Sydney bishops latest to boycott Lambeth

Published March 1, 2008

The Anglican archbishop of Sydney announced on Feb. 2 that he and the five bishops in his diocese will boycott this year’s worldwide gathering of Anglican bishops because of the church’s stance on homosexuality.

Agence France-Presse reported that Archbishop Peter Jensen, speaking after an ordination service in Sydney, said the bishops believe that the Lambeth Conference, scheduled for July 20 to Aug. 3, “will not help heal (the church’s) divisions.”

Conservative bishops in Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda have also said they intend to boycott the conference, which is held every 10 years for Anglican bishops from around the world. About 800 bishops usually attend.

The consecration of a gay bishop in the U.S. and the approval of blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples in one Canadian diocese has embroiled the Anglican church in a battle over conservative and liberal attitudes toward the Bible.

Archbishop Jensen has said he will be attending a separate conference, called the Global Anglican Future Conference, to be held in Jerusalem in June.

In other news:

* About 350 people gathered in an Episcopal church in Hanford, Calif. to reconstitute the diocese of San Joaquin after 42 of 47 congregations voted to leave the Episcopal Church in December.

The gathering was organized by Remain Episcopal, a group now recognized as the official diocese of San Joaquin. Cindy Smith, president of Remain Episcopal, said the organization has received generous financial, liturgical and emotional support from all

over the country. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori sent written and videotaped greetings to the gathering. “We expect to work next to clarify the status of members of the clergy in the diocese of San Joaquin, and the status of any former diocesan leaders who wish to remain in the Episcopal Church,” she wrote.

Bishop Jefferts Schori on Jan. 11 inhibited San Joaquin’s bishop, John-David Schofield, from continuing to serve after a review committee ruled he had abandoned the communion. His status in the Episcopal Church will be adjudicated by the house of bishops at their March meeting.

If a majority of bishops concur with the review committee’s findings, Bishop Jefferts Schori will depose Bishop Schofield and declare the episcopate of the San Joaquin diocese vacant.

The U.S. review committee also ruled that the bishop of Pittsburgh, Robert Duncan, had abandoned the communion of the church, but a move by Bishop Jefferts Schori to inhibit him was not supported by the three required senior bishops. She said his status would be reviewed by the house of bishops in the fall.

* In the Canadian diocese of Niagara, Bishop Michael Bird, who succeeded Bishop Ralph Spence on March 1, in a letter to clergy dated Feb. 7, noted that at least one parish (which he did not identify) has called a meeting “to consider leaving our diocesan family and the Anglican Church of Canada.” He said the bishop and the diocese “have a role to play in that debate and need to be represented” at any such meeting. He also said the possibility of separation “causes me immense sadness,” since the church has shown “that while we sometimes find ourselves disagreeing with each other, we have the capacity to remain one family in Christ.”

In December, the diocese filed legal notices of “unregistered interest” on the properties of six churches in order “to protect the property of the diocese,” said Bishop Spence in an interview. Robert Welch, chancellor (legal counsel) of the diocese, said the document “puts anybody who would look at the title on notice that some party claims an interest in that property.” Three of the churches are members of the Anglican Network in Canada, a group of 17 churches in five dioceses that are, according to the Web site, in “serious theological dispute with their bishop” and considering whether they can remain in the Canadian church.

* Conservative Anglicans, including active and former Canadian clergy, have scheduled a conference called Pacific Coast Anglican Awakening for March 2 in Richmond, B.C., featuring Bishop Bill Murdoch of the Anglican Province of Kenya. Bishop Murdoch is an Episcopal priest in Massachusetts who was consecrated a bishop in Uganda last year to minister to conservatives in the U.S.

With files from Episcopal News Service


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