Fallout in Australia over Lines consecration

Interesting developments ahead of next week’s General Synod meeting in Maroochydore:

“The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia has asked the church’s Appellate Tribunal to offer a ruling as to whether its bishops may participate in the consecration of bishops who are not members of the Anglican Communion.

On 16 August 2017, the Most Rev. Philip Freier, Archbishop of Melbourne, wrote to the registrar of the tribunal stating he had received a request from the Bishop of Bendigo, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Curnow, supported by four other bishops that raised objections to the consecration of the Rt. Rev. Andrew Lines of the Anglican Church in North America by the Archbishop of Sydney and Bishops of Tasmania and Northwest Australia. …

Bishop Curnow, joined by the Rt. Rev. John Stead of Willochra, the Rt. Rev. Kay Goldsworthy of Gippsland, the Rt. Rev. William Ray of North Queensland, and the Rt. Rev. Allan Ewing of Bunbury, asked the Tribunal to address three issues …

While Drs Davies and Condie had kept the primate, Dr. Freier, fully informed of their plans and had had communicated with him before they acted, Bishop Curnow and his colleagues had not shown the same courtesy to Drs. Davies and Condie.”

– Report from Anglican Ink.

Related:

Bathurst schools bombshell: Scots buys All Saints’ College

“The Presbyterian Church of Australia in NSW – owner of The Scots School, Bathurst – has been confirmed as the new owner of All Saints’ College. …”

– Report from The Western Advocate.

See also: Presbyterian Church agrees to buy All Saints’ College – Diocese of Bathurst.

Image: All Saints’ College.

Kay Goldsworthy elected Archbishop of Perth

An announcement from the Diocese of Perth:

“I write to share with you the highly anticipated announcement of the election of the eighth Archbishop of Perth.   Read more

Newcastle nominations close next Monday

From the Diocese of Newcastle:

“Please continue to pray for a new Bishop to the Diocese as we seek to listen for God’s call amongst those being nominated.

Synod members are reminded that any member of Synod may nominate a person to the Board for further discernment work. NOMINATIONS CLOSE ON MONDAY AUGUST 28.”

Relationship building between city and country with spirit levels and spiritual support

“For many years, Stewart Cuddy has been a Sydney lawyer attending an Anglican parish in one of Sydney’s most affluent suburbs. But this week he is a labourer, on the end of a chainsaw or power drill, working with a church in remote the remote New South Wales town of Walgett.

Mr Cuddy is part of a group of volunteers who head west every year on a grey nomad trip with a difference…”

– Story about St Peter’s Walgett and St James’ Turramurra from ABC News.

Northwest Network July 2017

The latest issue of the Diocese of North West Australia’s newsletter is now out.

A great way to discover what is happening in the North West, so you can pray.

A 1.2MB PDF file.

‘Becoming more truly who I am: a transgender female priest’

In an Ad Clerum (a letter to the clergy) dated 22 July 2017, Archbishop of Brisbane Dr Phillip Aspinall writes:

“Recently the Reverend Dr Jonathan Inkpin shared with me a deeply personal journey involving a life-time struggle with gender issues and personal identity. That journey has now culminated in a decision to transition gender and a formal request to be known by the wider diocesan family as Josephine or Jo.

Jo has written a letter which tells of that journey and asked me to distribute it to you all in the hope that you are properly informed and that unhelpful speculation might be avoided.”

Dr Inkpin is a member of the faculty of St Francis Theological College in Brisbane, and posts the full text of the letter. (Photo via St. Frances’ College.)

Orange East welcomes new Rector

“Bishop Ian Palmer commissioned the Reverend Bob Cameron as Rector of the parish of Orange East in a service in St Barnabas’ Church on Saturday morning, July 15.”

– News from the Diocese of Bathurst.

Top Centre news July 2017

The July 2017 edition of Top Centre, the newsletter of the Diocese of the Northern Territory, is available on their website.

Fuel for prayer.

A Tale of Two Communions

“Whenever a church leader makes an important decision, takes a strong stand and then explains their action, they not only reveal their own priorities and convictions but also, more significantly, shape the future of the church they serve and represent. For good reason, such steps are often called ‘defining moments’ and, with the passing of time, are frequently shown to be, what might be called, ‘determining moments’. A series of such moments seems to have taken place in recent days.

On June 30, 2017, Canon Andy Lines was consecrated as the Missionary Bishop of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to provide spiritual oversight to Anglican churches in Europe that exist outside the current Anglican structures.

As well as the principal consecrator, The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach (Archbishop of the ACNA), 11 Primates, 3 Archbishops, and 13 other GAFCON-linked Anglican bishops were involved in Lines’ consecration. …”

– Here’s a must read article from Rob Smith, in which he examines allegations made by the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia concerning participation in the consecration of Bishop Andy Lines. See it at The Australian Church Record.

Key recent posts — 6 July 2017

Here are some key posts which may be of interest from the last week or so –

Archbishop Glenn Davies speaks from Andy Lines’ consecration in Wheaton, Illinois:

“This is not ‘a border-crossing enterprise’, that’s a misunderstanding of the ministry. …

Anyone who proclaims Christ is where I want to be, and to have my support.”

Earlier, the Archbishop wrote to Australian bishops explaining his decision to take part in the consecration:

“I believe that my participation is an act of solidarity with those who contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.”

Archbishop of Melbourne and Primate of Australia Philip Freier wrote to Australian bishops:

“I have deep concerns that the participation by our Episcopal colleagues in the consecration of Canon Lines, with or without the support of their respective dioceses, is contrary to the spirit of the canons of the Council of Nicaea and, most importantly, outside of the authority of our National Constitution.”

‘Loose Canons? Andy Lines and the Canons of Nicaea’ – Dr Mark Smith at Church Society:

“the claim is made that the consecration of Andy Lines, and the episcopal ministry he would exercise, would be contrary to Canons 15 and 16 of the Council of Nicaea.”

President of the Anglican Church League, the Rev. Andrew Bruce, issued this statement on behalf of the ACL’s Council:

“While an Australian Primate is always free to give advice within the bonds of Christian fellowship, there is no constitutional provision for formal advice, nor is there any sense of hierarchy in the position of the Australian primate in relation to the other 22 diocesan bishops. No Australian diocesan bishop is obligated to follow the ‘advice’ of a primate.”

Primate admonishes Archbishop Glenn Davies and Bishop Richard Condie — Anglican Church League statement

Anglican Church League statement.

In an earlier post (29 June) I wrote that the Council of the Anglican Church League wholeheartedly supported the consecration of Canon Andy Lines, by GAFCON Bishops and our own Archbishop, Dr Glenn Davies, the Bishop of Tasmania, Dr Richard Condie and the Bishop of North West Australia, Gary Nelson, to ‘provide biblical faithful oversight for those European parishes that have been abandoned at this time’.

Now, in response to the letters sent to Australian bishops by Davies and Condie (see the links below for the full texts), the Primate, Archbishop Philip Freier has issued his own letter of 1 July admonishing Davies and Condie. A link to the Primate’s letter follows this post.

The Primate builds his case on constraints in the Australian Anglican constitutional arrangements and the ‘close fellowship, co-operation and collegiality of the Communion’.

As to constraints in the constitution, the Primate ‘advised both bishops against this course of action’. While an Australian Primate is always free to give advice within the bonds of Christian fellowship, there is no constitutional provision for formal advice, nor is there any sense of hierarchy in the position of the Australian primate in relation to the other 22 diocesan bishops. No Australian diocesan bishop is obligated to follow the ‘advice’ of a primate.

The Primate appeals to the Fundamental Declarations which are the bedrock statements of belief in the Anglican Church of Australia. The Scriptures are the ultimate rule and standard of faith; the commands of Christ are to be obeyed and his doctrine taught, but no conclusion is drawn by the Primate from this reference. The obvious conclusion to draw is that the Scottish Episcopal Church, by virtue of its recent decision to amend the definition of marriage and allow same-sex couples to be married in its churches, has moved away from the commands of Christ and his doctrine and the Scriptures as the ultimate rule and standard of faith.

The Primate also appeals to ‘the plenary authority of General Synod in this matter. Section 26 of the Constitution provides… Synod may make canons rules and resolutions relating to the order and good government of this Church including canons in respect of ritual, ceremonial and discipline’. However, quoting this section only gives one side of the picture. The other side of the picture is the restricting qualification to this power. Section 30(a) provides that canons ‘in respect of ritual, ceremonial and discipline’ only take effect in a diocese when adopted by ordinance of that diocese. This is the clear and plain constitutional arrangement in the Australian Church.  Each diocese has the final say, not the General Synod. So, ‘plenary authority’ is not so plenary. Further, a diocese has power to exclude canons adopted previously.

As to ‘close fellowship, co-operation and collegiality of the Communion’ this was on magnificent display at the consecration of Andy Lines. The Gafcon Primates and other diocesan bishops at the consecration represent some 75% of Anglicans world-wide. More than 50 bishops took part in the consecration. That three Australian diocesan bishops participated is a wonderful expression of the ‘collegiality of the Communion’.

But why does the Primate’s letter not include any rebuke to theSynod of the Scottish Episcopal Church, a member of the Anglican Communion’ for voting for same sex marriage? Abandoning the teaching of Scripture on the issue is surely sufficient grounds for such a rebuke. The Primate chose instead to suggest ‘Each Church makes its own decisions in its own ways, guided by recommendations from the Lambeth Conference…’ However, even just on these terms a rebuke was warranted since, plainly, the Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has rejected the guidance of the Lambeth Resolution 1.10 of 1998. In part that resolution says:

(b) in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage;

(e) cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.

Even if Lambeth too is put to one side, our own General Synod in 2004 resolved (62/04 and 63/04) that it did not condone the liturgical blessing of same sex relations or the ordination of people in open same sex relationships. This should have been enough to ground some criticism of the Scottish Episcopal Church decision.

The Primate says, ‘I do not think that it is for us individually, acting independently, to determine with whom we are in communion or to act unilaterally to that end’. Whether or not there is such a principle, the ordination of women in the Australian Church means there now exists a state of impaired communion between diocesans bishops and dioceses on recognition of the orders of some priests and bishops. Bishops have acted independently on this issue. The resulting impaired communion will become even more stark if an Australian diocesan synod decides to approve same sex relationships.

The Primate’s letter raises more questions than it answers, in particular, concerning the bonds that bind us as fellow Anglicans.

For and on behalf of the Anglican Church League Council.

Andrew Bruce
President
Anglican Church League
5 July 2017

 

Links mentioned:

Photo courtesy Anglican Church in North America.

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