"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bishop Duncan's Pastoral Letter to the Faithful within the Network

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, has released a Pastoral Letter that was distributed to our congregation at St. Vincent's today. Some of the more interesting portions (boldfaced highlights are mine):

... Most of us are at present within the Episcopal Church. This is where the Network was principally called to stand. One can be “within” something and not “under” it. The Network has been proving that for the last three years. The Dar es Salaam Communique and Key Recommendations represent a last attempt at reconciliation in the Anglican Communion and in the Episcopal Church. What the global leadership of the Anglican Communion has proposed is a marital separation. Pastorally, the church recommends such separations because they sometimes bring restoration of right relationship. Both parties are still technically within the marriage. But marital separations never leave one party “under” the other; such an arrangement would be doomed to failure from the start. The words of the Dar es Salaam Communique and Key Recommendations are carefully chosen. Any sense that the Pastoral Council and Primatial Vicar are “under” majority TEC is absent from the documents themselves, would surely doom the vision to failure, and could hardly prove “a sufficiently strong scheme.”

Whether this last effort to reconcile both the Episcopal Church to the Anglican Communion and the two parts of the Episcopal Church to each other can succeed is, in human terms, up to the Network, to the Windsor Bishops, and to the wider House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. Three things must be said: As Network Moderator, I will do everything I can to bring the hopes of the Primates Meeting to fruition. Necessarily, I will attend the meeting of the House of Bishops about to convene. The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked for “generosity and graciousness” in response to what the Primates have done. I will go in that spirit. Attendance at the meeting of the House of Bishops, however, should not be construed as anything more than doing what the situation requires. It remains that “the theological differences” with the Presiding Bishop and with those Diocesan Bishops who have taught and acted contrary to received Faith and Order (as upheld in the Windsor Report, and the Dromantine and Dar es Salaam Communiques) are of such magnitude that discussion of the issues before us is the limit of our participation in the life of the House of Bishops at the present time. This represents no alteration of the grounds on which most Network Bishops have participated in the House of Bishops since August of 2003.

The Windsor Bishops (which includes the Network Bishops) – all those who adopted the Camp Allen principles – will meet shortly after Easter to shape our part of what the Primates’ Meeting has envisioned. Obvious agenda items include discussion about a Primatial Vicar, about a “sufficiently strong” plan for the Network and Windsor minority, and about imagining whether any form of ministry could be designed that would be acceptable to those who have gone out. 3) The House of Bishops will have to respond to us and to the recommendations of the Primates’ Meeting in a vastly different manner than has characterized the majority’s behavior toward us in recent experience.

... Most of us, but certainly not all, in the Anglican Communion Network now believe that it is the Episcopal Church majority’s clear and continuing intention to “walk apart” in matters of Faith and Order. Nevertheless, we owe it to our beloved Communion to follow the Primates’ wisdom as to how to take a last step in that discernment. The Primates have established a deadline of September 30th for the Episcopal Church’s entire House of Bishops to make an “unequivocal” response. (7) For all that is ahead, the Anglican Communion Network will continue to work with those “within” and with those who have “gone out” for a biblical, missionary and united future for North American Anglicanism. There can be no turning back from that Godly commitment: the Network’s vision from the beginning. “And since we have this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.” [2 Cor. 4:1] Please continue to pray with fervor for me and for all who lead, as well as for all who are having an especially hard time with yet one more time of waiting and of testing. Your prayers are the vehicles of our Lord’s victory realized in the crises and crosses we face at every level both great and small.


Anonymous daverichards said...

Thank you for this post...it was wonderful reading it...and well since Easter is also coming up in a while i'd also like you to drop by my blog on Easter Greetings sometime and share some of the spirit of Easter it's filled up with!!!

1:01 AM  

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