Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Monday, August 04, 2008

Lambeth review from The Living Church

from www.livingchurch.org

What the Lambeth Conference Accomplished
Posted on: August 3, 2008
The Lambeth Conference accomplished some very important work, but in the closing press conference on Aug. 3, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said if the North American churches do not accept the need for a moratorium on same-sex blessings and the consecration of additional partnered gay bishops, then the Anglican Communion is no further forward.

Archbishop Williams listed three accomplishments for the 20-day Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops in Canterbury, England:

1 Bishops proved they could speak to each other respectfully and prayerfully.
2. They expressed a strong commitment to remain unified.
3. The Millennium Development Goals demonstration in London on July 24 proved that even “in its current rather wobbly state,” the Anglican Communion was capable of accomplishing significant action and witness.

On the other hand, the idea of moratorium was apparently not taken seriously by many bishops from The Episcopal Church. Bishops Jon Bruno of Los Angeles and Marc Andrus of California already have said they would not attempt to stop the blessing of gay relationships in their dioceses, and in the Diocese of Massachusetts on Aug. 2, two priests participated in civil same-sex marriages for two couples inside Episcopal churches.

“The current policy, well, I wouldn’t say policy of the American church, but some of the practices of dioceses, or certain dioceses, in the American church continues to put our relations as a Communion under strain and some problems won’t be resolved while those practices continue,” Archbishop Williams said. “I might just add, perhaps a note here. One complication in discussing all this is that assumption, readily made, that the blessing of a same-sex union and/or the ordination of someone in an active same-sex relationship is simply a matter of human rights … That’s an assumption I can’t accept because I think the issues about what conditions the church lays down for the blessing of unions has to be shaped by its own thinking, its own praying.”

Archbishop Williams was asked what was meant by the Windsor Continuation Group’s recommendation for a moratorium on public rites for same-sex blessings. Different parts of the world define public rites of blessing in different ways, adding to the confusion, according to Archbishop Williams. A primates’ communiqué following a meeting in Brazil in 2003 noted that in some places private prayers were said, but that was not intended to include public liturgies.

“There are those in the U.S.A. who would say ‘pastoral response.’ Well, it’s a blessing and I’m not very happy about that,” he said.

Innovations to church teaching on homosexuality in North America caused roughly 280 of the 880 invited bishops of the Anglican Communion to boycott the Lambeth Conference. According to registration information provided to The Living Church and Church of England Newspaper, the total number of Anglican bishops who pre-registered was only 617, and not all of them were present. The two largest provinces – Nigeria and Uganda – did not send any bishops. There was one bishop registered from Rwanda and five from Kenya. Conference organizers included all of the ecumenical bishops in attendance to arrive at the total of 670 present when registration closed on July 21.

Many of the bishops who were absent and a number who did attend the Lambeth Conference attended the Global Anglican Fellowship Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in June. GAFCON and the absence of more than 30 percent of the bishops of the Communion were frequently mentioned during the conference. The absence of so many bishops from the Global South increased the proportional representation of bishops from The Episcopal Church to nearly a quarter of the overall total.

For various reasons the conference will probably run a deficit of at least $2 million. A document titled “Lambeth Conference Finances” dated January 2008 estimated that the bishops’ conference would cost about $9 million with the spouses’ conference adding another $2.5 million. The document notes that more than 40 percent of conference participants would require some sort of financial assistance in order to pay the $8,000 conference fee. During the closing press conference Archbishop Williams said conference organizers were studying various ways to cover the probable shortfall.

“We knew this would be difficult,” he said. “I don’t think I can go into details because I don’t have direct management of the question … I’m rather concerned about that.”

Steve Waring

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