Wednesday, January 03, 2007

"Windsor-Compliant Bishops" Meet Again

The Living Church broke the story today:

Diocesan bishops will again be discussing the relationship of The Episcopal Church to the Archbishop of Canterbury and other primates within the Anglican Communion at a consultation that begins today at Camp Allen in Texas. The consultation is scheduled to be held through Jan. 5 and was organized by the Rt. Rev. Don Wimberly, Bishop of Texas. Bishop Wimberly organized a similar consultation in September.

According to an online report, Bishop Wimberly characterized the meeting as including "a growing number of bishops from across the United States" when he wrote to diocesan clergy about the meeting last month. He also stated that Archbishop Drexel Gomez, Primate of the Church of the West Indies, and Archbishop Donald Mtetemela, Primate of the Church of Tanzania, will be attending as guests.

The Sept. 19-22 meeting of 22 diocesan bishops at Camp Allen concluded with the release of a letter to the House of Bishops in which the 21 signatories reaffirmed their continued commitment to the Windsor Report as the way to "heal the breaches within our own Communion and in our ecumenical relationships," and supported the Archbishop of Canterbury in his proposal for the development of an Anglican Covenant.
Later today, the Episcopal News Service ran a report on the meeting:

By Mary Frances Schjonberg

[ENS] A group of Episcopal Church bishops gathered beginning January 3 at Camp Allen Conference and Retreat Center, northwest of Houston, Texas, for a three-day meeting to continue discussing the church's relationship with the rest of the Anglican Communion's provinces.

According to a story in the January edition of the diocese's newspaper, Texas Bishop Don Wimberly sent a letter to the clergy of the diocese saying that his correspondence with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, following the first meeting of self-styled "Windsor Bishops" in September, "encouraged" him to hold the second gathering.

The "Windsor Bishops" are a group of bishops who have said they agree that the terms of the Windsor Report provide a roadmap for a way forward in the midst of disagreements among the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. They say they have come together in conversation about the church's future.

Wimberly is quoted in the newspaper as saying "the purpose of the gathering is not to form another 'group' or to issue proclamations, but to continue the conversation as requested in the Windsor Report.

Bishop Jack Iker of the Diocese of Fort Worth wrote in a statement on the diocesan website that the meeting will include presentations on next month's Primates Meeting and on the work of the Anglican Covenant Design Group.

"We also will be discussing the current situation in The Episcopal Church, the concern for representation of the Windsor Bishops at meetings of the Instruments of Unity, and responses to parishes and dioceses who are seeking alternative oversight," Iker wrote.

What Iker called the Instruments of Unity are referred to on the Anglican Communion's website as the Instruments of Communion. They are the Primates Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Lambeth Conferences. The Archbishop of Canterbury is referred to as the Focus of Unity on the website.

Iker noted that Wimberly's invitation to the January meeting said that "We are approaching a critical junction in the life of our church and the life of our Communion. Our discussions are both timely and of extraordinary importance."
ENS carries a fuller version of the story here – including the Archbishop of Canterbury's own statement that he had neither encouraged nor sponsored these meetings.

Various members and supporters of The Episcopal Majority are preparing responses to this latest development. They will be posted on this site.

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