Bishops’ Statement on Episcopal Polity

Some encouraging news from the world of the Episcopal Church.

Dr. Phil Turner, Dr. Ephraim Radner (member of the Covenant Design Group), and Dr. Christopher Seitz, along with about fifteen bishops in the Episcopal Church (including our own +Don Wimberly) have issued a statement which insists that the diocese (with its bishop and standing committee) is the “chief organ of unity” in the church. By “church” here the document intends the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, and the historic church catholic. This is the view, for example of St. Ignatius, who saw the unity of the church in the bishop, surrounded by the bishop’s presbyters. (One source on which the paper is based is a letter from ++Rowan, written several months ago.)

As I have written elsewhere, this view is utterly consistent not just with the proposed Covenant, but also with the Windsor Report itself (together with the documents and the ecclesiology on which it is based).

Why is this important? And why now?

Because one of the things which the Epicopal Church General Convention will be dealing with this summer (even if by way of avoidance of the issue) is the proposed Anglican Covenant. Many bishops and leaders in the church have already predicted a rejection of the covenant by the General Convention. The argument of this paper, though, is that if this happens, individual bishops / dioceses will have the right to voluntarily affirm the covenant to Canturbury and the rest of the Communion.

One interesting point made in the paper is that, since membership in the Anglican Communion appears in the Preamble to the Episcopal Church’s constitution, a breach of that membership (something which a rejection of the covenant could bring about) would amount to a nullification of the church’s constitution itself.

Please pray for the Church, pray “for the peace of Jerusalem.”

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I like this line of reasoning, and could be a way forward for those in ECUSA who cannot abid yet another step in the direction of not only disunity but lack of filial respect for authority within the body. For those dioceses, like yours, this makes perfect sense to affirm the historicity of the Bishop as the center, not the Presiding Bishop. (Whose latest statement on justification is that individual salvation has become a heresy).

Yes, Ray. I agree, and thanks for your post. All three of our bishops in the Diocese of Texas voted against the majority at General Convention. That is, their votes unanimously expressed the will of this diocese to abide by the Windsor request to abstain from gay ordination / consecration.

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