Monday, December 31, 2007
December 31, 2007
The Archbishop of Canterbury kept a special communion service for gays so secret that he failed to tell the Bishop of London it was happening in his diocese, The Times has learnt.
Dr Rowan Williams inflamed the row over homosexuality which is tearing apart the Anglican Church when it was reported that he had agreed to hold a eucharist for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender clergy.
But even his critics have been taken aback to learn that he did so by making an incursion on to the patch of the Bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres, without giving notice or seeking permission.
Dr Williams now risks being seen as, at best, discourteous and at worst, in breach of canon law, for sneaking into a church near the Tower of London under the Bishop’s nose. Canon law says that only a bishop can authorise services in his own diocese and infringements may result in an intruder being removed from office...
Click here to read the rest.
Click here for Ruth Gledhill's original report on this event--which took place on November 29th.
by Colin Coward
Our roots are in Christ
The group of Primates and bishops who are organising the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) to be held in the Holy Land in June 2008 claim the title 'orthodox' to themselves. They are holding the event in the Holy Land because it is important for them to reconnect with their roots in the biblical story.
In every generation since the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Christians, increasingly dispersed throughout the world, have connected and reconnected with our roots, women, lesbian and gay people, heterosexuals, bisexuals, transgendered people, people of all racial and ethnic identities, have returned to their roots. Our roots are in God, in the teaching, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We connect and reconnect with the Gospel of Jesus. We, including LGBT Christians, are disciples of Jesus and faithful members of his fully inclusive community, the church.
Click here to read the rest.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Posted: 2007-12-23 07:55:33
LONDON (Dec. 23) - Former prime minister Tony Blair's conversion to Catholicism means he is now a member of the most popular Christian denomination in Britain, according to religious research published on Sunday.
Despite England's official break with the pope in Rome during Henry VIII's reign more than 400 years ago, making Anglicanism and the Church of England dominant, Catholicism is now the most practiced faith in the land.
A survey by the group Christian Research published in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper showed that around 862,000 worshippers attended Catholic Mass each week in 2006, exceeding the 852,000 who went to Church of England services.
Blair's conversion was long expected -- his wife and four children are practicing Catholics -- but it has not come without a degree of criticism.
While in office, he frequently championed stem-cell research, was in support of civil partnerships for gay couples and has voted in favor of abortion, all issues on which the Catholic faithful hold strong positions.
Click here to read the entire story.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Recently on a blog discussing the almost complete lack of trust in Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams among many Anglicans, Matt Kennedy asked the following two questions of Ephraim Radner, a brilliant and much admired anglican theologian well known for his opposition to gay sexual activity and for his defense of the orthodoxy and integrity of Williams' theology:
"I must ask though, perhaps you know, 1. has the Archbishop changed his opinion with regard to homosexual relationships and 2. Is it possible to be 'orthodox' and reject the biblical revelation concerning homosexual behavior?"
It is not often that I agree with Matt Kennedy, but for quite some time I have been burning with the same questions and I dearly hope that Williams himself will have the courage to answer them. For it is without doubt his failure to come clean and speak about his own current theological position regarding same sex relations which has contributed greatly to the utter erosion of the Anglican Communion's trust in Williams. Once having written some of the most progressive theology of sexuality on record, which others have used to craft impressive inclusive theologies of sexuality (Eugene Rogers' "Sexuality and the Christian Body: Their Way into the Triune God", which Williams effusively praised in a 2003 issue of the Scottish Journal of Theology, is perhaps the most significant), Williams has recently made statements and actions which suggest that perhaps his mind has changed. At the very least, his (presumably theological) distinction between 'privately held' theological belief and 'public' official adherence to the majority report rejecting same sex relationships (Lambeth 1998) is one many do not understand or accept and his failure to justify this distinction has eroded the trust of many.
Click here to read the rest.
Friday, December 21, 2007
In this Christmas truth is the core message of the Christian Gospel – the Good News of God become incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. It is the message we have been entrusted with as members of the Body of Christ to proclaim. And it is the “Gospel Agenda” Integrity is committed to, as we continue to call the Episcopal Church to live up to its commitment to fully include all of the baptized into the Body of Christ.
It is what Howard Thurman calls, “The Work of Christmas.”
The Work of Christmas
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the Kings and Princes are home,
When the shepherds
are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins -
To find the lost
To heal the broken
To feed the hungry
To release the prisoner
To teach the nations
To bring Christ to all
To make music in the heart.
(Howard Thurman, “The Work of Christmas”)
The work of Christmas does not end when the presents are opened or the eggnog is gone or the liturgical season moves on to Epiphany. Finding the lost, healing the broken, feeding the hungry and releasing the prisoners is the 24/7 job description of the church in the world. It is the work Integrity has had the privilege to do -- on behalf of the LGBT faithful and in partnership with our justice allies -- for over thirty years. And it is the work we will continue to do as we move forward in faith together into God’s future.
Merry Christmas from Integrity USA! And may the God of hope fill you -- those you love, serve and challenge -- with all joy and peace in believing, this Christmas and always.
(The Reverend) Susan Russell, President
Thursday, December 20, 2007
By Teresa Morrison
An Advocate.com exclusive posted December 19, 2007
We never asked Episcopalians to take up our fight. Rather, it seems, their spiritual path has led them to believe that we aren’t any less deserving of ministry or recognition or even consecration simply because we happen to be unpopular sexual minorities. I wish that weren’t an extraordinary concept in 2007, but it is. And Bishop Jefferts Schori has hardly blinked in a year of denominational strife that has seen her character and her commitment to her religious office questioned, challenged, dismissed, and maligned.
In this age of gay bashing from all sides, it isn’t often we encounter a religious leader—or any leader—willing to bulldog for our rights, especially when faced with such a potentially high cost to herself and the institution she represents. What I wouldn’t give for such genuine representation in our elected officials.
Click here to read it all!
Monday, December 17, 2007
By CARA BUCKLEY
Published: December 18, 2007
BAGHDAD — In a city and country where outsiders are viewed with deep suspicion and attracting attention can imperil one’s life, Mohammed could never blend in, even if he wanted to.
In January, a United Nations report described the increased persecution, torture and extrajudicial killing of Iraqi lesbians and gay men. In 2005, Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, calling for gay men and lesbians to be killed in the “worst, most severe way.”
Read it all here.
From Episcopal Cafe: Archbishop Desmond Tutu has apologized to gay people all around the world for the way they have been treated by the Church.
The Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner says “sorry” to the worldwide LGBT community in an exclusive recorded interview with Ashley Byrne, presenter of Gay Hour, the only LGBT program on the BBC, which was broadcast today on BBC Radio Manchester.
The Archbishop has said that the Church is ‘obsessed’ with homosexuality. He goes further here, saying:
“I want to apologise to you and to all those who we in the church have persecuted,” Archbishop Tutu says in the interview.
“I’m sorry that we have been part of the persecution of a particular group. For me that is quite un-Christ like and, for that reason, it is unacceptable.
“May be, even as a retired Archbishop, I probably have, to some extent, a kind of authority but apart from anything let me say for myself and anyone who might want to align themselves with me, I’m sorry.
“I’m sorry for the hurt, for the rejection, for the anguish that we have caused to such as yourselves.”
The program may be heard here for one week from today. Starting tomorrow, you may hear the program here.
Read more: The UK Gay News: Tutu Aplogizes for Persecution of Gays on BBC Radio Tonight
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Changing Attitude has issued a response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent Letter.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent letter outlines his perspective on the crisis affecting the Anglican Communion and his plans and expectations for the Lambeth Conference and the proposed Covenant.
The Archbishop naturally focuses his attention on the Primates, bishops and Instruments of Communion, and the leaders and pressure groups who are exacerbating the crisis.
What the Archbishop is unable to do is articulate the experience and views of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) members of the Anglican Communion. We are a minority but our numbers are not insignificant. If the Communion has 75 million members, at a conservative estimate there are likely to be 3.75 million LGBT people among them.
Attention is further focussed on one faithfully partnered bishop. The experience of 3.75 million LGBT members of the Communion is ignored. Changing Attitude and Integrity between us give voice and visibility to a tiny minority of the minority.
Hostility to LGBT people in the Communion is primarily expressed towards those who live in the “west”. We have benefited from over a century of progress in the development of confidence, visibility, secular political action and Christian integrity among LGBT Anglicans. The majority of the 3.75 million live in nations with penal codes condemning homosexual people to death or long-term imprisonment and a culture of prejudice and aggression towards LGBT people.
LGBT people in those countries internalise the hatred and prejudice targeted at them by those in our Communion who hold extreme conservative views, justified by Biblical literalism and fundamentalism. They are subject to demonisation, hatred, arrest, rape, torture, imprisonment and death. The Anglican Communion cannot resolve its differences without attending to the scandalous injustices perpetrated against LGBT people, often using the justification of scripture and Christian tradition.
In this context, the election to the episcopate of a partnered gay or lesbian person or the blessing of same-sex relationships cannot be allowed ultimately to determine the future of the Anglican Communion and the place of LGBT people within it. Our full inclusion must be the only outcome.
Dr Williams asks whether those holding a variety of views can be recognised as belonging to the same family, asking this especially of those who have gone “against the strong, reiterated and consistent advice of the Instruments of Communion.“ LGBT people in every Province already belong to the Anglican family. The Archbishop risks sending a message to us, yet again, that we are either to be treated as second-class citizens in our church or rendered so invisible as to be not worth taking into consideration.
Dr Williams identifies the present practical challenge as finding ways of working out a fruitful, sustainable and honest relationship for bishops who have committed themselves to the proposals of the Windsor Report in the Camp Allen conference, as well as others who have looked for more radical solutions both with their own province and with the wider Communion.
There is a more critical challenge for LGBT Anglicans beyond this problem of how groups with different Christian perspectives live together. How does the Communion live, in every part of the world, with LGBT Anglicans who are baptised and confirmed, engaged in lay leadership, ordained as priests and bishops, some of whom, in every part of the world, live in loving, faithfully-partnered relationships? This isn‘t solely a problem for The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of New Hampshire or for couples who receive the blessing of the church. It is a challenge to the whole church to recognise that God creates and calls LGBT people to become Christians and to fall in love.
Ultimately, it is in this wider context that the Anglican Communion will have to think about the present crisis. Can the church fully, honestly and gratefully recognise the gifts that LGBT people bring? The debates about sexuality may at present be a standoff between those who are 'for' and those who are 'against' the welcoming of homosexual people in the Church. The debate will not be resolved by the adoption of a Covenant nor agreement by bishops at Lambeth. It can only be resolved when the church honours in full the integrity of partnered LGBT people in congregations and in the ministry of the church in every Province.
Read it all here.
Friday, December 14, 2007
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O
Dear Integrity members and friends:
By now you have read the Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent letter. In contrast to the well-known hymn quoted above, Rowan Williams' letter gives LGBT Anglicans scant hope of liberty from the bonds of ecclesiastical discrimination. He erroneously states that Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution 1.10—which rejects "homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture"—is the clear consensus of the entire Anglican Communion. He decries General Convention 2003's approval of the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson and its affirmation of local rites for blessing same-gender relationships. He expresses frustration at our House of Bishop's failure to implement clear moratoria on additional LGBT bishops or blessing rites. He denigrates the Episcopal Church's polity—which includes all orders of ministry in decision making. He defends his decision not to invite Bishop Robinson to the 2008 Lambeth Conference. He expresses his intention to appoint yet another task force to talk about LGBT Anglicans rather to us—again ignoring the now 30-year old commitment to listen to our witness. With prophetic leaders like Rowan Williams at the helm of the Anglican Communion, one could despair that LGBT Anglicans will continue to mourn in exile until Jesus comes again!
But, lo, we are promised that Emmanuel will come to us. Despite the present oppressive reality, we are invited to rejoice in our future liberation. There are glimmers of hope. For example, a broad coalition of individuals and organizations around the world is emerging to ensure that the voices of fairness and inclusion are heard at the Lambeth Conference next summer. Groundwork is also being done to move beyond B033 and advance marriage equality at General Convention 2009.
You can help Integrity prepare for our witness at the Lambeth Conference and beyond by making a year-end donation for this important work. Secure, online gifts can be made by going to www.integrityusa.org and clicking the blue DONATE NOW button in the left margin. All contributions to Integrity are tax deductible.
Integrity remains committed to the full inclusion of all of the baptized into the Body of Christ. With your prayers, witness, and support we will continue to work within the Episcopal Church to accomplish that Gospel Agenda.
The Rev. Susan Russell, President
December 14, 2007
For immediate release
The following statement, in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent Letter, comes from the steering committee of the Chicago Consultation, an international Anglican group that favors the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in the Anglican Communion. The Consultation has more than 50 members, including two Primates of the Anglican Communion, 10 diocesan bishops in the Episcopal Church, and representatives from Brazil, Canada, England, Ghana and New Zealand. It recently completed its initial meeting at Seabury-Western Seminary in Evanston, Ill. For more information see the attached release.
From the steering committee of the Chicago Consultation:
"The archbishop's lengthy letter contains not a word of comfort to gay and lesbian Christians. In asserting the Communion's opposition to homophobia, he gives political cover to Archbishop Peter Akinola and other Primates whose anti-gay activities are a matter of public record. We are especially troubled by the absence of openly gay members on the bodies that may ultimately resolve the issues at hand. The archbishop's unwillingness to include gay and lesbian Christians in this process perpetuates the bigotry he purports to deplore."
For more information contact:
Greetings in the name of the One 'who is and was and is to come, the Almighty', as we prepare in this Advent season to celebrate once more his first coming and pray for the grace to greet him when he comes in glory.
You will by now, I hope, have received my earlier letter summarising the responses from Primates to the Joint Standing Committee's analysis of the New Orleans statement from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church. In that letter, I promised to write with some further reflections and proposals, and this is the purpose of the present communication. Although I am writing in the first instance to my fellow-primates, I hope you will share this letter widely with your bishops and people.
As I said in that earlier letter, the responses received from primates differed in their assessment of the situation. Slightly more than half of the replies received signalled a willingness to accept the Joint Standing Committee's analysis of the New Orleans statement, but the rest regarded both the statement and the Standing Committee's comments as an inadequate response to what had been requested by the primates in Dar-es-Salaam.
So we have no consensus about the New Orleans statement. It is also the case that some of the more negative assessments from primates were clearly influenced by the reported remarks of individual bishops in The Episcopal Church who either declared their unwillingness to abide by the terms of the statement or argued that it did not imply any change in current policies. It should be noted too that some of the positive responses reflected a deep desire to put the question decisively behind us as a Communion; some of these also expressed dissatisfaction with our present channels of discussion and communication.
Click here to read the rest.
According to a CNN poll, almost 5% of the voters in the 2004 Presidential election identified themselves as gay.
That percentage was more than the Asian and Jewish populations and more than those who earned an income greater than $150,000 (£73,000) a year.
Although 5% may not seem like a huge number, those are just people who actually identified themselves as gay.
Of that figure, almost 85% voted Democrat.
In 2000, that percentage would have made the difference between Al Gore winning and you know who taking office, and the candidates this year know that.
For the first time, gay issues are being addressed ad nauseum by the Democratic candidates while Republican front runners have mostly remained silent on the issue, afraid to potentially upset the gay vote.
Read it all here
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Meeting at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, the 50-member group known as the Chicago Consultation urged leaders of the Episcopal Church to permit the blessing of same-gender relationships and to remove barriers that keep gay candidates from being elected as bishops, according to a news release from the group.
"Some people call it the gay agenda, but we call it the Gospel Agenda," the Rev. Bonnie Perry, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, Chicago, co-convener of the Consultation, said in the release. "We are asking our church and our communion to see what God has created and know that it is good."
The Consultation also called upon Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to invite New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson as a full participant to the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Robinson, a member of the Consultation, is the only diocesan bishop in the Anglican Communion living openly in a same-gender relationship.
"We wanted to affirm Gene," said Diocese of Washington Bishop John Bryson Chane in the release, "but we also wanted to affirm all of the anonymous gay and lesbian Christians who have graced the church with their God-given gifts -- even when the church has been unwilling to receive them."
Participants from Africa, England and New Zealand joined Anglicans from Central, North and South America in "pledging to work against schismatic leaders who have sought to gain power in the Communion by turning marginalized groups against one another," the release said.
Human institutions are riddled with systemic evils, she said. "Our calling is to discern which ones are ripe for uprooting and to take the lead in eradicating them, beginning in the garden behind our own house."
Adams' paper is available here.
During the three days, punctuated by periods of silent prayer, participants heard papers by Adams, Bishop Stacy Sauls of the Diocese of Lexington, Dean Jenny Te Paa of St. John's College, Auckland, New Zealand, and the Rev. Frederick Quinn of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Other papers presented at the meeting are due to be posted here in the coming days.
The members also began to develop strategies to advance the cause of full inclusion at the Lambeth Conference in 2008, and at the Episcopal Church's General Convention in Anaheim, California, in 2009.
Te Paa preached at a Eucharist celebrated with members of the Consultation and the Seabury-Western community.
While developing what they dubbed a "strategy of inclusion," participants also voiced opposition to the current draft of a proposed Anglican covenant, the release said.
"There was tremendous energy in the plenary sessions, and even more in the breakout groups," the Rev. Ruth Meyers, academic dean at Seabury-Western, and co-convener of the Consultation, said in the release. "It was such a talented and committed group that eventually we abandoned some of the formal presentations and started identifying our priorities and making plans."
Participants focused particular attention on building international coalitions to work against what the Rev. Mpho Tutu, executive director of the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage in Alexandria, Virginia, called "interlocking oppressions." Tutu described what she called a web of economic, political and social factors that determine who has access to power, resources and social approval, and who does not, according to the release.
"The issue is human suffering and the attitudes that cause it," said Bishop Celso Franco de Oliveira of Rio de Janeiro.
Before adjourning, the release said, the group made plans to:
- publish several of the papers it received on the website Episcopal Café;
- establish its own website;
- hire a part-time coordinator; and
- support working groups on communications, fundraising and organizational strategy, as well as a group to identify and produce theological resources.
The consultation includes two Primates of the Anglican Communion -- Archbishop Martin de Jesus Barahona of Central America and Archbishop Carlos Touche-Porter of Mexico, who was unable to attend due to illness; 12 bishops from the Episcopal Church, including 10 diocesan bishops or bishops-elect; four members of the Church's Executive Council; numerous General Convention deputies, and representatives of groups such as Integrity USA, Claiming the Blessing and Inclusive Church.
Bonnie Anderson, president of the Episcopal Church's House of Deputies, attended the consultation as an observer, according to the release. She said she hopes other groups in the church will invite her to their meetings in a similar capacity so that she can familiarize herself with their concerns.
Participants from other parts of the Anglican Communion in addition to Adams and Te Paa included the Very Rev. Victor Atta-Baffoe, dean of St. Nicholas College, Cape Coast, Ghana; Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada; the Rev. Jane Shaw, dean of divinity, New College, Oxford; and the Rev. Giles Fraser, founder of Inclusive Church in the United Kingdom.
The steering committee was convened by Meyers and Perry and included Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta, who was unable to attend the meeting; Chane; the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Seabury-Western; the Rev. Gay Jennings, a member of Executive Council from the Diocese of Ohio; Jim Naughton, canon for communications and advancement in the Diocese of Washington; Robinson and Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Mary Wolfe professor of historical theology at Episcopal Divinity School.
The consultation was supported by several grants, including one from the Arcus Foundation of Kalamazoo, Michigan, which works to "achieve social justice
that is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and race."
Following the conference, the Consultation received a $60,000 grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation to support its future work.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
The burgeoning new Integrity chapter in New York City, iNYC, is holding its big Christmas event this coming Wednesday evening from 6:30 to 8:30pm. Plans include a brief report from 'the other Africa,' Advent intercessions, plentiful Christmas cheer and seasonal socializing. The group's inaugural October event drew 50+ folks and this one promises to come close to doubling that number. If you're anywhere near the city Wednesday evening you should definitely rsvp and plan to check it out. Here's the evite.