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
Anglican Church League
5 July 2017


Links mentioned:

Photo courtesy Anglican Church in North America.

Bathurst Diocese assets ‘to be sold to fund sex abuse payouts’

“Bathurst’s Anglican diocese is preparing a new list of potential asset sales as it braces for multi-million dollar compensation payouts to past victims of sexual abuse.

Bishop Ian Palmer wrote to parishioners at the weekend asking them to identify assets…”

– Story from The Western Advocate.

Bishop Richard Condie writes in support of Andy Lines’ consecration

Bishop of Tasmania, Dr. Richard Condie, has written to the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Australia, explaining his decision to participate in the consecration of Canon Andy Lines as a Missionary Bishop –

“I have been invited to participate in the consecration of Canon Andy Lines as a missionary bishop to faithful Anglicans in the UK and Europe. His consecration, by the GAFCON Primates and other bishops, will take place while I am in Chicago attending the Anglican Relief and Development Fund global council meeting at the end of this month. This consecration is in direct response to the Episcopal Church of Scotland’s decision to change their canon on marriage to include same sex unions. This decision is a departure from the scriptures, the teaching of the church, and the consensus of the majority of Anglicans in the communion. It leaves faithful Anglicans in Scotland in a vulnerable position, and has brought schism to the global Anglican fellowship.

The consecration is an emergency measure to protect the precious gospel of Jesus Christ, his authoritative word in the scriptures, and faithful Anglicans who have been marginalised by this schismatic behaviour. …”

Read the full letter from the Bishop of Tasmania, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Richard Condie, to the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Australia. (300kb PDF file.)



See also: Primate admonishes Archbishop Glenn Davies and Bishop Richard Condie — Anglican Church League statement, 5th July 2017.

Newcastle Bishop Nomination Board to hold regional workshops

This week, the Newcastle Diocese Bishop Nomination Board is holding a series of regional consultation workshops (PDF), as they reflect on who could be the next Bishop of the diocese.

Doubtless, they would appreciate our prayers for wisdom in this task.

Vision 2022 for Tasmania — video

In a follow-up to his 2017 Synod Presidential Address, Bishop of Tasmania, Richard Condie, speaks in this video about the new Vision 2022 for the churches of Tasmania.

New Dean of Newcastle

“The Acting-Bishop of Newcastle, Dr Peter Stuart, is delighted to advise that the Reverend Canon Katherine Bowyer has been elected to be the next Dean of Newcastle.”

– News from the Diocese of Newcastle.

Bishop Richard Condie to Tasmanian Anglicans: We need to change!

“We have to face up to the reality of our church. The glory days are well behind us. We know we are faced with declining attendance in many places. We recognise that the old ways of doing things just won’t cut it any more. In many churches I visit there is at least one, if not two, generations of people missing – our kids and their kids. We have failed to make disciples, and we are often more committed to keeping things the same, than we are finding new ways of being God’s people on mission.

In many places we have developed a ‘folk religion’ which, while serving us and our needs, has lost its missional focus. In the recent National Church Life Survey people in our pews told us the things they most value. The top three were: ‘sharing holy communion’; ‘sermons’; and ‘traditional worship’. These are all essentially inward looking. While they are not bad in themselves, sadly at the bottom of the list of things we value were: ‘openness to cultural diversity’; ‘meeting new people’; and ‘reaching those who don’t attend church’; the items with an outward looking focus. We need to be equally passionate about both.

We need to change! If we continue as we are, we will become marginal at best. We will see more church closures, and more decline, until there will be very little left. I don’t think for one moment that the Church will cease to be. God is too committed to it for that. But if we are going to be obedient stewards of God’s gift to us, and to love His church, even half as much as he does, then we need to feel the weight of these issues, and do something about it.

We need to be more Christian and more Anglican. That is, we need to shed the cloak of our ‘folk religion’ that serves our needs, and re-engage with the Lord our God, and His Son the Jesus Christ, and be so transformed spiritually by Him that we can’t hold the message back. We need to be more Anglican, by which I mean, committed to mission in the world, the mission of proclaiming the gospel in the language and culture of the people. After all, the birth of the Church of England in the 16th Century was a radical engagement with presenting the gospel in a language and style that people could understand.

My job as your Bishop is to lead you. I promised at my ordination (among other things) to ‘lead those in [my] care to obey our Saviour’s command to make disciples of all nations’, and I intend to do this. I intend to do this, through casting a Vision today to set the agenda for the next five years of the Diocese of Tasmania. Before I do, I want to tell you how we got here. …”

– In his 2017 Synod Presidential Address, Bishop of Tasmania, Richard Condie, shares a vision for the churches of Tasmania. Read it all in this PDF file from the Diocese of Tasmania.

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