Friday, January 11, 2013

+Anderson urges Mother Church to rethink farcical "gay bishop" policy

Dear friends in Christ,

Today I am on my way home from the College of Bishops (CoB) of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) meeting which was held in Florida. After some initial miscues in seasonal scheduling of ACNA events where we were in Texas in midsummer and then Toronto in midwinter, we are trying to meet in warmer climes in cold seasons, and cooler climes in hot seasons, with meeting space, convenience and travel factored in, hence this January meeting in Orlando. The CoB has been dealing with weighty subjects, including approving new bishops for new dioceses, continued work on liturgy, ordinal and prayer book issues, continued discussion on how we live together with two realities of some dioceses ordaining women and others opposed to it. I truly appreciate that in our new emerging spiritual culture, we are trying to avoid the up or down vote and the winner take all approach that many of us experienced in previous ecclesial judicatories. I sense a genuine love and respect within the CoB for one another, including those who hold different opinions. If we can stay submitted to the lordship and sovereignty of Jesus, we will do very well.

During this last week, the English House of Bishops (HoB) decided that presbyters of the Church of England (CoE) who are in same-sex Civil Partnerships can be CoE bishops; that is, the Civil Partnership is not a disqualification. A previous requirement of celibacy for a gay bishop candidate would seem to be eclipsed at least in part and for all practical purposes by this new decision. Orthodox Anglicans, both within the CoE and worldwide, see this for the great mistake and stumble toward the precipice that it is, and several orthodox Anglican Primates have already responded.

Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda was quick to point out that the English HoB decision is also an explicit approval of homosexual bishops, and concluded his statement with, "Our grief and sense of betrayal are beyond words." Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council voiced similar words of distress and castigation for the actions taken.

The Anglican Primate of All Nigeria, Nicolas Okoh, and his House of Bishops of Nigeria have also released a communiqué, and, as is customary in communiqués from Nigeria, they are straightforward and very clear about their message. They write of their dismay that homosexual clergy in Civil Partnerships will be considered for the episcopacy, and point out that this is one step away from the moral precipice already trod by the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada.

They write, "Sadly.....if the Church of England continues this contrary direction, we [the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion] must further separate ourselves from it and we are prepared to take the same actions as those prompted by the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada ten years ago."

While it is certainly possible for a person with homosexual attractions to live a celibate and godly life, what the churches in North America and the United Kingdom have generally seen is a culture of "a wink and a nod" and deceit, which obscure the reality of the depraved conduct that was being tolerated. If the Church of England's House of Bishops permits bishops to be in Civil Partnerships, do they really think that these will be a celibate and chaste relationships, or will it be a continuation of "a gentleman's agreement" and "a wink and a nod?"

If you look at the seriousness of the African statements, and you look back over the last ten years and ask what responses were made by the overseas provinces in the past for North American relief, the HoB of the CoE should consider well the possible futures that lie ahead with regard to their English Church, and choose the future that holds both the historic faith and the Anglican Communion intact. On behalf of the American Anglican Council I would urge the English bishops to rethink this and change their minds.

Blessings and peace in Christ Jesus,

+David

The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.
President and CEO, American Anglican Council