is a breathtaking rejection of the entire Episcopal Church, except for those segments of it that the signatories consider truly faithful."

Wilkins said that an Anglican Communion province in North America founded in opposition to the Episcopal Church, which the Kigali statement envisions, "would be a mistake."

"No matter how many people might cheer for it, or believe their Christian faith to require it, it would be a church founded in large measure on the exclusion and rejection of a certain kind of human being -- a gay or lesbian human being -- and of anyone (and, indeed, an entire church) who sees Christ's face and faith in such persons," he said. "Can this truly be how we live out Christ's love in our time?"

The two statements show, Wilkins said, that compliance with the suggestions of the Windsor Report "particularly if conceived as a matter of structural change or doctrinal limitation" would lead to schism.

"As it has been framed, such compliance would diminish the faithful and distinctive witness that has characterized the Episcopal Church since its founding. We, surely, can do better," Wilkins said.

He added since the 2003 General Convention, "those intent on replacing the Episcopal Church with something under their control" have had too much control of the agenda for the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion on matters of human sexuality and church discipline.

Such activity "has hampered each church's effectiveness in bearing witness to Christ's love, healing and reconciliation," Wilkins said. "It is difficult for me to see how it can be suffered to continue without more harm being done both to the church and to the world it serves."

Via Media USA has chapters in 12 Episcopal Church dioceses, including the eight that have requested a relationship with a primate of the Anglican Communion other than the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. The process is being called alternative primatial oversight (APO). Via Media USA and its affiliates want to promote the faith, unity, and vitality of the Episcopal Church, according to the Via Media USA website [].

Duncan praised the Global South primates for their perspective in the NACDAP statement.

"In many places they and the Anglicans they pastor face poverty, disease and persecution for their faith on a scale that goes far beyond anything that threatens us. In fact, just this week, Anglicans in Nigeria saw their cathedral in Dutse burned to the ground by rioting Muslims. Yet, in the midst of dealing with these massive issues, they continue to offer us their support and guidance. We can only be profoundly grateful."

The full text of the statement is available here.

The AAC's Anderson called the Kigali statement "bold" and called it "an action plan attesting to the Global South's visionary leadership in a time of chaos and crisis in our beloved Communion."

He said it was good that the Global South primates "are moving beyond temporary intervention to create long-term solutions such as a covenant and a new ecclesiastical structure, while consistently affirming the authority of Scripture and apostolic faith."

The "primary focus of the Kigali meeting was the ongoing work of Christ's mission and ministry in the midst of enormous challenges, including HIV/AIDS, extreme poverty, and dangerous conflicts in the Global South," Anderson said.

He called it "humbling" to have the primates "offer their unwavering support for us as they gathered to discuss such critical issues in their own provinces."

The full text of Anderson's statement is available here.

The ANiC statement praised the primates' desire for an Anglican entity in the United States apart from the Episcopal Church.

"This comes as a dire warning for the Anglican Church of Canada," says ANiC executive director Cheryl Chang. "Global South leaders will be clearly defining for all what it means to be truly Anglican, and that requires a commitment to historic authentic Anglican teaching. If the Anglican Church of Canada chooses to follow the path of the U.S. Episcopal Church, they too will be deemed to be ‘walking apart' from the global Church and a new ecclesiastical structure will be required for Canada as well."

Archbishop Greg Venables, Primate of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone (in South America), who was present at the Kigali meeting, is quoted in ANiC's statement as saying that the institutional structures of the Communion "must catch up" with the "reality" that the Episcopal Church has "departed from Christian teaching and practice."

"It is our prayer that the Anglican Church of Canada will bear this in mind in the upcoming General Synod and turn back from any unbiblical course," the ANiC's statement quotes Venables as saying.

The full text of the ANiC statement is available here.

The NACDAP, ACC, and ANiC are all organizations that support Episcopalians and Anglicans whose views put them at odds with their Church's structures in their countries.

-- The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is national correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.


Anonymous Prior Aelred said...

That last paragraph really got my attention:

"The NACDAP, ACC, and ANiC are all organizations that support Episcopalians and Anglicans whose views put them at odds with their Church's structures in their countries."

Honestly, how can any bishop elect calling for ALPO receive consents from the diocesans & standing committees?

9/23/2006 6:10 PM  

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