It did not take Archbishop Rowan Williams long after his Pentecost Letter demanding obedience to the Anglican Communion call to get in line or else before he took an action to remove the members from the US Episcopal Church that “has not complied with moratoria on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate.” The action does NOT affect the African bishops who have engaged in “cross border interventions” by intruding into the affairs of the US church.
The action affects five US church members working on Anglican interfaith collaboration with the Lutheran, Methodist and Orthodox churches and the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order. They include:
- The Rev. Thomas Ferguson, the Episcopal Church’s interim deputy for ecumenical and interreligious relations, and
- Assistant Bishop William Gregg of North Carolina both of whom served the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue.
- Bishop C. Franklin Brookhart of Montana had been a member of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission.
- The Very Rev. William H. Petersen, professor of ecclesiastical and ecumenical history of Bexley Hall, Columbus served on the Anglican-Lutheran International Commission.
- The Rev. Katherine Grieb, an Episcopal priest and professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary, was the IASCUFO member invited to be a consultant.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada and Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone were told to clarify their positions on blessing same sex unions. Unless they give Rowans a satisfactory answer they, presumably, will also be in the Anglican penalty box.
Jesus hung out with sinners and tax collectors so I suspect he is not very happy with the Archbishop and the Primates for their behavior on this matter, but the Episcopal Church of the United States will do just fine even if it cannot go to the meetings.
Personally, I thought Presiding Bishop’s Schori’s reply was defensive. She said:
“We are distressed at the apparent imposition of sanctions on some parts of the communion. We note that these seem to be limited to those which ‘have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion.’ We are further distressed that such sanctions do not, apparently, apply to those parts of the communion that continue to hold one view in public and exhibit other behaviors in private. Why is there no sanction on those who continue with a double standard?”
You can read the press statement on this on the National Church webpage.
I would have preferred a little more fire and brimstone in her response, reminding the Archbishop of the rules of the Anglican Communion about the independence of the national churches. I would have told the Primates plainly to butt out of our business. But that is why she wears the pointy hat and I am a heckler in the back pew.
Meanwhile, we’ll tell the Lutherans we are feeling much more kinship with them since we now are accused of acting like Martin Luther. We’ll tell the Methodists that we have methodically and deliberately and prayerfully reflected on these issues and are following the call of the Holy Spirit in our actions. We will tell the Orthodox and everyone else they are still welcome at St. Timothy’s where “everyone who loves God and seeks Christ is welcome at the Lord’s Table where we celebrate our unity and find sustenance, consolation, and hope.”