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Pastoral Letter from the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network

Friday, February 23, 2007 • 4:38 pm


Beloved in the Lord,

We continue in an extraordinary moment in church history.  It is my conviction, with St. Paul, that “He who has begun a good work in [us] will complete it to the end.”  [Phil. 1:6]

Resolution III.6 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference authorized the Primates’ Meeting to include among its responsibilities both “intervention in cases of exceptional emergency which are incapable of internal resolution within provinces, and giving of guidelines on the limits of Anglican diversity in submission to the sovereign authority of Holy Scripture and in loyalty to our Anglican tradition and formularies.”  At Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the Primates Meeting of 15-19 February exercised these mandates in most significant fashion. 

Following up on the historic appeal for intervention 20 other bishops and I made on August 5, 2003 – and responding directly to the Appeals for Alternative Primatial Oversight (or Relationship) lodged by eight Network dioceses between July and November of 2006, as well as to requests from the Windsor coalition of Bishops conveyed in a letter of January 2007 – the Primates Meeting acted to address the crisis in our Province, The Episcopal Church.  The result can surely be described as an answer to prayer.

I was joined in Dar es Salaam by Bishop Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana from the wider Windsor Coalition (a coalition of some two dozen diocesans that includes all the Network diocesans among its members).  We were given the opportunity to provide testimony and entreaty as to how the situation in the United States could be addressed.  Among the matters covered were:

*Our assessment that the Episcopal Church’s official response to the Windsor Report and Dromantine Communiqué was inadequate, grudging and calculated.

*Belief that the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop had to be seen as a significant aspect of that official response, especially in light of her consent to New Hampshire’s election, to her authorization of same-sex blessings as diocesan bishop, and to her theological heterodoxy.

*Observations on the majority’s emerging theological construct where 1) claims of justice replaces morality, 2) many ways replaces the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ, and 3) experience replaces “Holy Scripture as the ultimate rule and standard of the Christian Faith.” 

*Testimony as to the extent, expense and acrimony of the civil lawsuits under way across the country, most significantly noting the scandalous involvement of the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor in suits brought not only against parishes but also against individual clergy and lay leaders.

*Statistics bearing out the assertion that the Network and Windsor Dioceses, together with AMiA, CANA, and Network Convocation and Conference parishes across the country, represented a number equal to one-quarter of The Episcopal Church’s membership, minimally some 500,000 souls, a number larger than 18 Provinces of the Anglican Communion.

*Clear discussion of the particular hostility of the “majority Episcopal Church” to the Forward in Faith Dioceses, as well as its failure to work with them and all those who hold to the Communion’s older “integrity” concerning Holy Orders.

*Evidence of the increasingly unlikely confirmation of the Bishop-elect of South Carolina by diocesan standing committees, on grounds including the revealing mis-use of the “manner of life” language of TEC’s supposed acceptance of Windsor (Resolution B033, General Convention 2006).

*Request for recognition of all those who accept the Camp Allen Principles concerning full acceptance of the Windsor Report as the Communion’s unquestioned partners in the United States.

*Appeal for some means of suitable and sufficient separation of the majority and minority parties of the Episcopal Church, including a practical “cease-fire,” until the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant process will have run its course and determination of which of the parties in the U.S. dispute are to be viewed as the “constituent” members of the Communion.

*Our willingness as Network and Windsor Bishops to participate in a Primates-proposed domestic structure that could take the first steps toward addressing the escalating crisis.

Clearly we were heard.  The Communiqué from Dar es Salaam, together with the “Key Recommendations of the Primates” and the transcript of the “Archbishop of Canterbury’s Comments at the Final Press Conference,” all speak to address the American crisis.  The Episcopal Church has been given another chance to make an “unequivocal” response to Windsor and to Communion Faith and Order. Those of us who have already made clear our willingness to submit to the Windsor Report and to the Anglican Communion have been given the proposed Pastoral Council and a Primatial Vicar, to be nominated by the participating bishops and responsible to that Council.  We have a call for the cessation of all civil legal actions.  We can work with this.  We will work with this.  It is not perfect and there are a number of potential obstacles.  We will enter in good faith.  The Primates spent so much of their meeting on our concerns that we can do no less in response to their best assessment of a path forward.  What we have is an interim proposal for an interim period with interim structures, while the Episcopal Church majority has one last opportunity to turn back from its “walking apart.”

For the Network parishes of the International Convocation (congregations under Uganda, Kenya, Central Africa and Southern Cone) and for the churches of the Anglican Mission in America and of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, there are particular concerns about relating to those still within the Episcopal Church, even if under the Pastoral Council and Primatial Vicar. 

For the Alternative Primatial Oversight appellant dioceses, not least the Forward in Faith dioceses, there are still concerns about the role of the Presiding Bishop, about how the working relationship with the wider Windsor Coalition develops, and about whether “good faith” will characterize the other side.  All we can do is be ourselves at our best.  That is certainly, by God’s grace and your intercession, what two of us, on behalf of all of you, were within the Primates’ Meeting.  Even though it is Lent, let Te Deum be said and sung.  And let’s keep on, faithful to the Scriptures, focused on the mission, and submitted in unity, till the work is done, whatever the cost, always in prayer.

St. Paul speaks of the trust that is mine and yours and ours:  “He who has called you is faithful, and He will do it.”  [I Thess. 5:24]

Faithfully in Christ,

+ Bob Pittsburgh

13 Comments • Print-friendlyPrint-friendly w/commentsShare on Facebook


[1] Posted by DaveG on 02-23-2007 at 04:48 PM • top

“We can work with this. We will work with this.”
Very good stuff.

[2] Posted by dl on 02-23-2007 at 04:49 PM • top

You go, +Bob. Tell it like it is.

the NOW BANNED BY JAKE snarkster

[3] Posted by the snarkster on 02-23-2007 at 05:32 PM • top

What +Duncan seems to be saying is that:

* This PV arrangement is seen as a “temporary” patch to hold the A.C. together until PECUSA officially decides to announce that it is walking apart.

* That the PV arrangement has all sorts of potential limitations and pitfalls which, if PECUSA doesn’t work in “good faith”, will shipwreck the thing

* That those parishes which have already left PECUSA (and not just the AMiA and CANA) will have little interest in coming back “into” PECUSA via this arrangement.


In other words, it seems the PV arrangement is conceived as a “halfway house” for those parishes and clergy (including, it would seem, +Duncan) who have not yet chosen to walk apart from being yoked with unbelievers but continue to remain in communion with PECUSA’s apostate leadership… a “halfway house” to try to keep them afloat until either the Covenant or PECUSA’s own clear declarations gets PECUSA officially ‘removed’ from the A.C.

And, hopefully, a “halfway house” which offers some sort of shelter from the on-going persecution and marginalization; which can take in those parishes left in revisionist diocese which want to sign up; which can protect these souls even as the apostates continue to drive out and disenfranchise the traditionalists (e.g. Lawrence+).


It would be terrific if all this works as well as +Duncan suggests… if PECUSA really does (for a change) act in “good faith” and the PV system actually can accomplish something meaningful.

But even so the upshot of all this is that faithful individuals who are a minority in their parishes must <b>still leave to start a new parish</b> or join another jurisdiction—the PV interim solution offers them no aid in their situation; that every parish which wishes to stay faithful to scripture must still chose to leave PECUSA</b> eventually, and probably sooner rather than later, and hopefully is already starting to make the necessary arrangements; that every parish which leaves <b>must still litigate for its property (especially as the primates have implicitly approved the highway robbery of the Dennis Canon).

In short, +Duncan offers an encouraging spin of how the Communique may be seen as a way of showing PECUSA to the door. And perhaps it shall turn out to be just that. And perhaps in retrospect it will be seen as a significant step in that process. And that would all be good.


I just hope folks realize that, in the day to day life of traditionalist parishes and believers (rather than in the configurations of international church politics), none of this changes the situation on the ground at all.

Their simple choice still remains: either be pro-active in making arrangements to leave PECUSA for another Anglican jurisdiction (whether via the proposed and untested interim PV stop-gap measure, or for a G.S. jurisdiction, or for the Continuing churches)... or stay yoked to unbelievers & apostasy & spiritual decay.

I hope those folks who haven’t yet acted to separate themselves don’t start spinning the Communique as an excuse for continuing to remain so yoked. Even with its positive spin—which I hope (even though I doubt) comes true—it gives no such excuse.


[4] Posted by LP on 02-23-2007 at 05:35 PM • top

Have the lawsuits been stopped?

[5] Posted by this_day on 02-23-2007 at 05:38 PM • top

What a refreshing bit of directness and clarity after that disagreeable belch of kultursmog from the “progressive” side.

[6] Posted by Jeffersonian on 02-23-2007 at 05:58 PM • top

Note that +Bob Duncan mentions Windsor Report and the Dromantine Communiqué in the same breath (as it were).

Personally, I think that these should consistently be used together, so the form one clear word in revisionist minds.

There is no Windsor Report - there is Windsor/Dromantine.  Can’t answer one without the other.

[7] Posted by kmfrye on 02-23-2007 at 08:21 PM • top

Bishop Duncan rocks…

Thank you, sir, for church correspondence born out of something other than spin, nebulousness, and nuance. 

Not a wasted word in the whole thing, and the whole thing is DOB-accurate. 

Yes, we can work with this…



[8] Posted by Orthoducky on 02-23-2007 at 09:22 PM • top

Now that’s leadership, not the stuff that other bishops and Bonnie have been ranting about since the communique was released. The definition of leadership is “the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members.” When there is a crisis in a human organization solid leadership is needed to establish the vision and motivate others.

Thank you Bishop for your leadership and faithfulness.

[9] Posted by garyec on 02-23-2007 at 10:11 PM • top

Nice expression, Mona—I mean, Jen.

[10] Posted by Cousin Vinnie on 02-24-2007 at 12:47 AM • top

This_Day asks: “Have the lawsuits been stopped?”

No. And the folks who filed them don’t show any remorse or any inclination to drop the suits. While the report seems to focus on Virginia, the “grab the property, it’s OURS” suits are going on in several states. In California, Bp. Bruno is complaining about the “angst” the report has caused his poor, poor, liberal gang.

My personal prediction is that the lawsuits will continue until TEC grabs other people’s property and loses it through bad stewardship, or the courts rightly and smartly award the property to its true owners.

[11] Posted by NancyNH on 02-24-2007 at 07:48 AM • top

Actually quick correction. The true owner is Jesus Christ. I know people have called me out on saying this, but it is my firm belief that Jesus Christ is the true owner of all property. No matter what TEC or even the parishes say about state property laws, Christ is sovereign and is the owner.

[12] Posted by NancyNH on 02-24-2007 at 07:50 AM • top

Anglican TV’s Kevin Kalisen was at the Dioceseof Pittsburgh briefing by bishop Duncan today so you can expect video.

[13] Posted by BBrown on 02-24-2007 at 12:14 PM • top

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