Jerusalem bishop opposes ‘divisive’ meeting

Published February 1, 2008

The Anglican bishop of Jerusalem said he has not been informed of a Holy Land meeting planned for June by a group that opposes some Anglicans over their tolerance of homosexuality, adding that he believes it will be divisive for the Anglican Communion.

“Regrettably, I have not been consulted about this planned conference,” said Suheil Dawani in a Jan. 3 statement. “The first I learned of it was through a press release. We Anglicans who minister here have been left out in the cold.”

A group of Anglican leaders who met in Nairobi in December announced they would invite bishops, senior clergy and laity from every province of the Anglican Communion to attend a June 15-22 meeting. Called the Global Anglican Future Conference, it is scheduled one month ahead of the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of leaders of the church held every 10 years in England.

“I am deeply troubled that this meeting, of which we had no prior knowledge, will import inter-Anglican conflict into our diocese, which seeks to be a place of welcome for all Anglicans,” said Bishop Dawani.

The bishop noted that such a conference “could also have serious consequences for our ongoing ministry of reconciliation in this divided land. Indeed, it could further inflame tensions here. We who minister here know only too well what happens when two sides cease talking to each other. We do not want to see any further dividing walls.”

The conference’s Web site described the meeting as providing “opportunities for fellowship and care for those who have decided not to attend Lambeth.”

Canon Chris Sugden from a group called Anglican Mainstream attended the Nairobi meeting, at which bishops and others from East and West Africa, Latin America, Australia, Canada and Britain, were present. Mr. Sugden said  that the conference was not a specific challenge to the Lambeth Conference.

[pullquote]”The focus will be on mission, evangelism, the Gospel, and the future. These are things which have been overshadowed in the last four years because of the attention given to the activities of the Episcopal (Anglican) Church of the United States,” said Mr. Sugden.

The Jerusalem conference is a new development in the schism threatening the worldwide Anglican Communion following the decision of the Episcopal Church to consecrate an openly gay divorcee, V. Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

On Jan. 1, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, was quoted on BBC radio as saying the American church was “paying the price for honesty over sexuality.”


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