Majority of primates call for temporary Episcopal Church sanctions

By Matthew Davies
Posted Jan 14, 2016
The primates of the Anglican Communion pray during Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral on Jan. 11, the first day of their five day meeting. Photo: Canterbury Cathedral

The primates of the Anglican Communion pray during Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral on Jan. 11, the first day of their five-day meeting. Photo: Canterbury Cathedral

[Episcopal News Service — Canterbury, England] A majority of Anglican primates Jan. 14 asked that the Episcopal Church, for a period of three years, “no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

Expressing their unanimous desire to walk together, the primates said that their call comes in response to the decision by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention last July to change canonical language that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorize two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).

An announcement posted on the Primates 2016 meeting website said that “the Primates agreed how they would walk together in the grace and love of Christ.”

“This agreement acknowledges the significant distance that remains but confirms their unanimous commitment to walk together,” the announcement, which includes the full text of the primates’ call, said. The announcement also said the agreement “demonstrates the commitment of all the Primates to continue the life of the Communion with neither victor nor vanquished.”

Before the Jan. 14 vote, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry told the primates gathering Jan. 11-15 in Canterbury, England, that the statement calling for the sanctions would be painful for many in the Episcopal Church to receive.

“Many of us have committed ourselves and our church to being ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ as the Bible says, when all are truly welcome,” Curry said in remarks he later made available to Episcopal News Service. “Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all. While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ.

“For so many who are committed to following Jesus in the way of love and being a church that lives that love, this decision will bring real pain,” he added. “For fellow disciples of Jesus in our church who are gay or lesbian, this will bring more pain. For many who have felt and been rejected by the church because of who they are, for many who have felt and been rejected by families and communities, our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope. And this will add pain on top of pain.”

Curry told the primates that he was in no sense comparing his own pain to theirs, but “I stand before you as your brother. I stand before you as a descendant of African slaves, stolen from their native land, enslaved in a bitter bondage, and then even after emancipation, segregated and excluded in church and society. And this conjures that up again, and brings pain.

“The pain for many will be real. But God is greater than anything. I love Jesus and I love the church. I am a Christian in the Anglican way. And like you, as we have said in this meeting, I am committed to ‘walking together’ with you as fellow primates in the Anglican family.”

The primates’ statement also asks Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to appoint a task group “to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognizing the extent of our commonality, and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.”

The announcement about the sanctions said that further comments would be made and questions answered at a 3 p.m. local time news conference Jan. 15.

The first two days of the gathering were given solely to setting the agenda for the week and focusing on whether the primates could reach an agreement on how to move forward despite their differences of opinion concerning theological interpretation and human sexuality issues.

A widely anticipated exodus of some conservative African archbishops has not come to pass and all but one primate remain at the table during the Jan. 11-15 meeting, committed to ongoing dialogue and discerning various options towards reconciliation. Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of the Anglican Church of Uganda quietly left the meeting on Jan. 12. He had said in a statement prior to the gathering that he would leave unless “discipline and godly order” were restored in the Anglican Communion. In a Jan. 13 letter to his church, Ntagali said he left because the Ugandan provincial assembly had resolved not to participate in any official communion meetings until that order was restored.

ENS learned from one archbishop that on Wednesday morning the primates took a vote that would have asked the Episcopal Church to withdraw voluntarily from the Anglican Communion for a period of three years. The vote failed by 15 to 20, although such a withdrawal is not in keeping with the processes of provincial membership as outlined in the constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Communion’s main policy-making body. The ACC is already scheduled to meet April 8-20 in Lusaka, Zambia.

Archbishop Foley Beach, the leader of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), has been gathering with the primates for conversation throughout the week but not participating in any of the votes. Beach was invited by Welby in an effort to avert a boycott from conservative African archbishops such as the one that occurred at the last Primates Meeting in 2011. ACNA is composed largely of former Episcopalians who chose to break away from the Episcopal Church. Some African primates have declared their affiliation to ACNA.

By Wednesday afternoon, the agenda had moved onto other pressing issues affecting the Anglican Communion, such as relief and development work, and its response to war and conflict.

Curry, who was installed as the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop and primate last November, is attending his first gathering of primates.

Following his election in June 2015, Curry said the Anglican Communion is as much about relationships and partnerships as it is about structure and organization. “We’ve got some work to do; we’ve got some Jesus work to do,” he said. “This world is crying out for us and it needs us, and the Anglican Communion is one way that God uses us together to really make this a better world.”

Primates are the senior archbishops and presiding bishops elected or appointed to lead each of the 38 autonomous provinces of the Anglican Communion. They are invited to the Primates Meetings by the Archbishop of Canterbury to consult on theological, social and international issues.

The Anglican Communion Primates Meeting is one of the three instruments of communion, the other two being the Lambeth Conference of bishops and the Anglican Consultative Council, the Communion’s main policy-making body. The Archbishop of Canterbury, as primus inter pares, or “first among equals,” is recognized as the focus of unity for the Anglican Communion.

Each province relates to other provinces within the Anglican Communion by being in full communion with the See of Canterbury. The Archbishop of Canterbury calls the Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of primates and is president of the ACC.

In some Anglican provinces the primate is called archbishop and/or metropolitan, while in others the term presiding bishop – or as in Scotland, primus – is used.

The Archbishop of Canterbury also invites to the primates meetings the moderators who lead the united ecumenical churches of North India, South India and Pakistan.

In 1978 Archbishop Donald Coggan, the 101st Archbishop of Canterbury, established the Primates Meeting as an opportunity for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation.”

The primates have met in Ely, England, in 1979; Washington, D.C., in 1981; Limuru, Kenya, in 1983; Toronto, Canada, in 1986; Cyprus in 1989; Newcastle, Northern Ireland, in 1991; Cape Town, South Africa, in 1993; Windsor, England, in 1995; Jerusalem in 1997; Oporto, Portugal, in 2000; Kanuga Conference Center, Hendersonville, North Carolina, in 2001; Canterbury, England, in 2002; Gramodo, Brazil, in May 2003; London, England, in October 2003; Newry, Northern Ireland, in February 2005; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in February 2007; Alexandria, Egypt, in February 2009; and Dublin, Ireland, in January 2011.

The provinces and primates of the Anglican Communion are listed here.

Visit the official Primates 2016 website

Follow @Primates2016 on Twitter

— Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.


Comments (231)

  1. Margaret Sjoholm-Franks says:

    The ACC is already scheduled to meet April 8-20 in Lusaka, Zambia.

    I hope ECUSA is not shelling out for the African bishops to travel with their entourage…it would taint the holiness of the event

    1. Jim Jordan says:

      Seems to me that withholding funds that are used to pay administrative costs of the Anglican Communion and of the other Provinces is appropriate. But I hope we do not withhold funds that go to outreach or programs, like having African seminarins come to the U.S., which help develop the Anglican Communion as a testament to God’s inclusive love. The Primates, in time, will bend to God’s will.

      1. Nancy Roosevelt says:

        No way. If they don’t want us they obviously don’t need our money. Furthermore, it appears to me that they wAnt to send us of to rethink our sins, why should we pay for them to meet?

      2. Josephine (Chepi) DiCalogero says:

        Archbishop Deng was given a full scholarship by the Diocese of Virginia to attend the Virginia Theological Seminary. What good came out of that! He manage to insult the duly elected Bishop of Virginia and thereby all Episcopalians in my diocese whose financial contributions supported his scholarship. I, for one, would like my money returned.

        1. Alice Robinson says:

          Perhaps they should return the pension money also!

          1. Fr. Will McQueen says:

            Yep, for TEC, it’s still always about the money!

    2. Alice Robinson says:

      This Episcopalian in the USA wants the ECUSA to have nothing to do with, including providing any funding, the primates from Africa or anyone ordained by them unless they take a very vocal stance against female circumcision. They continue to draw lines that exclude and cause pain to many.

      1. Susan Bergman says:

        Yes, I would think the torture and mutilation of little girls would take precidence over the issue of same=sex marriage.

        1. Kathy Hurley says:

          One would think but clearly they cannot see the horrors in their own communities.

      2. Larry Little says:

        Alice, not to mention the practice of ” corrective rape”, the practice of raping women perceived to be lesbian in order to somehow “correct” them into heterosexuality.

  2. John Adam says:

    Dear Presiding Bishop Michael,
    thank you for your kind words.
    Though I think we only delayed the inevitable.
    New Zealand, South India, Wales, Scotland, South Africa, Brazil, Canada and TEC should really
    think about forming a new Communion of those churches that are really for every Christian child of God.
    We should also withhold our financial contributions from now on.
    They want us out? Ok by me.

    1. Margaret Sjoholm-Franks says:

      I agree….ECUSA should stop any funding of the Anglican Communion for the next three years…so their money will not taint the holiness of the church. No more students coming to the USA to get theological training, no more money going for missions in Africa, no more funds to keep the shop going at the Anglican Communion Office or to fund gatherings…no more homosexual funds going to fund anything, the ECUSA money is of the devil and should not be used by the righteous and God-fearing African bishops.

      1. Jesse Green says:

        I agree as well. It’s time for the Episcopal Church and our allies in the communion to reevaluate our relationships. Meanwhile I hope our church does not back down, that we don’t let this stop us from the Lord’s work.

        1. Margaret Sjoholm-Franks says:

          We can do the Lord´s work in our own backyard…and let the dead bury their dead

        2. Diane Corlett says:

          Indeed Jesse. We cannot apologize for doing the work and walking the path put before us by the Holy Spirit. After all, we prayed for years seeking direction from God about opening the full life of grace to our LG B T brother’s and sisters. Finally we are on that path. We cannot back down from the leading of the Spirit. Much less repent of it.

      2. Joe Noel Armoogan says:

        Well said Margaret.

        1. Fr. Andy Hook says:

          Yes, we can have that attitude, and yes we may even be vindicated in withholding our support, but to refuse all support for the Anglican Churches in Africa because they disagree with us is the same as the Anglican Churches in Africa expecting us to be kicked out from the Communion because we disagree with them. Should we re-evaluate our giving? Perhaps. But let us take the high road and not hinder the Gospel of Christ in Africa over some of their leaders who refuse to work together. If the Episcopal Church is as inclusive as we say it is, then it must be willing to accept the ideas (even those from a different Anglican church) with love and hope for unity. Keep in mind that not all Episcopalians are on board with the more progressive slant of General Convention and those Episcopalians are being asked to be accepting of disagreement. There are many Episcopalians who, while conservative, refused to walk out with the ACNA because they believe in the goodness and the holiness of this church.

          1. Josh Thomas says:

            Dude, they don’t want our money. South Sudan now refuses our money, even though they’ve got a civil war and a famine going on! They think they’ll get more from U.S. fundamentalists anyway.

            Jesus said to turn the other cheek and to pray for our enemies. He didn’t say we should hand over our wallet too – not when we’ve got Lakotas freezing to death in the winter and Haitian schoolchildren relying on us for one good meal a day. We’re not “hindering the Gospel of Christ in Africa,” they have their own indigenous leaders doing that for them.

          2. John Shrewsbury says:

            This is a cultural conflict that will never be resolved. I agree we need to reform as our own group of like minded churches just as we did when we did not fit with the dictates of Rome when the Anglican Church first split away. As we have moved further toward inclusion they have become more hateful and controlling attempting to impose there cultural beliefs on us in the West. It is truly more cultural than theological, as all hatred against LGBT people is. As someone else said, they do not want our tainted money. If you want to give to the poor in Africa, you can do it without it going through the control of the Anglican Churches in Africa. They are not the only show in town for helping the poor. Don’t give the oppressors of LGBT people anymore money. As some point there is no way to stay together without continuing to hurt more and more people. The fight is not worth it and does not honor God.

          3. Well said Fr. Hooks. I believe that perhaps we should err on the side of charity. My church has a very large LGBT presence. Yet, when a visiting African Bishop known to despise gays came to our city we extended an invitation to preach and receive common cup together. I was never more proud in that moment when virtually every altar server and most of the congregation was gay and yet met this Bishop with hospitality and charity. I know that for at least a moment he was changed. He was amazed at our devotion and reverence to the same God, Jesus. Many of my church cohorts are “conservative” and I think them most excellent clergy doing God’s worki in ways that amaze. Let’s not become reactive but rather quietly do the will of God and remain true to our faith without compromise and without rancor.

          4. Gail McNally says:

            Well said, Fr. Andy Hook. I agree with you. What I have always loved about the Episcopal Church is that we don’t have to agree, but we can still kneel at the same altar.
            What the African Primates have decided, in my opinion, is wrong, but our acting or reacting in a manner that does not respect the dignity of every human being/all God’s children is just as wrong. I am also very grateful for Bishop Michael Curry, and deep faith.

          5. (Mrs.) Marty Lawless says:

            THANK YOU for your statement. Jesus wants us to love ALL his people, not just those with whom we agree.

          6. Dr. Anne Hawken says:

            Yes but people are being killed because of their sexual orientation. This action today gives some validation to that point of view. We should go our separate ways as we did when the US Episcopal Chruch was founded at the end of the Revolutiony War. My ancestors fought in that war for us to enjoy the protection of our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

      3. J C Stromberger says:

        My, aren’t you special! What gives you the right to act or speak in judgement of your Christian brothers? Bigotry is not of Christ.

        1. Theodore Hyczko says:

          Do You believe in the truth of Jesus Christ? Gay sex and gay marriage are not the unforgivable sin (we lose sight of that) but it is sin and as believers we should teach that in love. Jesus Christ promised when He returns that it will be like the days of Noah and Lot. As the son of God he would know that they existed and the condition of man. It will happen according to God’s will. I taken as his word. So should we take the Bible Literally Well I want to remind people of Acts 8 The Apostle Philip teaching about the Prophecy of Jesus Christ Isaiah 53 The early church believe in it happening literally Acts 8 26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
          27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
          28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
          29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
          30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
          31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
          32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
          33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
          34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
          35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
          36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
          37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
          38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

      4. Margo Fletcher says:

        What I hear is anger and desire for revenge. “Vengence is mine” says the Lord.

        We can bear pain. It is after all what we are invited to in the cross.

        “Everything will be alright in the end. Trust me if it isn’t it isn’t the end!”

      5. Fr. Charles Mattina says:

        The Anglican Churches in Africa do not need missionaries from ECUSA. The Angoican Church of Nigeria alone has 18,000,000 members. Yes that is millions.

      6. Patricia McCandless says:

        For Margaret Sjoholm-Franks: Your statement is shocking and the most unchristian commentary I’ve heard in a long time.

      7. As a lay person, I find the dithering and disparaging remarks of primates and priests towards each other and towards any group of people reflective not of deep spirituality, but personal thirst for power. May God deliver us from such.

      8. Josephine (Chepi) DiCalogero says:

        Margaret, I agree and I agree that since the Primates think we tainted and sinful, we should demand the refund of the millions spent on churches in the Global South so that they can maintain their purity and saintliness. Please see my comment below.

    2. Paula Wicker Hamby says:

      I like the idea of working with our Anglican Canadian brothers and sisters and other like minded groups, but I am not sure it would be really right to withhold mission funds and for humanitarian aid in needy Anglican diocese, especially in Africa, just because the “head guys” are not in agreement. These poor people are at the mercy of everyone in the world who might contribute to their welfare. Spite is not the answer…love as Jesus would and help those in need Samaritan or Jew alike as in the Bible story! I am proud to be an Episcopalian, and I think Jesus would welcome everyone no matter what! Whosoever will means just that!

      1. John McCann says:

        NGO’s which are not politically beholden to the governments of these bishops, are better posiotioned to do “hmanitarian work”. We have major issues of homelessness, joblessness, income inequality, climate justice, and racism, that TEC can put more energy into.

        1. Dan Tootle says:

          Does Matthew 25 no longer apply to how we act? Saying that the NGOs will do this after we walk away is a very significant rejection to Jesus and his message of loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.

          1. Gregory Orloff says:

            Giving to those NGOs can accomplish Matthew 25:31-46 too, Dan. Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, nursing the sick and visiting the jailed don’t have to be accomplished by a church. Those acts are just as “gospel” when they occur through other avenues, as well.

      2. Daniel Berry, NYC says:

        I agree. I don’t like the idea of resorting to their technique, i.e., “punishment,”for not subscribing to our idea of the Gospel.

    3. Marti Murphy says:

      I want to belong to an Episcopal Church that is inclusive. Our funds should foster inclusivity.

    4. Arthur Lee says:

      That is my first reaction also. I don’t see us moving backward on fundamentals.

    5. George Lee says:

      I am strongly in favor of being an inclusive church. If we need to become part of the Anglican Church
      that lives as an inclusive Church and separate from the conservative Anglicans then let it be. We should reserve our funds for the evangelism preached by Primae Michel Curry
      George Lee, retired priest, PECUSA.

      1. Ryan Harlow says:

        Agreed, George!

    6. John Nisewaner says:

      I left the church when they opened with the changes and installed him as bishop. For the same reasons the ACC wants to impose sanctions. I do believe we serve all that doesn’t mean we condone and except sin. So you all have fun trying to be politically correct and continue to watch your church fall apart.

  3. Joseph Laughon says:

    It is interesting to see some (though it seems to be a consistently few voices) to write diatribes on how ECUSA should withhold funds.

    Let them. Such is the tactic of a manipulative spouse. If such a tactic were tried, I would think the rest of the Communion would quickly call their bluff.

    1. David Oxley says:

      It would seem reasonable to match a three-year suspension of attendance with a three-year suspension of funds.

  4. Jeremy Bates says:

    The question becomes, is the Anglican Communion an Instrument of Oppression?

    1. Priscilla Johnstone says:

      Just finished reading “Jesus & the Disinherited” by Howard Thurman for our EfM course. Powerful writing on how churches oppressed blacks. He speaks about how blacks learned to survive & identifies the costs to both the oppressor & the oppressed.
      Very disappointed in this decision, though I recognize change is not easy especially when cultures are so diverse. I love my church and, as a lesbian, I intend to work for justice within. Praying for our Episcopal/Anglican community.

      1. Right on, Priscilla. Howard Thurman speaks so eloquently about exclusion. Great writer.

  5. Doug Desper says:

    We’ve been reduced to observer status in every meaningful way by a majority of the Primates. Allowed to watch but not trusted to make decisions.

    By “majority” of Primates, the figure implied is the advertised majority of 3/4 (not stated in the article here). If the Anglican Communion is around 80 million members, then our 1.7 million with not half of that attending is a very small expression of Anglicanism around the globe. With that obvious reality then three-fourths of the Anglican world cannot be summarily dismissed as “those people” or “the Africans”. That kind of derisive talk has been all over our verbiage and vented on blogs for years. It smacks of elitism and racism. It implies that “those people” don’t get it. But, make no mistake. The Church does not center in New York, L.A., or D.C. or in the rantings of the blogosphere. We’ve come from and live among a globally expressed Christian faith with a majority of voices telling us that we’ve gone a bridge too far. Not a mere few Episcopalians would agree with those cautionary voices. To a lot of us, being “Anglican” (as our Constitution and Canons state) matters because it is continuity of the “faith once received” with an ancient See and worldwide family. It implies that voices other than ourselves count to remain faithful. We agreed to restraints on “going our way” in 2007 and broke our word soon thereafter. Loud voices in the Church pressured, shamed, and bullied with their viewpoint that marriage is what society designs, rather than the first institution that God gave humanity.

    The so-called Marriage “Study” began with the presumption that marriage is “evolving”. (No, marriage is devolving and disintegrating, and has needed valuing and teaching by the Church). But, with the evolution presumption in place it was a small step to believe that marriage can be whatever society fashions it to be. Missing in that mistaken beginning was any concern for the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 19 wherein He reaffirmed the marital relationship design by directly quoting Genesis 2. None of that was in the “study”. General Convention, therefore had the power, but not the authority, to enact canonical changes to marriage. Only Jesus Christ is Lord of this Church and to have entirely purged His teaching on marriage was a bridge too far.

    Let’s stop pretending that we have no need of the majority of the Anglican world. Let’s grieve because we’re getting this relationship wrong and increasingly living in our own small hall of mirrors.

    1. Kathleen Ricker says:

      “The so-called Marriage “Study” began with the presumption that marriage is “evolving”. (No, marriage is devolving and disintegrating, and has needed valuing and teaching by the Church). But, with the evolution presumption in place it was a small step to believe that marriage can be whatever society fashions it to be.”

      Interesting. Should the church, then, be teaching that men should take as many wives, and have as many children by those wives, as they can support? And in the event that their wives are barren, should they take concubines as well, just as a backup plan? Because by your lights it would appear that heterosexual marriage was devolving and disintegrating loooong before gay marriage was ever a possibility.

      Do you find the condemnation of female genital mutilation for religious reasons to be elitist and racist? Because I’m against that, as well. Oh, but that’s different, right? Those people are Muslims. (And brown, and mostly poor.)

      I am condemning Christian religious leaders who call for the imprisonment and execution of people of a different sexual orientation, and who manipulate their followers (who are by no means stupid, but who suffer from a lack of information and the ability to freely ask questions) by covertly appealing to their wildest terrors of the supernatural. And yes, that also includes the African primates.

      We’re not living in a “small hall of mirrors.” They (and, apparently, you) live in an enormous one, and it’s terrifying.

      1. Doug Desper says:

        Kathleen, you are conflating many issues as though everything is the same issue. The issue at hand is marriage and how our single Province redefined it without Scriptural basis, catholic Tradition, and by using tortured Reason to justify doing so. The issue is also the Lordship of Jesus Christ. My traditionalist view was held by this Church since its founding – and long before that by the Church catholic since Christ uttered Matthew 19. That view is still in the Prayer Book and in every Prayer Book before it. That view is in the Catechism. If there is a problem it is not those of us who hold to the faith once delivered. It is with Christ who clearly stated — restated — God’s design in Genesis 2.

        1. Gloria Hopewell says:

          I would argue that “continuity with ‘the faith once received'” does not obviate the possibility of new understandings and revelation. You describe the three-legged stool in one way, but, perhaps, not the only way. And “tortured” Reason is opinion. Kathleen does speak on marriage–the Scriptural evidence of multiple wives and little else about marriage (other than it being an economic arrangement).

        2. Kathleen Ricker says:

          Now, come on. It’s perfectly fine for us to condemn religion-sanctioned cruelty and bigotry when practiced by other faiths–in fact, conservatives like to use such issues to erect liberal strawmen who supposedly ignore these atrocities in the name of “cultural diversity.” (The truth is that we absolutely don’t.) Telling me I’m conflating issues is just a hopped-up way of saying “But–but–that’s DIFFERENT!”

          You speak grandly of “tradition” and your “traditionalism.” And yet, there are so many “traditions” that the Church catholic dropped throughout the ages, quietly or otherwise, because they were morally reprehensible and/or conflicted with our evolving understanding of the natural world. There was that wonderful old tradition of enslaving non-white people and treating them as incapable of mature thought. There was the dear old custom of blaming Jews for the crucifixion of Our Lord and for everything that was wrong with Western civilization (including, and especially, the failings of Gentiles). There was the grand tradition, in the English church, of imprisoning, torturing, and/or executing its enemies and dissidents–Catholics, non-Anglican Reformists, and so forth. Much as I respect Archbishop Cranmer for the beautiful Book of Common Prayer and for democratizing the Church by making it accessible to the common people, he was deeply complicit in those early purges.

          Oh, and speaking of which, let’s not forget that our own Church was ostensibly founded on the hasty need of a certain monarch to divorce his first wife so he could beget an heir and also grab the wealth tied up in the Church to fund his own all-consuming military adventurism.

          Why did we abandon these time-honored Church traditions? Because of Reason. And there is nothing tortured and everything reasonable about defending human dignity. There is, however something deeply wrong with torturing Scripture, which you do by taking Matthew 19 utterly out of context. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. He was condemning divorce, and in particular, the disposable divorce by which a man–oh, someone who, perhaps, had found a younger, prettier, more fertile wife–someone for whom a previous marriage could prove a tad inconvenient–could hang his first wife out to twist in the wind. Are you prepared to say that people who divorce and remarry are adulterers? Because that’s a tradition the Anglican Church has dropped, too. The number of people who have no problem practicing serial monogamy, with all the hurt and shame their Church- and culturally-sanctioned adultery can cause betrayed spouses and children, but who are hung up on the idea of two faithful (in both sense of the word) people of the same sex wanting to sanctify their union and form a loving family bond makes me want to retch.



  7. Jack Zamboni says:

    While I understand and share the hurt and anger that leads some to want to withhold funds from the Anglican Communion, I hope we won’t go down that path. Lots of healthy on the ground relationships exist between parishes and dioceses including in places where the Primate wants nothing to do with TEC. Those relationships are worth building and may, in time, help bring change in other parts of the Communion. If others choose not to receive TEC funds for fear of “contamination”, so be it — but let it be their choice, not ours. I would also say we should heed what St. Paul says in Romans 12:

    ‘Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them… Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.’

    1. David Gadbois says:

      My sentiments, exactly. Wow. Well said, Jack Zamboni! Thank You!

    2. Mark Hunter says:

      That is some fancy proof texting. Thanks for the lesson. I say we make it six years.

    3. Cynthia Katsarelis says:

      Amen, Jack.

    4. The Rev Andrew Cooley says:

      Thanks for your cautionary words Jack.

    5. John Sabine says:

      Beautifully written, Fr. Zamboni. I fully concur. Miss seeing you in NJ.

    6. Daniel Berry, NYC says:


    7. Jeremy Bates says:

      But let the money be TEC money.

      In other words, don’t give it to the Compass Rose Society, or the Anglican Communion Office, or any other intermediary that would permit recipients to pretend where the money doesn’t come from.

      Support people on the ground with TEC money? If they’ll take it from us, yes.

      Support Communion structures that oppress and discriminate? No!

    8. Michele Cox says:

      Yes; I have concerns over financial support to structural organizations where we are not allowed a voice, but I think that support to people who need help should not be dependent on their ecclesiastical authorities agreeing with us.

  8. The Rev. Frank J. Corbishley says:

    Thanks to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry for expressing the pain and rejection we feel in the most gracious way possible.

    1. JC Fisher says:

      Amen. PB Curry is a true gift (truly gifted!) to the Episcopal Church in this time.

  9. Valerie Yelton says:

    The majority has always sought to silence forward thinkers. Scriptures continually reinforce the message that the children of God’s heart are a minority. Being part of a minority is not inherently to be Godly, but being Godly is always inherently to be part of a minority. We can speak our truth in every other venue. I do not reject the Anglican Communion nor will this decision change my beliefs or actions in any way. I will continue to do my best to serve my God and to live in love and peace with all of creation.

  10. The Rev. Canon T. Mark Dunnam says:

    Sorry. Injustice is injustice. The Episcopal Church stands for justice. There is no compromise with injustice. We do not need to leave the Anglican Communion. We need to stay. But we do not need to support injustice in any form. Withholding money and participation as observers for three years is appropriate. The old “Boys Club” is flailing about. No compromise with injustice. Ever.
    The Rev. Canon T. Mark Dunnam
    Rector, St. James Church
    Florence, Italy

    1. Peter Storandt says:

      Hear, hear.

    2. Jeremy Bates says:

      Exactly. We must not fund discrimination.

    3. NOT ONE MORE CODEPENDENT DIME (supporting people/programs who HARM LGBTI Anglicans in Africa/beyond)..not ONE LGBT or I drenched-in-blood centavo to prop up bigots and thieves…there is nothing holy or noble about being a enabler to deadly wrong!

  11. I am pastor of Saint Cecilia Catholic Community, Palm Springs, California. This is a non-issue for me and our parish. We neither need nor want a world-wide hierarchy dictating our sacramental practices. The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is available here for all couples with a valid marriage license. This should not even be debateable.

    1. Doug Stinson says:

      Wow ! That’s impressive. I have Catholic friends in PS who happen to be gay. How are you able to perform same sex marriages without discipline from the Church ? The bishop must know what’s going on. I am assuming you are Roman Catholic correct ? If so, I’d like to tell my PS friends about your church. Great to hear this.

      1. JC Fisher says:

        They are Old Catholic, not Roman Catholic (click on Rev Lynch’s name for a link to his church).

  12. Metu Nomnso says:

    Its a bold step to reuniting the church though it will affect a lot of people let’s remember to put Gods worship above our personal choices and follow Christ irrespective of our affiliations or inclinations..Long Live the Anglican Communion

    1. JC Fisher says:

      “put Gods worship above our personal choices and follow Christ irrespective of our affiliations or inclinations”

      That’s exactly what the Episcopal Church has done, is doing, and (praise Christ!) will continue to do, Metu.

  13. The Rev. Canon T. Mark Dunnam says:

    Sorry. Injustice is injustice. We cannot cooperate or compromise.
    The Rev. Canon T. Mark Dunnam
    Rector, St. James Church
    Florence, Italy

  14. Could not be prouder of our Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry today. Stand tall, my brother. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

    1. JC Fisher says:

      And thank you, too, Bishop Epting. It’s just another day on that long arc, but the Holy Spirit keeps on bending it!

  15. jacquelyn adams says:

    What is the point of the sanctions? Is the Episcopal Church expected to change its position on same sex marriage by the end of three years?

    1. Jeremy Bates says:

      The point is so that the “pure” can disassociate themselves from the “impure.”

      I’m not kidding. That’s the pyschology at work. Two dozen primates felt the need to establish their own righteousness at TEC’s expense.

  16. Edna Johnston says:

    Thanks Jack Zamboni and thanks to Bishop Curry.

  17. Cynthia Katsarelis says:

    Susan, are you clear on the fact that the Episcopal Church is very inclusive and has gay marriage? There are a few pockets of conservatism, but unless you are stuck in one of the few excluding dioceses, than you should be able to find a welcoming church. All this harshness is coming from abroad, a hemisphere away. We are very welcoming.

    I am a lesbian, married in my parish last year, to my partner of 24 years. I assure you, most of the Episcopal Church is welcoming. You can go on the website for Integrity USA to make double sure that a parish is open and affirming.

    Peace, and blessing, sister in Christ.

  18. Cynthia Katsarelis says:

    Way to go +Michael.

    I would have hoped that mention would have been made, ideally by the ABC and other primates, of LGBTQ people suffering human rights abuses with the support of the church in some provinces. I do wish that they had been sanctioned as well for this affront to the Body of Christ.

    As a gay person who lives and worships in England part-time, I find this quite hurtful, as +Michael articulated. But I advocate staying engaged.

    I do note that in the budget for the ACC, only England and the US pay 6 figure contributions. The GAFCON provinces pay nothing. I say let’s be big and stay in. It’s the best hope for the LGBTQ people suffering everywhere, but particularly in countries where it’s criminalized.

  19. John Williams says:

    I’ve never understood the importance of belonging to the Anglican Communion. At the Lay and Parish level it is meaningless to me. Things are not so perfect in this country that we do not need funds for projects in the USA. Poverty, homelesness, hunger, victims of abuse, etc. — all these and more should have first claim on our priorities. I sympathize with people in need everywhere, but I think we should use our funds for the benefit of our own people. I know I must sound xenophobic and please believe me when I say that I don’t think I am. However, I don’t think we should stay at the party where we are not wanted.

    1. J. Campbell says:

      You express the view that many of us around the world have of Americans. Namely, we are the only people that matter and sod the rest of you. Yet you claim to not be xenophobic. Like America we have poor and needy here in England and we here many complaints that we give too much in overseas aid. We have an expression often quoted, “charity begins at home.” The only response to that can be, but it doesn’t end there. You however would have America to turn its back on the world because some in the world don’t like you. Very Christ like???
      For the record although I admit to having concerns over marriage oh homosexuals, I am bitterly disappointed over the exclusion ( for that is what it amounts to) of The Episcopal church of America.

      1. Doug Stinson says:

        J. Campbell, that sounds all well and good, but I think you’re leaving an important issue out. In fact, nobody seems to be mentioning it. Many Anglican churches in Africa are not just discriminating, but actively persecuting gay people in Africa. This is from the BBC online.

        ” In Nigeria this month, President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law a bill which bans same-sex marriages, gay groups and shows of same-sex public affection.
        In Uganda – Archbishop Sentamu’s native country – a bill allowing for greater punishments for gay people, and those who fail to turn them in to police, has been passed by parliament, but blocked – for now – by President Yoweri Museveni.”

        I have no problem offering charity to the poor, but that’s not the issue. Two of the largest Anglican churches in Africa are actively making life a living hell for gay people. Why in god’s name would I want ANYTHING to do with these “churches” let alone offer them any kind of support ? How is homophobia terribly different from xenophobia anyway ? Both are chosen attitudes, based on fear and ignorance. Yet you take us Americans to task because evidently we are “xenophobic” while you tolerate religious organizations which encourage the mistreatment and abuse of gay people? In any case I find the charge of xenophobia amusing. We absorb and integrate people from every corner of the globe, and do it far better than England or any European country.

        There may in fact be a silver lining for us in the American church. I honestly believe we will be taking the moral high ground. I will be able to walk into my parish church knowing the larger church offers no support to homophobia. There is strong evidence that several clergy of a breakaway “Anglican” church in America very actively supported anti-gay laws in Africa, one in Uganda which initially called for the death penalty for homosexual acts. I find the notion that we should have anything to do with any of these groups breathtaking. Perhaps you also think we should send money to the Taliban.

        Oh, and it’s ” hear ” many complaints. Evidently English education isn’t what it used to be.

  20. Dr Susan Matthews says:

    We do not exclude the African bishops and clergy when they have multiple marriage partners and still allow them to be a part of the larger church. Why can they not disagree with us yet not exclude us? Justice on one side and injustice on the other…

    1. Margaret Sjoholm-Franks says:

      Because whoever brings up the issue will be accused of being a racist and a bigot…so it´s OK for an African priest or bishop to have three wives but it´s wrong for two men or two women to live in a loving, committed relationship…

      There you have i

      1. Michael Denny says:

        WHAT!? African Anglicans can practice poligamy? Really? OMG! LOL ! If true, iI can’t believe they have the nerve to protest gay marriage! Someone please explain!

  21. Anthony Christiansen says:

    Perhaps TEC could agree to continue to donate to non-Anglican organizations that work directly for the relief of suffering in African nations –without giving a penny to those Churches with bishops who publicly advocate for violence and hatred toward a single class of people.

  22. Joy Howard says:

    See, this is the problem with praying that the plan of salvation be carried “out in tranquility.” No one in their right mind would define tranquility as looking like this: “things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new.”

    Given the choice of standing with a church that sees God’s love revealed and reflected in all committed relationships or standing with a church that promotes or tolerates the criminalization of sexual minorities, I’m sticking with love.

    Progress and evolution are disruptive by nature. They are also costly. Jesus’ life testified to this. Every prophet’s life has testified to this. I’m sticking with love, whatever the cost, whatever the disruption.

    P.S. On New Year’s Eve, I attended a heterosexual marriage ceremony that used one of the new rites approved at GC. It was incredibly beautiful.

  23. Gerri Batchelor says:

    I believe that what makes Christianity different is the focus on love–God’s love for us and the love we should be sharing with each other. The further we move away from that, the less we live our Christianity.

  24. The Rev. Dr. Linda M. Maloney says:

    I am a member of an Episcopal parish that has a direct relationship with a partner parish in Central America. Our mission funds (and hands-on volunteering) go directly to the partner parish and are not funneled through (or absorbed by) the local bishop. TEC might want to consider a similar end-around, working directly through on-the-ground organizations to bring aid to those most in need. We could reduce our “institutional aid” while increasing direct aid, maintaining the same level of support for the Communion, but to its people, not to the institution as such.

  25. Margaret Sjoholm-Franks says:

    Because whoever brings up the issue will be accused of being a racist and a bigot…so it´s OK for an African priest or bishop to have three wives but it´s wrong for two men or two women to live in a loving, committed relationship…

    There you have it

    1. Alan Reed says:

      For many years, none of the provinces in Africa have allowed the ordained to have more than one wife. They do not allow the baptized to take on additional wives either. We should let this tired argument die.

      1. Josephine DiCalogero says:

        Unfortunately, the practice is that there is one legal wife and many other women who provide sexual gratification to priests, bishops and primates or other males. If you wish to only look at the legalism of one wife or one husband, then I suspect you have not spent much time in Africa as my husband has. Witness is always more substantial and talk.

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