Dissenting Bishops 2009

Posted on: July 17, 2009

Twenty-nine bishops have endorsed affirming their desire to remain part of the Anglican Communion and Episcopal Church while being faithful to the calls for restraint made by the wider church.

Styled as the “Anaheim Statement,” the letter of dissent to the actions of the 76th General Convention pledged the bishops’ fealty to the requests made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the primates’ meetings and ACC-14 to observe a moratoria on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate.

In the hours after its release, the statement drew support from 23 diocesan bishops, four suffragan and assistant bishops, and two retired bishops and included bishops who voted on both sides of D025 and C056 — resolutions that rescinded the ban on two of the three Windsor Report moratoria.

Rising to speak on a point of personal privilege during the House of Bishops afternoon session July 16, the Rt. Rev. Gary W. Lillibridge of West Texas read a statement prepared by an ad hoc committee of concerned bishops.

“At this convention,” Bishop Lillibridge said, the house had “heard repeated calls for honesty and clarity” on The Episcopal Church’s stance on the contested issues surrounding sexual ethics.  The attempts to “modify wording which would have been preferable to the minority in the vote were respectfully heard and discussed, but in the end most of these amendments were found unacceptable to the majority in the House.”

The votes on Resolution D025 and C056 had made it clear that a majority of bishops believed it was time to “move forward on matters of human sexuality.”  While grateful for the “clarity” these votes had brought, Bishop Lillibridge asked his fellow bishops to join him seeking “to find a place in the Church we continue to serve” and endorse a five-point statement of loyalty to the Communion.

The statement:

  • reaffirmed the bishops’ “constituent membership in the Anglican Communion, our communion with the See of Canterbury, and our commitment to preserving these relationships”;

  • reaffirmed their “commitment to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them”;

  • reaffirmed their “commitment to the three moratoria requested of us by the Instruments of Communion”;

  • reaffirmed their “commitment to the Anglican Communion Covenant process currently underway, with the hope of working toward its implementation across the Communion once a Covenant is completed”;

  • reaffirmed their “commitment to ‘continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship’ which is foundational  to our baptismal covenant, and to be one with the apostles in ‘interpreting the Gospel’ which is essential to our work as bishops of the Church of God.”

At the close of the afternoon session, 20 bishops endorsed the letter, with nine morre adding their names during the evening.

“This was not a statement of division,” the Rt. Rev. Edward J. Konieczny, Bishop of Oklahoma — a conservative leaning bishops who had not signed the statemen —said at a news briefing after the session.  It was a “statement of unity” that acknowledged “we have listened to one another intently.”

The House of Bishops’ second media spokesman, the Rt. Rev. James Mathes of San Diego and a supporter of the actions taken this week in the House of Bishops, said he believed the statement offered “clarity of where they are.”

A copy of the letter has been forwarded to the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Its initial signatories include:

The Rt. Rev James Adams, Western Kansas
The Rt. Rev Lloyd Allen, Honduras
The Rt. Rev David Alvarez, Puerto Rico
The Rt. Rev John Bauerschmidt, Tennessee
The Rt. Rev Peter Beckwith, Springfield
The Rt. Rev Franklin Brookhart, Montana
The Rt. Rev William Frey, Rio Grande
The Rt. Rev Dorsey Henderson, Upper South Carolina
The Rt. Rev John Howe, Central Florida
The Rt. Rev Russell Jacobus, Fond du Lac
The Rt. Rev Don Johnson, West Tennessee
The Rt. Rev Mark Lawrence, South Carolina
The Rt. Rev Gary Lillibridge, West Texas
The Rt. Rev Edward Little, Northern Indiana
The Rt. Rev William Love, Albany
The Rt. Rev Bruce MacPherson, Western Louisiana
The Rt. Rev Alfredo Morante, Litoral Ecuador
The Rt. Rev Henry Parsley, Alabama
The Rt. Rev Michael Smith, North Dakota
The Rt. Rev James Stanton, Dallas
The Rt. Rev Pierre Whalon, Convocation of American Churches in Europe
The Rt. Rev Paul Lambert, Suffragan-Dallas
The Rt. Rev David Reed, Suffragan-West Texas
The Rt. Rev Sylestre Romero, Assistant– New Jersey
The Rt. Rev John Sloan, Suffragan–Alabama
The Rt. Rev Jeffrey Rowthorn, Retired-Convocation of American Churches in Europe
The Rt. Rev Don Wimberly, Retired-Texas

(The Rev.) George Conger reporting from General Convention in Anaheim.

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