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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Episcopal Majority: "RESIST!!"

PLEASE NOTE: The following is written by Bill Coats, a retired priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, and a member of Episcopal Majority. It is a personal assessment and not an "official" statement of either the Diocese of Newark or the Episcopal Majority.

The Communique from the recent Anglican’s Archbishops’ meeting in Tanzania was to be expected.

It continues in the same spirit first exhibited in the Windsor Report.

It purports to be a document designed for reconciliation, but in fact its true intent is to rein in the Episcopal church and force its capitulation on the key matter of homosexuality.

In short the price of unity remains as it has been for three years: the debasement and humiliation of gay and lesbians persons in the church.

Thus under the proposed heading of reconciliation has appeared the ugly reality of and legitimation of bigotry and hatred.

This communique makes a division in Anglicanism all but certain.

The Communique, released with the approval of the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, our Presiding Bishop, presents a challenge to this church that in the Name of Jesus Christ cannot and should not be met.

The Communique makes two interrelated demands on the Episcopal Church. The first, couched in the rhetoric of reconciliation, seeks to provide a way for dissident elements to stay within the church.

The second, uttered with little reconciling language, demands a cessation of a number of actions favorable to openly gay and lesbians persons as the price of continued regular status within the Anglican Communion.

The contradiction is obvious. If the dissidents can gain some regular, legal status within the Church then if the larger Church fails to meet the demands for actions against gays and lesbians required by Primates, then the dissidents are in a much more favorable legal position when the inevitable split occurs within Anglicanism. They, therefore, would constitute a fifth column

The Communique, as a price of unity until the formation of an Anglican Covenant, demands that the Episcopal church, in order to provide for the pastoral care of a small number of dissidents participate in the creation of a Pastoral Council and a primatial Vicar. These two offices are to have supervisory power in matters dealing with unhappy congregations or dioceses. They are to report to the Primates.

We are appalled at such a notion. In our view such creations amounts to foreign control over our church and clashes with the our constitution and canons. Moreover authority in these matters do not rest with either the Anglican Primates or any overseas body. We do not think it lies in the purview of our Presiding Bishop, nor of our bishops. Only General Convention can establish structures that deal with our polity.

These measures, which effectively put the Episcopal Church in "receivership" purportedly are meant to deal with parishes and dioceses in the American Church who are estranged from the larger church.

The reasoning is that if these recalcitrant groups can have some official recognition they can be said still to be in union with the larger American church. In fact such structures will not be a pastoral haven for such groups; instead they merely serve to legitimize these groups in their hope to overthrow the present Episcopal Church.

Furthermore as these intermediate and intervening structures continue to maintain a tie to the "instruments of Communion" they provide the means for further pressure and demands by hostile foreign elements who will be "monitoring" the American church’s actions.

It is clear these new structures have nothing whatsoever to do with reconciliation but serve merely to exacerbate the situation in the American church by giving new and official standing to a body of people intent upon expelling us from the Communion.

We must say: Neither our Constitution and Canons nor our history as a church involve a suicide pact.

It is suggested that once the American church installs these new arrangements the effort to establish, as has already been done, an extra ecclesiastical province in the US for the disaffected will cease.

Since the purpose of this jurisdiction was simply to provide a temporary way station until the Communion expelled the American church we see no reason to legitimate this strategy by other means. Again this is not reconciliation but rather a veiled strategy for disunion now legitimized by the Primates.

To suggest as the communique does that this new arrangement then should lead to a cessation of legal actions in regards to property and that the secessionists elements should be allowed to continue using the property simply serves as reward for secession.

It should be further noted that these arrangements, by which greater authority over our church is given to foreign bodies, now feeds into the legal strategy of some American dioceses by which they propose at a later date to seize the property of their diocese in the event of a church split.

Their strategy is to negate our national canons by claiming they have a tie to Anglican structures beyond the Episcopal church. The establishment of the Pastoral Council and primatial vicar would now further enable this strategy.

We call on our bishops to repudiate and resist all of these actions.

The Communiques goes on to make radical demands on the Episcopal church, once again, before the time of the Covenant. These consist of a virtual permanent moratorium on the consecration to the Episcopacy of partnered Gays and Lesbians and the immediate proscription of the blessing of same-sex couples everywhere in the Episcopal church. Should the church fail to implement these demands our status within the Communion will remain "damaged".

Dire consequences are then hinted. In other words the primates now seek to gain a form of immediate capitulation from the church it could not get either from our bishops or from General Convention. They have now come forward with naked threats.

The communique blithely assumes that the presenting issue of homosexuality has been solved by the 1998 Lambeth resolution 1.10. This resolution maintains that lifelong heterosexual marriage is the only possible arrangement for intimacy open to men and women.

This resolution, itself a product of extreme political machination, may be the approved "standard" of the Lambeth Bishops (though, it should be noted it was not adopted unanimously) but has never been presented to the national churches.

In demanding capitulation from the Episcopal church the primates have now designated themselves as a mini "college of Cardinals" We reject this role outright as an arrogant violation of Anglican polity which always and everywhere must include the laity

The primates’ demand amounts to a simple proposition:


The attempt is made to assure us that some "listening process" within the Communion will somehow over time help in this disagreement. This is nonsense. There has been no serious listening process over the last few years.. A large number of provinces have already made up their minds on the basis of "Scripture" and have no intention of listening either now or later. We will not be fooled by false promises

We are appalled that the matter of homosexuality has now become the virtual doctrinal cornerstone of Anglicanism. We had thought that the dogmas of Incarnation and the Trinity were the central and mandated matters of belief for the church.

We thought we could live in love and respect with certain disagreements over sexuality. This Communique puts to rest any such naive notions.

A form of theological hysteria has now overtaken the Communion. And out of this hysteria has come the demand for capitulation and the surrendering of gay and lesbians persons on the altar of unity.

We reiterate that the proscription on homosexuality rests on a reading of Scripture which can no longer stand. The Bible knew homosexuality as an act of choice by heterosexuals with other heterosexuals.

We know now homosexuality is an unchosen condition and thus the reasons offered for its present day proscription are not the reasons offered in Scripture. In this event, since no inherent harm is involved in homosexual relations the older proscription must give way to the wider love of Christ.

Moreover since we are created in the image of the Triune God, to forbid some persons from living within this Trinity and being able to mirror acts of self-giving love and intimacy is, for us, unacceptable. All persons are called to mirror the Trinitarian love of Father, Son and Spirit in their own relationships of self-giving love. We cannot deny to this to any on the basis of gender or race or sexual orientation (as we have in the past).


We are prepared for the consequences of resistance. We are not daunted by the prospect of walking apart from a church we now find hardly recognizable, one taken over by the power of death. As Martin Luther said: "Here we Stand"

William R. Coats

of the Episcopal Majority


Mike in Texas said...

I'm glad to hear another strong and clear statement.

I'm so sick an tired of the pious but vague stuff coming out of so many places.

I'm thinking of the Bishop of Atlanta's statement. What a waste of paper!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Wow! I'm nearly speechless. Bill has said it all.

anglican-rite said...

Y'all go right ahead and resist. Like we don't want you to.

Barnabas said...

In fairness, Bishop Katherine would not have agreed to the communique unless it was fairly certain that the House of Bishops would go along, and she must have recieved assurances that it was going to happen.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Ah, Barbabas and Anglican-rite,

But, how do you know this? This is where your cock-suredness and triumphalism will certainly be your undoing.

It always does.

Y'all always over-play your hand.

And, you obviously don't know how to play Chess - how to play your King, Queen, Bishop and Pawn.

Katharine does.

I think that will be revealed in April when the HOB meets.

Bill said...

Didn’t I just go through this when I left the RC church? I refuse to believe it’s happening again. I am not lining up for castration to appease the political right.

The psychological world recognizes homosexuality as normal behavior for a percentage of the general population. It is not deviant. It is not an aberration.

The enlightened governments of the world have laws against this type of discrimination.

And then we have the church which still wants to consider me an abomination and provide “council” They want to provide pastoral care, whatever that means. Actually I know what it means. They want to try and fix my aberrant behavior because they are still working with a pre-twentieth century notion that it is a disease.

I am not going back to hiding. I am not going back to the closet. If they want a fight, then so be it. This world still belongs to the people, not the talking heads. Onward Christian Soldiers has a certain ring to it. I may just start singing it from time to time.

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
What the saints established that I hold for true.
What the saints believèd, that I believe too.
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.
Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.
Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.

Craig Goodrich said...

A form of theological hysteria has now overtaken the Communion. And out of this hysteria has come the demand for capitulation and the surrendering of gay and lesbians persons on the altar of unity.

Now let me get this straight. The Communion repeats the unanimous teaching of two millennia of Christian theology, precisely the same teaching as the world's two billion other Christians, as it has been pointing out to ECUSA for more than a decade.

The gay and lesbian faction sees that the totally novel and unsupported demand that their preferred coupling no longer be regarded as sinful has been rejected, and claim they are being "sacrificed on the altar", rejected, burned at the stake, expelled, abused, mistreated, and so on endlessly.

And it is the Communion which is hysterical.

OK. Got it.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...


Christian snarkiness is, perhaps, almost as odious as Chritian triumphalism - perhaps because it flows from the same source of arrogance.

And, over in Evangelical land, the Well of Arrogance is pretty deep.

Bill said...

Craig,let me see if I've got it. Slavery was ok for 2000 years and then some political upstarts decide it is wrong. And let me see if I remember correctly, Oh yes, the Christian church endorsed this. And then in the 1950s the blacks got hysterical and wanted change.

Oh, Ok, I've got it.
No change, No pain.

Deborah Sproule said...

Seriously, read the bible. Change is what God requires for us to live the fullness of Christ. Bible to tough for you...?Try the nicely abbreviated bible study of the daily Lectionary. I see smoke and it ain't the Holy kind! I see God and Christ pointing my focus to the holy hill. We are called to do the work Jesus started. Yes we are stumbling and yes they are 'mean in heart' but NO NO NO we will not turn our eyes from the mercy of God. Stay strong your brave souls. This midwest girl is praying with you all the way.

Wayne said...

Craig wrote: "Now let me get this straight. The Communion repeats the unanimous teaching of two millennia of Christian theology, precisely the same teaching as the world's two billion other Christians, as it has been pointing out to ECUSA for more than a decade."

1) Unanimous? Nope, wrong, dead dead wrong. Check your resources. Check your references. Hell, check the words of Jesus.
2) Precisely the same teach as the world's two billion other Christians? Wrong again. You might consider talking to a variety of people in both TEC, ELCA, and UCC -- heck, you might as well check with some of the good people at Metropolitan Community Church (which you won't).

Cut the crap. It's not part of the listening process and I'm sick of it.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, and Anglican-rite - I'm not going anywhere. Neither is anyone I know. The title of the document is RESIST! Not RUN! Just so we're clear.

Grace said...


Are you heading out to see "Amazing Grace," this weekend?

I think this movie will be totally applicable to our situation in the church today.

Bill said...

I am going out to see "Amazing Grace" as soon as it opens. I know that I'm going to hate it only because Hollywood tends to disappoint and I'm looking forward to seeing it so much. I'm hoping to see a great period piece with great acting and an even greater message. I don't ask for much Dear Lord, this would be a good thing.