Friday, March 09, 2007

Bishop Duncan's Pastoral Letter

The following press release – with a "pastoral letter" from Bishop Robert Duncan (Moderator of the Network of Anglican Communion Networks & Dioceses) attached – has been received by members of The Episcopal Majority. "Network" parishes are instructed to read this letter on Sunday. We are pleased to share it with the wider Episcopal Church, and hope to provide some reflections on the letter in the next couple of days.

[Editor's Note: The electronic version of the letter which we received seems to have some errors (such as the use of "communique" instead of "communiqué"), and all typographical features (such as boldface and underline) were stripped out. The posting here faithfully represents the version of the letter we received.]

Anglican Communion Network
Biblical Missionary Uniting
535 Smithfield Street
Suite 910
Pittsburgh, PA 15222 412-325-8900
Fax: 412-325-8902

Contact: Jenny Noyes
Phone: 412-325-8900 x108
March 9, 2007

The Rt. Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan, Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, is requesting all Network priests to read the following letter to their congregations this Sunday or make hard copies available to parishioners. You are receiving an advance copy of this letter. This document has not yet been released to the general public. The Network will make the letter public on Monday by posting it on our website at and releasing it to the press. Please do not publish this letter online in any fashion until Monday, March 12.

Due to the latest of this email, please feel free to read this letter to your congregation on a subsequent Sunday and to send it electronically or post it on your own website after Monday, March 12. We appreciate your partnership in the Network and hope that this letter is an encouragement to your parishioners. Thank you.

9th March, A.D. 2007
Third Friday of Lent


Beloved in the Lord,

The Primates’ Meeting in Tanzania considered in great depth the plight “of those congregations and dioceses within the Episcopal Church who have sought alternative pastoral oversight because of their theological differences with their diocesan bishop or with the Presiding Bishop.”(1) The hope of the Primates’ Meeting, in the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury, is that a “sufficiently strong scheme” can be put in place so as to be “sufficient for all dissenting congregations and dioceses to find their home within it.”(2) Another way to say this is to say that a sufficiently strong plan must be found for the congregations and dioceses of the Anglican Communion Network (plus any others from the wider Windsor coalition that may desire similar insulation). The responsibility for developing such a system has been given to the wider coalition of Windsor Bishops who signed on to the “ Camp Allen principles” – a group that includes the Network Bishops – to shape such a system, a system to be led by a Primatial Vicar. (3)

There is much question as to the degree to which the vision for an international Pastoral Council and a domestic Primatial Vicar would leave the Network “within” the Episcopal Church.At the start, one has to say that the eighty-six congregations of the Network’s International Conference ( Uganda, Kenya, So. Cone and Central Africa) are neither under nor within the Episcopal Church, anymore than are the one hundred and forty churches in the Anglican Mission and CANA. Since the Key Recommendations of the Dar es Salaam Meeting anticipated “a place for [AMiA and CANA] within these provisions,” there is envisioned something much different than can be described as “within” the Episcopal Church.

For the hundreds of Network congregations in the Network Dioceses and Convocations, (who claim to be what they have always been, which is the Episcopal Church where they are) I want to share the following assessment. Most of us are at present within the Episcopal Church. This is where the Network was principally called to stand. One can be “within” something and not “under” it. The Network has been proving that for the last three years. The Dar es Salaam Communique and Key Recommendations represent a last attempt at reconciliation in the Anglican Communion and in the Episcopal Church. What the global leadership of the Anglican Communion has proposed is a marital separation. Pastorally, the church recommends such separations because they sometimes bring restoration of right relationship. Both parties are still technically within the marriage.But marital separations never leave one party “under” the other; such an arrangement would be doomed to failure from the start. The words of the Dar es Salaam Communique and Key Recommendations are carefully chosen.Any sense that the Pastoral Council and Primatial Vicar are “under” majority TEC is absent from the documents themselves, would surely doom the vision to failure, and could hardly prove “a sufficiently strong scheme.”

Whether this last effort to reconcile both the Episcopal Church to the Anglican Communion and the two parts of the Episcopal Church to each other can succeed is, in human terms, up to the Network, to the Windsor Bishops, and to the wider House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. Three things must be said:

1) As Network Moderator, I will do everything I can to bring the hopes of the Primates Meeting to fruition.Necessarily, I will attend the meeting of the House of Bishops about to convene. The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked for “generosity and graciousness” in response to what the Primates have done. I will go in that spirit. Attendance at the meeting of the House of Bishops, however, should not be construed as anything more than doing what the situation requires. It remains that “the theological differences” with the Presiding Bishop and with those Diocesan Bishops who have taught and acted contrary to received Faith and Order (as upheld in the Windsor Report, and the Dromantine and Dar es Salaam Communiques) are of such magnitude that discussion of the issues before us is the limit of our participation in the life of the House of Bishops at the present time. This represents no alteration of the grounds on which most Network Bishops have participated in the House of Bishops since August of 2003.

2) The Windsor Bishops (which includes the Network Bishops) – all those who adopted the Camp Allen principles (4) – will meet shortly after Easter to shape our part of what the Primates’ Meeting has envisioned. Obvious agenda items include discussion about a Primatial Vicar, about a “sufficiently strong” plan for the Network and Windsor minority, and about imagining whether any form of ministry could be designed that would be acceptable to those who have gone out.

3) The House of Bishops will have to respond to us and to the recommendations of the Primates’ Meeting in a vastly different manner than has characterized the majority’s behavior toward us in recent experience. As already stated, the Archbishop of Canterbury has called on all to “approach [the] challenges with a spirit of graciousness and generosity.” (5) Pray toward this end.

From the earliest days, we in the Anglican Communion Network have known that our vocation is to stand for the Faith once delivered to the saints, in submission to the whole Anglican Communion. From the earliest days, we appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and to the Primates (6) to make that possible in an increasingly hostile environment here in the United States. Again, the Archbishop and the Primates have heard us. Again, they have spoken. They have determined to give the Episcopal Church one more chance to make it clear about the majority’s intentions vis a vis the teaching of Lambeth I.10, the Windsor Report and the Dromantine Communique.

Most of us, but certainly not all, in the Anglican Communion Network now believe that it is the Episcopal Church majority’s clear and continuing intention to “walk apart” in matters of Faith and Order. Nevertheless, we owe it to our beloved Communion to follow the Primates’ wisdom as to how to take a last step in that discernment. The Primates have established a deadline of September 30th for the Episcopal Church’s entire House of Bishops to make an “unequivocal” response. (7) For all that is ahead, the Anglican Communion Network will continue to work with those “within” and with those who have “gone out” for a biblical, missionary and united future for North American Anglicanism. There can be no turning back from that Godly commitment: the Network’s vision from the beginning. “And since we have this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.” [2 Cor. 4:1]

Please continue to pray with fervor for me and for all who lead, as well as for all who are having an especially hard time with yet one more time of waiting and of testing.Your prayers are the vehicles of our Lord’s victory realized in the crises and crosses we face at every level both great and small.

Faithfully in Christ,

Moderator, Anglican Communion Network

(1) Archbishop Rowan Williams, Pastoral Letter to the Primates, 5th March 2007.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Key Recommendations of the Primates, 19th February 2007.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Archbishop Rowan Williams, Pastoral Letter to the Primates, 5th March 2007.

(6) Dissenting Bishops’ Statement, 5th August 2003.

(7) Key Recommendations of the Primates, 19th February 2007.


The Anglican Communion Network is a biblical, missionary and uniting movement of North American Anglicans in fellowship with the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion Network is comprised of over 900 parishes and over 2200 clergy. The Anglican Communion Network operates under the legal name of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes as a tax exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

+Duncan's letter is little different than the APO request he sent to the primates of the global south, at least in the area of polity. What he is working toward is network dioceses and parishes being relieved of subjection to TEC discipline. Once so relieved, they will be pretty much free to do as they will yet maintain their voting status in diocesan conventions, the HofB, and general convention as well as insure and maintain medical and pension benefits and use of property. They are working to obtain a church within a church achieving all of its benefits but with no accountability. This is clearly a strategy that has been working well for the network. If the scheme for primatial oversight allows network and Camp Allen dioceses and individual churches so to do, the implication for the CofE must be obvious to ++Williams. It is unclear at this point whether or not +Jefferts-Schori is being asked to delegate her authority and precisely what authority she is being asked to delegate but if it removes Network dioceses, parishes etc from accountabity ultimately through her, to the authority of the General Convention, it would seem that two churches would, in fact, exist. +Duncan's letter seems to indicate that he believes that the kind of APO he is requesting will relieve him of TEC discipline.

3/10/2007 9:33 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I suspect the duncanites are selling the PB short. The lack of immediate reactions to outrageous statements and actions doesn't always mean weakness or acquiesence.

3/10/2007 6:38 PM  
Blogger Sailor said...

It is certainly possible to 'be “within” something and not “under” it.' That is, after all, how membership in the Anglican Communion is supposed to work, and did, until "+Bob Pittsburgh" and cronies began manipulating it to serve their own purposes.

The good bishop, however, is clearly under vows to "conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church." When one finds he can no longer live with such vows, the honorable course is to renounce them, rather than to play the saboteur.

3/10/2007 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You heretics stil don't get it, do you. For a bunch of people with PhDs and DDs and whatever else, how come you still don't understand what the Network is about - indeed what all of this is about?

for the last time:

Read what Mark Lawrence and Scofield have said.
Read what Akinola and Orombi have said.
Read - even - what Duncan says in the very letter above

We don't want to come to your HoB.
We don't want to come to you GC.
We don't want to be in your so-called "church".
We don't want to be in communion with gays, with lesbians, with their supporters. If youi come to our churches wearing rainbow buttons we'll turn you away.

We just want to follow Christ.
We just want to leave ECUSA - immediately - and keep the property we outselves paid for
We just want to stay Anglican, to stay in communion with those people we think are leading the Chuch and Society into the fullness of Christ, such as Archbishop Akinola in Nigeria, Orombi, and Duncan in the US

We believe in God
We believe in sin.
We believe in forgiveness if you truly repent
We believe in damnation for those who do not repent, and especially for all those who say repentance is not required - and that includes you!

3/11/2007 3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The person who posted the comment before this one doesn't practice what he or she rants - "We just want to follow Christ." If you just want to follow Christ, you are mandated to love one another, as Christ loved you. He didn't put provisos, restrictions or conditions on it. "Love one another, as I have loved you."

I love you guys, no matter how sad or wrong you are.

3/12/2007 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The good bishop, however, is clearly under vows to "conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church." When one finds he can no longer live with such vows, the honorable course is to renounce them, rather than to play the saboteur"

Exactly. That is what Spong should have done--and still may do; that is what VGR might have done, even when he was told he would tear the fabric of the communion at its deepest level viz., be a saboteur. So your post is hardly convincing. +Duncan gets more things right than he gets wrong and, as far as I have seen, he has never uttered a hostile word toward one single person. That is something I cannot say of most people on the other side. JOHN @))&

3/12/2007 3:11 PM  
Blogger David said...

We believe in damnation for those who do not repent, and especially for all those who say repentance is not required - and that includes you!

And note the special zeal for damning all us "heretics."

Luckily for me (and I mean that on any, number of levels), I believe in grace :) For me, for Mr/Ms. Angry Anonymous, and for everyone else...

3/12/2007 3:23 PM  
Blogger Robert McLean MD PhD said...

You chose a picture of Bp Duncan that was obviously harried (it looks like he is at an airport). The picture of Bp Theuner looks much more episcopal. I am sure this is just an oversight. Let me give you some links to better pictures of Bp Duncan:

3/13/2007 2:40 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for the lead, Dr. McLean. I used the most recent photo I could find -- from Tanzania, I think. Some of the ones you found are better, and I've replaced the photo.

3/13/2007 8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>I love you guys, no matter how sad or wrong you are.

How very pharisaical.

3/13/2007 8:14 PM  

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