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standing ovation for the House of Bishops

Honestly, when I heard the text of the 'mind of the house' resolutions passed at The Episcopal Church's most recent meeting of the House of Bishops, I leapt to my feet cheering. I apologize to my neighbors if I disturbed them in the process.

I am so grateful to our bishops and glad to be an Episcopalian as well as an Anglican tonight that I hardly know how to say it.

My favorite paragraphs in a statement that deserves reading and rereading in its entirety:

Most important of all it [i.e., the Primates' 'pastoral scheme'] is spiritually unsound. The pastoral scheme encourages 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. The real cultural phenomenon that threatens the spiritual life of our people, including marriage and family life, is the ease with which we choose to break our relationships and the vows that established them rather than seek the transformative power of the Gospel in them. We cannot accept what would be injurious to this Church and could well lead to its permanent division.

and:

In anticipation of the traditional renewal of ordination vows in Holy Week we solemnly declare that "we do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and we do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church." (Book of Common Prayer, page 513)

With this affirmation both of our identity as a Church and our affection and commitment to the Anglican Communion, we find new hope that we can turn our attention to the essence of Christ's own mission in the world, to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor (Luke 4:18-19). It is to that mission that we now determinedly turn.

I love the Anglican Communion. I want The Episcopal Church to be fully a part of it, and fully participating in God's mission alongside the other provinces within it. The recent strident calls for separation and a narrow kind of "clarity" are out of character with classic Anglicanism, and come from the smallest minority of Anglicans -- most vocally from a subset of a group smaller than the student body at EDS, claiming in unverifiable ways to represent others who (like the Anglican women's delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women) clearly have markedly different priorities than their Primates. Our bishops in The Episcopal Church have now graciously asked these Primates to join in shared commitment to bedrock Christian faith and vital and urgent Christian mission, leaving traditional provincial structures as well as our mutual responsibility and interdependence intact, and even seeking to deepen them.

Thank you, bishops. Thank you.

March 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

can officially ruled open as worms party worldwide

It will be interesting to see whether the Most Rev'd Drexel Gomez, Primate of the Province of the West Indies, will be as enthusiastic about the principles of alternative primatial functioning and innovative provincial structures now that the church of the Cayman Islands is complaining that "The Doctrines, Orders and Formularies of the Church in Jamaica and the Province of the West Indies contradict entirely those of The Book of Common Prayer 1662," and therefore they require episcopal oversight from the Church of England rather than from the Province of the West Indies or the Diocese of Jamaica. Archbishop David Virtue's site has this report, written by Peter Toon of the Prayer Book Society:

*******

The small Anglican Church in the tiny Cayman Islands ("The Church of England in the Cayman Islands") has appealed for genuine pastoral care and practical, ecclesial oversight to the Panel, set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury to look into petitions from those in the Anglican family who believe they require justice.

This Church in the British dependency (where the Police are "the Royal Cayman Police" and where the Queen is represented by a Governor) is in three islands best known both as the place of major offshore banking groups and also as a favorite place for the visits of cruise ships (as many as seven a day!).

It is near to Cuba geographically but far away and apart in terms of economics and politics. In its petition, sent on March 15 the Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office, the Cayman Church requests that:
(a) the Diocese of Jamaica and the Province of the West Indies cease to claim that the Cayman Islands are within the diocese of Jamaica:
(b) the Church of England, via either the Bishop of London or the Archbishop of Canterbury, assumes its historic and legal role as caring for the Cayman Islands, in much the same way as the C of E cares for the Falkland Isles and Bermuda.

The desire of a Church in a British colony to be tied to the Mother Church in the homeland is natural; and the Queen is both Head of State in Britain and the colonies and Governor of the Church of England in both England and abroad.

There is also a signficant [sic] doctrinal and disciplinary matter that motivates the Cayman Church to seek its Mother for protection and care.

The Province of the West Indies ceased in 1995 to be based on the classic and historic Formularies of the Church of England and of the Anglican Way. Like The Episcopal Church of the USA it created new Formularies based upon a totally new kind of Prayer Book, which in the WI is wholly in contemporary English and which has a variety of services with varied doctrines.

The Cayman Church uses the classic Book of Common Payer (1662) and also the Common Worship (2000) of the C of E. and it desires to be part of a Church which does the same--that is, the Church of England.

It could not use the West Indian Prayer Book for liturgical, doctrinal and legal reasons. For too long the Cayman Church has been left alone by its Mother and sought after by its neighbor, Jamaica (one hour away by air).

So that the Cayman Church may grow in maturity and numbers and may truly minister to the Cayman Islands, with their 40,000 or so people, it needs stability and a permanent resting place; and that it surely under the care of the Bishop of London or the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The text of the petition David Virtue's site reports was filed can be found here in the "continue reading" section.

*****

THE PETITION

ESTABLISHED by LAW Within the Episcopal Jurisdiction of The Bishop of London granted by The Crown in 1634 ST. ALBAN'S Grand Cayman ST. MARY'S Cayman Brac

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable The Archbishop of Canterbury Lambeth Palace LONDON SE1 7JU England 14th March 2007

Your Grace,

The Panel of Reference of The Anglican Communion ("the Panel of Reference")

I write to you in my capacity as Honorary Legal Secretary to The Church of England in the Cayman Islands ("the Cayman Church"). I have been instructed to do so by our Rector, our Church Wardens, and our Church Council (together "the Church Council").

The Church Council has noted that you have caused to be established the Panel of Reference under the recommendation of the Primates of The Anglican Communion to assist in the resolution of difficulties for those parishes which are in dispute with their provincial authorities.

Accordingly, having drawn what follows to your attention, I ask you to treat this letter as a formal Petition by the Cayman Church to the Panel of Reference. May I please request you to draw all this to the attention of the Chairman and Members of the Panel of Reference.

The "dispute" with the provincial authorities relating to the Cayman Church is twofold:

First: there is no "dispute" as such with The Church of England. But the Cayman Church does desire to adhere to the Doctrines, Orders and Formularies contained in The Book of Common Prayer 1662. The problem here is that The Bishop of London has refrained, and continues to refrain, from acknowledging and exercising his lawful Episcopal Authority over the Cayman Church.

THE ECCLESIASTICAL CORPORATION LEGAL SECRETARY: DOUGLAS CALDER MA, LL.M. (Cantab), Attorney at Law PO BOX 1778, GRAND CAYMAN, CAYMAN ISLANDS, KY1 1109 Tel: +1 345 949 2969 Email: Douglas@Calder.com

He was asked to do this more than twenty years ago, but still there has been no positive reaction to exercise authority. Thanks to this, in my view unlawful, lack of response the Cayman Church remains without its lawful Episcopal oversight and pastoral care. Short of taking The Bishop of London to Court for an Order requiring him to do his legal duty it seems that our only approach can now be to the Panel of Reference, and hence this letter to you.

Second: there is an extremely serious dispute had by the Cayman Church with The Bishop and the Diocese of Jamaica. The bones of it are: (a) The Bishop of Jamaica and The Primate of the West Indies have tried, unlawfully, by Synodical Resolutions to annexe the Cayman Islands to their respective Diocese and Province. (b) The Bishop of Jamaica, in 2001, published a Press Release in which he said inter alia that The Church of England "has no presence nor organisation in the Cayman Islands".

That was simply untrue both in fact and in law. Moreover, and to say the least, surprisingly, he said this under the apparent authority of your predecessor in office. In the same Press Release The Bishop of Jamaica announced that the name of his Diocese had been changed, by Resolution only of the Synods of Jamaica and the West Indies, from "The Church in Jamaica in the Province of the West Indies" to "The Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands in the Province of the West Indies." Importantly, such resolutions (adopted by the Synods of a foreign consensual dis-established Church) can have had no legal effect whatever in any part of the Sovereign's Realms, like the Cayman Islands, where The Church of England is Established by Law. (c) The Doctrines, Orders and Formularies of the Church in Jamaica and the Province of the West Indies contradict entirely those of The Book of Common Prayer 1662; nor is any provision made in either the Diocese of Jamaica or the Province of the West Indies to support or maintain the worship or manner of life of those who desire to adhere to the classic Anglican Way. I shall explain all this in later paragraphs.

Notwithstanding a subsequent meeting in London with your Vicar General Sheila Cameron QC, when she promised to me that the Church of England would require such falsehoods to be withdrawn by The Bishop of Jamaica, precisely NOTHING has happened! So the lies continue; something of which Your Grace is probably totally unaware.

The present position is: that while on the one hand the Cayman Church is, and remains, the lawful Church of England in the Cayman Islands, The Bishop of Jamaica still proceeds about the Cayman Islands as though the lawful and Established Church of England does not exist, and appears to waste no opportunity to put it down. That must be against all laws, both civil and ecclesiastical, as well as those of God.

Let it not be forgotten that Jamaica is a foreign country about 250 miles away; and the See of Jamaica is an ecclesiastical jurisdiction which is entirely foreign to the Cayman Islands. Moreover the societies and economies respectively of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands today have little, if anything, in common with each other.

The foreign See of Jamaica may not on any account extend into British territory like the Cayman Islands. Article 37 of the Articles of Religion of The Church of England specifically forbids it; and the Articles of Religion are part of the Public Law of the Cayman Islands, as indeed is the entire Book of Common Prayer 1662 in which they are contained.

What then is the true legal position? In brief it is as follows: (a)The Church of England is, and always has been, the Established Church of England in the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands, as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, have Her Majesty The Queen of the United Kingdom and all Her other Realms and Territories as their Head of State. She is Head of State by virtue of Her occupying the throne of the United Kingdom, and NOT by virtue of Her occupying the throne of the entirely separate and independent Kingdom of Jamaica.

From this it follows that She is the Supreme Governor of Her Church of England, both in England and in Her Cayman Islands. That is why She is described on the Public Seal of the Cayman Islands and in all writs issued out of the Cayman Islands' Grand (High) Court as "Fidei Defensor/Defender of the Faith". (b)In 1634 by Order in Council of King Charles 1 the Church of England overseas was placed under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of The Bishop of London.

The Cayman Church from its beginnings, after first settlement of the Cayman Islands, has been subject to this Order in Council which continues today in full force and effect in Cayman. Nothing has occurred since to alter the legal position of the Cayman Church. It remains The Church of England in the Cayman Islands as Established by Law. (c)In 1824, by Royal Letters Patent, the Bishopric of Jamaica was created, then as merely an overseas diocese of The Church of England.

At that stage The Church of England in Jamaica (as it was then known) was the Established Church of England in Jamaica, and it continued as such until by a statute passed by the Jamaica Legislature it was dis-established in the 1870's. Importantly the Letters Patent of 1824 establishing the See of Jamaica referred to it as including only "the Island of Jamaica, the Bahama Islands, and the settlements in the Bay of Honduras and their respective dependencies." There was no mention of the Cayman Islands, and it is firmly settled law that in 1824 the Cayman Islands were most definitely not a dependency of Jamaica. (See The Colonial Church Atlas of 1845, SPG). (d) The Cayman Islands only became a dependency of Jamaica when the Westminster Parliament passed the Cayman Islands Act of 1863. The Cayman Islands remained a dependency of Jamaica until 1959. Please note that each change was made by legislation at Westminster enacted under the Authority of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom; and not in Jamaica. None of this had any effect whatever upon the existing constitution of the Cayman Church; and all ecclesiastical legislation of the Jamaica Legislature itself was specifically expressed by statute of the Jamaica Legislature NOT to extend to the Cayman Islands. (e) Subsequently Jamaica became an independent sovereign nation, and the Church of England in Jamaica became a separate (dis-established) Anglican Church now properly known as "The Church in Jamaica in the Province of the West Indies" The United Kingdom remained, and remains, in total control of the Cayman Islands. (f) The legal position of The Cayman Church therefore has continued, and continues, unchanged in the Cayman Islands since 1634. It is The Established Church of England with the Sovereign as its Supreme Governor.

In 1986 I was present at a round table meeting at Lambeth Palace. Its purpose was to discuss the Cayman Church. Present were: John Colyer QC and I, Douglas Calder, on behalf of the Cayman Church; Sheila Cameron QC as Vicar General; and Ira Rowe (a Judge of the Jamaica Court of Appeal) as Chancellor of the Diocese of Jamaica.

At the 1986 meeting Mr Rowe stated that he thought the Cayman Islands were part of the Diocese of Jamaica because in 1970 complementary resolutions adopted by the respective Synods of the Diocese of Jamaica, and of the Province of the West Indies, had sought to enlarge the Diocese and Province by bringing the Cayman Islands within each of them.

My response to this (endorsed by Mr Colyer and Miss Cameron) was that such resolutions had no effect in law whatsoever. This was because the Cayman Islands were, and still are, a Crown Dependency, having the Sovereign of the United Kingdom as Supreme Governor of The Church of England.

I pointed out that Jamaica was then, and is now, a foreign country. Mr Colyer added that the two resolutions, made by foreign Synods, had no more effect than if instead they had purported to suppress The Archbishopric and the Diocese of Canterbury, and to have attempted to annexe the geographical area of the Diocese of Canterbury to the Diocese of Jamaica.

We pointed out that nothing like this can be done without the authority of the Sovereign. After reflection Mr Rowe agreed that his legal advice to the Diocese of Jamaica had been wrong, and that the two resolutions were utterly ineffective.

It would appear that the subsequent further attempts by the Synods of the Diocese of Jamaica, and of the Province of the West Indies respectively again to adopt such ineffective resolutions do no more than openly to acknowledge that the Cayman Islands were not and are not part of either the Diocese or the Province.

This is because if Cayman had already been part of the Diocese and Province the resolutions would have been unnecessary; and in any event when adopted the resolutions were unlawful. The fact of the matter is clearly that the Cayman Islands were not then and are not now part of the Diocese of Jamaica or of the Province of the West Indies, no matter how eloquently and loudly the Bishops in the West Indies seek to make their case.

Moreover, the Cayman Church does NOT want to be part of the Province of the West Indies. The reasons (other than constitutional) follow:

1. The Bishop of Jamaica and the Church in Jamaica and the Province of the West Indies have shown that the Doctrines, Orders and Formularies of the Church in Jamaica, as well as the Province of the West Indies, are entirely at variance with and in contradiction to those of The Book of Common Prayer 1662; and

2. Neither the Bishop of Jamaica nor the Province of the West Indies make any provision whatever for those who desire to maintain the Doctrines, Orders, and Formularies of the classic Anglican Way; nor do they support or maintain any such worship or manner of life.

Your Grace will be aware that the Province of the West Indies created a new so-called "Book of Common Prayer" in 1995; but this Book, though bearing an ancient title, bears no resemblance to the Book of 1662 which contains the Formularies of The Church of England. The BCP of the West Indies is "A Book of Varied Services and Varied Doctrine" alarmingly similar to that of The Episcopal Church (of the USA), 1979.

The Cayman Church therefore presents its Petition to the Panel of Reference asking it to recommend that you as Archbishop of Canterbury, with lawful authority under the Sovereign over The Church of England, do DECLARE as legal fact and ORDER as follows:

A: That the Cayman Islands are not a part of the Diocese of Jamaica nor therefore of the Province of the West Indies.
B: That the Church of England in the Cayman Islands is Established by Law
C: That The Bishop of London alone in the Anglican Communion has lawful Episcopal authority over the Cayman Islands.

D: That The Bishop of London do exercise his lawful Episcopal authority over all the Cayman Islands. None of this should be taken as inferring that the Cayman Church does not recognise and value the important work in the Cayman Islands of what should, in law, properly be described as "St George's Mission of the Church in Jamaica". The Cayman Church wholeheartedly recognises the work of St George's on behalf of our Christian brethren ; with whom we earnestly hope soon, under lawful authority, to be re-united in Christian mission and Anglican bonds of affection

However the true legal and constitutional position must not be forgotten. This is that, ultimately, all churches of the Anglican Communion in the Cayman Islands are under the sole Episcopal authority of The Bishop of London. That happens to be the Public Law of the Cayman Islands.

Without recognising plain public legal facts the mission of the Anglican Church in Cayman might be doomed to failure, founded in practice, as it presently is, on shifting constitutional sands. As Christians we must not allow that to happen.

The Cayman Church requests that it be represented before, and be heard by, the Panel of Reference.

I am sending a copy of this letter to the following interested persons: Her Majesty The Queen The Governor of the Cayman Islands The Bishop of London The Prime Minister The Foreign Secretary The Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion The Bishop of Jamaica The Primate of the West Indies

It gives me no pleasure to add that over 20 years none of my letters (raising all these important issues) to The Bishop of Jamaica or to the Primate of the West Indies has ever elicited a response either by way of acknowledgement or by way of substantive reply, notwithstanding repeated reminders on my part.

Frankly, I find that to be a serious pastoral failure on their part. One can only wonder whether they have understood the received doctrine of interdependence of provinces, which as you have emphasised, Your Grace, is so crucial for the life of the Anglican Communion.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Douglas Calder MA, LL.M. (Cantab)
Attorney at Law

March 18, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

what does a "Global South Anglican" look like?

It just occurred to me how remarkable and significant it is that the sole photo (that I've found, anyway) on the blog titled Global South Anglican -- the face of the site, and therefore the one chosen for "the Global South Anglican" -- is this one:
Gsprimates_1

It seems to be a group of people preparing to process into a liturgical service of some kind. The only people whose faces and expressions are fully visible in the photo are men. They are all bishops. Indeed, I think (and would welcome correction if I'm wrong) that they are all Primates. There are some others -- also all men, as far as I can tell -- whose backs are to us, or whose faces can be partially seen in profile, who are only wearing albs, and so whom I'd guess to be lay people.

Personally, I think it would be fitting if the photo were of Dr. Michael Poon, given that at a glance he seems to be the Global South author who most frequently posts original material  (i.e., not a release from another news agency or body to the website. Of course, Dr. Ephraim Radner, whose material is frequently posted there, is not from or currently living in the Global South, but is rector of a parish of The Episcopal Church in Colorado and a former missionary from The Episcopal Church, so he wouldn't make a particularly appropriate face of "Global South Anglican."

But I wish even more, given how underrepresented lay people (and, for that matter, deacons and priests) from Anglican churches in the Global South are in direct expression on the Internet, that "Global South Anglican" carried posts from a greater variety of Global South theologians such as Esther Mombo and Jenny Te Paa, and a greater variety of Global South Anglicans in general. This might be too daring, but perhaps "Global South Anglican" could even give voice to some lay women and men (and deacons and priests) who aren't professional theologians, but who have deeply considered opinions of their own -- and faces as well as names and perspectives of their own. They are faces and names and perspectives that a great many of us in the U.S. and elsewhere would like to know.

March 8, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

+David Bena leaves TEC for CANA; Nigerian bishops flout Primates' Communiqué

The Church of Nigeria's House of Bishops has issued a statement from their meeting Sunday, March 4. At that meeting they consecrated, twenty new bishops, and then, while everyone was there, they elected six more bishops, five of them for new dioceses. If the Lambeth Conference in 2008 votes on anything, and assuming that the Church of Nigeria does not make good on its Primate's threat to boycott Lambeth, it looks like Nigeria's going to have a lot more votes than they did in 1998.

That statement discloses a couple more surprising points, though.

The first is that +David Bena, the retired suffragan bishop of Albany, has left The Episcopal Church to join CANA.

The second is that "in light of the report from the recent meeting of Primates in Dar Es Salaam," the Nigerian House of Bishops has agreed not to elect any more bishops for CANA -- until their September 2007 meeting. Since even the least generous "deadline" for action from The Episcopal Church to conform to the requests of the Primates' Meeting is September 30, this seems to me to indicate clearly that despite the Primates' timetable (which is hardly expansive!), the Nigerian House of Bishops (or at least their Primate) apparently feels entirely free to expand incursions into TEC jurisdictions before any deadline has passed, and certainly before any kind of prayerful consultation in the Communion could take place about it.

Is there a more generous way to read this last point?

The Church of Nigeria is a church in a very, very big hurry.

[Update: The Diocese of Albany has posted this letter from +Bena, which suggests that +Bena intends to provide oversight in TEC dioceses other than Albany.]

March 5, 2007 in ++Peter Akinola, Church of Nigeria | Permalink | Comments (8)