From Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury on June 27, 2006 (The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today):
On the issue of practising gay bishops, there has been no such agreement, and it is not unreasonable to seek for a very much wider and deeper consensus before any change is in view, let alone foreclosing the debate by ordaining someone, whatever his personal merits, who was in a practising gay partnership.
But the decision of the Episcopal Church to elect a practicing gay man as a bishop was taken without even the American church itself (which has had quite a bit of discussion of the matter) having formally decided as a local Church what it thinks about blessing same-sex partnerships.
Some actions – and sacramental actions in particular – just do have the effect of putting a Church outside or even across the central stream of the life they have shared with other Churches. It isn’t a question of throwing people into outer darkness, but of recognising that actions have consequences – and that actions believed in good faith to be ‘prophetic’ in their radicalism are likely to have costly consequences.
General Convention Resolution B033:
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report’s invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it further
Resolved, that this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.
Newark (June 28): “We dare you.”
“The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark announces the candidates for the 10th Bishop of Newark as presented by the diocesan Search/Nominating Committee.”
The list includes The Very Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, Congregational Development Officer for the Diocese of California. Canon Barlowe is a prominent partnered gay man and will be a strong candidate. He knows New Jersey and Newark knows him. He served early in his vocation as Rector of Grace Church, Plainfield, New Jersey; and assistant at St. Paul’s, Westfield, New Jersey.
Realize that this decision to go forward was reviewed and confirmed after the close of General Convention. The leaders in Newark and Canon Barlowe had to give it a green light. Enough of them were present in Columbus for a quorum and a sit-down with Barlowe before everyone went home.
It is rich to remember Michael Barlowe operating in the Committee on Social and Urban Affairs and in the House of Deputies, knowing he was on the list. By the way, the Committee on Social and Urban Affairs sent forward most of the radical resolutions GC acted on.
This action by Newark is intended as much more than a testing of the waters after resolution B033. Michael Barlowe has already endured one election for Bishop (California/San Francisco) and would not allow himself to be used as window-dressing.
This is the real thing. Louie Crew, founder of Integrity and Co-chair of Newark’s nominating committee, made it to a microphone at General Convention (before debate was cut off by the majority) to oppose the final resolution calling for “restraint by not consecrating” bishops who might cause a “strain” on the Anglican Communion. Crew (and all militant gays) wanted no restrictions that even hinted that same-sex issues were in view.
This is set-up as Louie’s great last flourish. The other players in this drama also make pretty good theatre, if nothing else.
The announcement of the nominees was made by Kim Byham, President of the Standing Committee. Byham, who spoke to crucial resolutions at GC, is a partnered gay. He was part of the four-person Integrity presence at the Lambeth Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion in 1998.
The contact person for the Standing Committee in announcing the nominees is The Rev. Sandye Wilson. General Convention watchers will remember her as a member of the Special Legislative Committee that processed all the Windsor resolutions. Her Buddha-like silence in their sessions is fascinating to recall now. Of course the final B033 was crafted by the bishops on the committee. No Deputies are credited with joining in that resolution’s formation.
Since Ms. Wilson is the contact person, I contacted her by the email provided. I asked her:
Does Newark have a statement on how the nomination of Michael Barlowe relates to B033?
As a member of the Special Legislative Committee, do you have a position on this?
I’m sure she’s busy; she hasn’t responded yet.
Crew, Byham, Wilson, and Barlowe seem to be saying, “Let’s roll the dice and the Communion be damned.”
When I originally wrote (on May 9) about Newark’s nomination calendar, very few blogs had done anything with their plan to announce nominees for their next bishop days after General Convention. The timing was obviously spectacular, given the long lead-up in their nomination process. Ponder it on your own.
Then we had the additional spectacle of Louie Crew, Co-chair of the nominating committee interviewing candidates for Presiding Bishop for Witness magazine. Key questions for all include: “If a gay or lesbian person is elected on your watch, would you consent to the election?” and “If a gay or lesbian person is elected on your watch, would you be willing to serve as key consecrator?”
Our new Presiding Bishop-elect didn’t give him a big green light, but pledged to listen to the Holy Spirit. Jefferts Scori will be installed in time to consecrate the next bishop of Newark, so it is all very interesting. All the nominees for PB will vote on confirming the election.
One might call Dr. Crew’s journalistic effort “hedging your bets.” There is bound to be a better name for it, but I didn’t see better alternatives in the blogs.
The image came to mind of the youth chemistry set my parents once gave me. Surely such hazards are illegal now. Even without adding unauthorized reactants, I managed some pretty good eruptions.
The New York Times took early note of Newark (being across the river and all). Neela Banerjee concluded her report on the recent San Francisco bishop election by pointing readers’ interest to Newark:
In September, the Diocese of Newark will elect a new bishop. Candidates have not been announced, but given the traditions of the diocese, church experts said, one of the candidates could be openly gay or lesbian.
The media continues to get the issue wrong. The argument is about non-celibate gay candidates. An openly homosexual, but celibate person could be approved readily.
If Barlowe is not elected by the delegates to Newark’s special convention in September, what about the next diocese that does elect a non-celibate gay person? Attempts will certainly be made until it happens.
Stay tuned. It is not going to be boring.
Forgive my flippant words; but if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry as I watch The Episcopal Church, in which I am still a presbyter, sail away from the fleet, against the words of the Admiral. I’m eyeing the shore-launch, wondering if it has fuel.
P.S. Before anyone gets their shorts in a wad, I know that the Archbishop doesn’t have Admiral-like authority. But then, he isn’t a Seaman First Class either.
[Here is the timetable from the original post--with some amendments reflecting the General Convention's actions. Note especially the next regular Primates meeting!]
Newark’s timeline in relation to General Convention is fascinating:
-February through June, 2006-–Diocese of Newark screens candidates for next bishop.
-April 7–Report of the Special Commission (Episcopal Church) on The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Key sample: The theologically diverse commission who produced The Windsor Report (see para. 134), urged a moratorium on further elections and consecrations of gay bishops. The Commission recommends “very considerable caution in the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” A suggestion of “refrain from” [such consecrations] was turned down by the commission. It can be argued that “very considerable caution” is what all dioceses exercise now in the nomination and election of a bishop.
-June 13-21–General Convention–only under huge pressure from the Presiding Bishop and PB-elect adopts soft language calling for “restraint.”
-June 28–Newark to announce nominees for next bishop
-September (date??)–meeting of “global south” Primates of the Anglican Communion.
-September 23–Special convention to elect Bishop of Newark
-October & November–Consents process
-November 4–New Presiding Bishop installed
-December 1–Bishop-Elect of Newark in office
-January 2007–Consecration before the next regular meeting of the Primates in February.