Sanity in Canada & Africa
Subject: A Press Release from Essentials Council X-Mailer: AOL 3.0 for Mac sub 84
Dear friends -
Then following is a press release from the Essentials Council liasion team at the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Press Release by the Essentials Council liaison team at the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada: Sue Careless, Dr. Donald M. Lewis; Dr. Ian Ritchie and the Revd. Bob Wismer
Date: 4 June 1998
For Immediate Release
In 1988 the General Council of the United Church of Canada issued its controversial ruling that homosexual practise is not a barrier to ordination within that Church. Many thought that it would only be a matter of time before the Anglican Church of Canada followed suit. But in October 1997 the Anglican House of Bishops issued a statement in which the bishops re-affirmed their earlier guidelines of 1979 and indicated that they would not ordain practising homosexuals and would not bless same-sex relationships. The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church's highest governing body, met in Montreal last week and overwhelmingly commended the bishops for their guidelines.
In July 1998 Anglican bishops from around the world will gather at the Lambeth Conference, as they do every ten years. It is expected that they will endorse a position similar to that adopted by the Canadian House of Bishops. However, many bishops in the American Episcopal Church differ from their Canadian and non-Western colleagues in these matters. The majority of Anglican bishops now come from non-Western countries and are generally theological conservatives, especially in matters of Christian sexual ethics.
And unlike the Moderator of the United Church of Canada (the leader of Canada's other major mainline Protestant church), the General Synod of the Anglican Church reaffirmed the uniqueness and full divinity of Jesus Christ in its debate on proposed liturgies.
What follows is the report by representatives of the Essentials Council, a group which affirms received Anglican theology and practise. (The Essentials Council represents the on-going work of a coalition of Anglicans first brought together at the "Essentials '94 Conference" held in Montreal in 1994.) The Essentials Council is supported by three very different expressions of Anglicanism: the Prayer Book Society of Canada, which represents liturgical traditionalists within the Church; Barnabas Anglican Ministries, a grouping of evangelical Anglicans; and Anglican Renewal Ministries, an association of "charismatic" Anglicans.
Essentials Reports on General Synod '98
Representatives of the Essentials Council are very pleased with the results of the 35th Session of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) held in Montreal from 21 to 29 May.
Essentials' Presence at General Synod
The Essentials Council had a strong presence at the General Synod. Four people from across Canada worked as a team: the Revd. Bob Wismer of Vancouver; Mrs. Sue Careless, an award-winning journalist from Toronto; Dr. Ian Ritchie, a theologian at Concord College in Winnipeg; and Dr. Donald Lewis, professor of church history at Regent College in Vancouver.
Together they organised a one-day pre-Synod gathering that attracted over forty General Synod delegates. Known as "Encouragement '98," the pre-synod gathering provided an informal opportunity for prayer and preparation. General Synod can be very confusing and disorienting, especially for first timers.
The team also produced a daily "Profile in Encouragement" that highlighted eight stories of what is happening throughout the Anglican Church of Canada in the lives of various congregations and individuals. These were made available to delegates and also served to advertise daily book specials which delegates could purchase at the Essentials booth in the display area of General Synod.
Essentials Luncheons for Anglican Bishops and the Council of General Synod
The Essentials team organised two other key events during General Synod. The Essentials Council hosted a luncheon at the McGill Faculty Club on Wednesday, 27th May, which attracted twenty-eight members of the House of Bishops. This gathering was addressed by the Revd. George Sinclair of Ottawa, the chair of the Essentials Council, and by the Most Reverend Michael Peers, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. Mr. Sinclair briefly outlined the hopes and concerns of the Essentials coalition, emphasising its commitment to make a positive contribution to the Anglican Church of Canada. The Primate responded by encouraging the Essentials movement to influence the mainstream of the Church in the same way that Flyn Flannigan, a Montreal champion of the Social Gospel, had done in an earlier generation. Flannigan, the Primate noted, was in for "the long haul" and eventually succeeded in making his concerns into those of the wider Anglican communion. The Primate cautioned that this should be done with grace and tact, as he acknowledged the Essentials team itself had exhibited at General Synod.
On Thursday, 28th May, Essentials hosted a second luncheon, this time for the newly-elected members of the Council of General Synod. Some seventeen people attended the luncheon, which took place in the main dining room of the Chateau Champlain hotel in downtown Montreal. The Venerable Rodney Andrews, the Proluctor of the Council of General Synod, expressed appreciation on behalf of that body to the Essentials Council for the luncheon.
The election of members to the Council Of General Synod (COGS) resulted in significantly increased representation by Essentials supporters. (COGS is the governing body of the ACC until the next General Synod in 2001.)
Several bishops who are known as public supporters of Essentials are now members of the Council, and they are joined by a number of articulate clergy and laity who are also "Essentials-friendly." These members are now well placed to voice their concerns in the Council of General Synod as the Anglican Church of Canada moves into the next millennium.
Many of Essentials' concerns were favourably addressed at the Synod. Three new Eucharistic Prayers requested by the last General Synod were passed but only after significant improvements suggested by Essentials supporters were incorporated. Of crucial importance was the addition of the Trinitarian formula of "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" in the Eucharistic prayer of the "S3" liturgy which was designed to reflect a Reformed theological conscience. In the "S2" liturgy Essentials supporters were concerned to amend the words "Christ knew the desolation of the cross and opened a path for all humanity ?" to read "Christ knew the desolation of the cross and opened the way for all humanity?." General Synod endorsed this amendment by a wide margin, thus clearly rejecting the theology of religious pluralism which maintains there are many valid paths of salvation.
Other motions also suggested a shift in direction for the church. Motion C-21 requested the Faith, Worship and Ministry committee "to initiate contact with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada with a view to establishing ecumenical dialogue and partner relationships with them," and "to consider inviting the EFC to name a partner to our next General Synod." Another resolution strongly urged Anglicans to aid the persecuted church world-wide by recognising the World Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians (15 November, 1998).
The most controversial matter at General Synod was a motion called "A Covenant of Protection: Human Rights Principles (130R)". This resolution failed to pass General Synod when the bishops voted it down. The Covenant of Protection was designed to set guidelines for hiring and firing policies in the church for its non-ordained employees. Several issues were at stake in this package. Many members of Synod disagreed as to the role that the language of "human rights" should play within the church, preferring rather the language of responsibility. Others were concerned that the "protected" categories included "marital status" and "sexual orientation." The former would have meant that the church could not object to the hiring of non- ordained church workers living in common-law relationships or others involved in liaisons outside of holy matrimony. On sexual orientation, opinions differed as to whether the legislation would legally compel churches to hire non-ordained workers who were practising homosexuals. Members twice asked for the opinion of the "Assessors" (a panel which advises Synod on questions pertaining to the legal implications of church policy) as to whether secular law courts would differentiate between "sexual orientation" and "sexual practice." Twice the answer came back unequivocally that courts would not distinguish between the two and churches would thus become liable if they refused to hire a practising homosexual, should the "Covenant" be adopted.
Defeat of the "Covenant" was thus due partly to the numerous questions raised about the primacy of "rights language" in the church, and the legal quagmire that the church might have stepped into by so enshrining these principles. Importantly, synod members were instructed by legal experts that secular courts generally do not want to interfere with what churches are doing, because churches are voluntary organisations which retain the right to specify their conditions of membership. However, once a church creates its own set of guidelines then it is legally liable to live up to those guidelines, and secular courts will intervene if called upon to do so in cases of grievance.
A second, alternative set of guidelines was brought forward ("Motion C-20") which had a preamble stressing the importance of the language of responsibility rather than rights. While this theological preamble seemed more amenable to some sensibilities, the principles enumerated were widely deemed to be an even more problematic departure from current church canons, and thus this motion was defeated by in all three houses: laity, clergy and bishops.
Re-Affirmation of Traditional Teaching on Sexuality
On the final day of Synod a resolution commending the House of Bishops for their 1997 guidelines on homosexuality was passed by a wide margin in all three houses. These guidelines outlined the bishops' position that they would not ordain practising homosexuals nor would they endorse the blessing of same- sex relationships. This action signals that the Anglican Church of Canada still affirms that the place for sexual relations is within holy matrimony between a man and a woman. The Essentials representatives at the General Synod were greatly encouraged that the bishops were commended for their guidelines which affirm traditional Anglican teaching on sexuality.
Essentials "Coming of Age"
It was widely acknowledged that the Essentials representatives acquitted themselves well, showing that Essentials is coming of age as a movement. Many returning delegates were impressed by the high tone of debate in General Synod. People of markedly differing points of view addressed each other with courtesy and real respect, something which Encouragement '98 had sought to ensure.
Due to the considerable gains made by Essentials at this Synod, the coalition is now well positioned to make on-going contributions to the central life of the Anglican Church of Canada as it moves into the third millennium.
Subject: News from Africa!!!!!
Dear friends -
The following was passed on to me by a friend who received it from some Evangelical missionary friends in Africa.
Nkoyooyo Raps West Over Gays June 4, 1998 By Karyeija Kagambirwe Kampala -
Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyooyo has blasted Western clergy for compromising on homosexuality and dominating Christian conferences.
Opening the Great Lakes regional pre-Lambeth conference at Hotel Africana, Tuesday, Nkoyooyo told archbishops and bishops from Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya to be firm in the faith and unite on pertinent issues challenging the church today. He appealed to them to oppose homosexuality and polygamy at the Lambeth conference for Anglican bishops in London set for July. Nkoyooyo said, "In the past, the West has dominated topics of concern and influenced most discussions. This cannot be allowed. We must make certain that our voice is heard and concerns addressed."
"In Europe homosexuality is a problem and the church wants to compromise on it. Some homosexuals are married and ordained as priests. This deserves our attention. As a Christian body, this issue must not be forgotten," he said.
The conference will prepare delegates for Lambeth. It covers the Great
Lakes region affairs, evangelism and the debt burden. Nkoyooyo also said
that evangelism, polygamy in Africa and high divorce rates in the West must
be tackled head on. Meanwhile, President Yoweri Museveni will today address
the conference on the role of the church in search and maintenance of justice,
reconciliation and peace.
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