ECUSA bishops seek meeting with Williams; Three ‘mind of the house’ resolutions adopted

Responding to the recent Anglican Primates’ Communiqué, the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops, meeting March 20 in Navasota, Texas, expressed “an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Primates’ Standing Committee.”

The request came as the second of three “mind of the house” resolutions adopted by the bishops on March 20. The resolutions (full text here: were debated during the business session scheduled during the House of Bishops’ annual spring retreat meeting.

In the afternoon’s first resolution, addressed to the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, the House of Bishops “affirms its desire that The Episcopal Church remain a part of the councils of the Anglican Communion” and “pledges itself to continue to work to find ways of meeting the pastoral concerns of the Primates that are compatible with our own polity and canons.”

Stating that “the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention,” the resolution also declares that “the House of Bishops believes the Pastoral Scheme of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué of February 19, 2007 would be injurious to the polity of the Episcopal Church and urges that the Executive Council decline to participate in it.”

The Primates’ “pastoral scheme” seeks to establish a pastoral council and a primatial vicar whom the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop would name to provide alternative oversight of dioceses – seven of the Episcopal Church’s 111 – that have requested such a provision.

A third resolution – a longer text – enumerates four reasons why the bishops, hoping “we will continue to be welcome in the councils” of the Anglican Communion “nevertheless decline to participate in the Primates’ Pastoral scheme for many reasons.”

The reasons cite violation of church law and founding principles of the Episcopal Church, fundamental change to the character of the Windsor process and proposed Anglican Covenant design process, and departure from English Reformation heritage and “the generous orthodoxy of our Prayer Book tradition.”

The resolution further calls the scheme “spiritually unsound” for its encouragement of “one of the worst tendencies of our Western culture, which is to break relationships when we find them difficult instead of doing the hard work necessary to repair them and be instruments of reconciliation.”

Further context around the resolutions and the House of Bishops’ full six-day meeting will be provided in a written letter to be released by the House on March 21, when a news conference is also scheduled for 3:30 p.m. (Central time) for journalists credentialed in advance.

The House of Bishops’ media briefing officer for the March 20 sessions was the Rt Revd Catherine Roskam, bishop suffragan of the Diocese of New York.

“The spirit of the House was thoughtful and collegial,” Bishop Roskam said. “As we deliberated we had on our hearts and on our minds our Anglican brothers and sisters and the people in our dioceses whom we serve.

“While this was not dealt with by resolution, great concern was expressed about human rights violations for gay and lesbians, particularly in Nigeria, and the need for us as Anglicans and Christians to advocate against it.”

Recapping the March 20 agenda, Bishop Roskam said:

“The Anglican Communion was very much in our consciousness this morning as we began our day with a report from bishops who had attended the recent meeting of TEAM, ‘Toward Effective Anglican Mission’ in South Africa.

“More than 400 people from 32 provinces gathered in Boksburg to engage conversation and mutual exchange concerning mission in the Anglican Communion, especially as expressed through the Millennium Development Goals.

“It was a moving presentation bringing us face to face once again with our own affluence as a nation and the abject poverty of other parts of this world.

“We appreciated once more the gift of our Anglican partners as companions on the way serving God’s mission.

“We also heard a report from TEAC (Theological Education in the Anglican Communion) which stressed the importance of theological education, especially with regard to the Anglican tradition.

“While we have many resources to share with many parts of the Anglican Communion, we also need to look to our Anglican brothers and sisters in the developing world for theological reflection in their contexts.

“Bishops for a Just Society reported on its work of advocacy for justice and peace. We were brought up to date in particular on the farm bill and encouraged to keep apprised of legislation through the Public Policy Network. We discussed ways to make the work of Bishops for a Just Society more integral to our meetings.

“The afternoon business session began with acknowledgement of bishops in transition, including a report from the Church Pension Group regarding retired clergy. We acknowledged the most senior bishop present, and remembered four who had died.

“Then we spent the rest of the afternoon considering resolutions addressing issues raised by the Primates’ Communiqué and the reports of the Covenant Committee which we had received the previous day.”

Article from: Episcopal News Service

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