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COLUMBUS, OH: Conservatives 'saddened to soul' after GC06

COLUMBUS, OH: Conservatives 'saddened to soul' after GC06

By Hans Zeiger
VirtueOnline Correspondent

COLUMBUS, OHIO (6/21/06)-Conservative bishops in the Episcopal Church were disgusted by the 75th General Convention as it concluded Wednesday, some of them repeating their 2003 appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury "to intervene in the pastoral emergency that has overtaken us." In addition, the bishops exempted themselves from "acts of this Convention that do not fully comply with the Windsor Report."

In an open letter through the American Anglican Council expressing support for the international Anglican Communion's Windsor Report, eleven bishops questioned "whether this General Convention is misleading the rest of the Communion by giving a false perception that they intend actually to comply with the recommendations of the Windsor Report." (A list of the eleven bishops is included below.)

Several conservative bishops and their supporters gathered for a press conference following the passage of B033 which will effect a restraint from the consecration of homosexual bishops in intended compliance with the Windsor Report. The vote on Wednesday for B033 reversed the choice of the House of Deputies on Tuesday to reject the Windsor report.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Iker, Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth, responded to the vote at the press conference. "I think that the House of Deputies is schizophrenic. I'm not sure how you can be of two different minds on two different days."

The Rt. Rev. John David Schofield, Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, also doubted the sincerity of the bishops and deputies. A bishop across the table from Schofield told him before the vote on Resolution B033: "That will never hold where I come from. You had better know better than that, Schofield."

Liberals can use the right rhetoric, but ultimately, "the Windsor Report is not being embraced," said the Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield. "We are embracing the invitation to dialogue. We're not embracing the core...And it is hypocritical to say one thing and do another."

"As we would appear to want to be in the Anglican Communion only on our terms, what I've found out is that you can't do that," said Beckwith.

VirtueOnline asked the Rt. Rev. James Adams, Bishop of the Diocese of Western Kansas, if the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report was a pretense. "It's not pretend. It was orchestrated," he said, referring to efforts by Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold to affirm a Windsor Resolution, even after it had been defeated in its different form.

Other conservatives were less forcible in their reactions, while continuing to have doubts about the compliance of the Resolution B033 to the Windsor Report. "I think that represents the best that the House of Bishops could have done under the circumstances," the Rt. Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Steenson, Bishop of the Diocese of Rio Grande, told VirtueOnline. "I personally don't think it's going to be judged compliant, but it's not our call anymore. It's the rest of the Communion that will make that choice."

Meanwhile, moderate bishops were satisfied by Convention's end that a compromise between homosexuals and the Anglican Communion had been reached. "I'm excited that this is hopefully a way forward for all Episcopalians without unnecessarily closing any doors," Bishop Dorsey Henderson of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, a member of the Special Committee that originally considered the Windsor resolutions, and the author of Resolution B033, told VirtueOnline. "I'm heartbroken with the gay and lesbian community and others that are hurt, but I'm convinced that in the longterm this is the best way forward for the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion."

Even so, Henderson mentioned in passing that the vagueness of the "manner of life" language may present difficulties with some African provinces who oppose the use of alcohol.

"The church, I believe, has lost its credibility," Bishop Beckwith told VirtueOnline.

Beckwith said that the Episcopal Convention reflected a "Gnostic, New Age spiritualism," and he doesn't see things improving anytime soon. "It's clear that we're going to continue a development that takes us away from Christianity."

Just after the House of Deputies voted against compliance with the Windsor Report on Tuesday, the House refused to even discuss Resolution D058 which affirmed Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation.

Bishop Adams told VirtueOnline that he fought for Resolution D058 while it was in Evangelism Committee, but he was told that discharge was in order because "discussion and dissension would interfere with the work of the convention."

"I'm not so sure how it can interfere with that," said Adams. "You'd think that in a Christian church we could pass a Christian resolution. That's dissension from these other important things we have to do? Then maybe we shouldn't be doing those other things."

"I'm just saddened to my soul," said Adams, with slight emotion in his voice. Genuine Anglican faith, he said, is "nowhere to be found in the United States except at a very few places." And then he repeated, "I'm saddened to my soul."

Bishop Beckwith was equally disturbed by the discharge of Resolution D058 while dozens of "justice and peace" issues from AIDS to Guantanamo Bay were addressed at the convention. "It's abominable. What it tells me is that we are into a social ministry mode which takes priority over the only thing that energizes social ministries! The only thing that will minister to people is the knowledge that Jesus loves them."

Beckwith continued, "It's a lot easier to talk about getting out of Iraq and making provisions for children than it is about the Gospel which says, 'if you lose your life for my sake, you'll have it.'"

What's next for the conservative bishops in the Episcopal Church?

Bishop Schofield told the press conference, "There's no question that the Diocese of San Joaquin will stay with the Anglican Communion. However, it is very likely that this very weekend this Diocese will follow in the footsteps of the Diocese of Fort Worth and ask for the protection of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Other primates are very much interested in supporting a good, legitimate voice of Anglicanism in the United States."

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh, said, "Our task is to guard the flock. We will do as we need to do."

And Bishop Beckwith summed up his frustrations with the Episcopal Church as he walked back to his hotel along High Street following a long and distressing week. The air was humid after the thunderstorms of morning. He paused in front of the entrance to the Greater Columbus Convention Center and looked out toward the street.

"I don't have any time for it, and I don't want to be a part of it," he concluded. "And how that works out in the future remains to be seen."

Eleven bishops signed onto the American Anglican Council letter:

The Rt. Rev. Keith Lynn Ackerman, Diocese of Quincy
The Rt. Rev. James M. Adams Jr., Diocese of Western Kansas
The Rt. Rev. Peter H. Beckwith, Diocese of Springfield
The Rt. Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan, Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Rt. Rev. Daniel W. Herzog, Diocese of Albany
The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, DD, Diocese of Fort Worth
The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr., Diocese of South Carolina
The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Diocese of San Joaquin
The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Diocese of Dallas
The Rt. Rev. Henry W. Scriven, Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Rt. Rev. William J. Skilton, Diocese of South Carolina


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