Anglican Perspectives

Diocese of Chicago: it’s deja vu all over again! (20 years later)

The following article is by Barbara Gauthier and is published with permission.

 

The headlines in the Anglican world revolve around first diocesan women bishops, promoting equal rights for women priests, a bishop proclaiming, “I believe that it is quite possible for a homosexual person not committed to celibacy to live a wholesome and profoundly Christian life,” public harassment of Christians with conservative views, a parish at odds with its bishop for theological reasons and choosing to walk away from the property, and conservative clergy being unilaterally deposed by a liberal bishop for “renunciation of orders.”

 

These headline stories were not taken from the most recent issues of The Church of England newspaper or Anglican Ink or Virtueonline: they appeared a little over twenty years ago in the November/December 1993 edition of Anglican Advance, the official news publication of the Diocese of Chicago.  What is happening now in the Church of England and what happened in 2003 at TEC’s General Convention was already well established twenty years ago in the most liberal dioceses of the Episcopal Church, and most notably in the Diocese of Chicago.

 

Whatever is covered up will be uncovered, and every secret will be made known. So then, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in broad daylight, and whatever you have whispered in private in a closed room will be shouted from the housetops. (Luke 12:2-3)

 

This is an apt description of what went on in the Diocese of Chicago in the thirty years prior to the 2003 consecration of Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion.   During his twenty-five year tenure as Bishop of Chicago (1971-1987), the Rt. Rev. James Montgomery secretly encouraged many closeted gay clergy to come to Chicago, where they could be ordained and licensed with no questions asked.  Later, in November 1974, Louie Crew and two other gay men from Chicago founded Integrity, a pro-gay activist group that began working immediately for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church.  The movement spread rapidly from its Chicago epicenter:

 

Within a month, the first chapter of Integrity had been convened by Jim Wickliff in Chicago, and after only ten months that chapter hosted the first national convention at the Cathedral Church of St. James (Chicago). The Rt. Rev. Quintin E. Primo, Suffragan Bishop of Chicago was the chief celebrant at the main Mass and the Rev. Dr. Norman Pittenger, Cambridge theologian, long-time faculty member at General Theological Seminary, and author of almost countless books on theology and on sexuality, was the principal speaker. The Editor of The Living Church, the Rev. Dr. Carroll Simcox, headlined his report of that occasion: “WE WELCOME A ‘COMING OUT’.”

 

Immediately after the convention in Chicago, new chapters of Integrity sprang up and began to flourish all over the United States. Co-President Jim Wickliff and Editor Louie Crew called the first meetings of chapters in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York City on their way to meet in September 1975 with the Presiding Bishop. Shortly thereafter, the House of Bishops, meeting in Maine, charged the Joint Commission on the Church and Human Affairs, chaired by Bishop Murray of the Central Gulf Coast, to study the gay issue and make recommendations to the General Convention in Minneapolis. In January 1976, Canon Clinton Jones of the Hartford Cathedral and the Rev. Robert Herrick, now on the staff of the National Gay Task Force, joined Crew and Wickliff as Integrity witnesses before that Commission and encouraged the drafting of supportive resolutions to be submitted to General Convention.

 

Bp. Montgomery was succeeded in 1987 by Bp. Frank Griswold, who continued +Montgomery’s policy of welcoming and ordaining actively homosexual clergy in the Diocese of Chicago.  The new Bishop of Chicago also initiated other changes, such as establishing a tacit open communion policy at St. James Cathedral, allowing all present to receive communion whether or not they were baptized Christians.  At the same time a small parish in West Chicago, Church of the Resurrection, began a healing service on Wednesday evenings which included ministry to persons beset by sexual brokenness, including those experiencing unwanted same sex attraction.

 

By 1993 it became clear that +Griswold and Church of the Resurrection were at odds. The bishop stated that he believed it “quite possible for a homosexual person not committed to celibacy to live a wholesome and profoundly Christian life.”  The Resurrection clergy and vestry held fast to the Biblical teaching on sexual morality and through their ministry people experiencing same-sex attraction began to receive profound healing and restoration to wholeness.  Things came to a head when a young man from Resurrection entered the diocesan discernment process for holy orders and was informed by +Griswold that he need not remain celibate as ordained clergy if he found himself attracted to other men.  Ongoing conversations between +Griswold and the Resurrection’s clergy revealed that the differences between them were irreconcilable and that the bishop was actively undermining Resurrection’s Scriptural teaching and ministry.  On October 30 Resurrection’s vestry voted unanimously to disassociate from the Diocese of Chicago.  Bp. Griswold then unilaterally deposed Resurrection’s clergy for “renunciation of orders” and the congregation decided to walk away from its property rather than fight the diocese.

 

Below you will find selected articles from that Nov-Dec 1993 diocesan newspaper revealing the fact that what ++Stanley Ntagali called “a spiritual cancer” in August 2013 had already been well-established in the Diocese of Chicago and other liberal TEC parishes some twenty years earlier.

 

I have also provided current updates for each one of the articles.  What was limited to a few dioceses two decades ago has now become commonplace in the United States, Canada and now England.

 

Sexuality Survey Paints Progressive Picture

 

The results are in from the sexuality surveys filled out by congregations last winter as part of the church-wide dialogue on human sexuality.  The 32-question survey,answered by 306 respondents from 16 churches, focused on attitudes towards issues like sexual abuse, homosexuality, sex outside of marriage and gender roles.

 

The most common topic cited for the discussion groups was the Biblical understanding of sexuality addressed by 84 percent of the groups; least common was sexuality’s biological aspects.  Not surprisingly, the scriptural slant on sex was rated as the area that produced the greatest insights (a 51 percent rating); the least: bisexuality which garnered only a 6 percent share.

 

Asked their familiarity with people’s marital status and sexual orientation, all said they knew of someone who was married, 76 percent said they had friends or family who were gay and 48 percent said they were on a first name basis with women who were lesbians. Despite their unenlightenment on bisexuality, 35 percent said they knew someone who was bisexual.  Fewer, just 5 percent admitted to knowing anyone who was a cross-dresser.  More respondents (46 percent) said they had friends or relatives who had been sexually abused than those who said they had family or friends with HIV/AIDS (40 percent).

 

Sexual activity outside of marriage does not necessarily disqualify someone from being a faithful Christian, according to 49 percent of respondents.  Nor does sexual activity on the part of gays and lesbians interfere with their Christian vocation said 69 percent of respondents.

 

The strongest affirmation (71 percent) went to the statement that “human sexuality is a gift from God and is good,” which was also the only statement not receiving dissenting votes.  The runner-up, at 62 percent, was the statement declaring men and women to be equals in the church (2 percent disagreed and 1 percent strongly disagreed).

 

Generating the most even distribution of responses was the statement that “single people should abstain form genital sexual relations” — those agreeing and disagreeing ran nose to nose at 35 percent, while those strongly agreeing or disagreeing came in at 12 and 11 percent respectively (6 percent couldn’t decide.

 

The survey results were sent this past May to a Province V task force which fed them in with the results from the other Province V dioceses and then in turn submitted a report to the house of Bishops committee that is responsible for drafting a pastoral letter on human sexuality.  The bishops committee chaired by New York’s Bishop Richard Grein, is expected to have a final draft prepared for the House of Bishops’ next meeting March 9-13.

 

UPDATE: These survey results, which give the impression that the Diocese of Chicago was strongly in favor of a progressive attitude towards sexuality, came from a very limited sample group:  16 out of 124 parishes (13%) and 309 respondents out of some 44,000 members (fewer than 1% completing the survey).  The results were in no way representative of the vast majority of diocesan laity.

 

Four years later, after +Griswold was elected as Presiding Bishop, all congregants in all parishes were surveyed on what qualities the people of the Diocese of Chicago would like to see in their new bishop.  One of the survey questions ran something along the lines of “The bishop should work for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church.”   87% of respondents marked “disagree” or “strongly disagree” with that statement with only about 5% indicating “agree” or “strongly agree.”   The result?   All four candidates selected by the search committee said that they would actively support the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in all aspects of church and society.  One wonders why the Diocese of Chicago even bothered having a survey at all.

 

First Openly Gay Bishop

 

The issue of gay rights in the church took on a new dimension this fall when Bishop Otis Charles, former bishop of Utah and recently retired dean of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., informed his fellow Episcopal bishops that he is gay.

 

In a letter sent prior to the house of Bishops’ Panama meeting, Charles told the bishops that he had hoped to keep the information “personal and private” but that his respect to the house and his own sense of integrity demanded he be open and honest.

 

“I have promised myself that I will not remain silent, invisible, unknown.  After all is said and done, the choice for me is not whether or not I am a gay man, but whether or not I am honest about who I am with myself and others,” wrote Charles.

 

UPDATE: +Charles married his partner of two years on September 29, 2008 in an Episcopal Church ceremony at St. Gregory of Nyssa Church in San Francisco. Before divorcing his wife in 1993, Bishop Charles had been married for 42 years and was the father of five children. His partner had previously been married and divorced four times.  Charles’ partner, Felipe Sanchez-Paris, died of AIDS on July 30, 2013.  +Otis Charles passed away on December 26, 2013.

 

Letters to the Editor

 

I have to disagree with three of Bishop Griswold’s arguments in his column in the July/August issue.  First, if I read him correctly, he says Jesus’ teaching on celibacy (Mt. 19:8-12) draws a distinction between unmarried people who can — and should — accept celibacy, and unmarried people who can’t — and needn’t — thereby allowing for exceptions to the celibate norm among unmarried people.  I disagree.

 

Jesus is distinguishing between those who feel marriage is best, even given the New Testament restrictions, and those who feel it’s better to remain celibate.  Celibacy is given for them due to impediments to marriage they were born with or developed as a result of environmental influences, or due to a personal choice of renunciation.

 

Second, that God often heals and blesses remarriages where adultery was not an issue in the divorce does not indicate God’s approval or disapproval of any such divorce/remarriage.  Where sin was involved, perhaps it has been repented of and forgiven.  Or perhaps God blesses beforehand by showing his mercy and forbearance.  Let’s mistake neither for his approval of an action.

 

Finally, the church cannot “go beyond Scripture and tradition” to permit “other forms of sexual expression” on the basis of having gone beyond in permitting non-adulterous divorce/remarriages for the following reasons:  1) Divorce/remarriage are not analogous to a non-married, sexually active lifestyle.  They are acts, not lifestyles and not meant to be habitual.  2) There are biblical grounds and guidelines for legitimating divorce/remarriage.  They help us preserve and regain moral integrity amid he brokenness of a failed covenant. There are no such grounds or guidelines for legitimating non-marital “forms of sexual expression.”  3) The scriptural grounds and guidelines are already wider than adultery.  They are porneia, which includes all sexual sin and desertion.

 

No, the church’s historic, corporate teaching stands.  And that is what the controversy is all about.  Revisionists seek through strategies of noncompliance and political engagement to radically alter the official teaching and practice of the church.

 

If, as Bishop Griswold suggests, this “preoccupation with sexuality is the work of the Evil One,” then it is here in the battle to capture the mind and voice of the church that the work has begun.

 

Karen Winterburn
St. David’s, Glenview

 

Editor (David Skidmore): Thank you for the adept and articulate, if not fully convincing, argument.  Scripture and tradition may be sufficient fare for malnourished fundamentalists, but for Anglicans the meal really isn’t complete without the rich dessert of reason, and a bracing cup of experience.  Faith comes alive when it is tested in the mind and lived in the world.  And as with some dining and traveling experiences, the greatest truths are sometimes realized when we deviate form the itinerary or alter the menu.

 

UPDATEPublic derision of Episcopalians with conservative views has become commonplace.

 

Decision Is a Rebuff of Anglican Tradition of Tolerance — David Skidmore

 

Doctrinal tolerance has been a long-honored trademark of the Anglican ethos, and one that has given the Anglican Communion, particularly the Episcopal Church, the reputation of a religious commonwealth where all Christians can be accommodated.

 

That reputation has been put to the test this fall in the Diocese of Chicago with the decision of the Church of the Resurrection’s vestry and its clergy, the Revs. William and Anne Beasley, to withdraw from the diocese.  In their argument, both the vestry and the Beasleys cite alleged violations of scriptural principles by the diocese and its bishop the Rt. Rev. Frank Griswold, particularly with regard to the ordination and participation of homosexuals in the church.  Their charges are based on a selective reading of scriptural decrees, and an interpretation of Scripture that invites being labeled narrow and absolute.

 

In their letter announcing their decision, the Beasleys charged the diocese with reducing the “absolute and authoritative truth” of Scripture to an advisory role in order to sanction the ordination of homosexual priests “in clear contradiction of both the Old and New Testaments.”

 

Responding to these claims, Bishop Griswold in an interview Nov. 9 said that while the Episcopal Church subscribes to the view that the Scriptures are sufficient for salvation “that does not mean that all matters of faith and morals are directly discerned by application of Holy Scripture.” The same book that inveighs against murder, robbery and slander — practices outlawed in contemporary society — also tolerates slavery, condones the disenfranchisement of women and prohibits remarriage after divorce unless adultery is involved, pointed out the bishop.

 

Scripture’s salvation role is achieved through its testimony to “the living reality of God as experienced in the lives of men and women across the centuries,” not through its application as a morality manual, he said.  “In essence, I don’t believe that using Scripture as a proof text is at all an Anglican view of Scripture.”

 

The most troubling aspect of the action of the Beasleys and their vestry, he said, is their rejection of diocesan fellowship and of the validity of the participation of homosexual Christians. “I am saddened by the fact that it is impossible for them to recognize the grace and beauty in the lives of homosexual persons who prayerfully and thoughtfully do not perceive that God is calling them to  a life of celibacy.”

 

Griswold admitted that he is willing to ordain practicing homosexuals, as claimed by the Beasleys and their vestry, but only under appropriate conditions.  Instead of dwelling on sexual orientation as a decisive factor in judging one’s suitability for ordination, he said, it would be better to focus on the rightness of the applicant’s conduct. “One always looks for wholesomeness of life in candidates for ordination be they heterosexual or homosexual,” he said.  “I believe that it is quite possible for a homosexual person not committed to celibacy to live a wholesome and profoundly Christian life.”

 

Homosexuals have been covertly ordained and sustained in ministry for centuries, he pointed out, and the church in turn has benefited from their gifts. Those who choose to be honest in acknowledging they aren’t called to celibacy, he said, should not be punished for telling the truth “when someone else can keep the same reality a secret and move easily though the process.”

 

What also must be remembered, he said, is that the process of ordination is not driven or decided solely by the diocesan bishop.  It is a community affair that begins with an individual’s discernment which is then affirmed through his or her congregation and clergy and ultimately by the Commission on Ministry and the bishop.  While it is the bishop who confers holy orders, he said, it is the community that certifies it as a rightful act.

 

As General Convention resolutions stating the ordination of practicing homosexuals to be “inappropriate,” they should be seen as a recommendation and not necessarily a firm rule, said Griswold, a view backed up by diocesan chancellor Peter Rossiter.  In a July 1990 memo to diocesan communications director the Rev. Canon Carl Gerdau, Rossiter interpreted the language of the 1979 General Convention resolution — the first to address homosexuality — as non-binding.  Wrote Rossiter: “The resolution only recommends that they consider the belief of the convention that it is ‘not appropriate’ to ordain practicing homosexuals.  Stronger words could easily have been used, and surely would have been used if the resolution were intended as a directive or prohibition.”

 

This was the view taken by the bishop and standing committee of his previous diocese, Pennsylvania, said Griswold, and it is the understanding he brought with him  to Chicago.  At the same time, this validation should not be construed as carte blanche on sexual conduct.  When candidates disclose matters relating to their sexuality, whether they be heterosexual or homosexual, he makes it very clear, he said, “that I expect that sexuality to be lived under the aegis of the Gospel.”

 

UPDATE:  In 1994, Bishop Frank Griswold was one of 75 episcopal signatories of Bp. Jack Spong’s “Koinonia Statement,” which asserted that “those who know themselves to be gay or lesbian persons, and who do not choose to live alone, but forge relationships with partners of their choice that are faithful, monogamous, committed, life giving and holy are to be honored.” The statement also supported the ordination of active homosexuals, “both those who are single and those living with partners.”  In July 1997, +Griswold was elected to a nine-year term as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and served as the chief consecrator of Gene Robinson, an openly gay man living in a partnered relationship, in November 2003.  (You can find these dates and many others (1949-2007) in this very handy timeline compiled by Forward in Faith).  

 

 

West Chicago Parish Pulls Out of Diocese — David Skidmore

 

The vestry and clergy of a West Chicago parish have decided to leave the diocese because of theological differences with its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Frank Griswold, regarding the ordination of gays and lesbians.

 

At a meeting Nov. 4 with Bishop Griswold, the Rev. William Beasley, rector of the Church of the Resurrection and his wife Anne, the parish’s deacon assistant, asked to be released from their ordination vows as they could “no longer in good conscience” be in communion with the bishop as the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese.  Their request, made in a three-page letter to the bishop, focused on Bishop Griswold’s sympathetic views towards the participation of homosexuals, both lay and ordained, in the life and ministry of the diocese.

 

In their letter, the Beasleys said they were disassociating themselves from the diocese because its current philosophy and practice constitute an abandonment of the historic and apostolic faith.  They charged the diocese with reducing Biblical authority to an advisory status in order “to sanction the ordination and sustaining in ministry of priests who practice homosexuality.”

 

A separate letter presented by the Beasleys from their vestry reiterated the Beasleys’ stance.  The letter, signed on behalf of the vestry by senior warden Dan Easley, announced the vestry’s intention to disassociate themselves  from the diocese effective Nov. 30.  The decision, reached in a unanimous vote by the vestry Oct. 30, was prompted by what the vestry described as “this diocese’s abandonment of Scripture” as the arbiter of church doctrine.  The bishop’s tolerance of non-celibate homosexuals in the ordained ministry, they charged, is but one example of this move away from the primacy of biblical tradition.

 

Bishop Griswold intends to grant the Beasleys’ request for a renunciation of vows thorough an official pronouncement before Nov. 30.   In accordance with the canons, the pronouncement will make clear their renunciation is voluntary and not initiated by moral shortcomings.  The bishop has informed the Standing Committee of the action and will be notifying the general diocesan membership later this month.

 

The parish learned of the Beasleys’ decision and the vestry action Sunday Nov. 7.  At that meeting and another Nov. 11 members were able to express concerns over the decision and discuss their future.  In a letter read at the Nov. 7 services and subsequent parish meetings, Bishop Griswold said that he was “deeply saddened”  by the action taken by the Beasleys and the vestry “particularly at a time when it is important for all voices to be represented at the table as we seek to come closer to a common mind about God’s gift of sexuality and its appropriate expressions within the Christian community.” Griswold went on to say that he would provide pastoral care to all parties “in ways that honor the consciences of those who wish to leave the Episcopal Church and those who wish to remain within it.”

 

In an interview Nov. 9, Bishop Griswold discussed the decision by the Beasleys and their vestry, and his views and policy toward the role of homosexuals in the church.  Despite the uncompromising stance adopted by Resurrection’s vestry and the Beasleys, Griswold said he still believes “that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”  God brings us together to sit at one table and work out our differences, he said, and, if that proves impossible, God invites us to continue in fellowship respectfully acknowledging the disagreements.

 

On whether it is appropriate to ordain practicing homosexuals, Bishop Griswold said it comes down to character and conduct of the individual candidates.  “One always looks for wholesomeness of life in candidates for ordination,” he said, “be they heterosexual or homosexual.”  And celibacy is not necessarily a guaranty of such virtue.  Non-celibate homosexuals can potentially “live wholesome and profoundly Christian lives,” he said.

 

The Rev. William Beasley, in a telephone interview with Anglican Advance Nov. 11, maintained that he and his wife’s break with the diocese “was not a rash decision.”  They, together with their vestry, met with the bishop twice this year, in January and July, to resolve their differences, but at the July meeting it became “very clear that we were at two different places,” said Beasley.  Despite a deep personal regard for the bishop — in their letter the Beasleys mentioned returning to Chicago from seminary in the same year Griswold was elected and acknowledged the support they had received from the bishop — they felt they had to act out of conscience, he said. Their action has nothing to do with a personal vendetta.  It’s about repentance, he said, “the repentance of what we’re doing in the diocese.”

 

It may also be about a compulsion.  Ever since the Beasleys’ call to Resurrection in 1987, the congregation has put its energy into a ministry of “healing” homosexuals.  This crusade, admits Beasley, is “part of the fabric of the church.”  In their eyes, homosexuality is sinful and by condoning it the diocese has become stained by sin.  It is also, according to Beasley, not an irrevocable action.

 

Their requests to be released from “ecclesiastical association” with the diocese does not in their eyes amount to a full renunciation of vows as provided under Title IV, Canon 8 of the national canons.  They are only renouncing their vows to the bishop as the diocese’s ecclesiastical authority, he said. ‘We will not renounce the vows we made to God on behalf of serving his people,” he said.  “That is not negotiable.”

 

But such a stand does not appear negotiable under the Episcopal Church’s constitution and canons.   While granting that orders are indelible and that there would be no need to reordain the Beasleys if they chose to return to communion with the Episcopal Church, Griswold said the canons don’t provide for a selective renunciation of Episcopal ministry.  By taking this action they are in fact renouncing their association with the Church, not with just his office.

 

As the Beasleys see it, they are still Anglicans even though their formal association with the Episcopal Church has ended. That is why they and their vestry have chosen not to align themselves with other denominations, such as the Episcopal Missionary Church formed a year ago by former Episcopal Bishop (retired) Donald Davies, or found a new one, said Beasley. “We consider ourselves part of the Episcopal family.  We’re hoping for a full restoration some day.  That’s our hope.”

 

In the meantime, the vestry will register itself as an independent church with the Illinois secretary of state and the attorney general’s office, and in early December arrange for the Beasleys to reaffirm their vows as priest and deacon with the assistance of church members who have been ordained in other denominations.

 

Though the vestry voted unanimously to leave the diocese, it appears some members are reluctant to take that step.  Vestry spokesman Kevin Miller admitted that one vestry member, unable to attend the Oct. 30 meeting, was opposed to disassociation.  Even Beasley, while reluctant to quote numbers, concedes that the congregation is not of one mind on seceding from the diocese.  Said Beasley, “there’s been varying reactions and that’s understandable.”  The disagreement does not revolve around theological views — on that they are in accord — but how those views are lived out.  While there are “definitely differing perspectives,”  Beasley stressed the congregation is “unified in spirit.”…

 

Though no formal vote was taken on whether to continue in communion with the diocese, said Beasley, the attitudes shared led the vestry to believe that separation “was the right course of action and right for the congregation.”

 

Whether is will be right over the long haul is less certain.  By pulling out of the diocese, the vestry and aligned members will likely forfeit the church property. Under the quit claim deed between Resurrection’s rector and vestry and the diocese, the property can be used and conveyed only in accordance with the church’s national canons, which, given the Beasleys’ and their vestry’s act of disassociation, appears to rule out the possibility of a court siding with the vestry — assuming there was a move to dispute the canonical act of renunciation of vows.

 

Any decision on allowing the breakaway congregation to still use the West Chicago church will depend on the needs and wishes of the members choosing to stay with the diocese.  Up to 20 people, most of them longstanding members of Resurrection and attend the 8 am service, have shown an interest in remaining as an Episcopal congregation.  On Nov. 18 Bishop Griswold met with them to discuss whether they wanted to continue as a parish or merge with a congregation.  Most were still in shock or grief, he said, and unprepared to reach a final decision.  At a subsequent meeting two days later, the continuing members decided to continue operating as a parish until January when they would reassess their situation.

 

UPDATE: Much has happened in the past twenty years and the story is in many ways emblematic of the creation of the Anglican Church in North America. 

 

“As the Beasleys see it, they are still Anglicans even though their formal association with the Episcopal Church has ended.”


After Resurrection disassociated from the Episcopal Church, the Beasleys began networking with other Anglicans.  In 1997, Rev. William Beasley and Rev. John Rodgers formed the Association of Anglican Congregations on Mission (AACOM), which merged a couple of years later with Rev. Chuck Murphy’s First Promise movement to create the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA).  Beasley, Rodgers and Murphy gained the primatial support of ++Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda) and ++Moses Tay (Southeast Asia) and Rodgers and Murphy were consecrated in January 2000 as missionary bishops to America. 

 

 

The Beasleys left Resurrection in 1998 to plant an Anglican church on the North Shore of Chicago, and Redeemer Anglican quickly expanded to include a Spanish congregation and a congregation on the Northwestern University Campus.  These three congregations formed a single parish known as the Redeemer Family of churches, based on the east African model of a single parish comprised of multiple congregations.  In 2001, Beasley took this African model of multiplying churches and developed Greenhouse Regional Church Movement, which has become one of the main church-planting arms of the ACNA.


“The vestry will register itself as an independent church with the Illinois secretary of state and the attorney general’s office.”

 

Upon leaving the Diocese of Chicago, the vestry registered the congregation as an independent church known as the Church of the Resurrection of Illinois. After seven years of being without a bishop, Resurrection became a founding member of AMiA in 2000 and transferred to the ACNA in 2012.  In May 2013 Resurrection became the pro-cathedral for the Diocese of the Upper Midwest. Of the 31 parishes in the new diocese 25 are direct descendants of Resurrection, planted by former Resurrection members during the past fifteen years in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota (some of them third and even fourth-generation churches).  There are currently six more congregations in formation.

 

Stewart Ruch III was a young parishioner at Resurrection when it left the Diocese of Chicago and joined the staff of Resurrection several years later.  When the Beasleys departed to plant a church in Glenview, the newly ordained Ruch took over as the rector of Resurrection and has been at the helm of Resurrection for the past fifteen years.  On September 28, 2013, Ruch was consecrated as the first bishop of the ACNA Diocese of the Upper Midwest.  Two weeks later he attended GAFCON 2 as the newest of the 330 Anglican bishops there.

 

Dan Easley is currently serving a term as junior warden and has provided steady lay leadership for over two decades.

 

Kevin Miller was ordained in 2006 and serves as the Associate Rector of Resurrection in charge of Adult Formation.


The vestry and aligned members will likely forfeit the church property.”

Resurrection did indeed forfeit the property and was a mobile church for twenty years, most of it spent in the auditorium of Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn.  In November 2011, the church purchased an abandoned manufacturing warehouse in downtown Wheaton and moved into the refurbished 96,000 square ft building a year later.  Resurrection now serves as the pro-cathedral for the new Diocese of the Upper Midwest and is well-equipped to host large conferences, such as Anglican 1000 in March 2013 and Caminemos Juntos in August 2014.  Since moving into the new building average Sunday attendance has grown to well over 1000.

 

The congregation has put its energy into a ministry of ‘healing’ homosexuals.
Resurrection has maintained its ministry of healing for those with sexual brokenness and has now expanded its healing ministry to include other types of relational and personal brokenness. In addition to its annual healing conference, the church also provides mid-week teachings, group meetings and individual prayer appointments.

 

Shortly after the parish left the diocese in 1993, Mario Bergner came to Resurrection because of its healing ministry.  He had received healing through Leanne Payne’s Pastoral Care Ministries and with her developed his Redeemed Lives ministry while at Resurrection.  Bergner was ordained to the priesthood in 2001 by Bp.Keith Ackerman of Quincy and continued to serve at Resurrection until 2005 when he and his family moved to Massachusetts. In this article for Zaccheus Fellowship (2005), Bergner describes how his Redeemed Lives ministry experienced the same difficulties with the Diocese of Chicago that Resurrection had faced some ten years earlier:


I live near a city of seven million people. With homosexuals accounting for three percent of the American population, the Episcopal Church offers little to Chicago’s gay population, which numbers 210,000 souls. The spiritual poverty of the Episcopal Church (especially here in Chicago) is such that a self-identified homosexual entering one of our churches is likely to find an affirmation of their same-sex attractions by one of our many openly gay priests. I can say with certainty that Redeemed Lives is rarely, if ever, offered as a possible course of pastoral care.

 

Alongside my priesthood, I teach at a secular university. One of my students asked me about a Christian who scours Boystown, one of Chicago’s gay neighborhoods, shouting condemnation through a megaphone. I told her, “He’s wacko and doesn’t speak for all Christians.” She inquired, “What do you think about gays?” I replied, “Jesus hangs out with sinners until they find transformation.”

 

The Church of the Resurrection’s vision statement is to be a “sanctuary of transformation” for “the lost and the least” and its healing and compassion ministries are a vital part of that vision.

 

The continuing members decided to continue operating as a parish until January when they would reassess their situation.” The entire congregation of Resurrection in 1993 were of one accord theologically, both those who left and those who stayed.   The only difference of opinion was whether to leave the diocese or to stay and fight the growing apostasy from within.

 

Fewer than a dozen members eventually chose to remain with diocese.  In 1994 they called the Rev. George Koch as their pastor and he continued to actively promote the conservative position within the diocese.  He organized clergy gatherings for those on the more orthodox end of the spectrum and was a key member in formation of the American Anglican Council in 1996.

 

Over the next ten years, Church of the Resurrection grew from that initial handful to well over 120 members, but by the mid-2000’s it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain even a small orthodox presence within the Diocese of Chicago.  In September 2007, Koch and the congregation of Resurrection pulled out of the diocese and walked away from the the property.  This time no one was left to continue with the diocese so the church was officially closed.  Koch and his congregation reorganized as Resurrection Anglican Church, initially under Ugandan oversight and now part of the ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh.



The Church of the Resurrection property in West Chicago is still for sale more than six years later. 

 

 

Episcopal Church’s First Female Diocesan Bishop Is Consecrated in Vermont — Jim Solheim

 

Not even a blinding snowstorm dampened the spirits of Episcopalians in Vermont as they gathered at a downtown theater in Burlington on All Saints Day to make history by consecrating the first woman diocesan bishop in the Episcopal Church.

 

The Rev. Mary Adelia McLeod, a 55-year-old grandmother who was ordained in 1980, was serving as archdeacon and co-rector with her husband in the Diocese of West Virginia when she was elected in June to head the 50-parish diocese. The Episcopal church’s two other women bishops — Barbara Harris of Massachusetts and Jane Dixon of Washington — participated in the exuberant consecration service.

 

When Presiding Bishop Edmond. L. Browning asked “if any of you know of any reason why we should not proceed,”  Jane Shipman of Boston, representing the Episcopal Synod in America, stepped forward to read a long protest.  Shipman said that the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate “is contrary to Holy Scripture and tradition of the Episcopal Church.”  She then traced the role of women in the Bible and concluded by asserting that “the present ungodly rage of feminism has swept aside the biblical, historical and theological issues of headship and obedience for the language of equal rights, self-fulfillment, empowerment, the jargon of the secular world, as if this were a job, not a calling… If you ordain this woman, you will have to answer before the throne of God.”

 

The people of Vermont seemed prepared to do that because, when the presiding bishop asked, “Is it your will that we ordain Mary Adelia a bishop?” the auditorium erupted. “That is our will,” followed by sustained applause and cheers.

 

Bishop Barbara Harris tapped into the mood when she began her sermon with a ringing declaration: “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  The congregation burst into applause and repeated the refrain.

 

“How blessed you are, my sister, to begin your episcopate on this particular day in the church year, a day on which we intentionally link all the saints on earth to the apostles, prophets, martyrs, teachers, servants and saints of God who have gone before,” said Harris.  It is a “heavy burden” to be a bishop because it means “being called to sing the Lord’s song in a strange land.”

 

“To live in a strange land is to live in a period of transition, characterized by the death throes of a passing page and the birth pangs of a new era,” Harris continued.

 

Harris said that in seeking truth the church and society are infected by “arrogant dogmatism and hopeless cynicism,” both of which “ignore or overlook the fact that Jesus said, ‘I am the truth’.”  And the truth of Jesus “breaks down the walls and barriers behind which we hide from each other” and “brings life and hope and promise and a future to people’s lives,” Harris said.

 

The truth is not an argument or a debate or a doctrine, but a person,”Jesus of Nazareth, born of our sister Mary by the power of the spirit of the living God… to announce that the purposes of God in this world are fulfilled in his person because he is, in himself, the truth,” Harris said in a booming voice that filled the Flynn Theater.  “Truth is for doing — that is the ministry to which you are called, Mary Adelia, and all of us are called.”

 

Asking the bishop-elect to step forward, Harris said that she had “no words of wisdom or sage advice’ but shared words that challenged her at her own consecration as the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion:  “The power behind you is greater than the task ahead of you.”

 

After the traditional examination by the consecrating bishops, McLeod knelt before the presiding bishop and was enveloped by the 21 other bishops for the laying on of hands, a symbol that the new bishop joined the succession of bishops throughout the ages.  Then she was vested and received gifts and symbols of her office — and was presented to the people who had elected her.

 

In a news conference McLeod was pressed by questions about how her gender would affect her ministry. “I really just bring myself, warts and all,” she said with a smile.  “I think people are ready to accept me for who I am… We all bring our particular gifts to what we do.  I certainly bring the gift of being a mother — one who listens, binds up wounds, holds a hand while someone talks about their pains.’ And yes, her election is a message and a “sign of hope” to women in the church, she said.

 

Mcleod said the diocese was “courageous” in its search for a new bishop and in its decision that it found a woman at “the right time, the right place, and with the right gifts.”  Adopting a drawl that betrayed her roots in Alabama, she said that the people of Vermont may have been less surprised by her gender than they were by the fact that she was a Southerner.

 

UPDATE:  There are now 19 women bishops in the Episcopal Church, including Katharine Jefferts Schori, the current Presiding Bishop of TEC.  In 1989 the Episcopal Church consecrated Barbara Harris as the Anglican Communion’s first woman bishop.  The province of New Zealand consecrated its first woman bishop in 1990, the Anglican Church of Canada in 1993, and the provinces of Australia, Southern Africa, Wales, Ireland and Southern India in 2013.

 

More Freedom Needed In Calling Women Priests — David Skidmore

 

Chicago may not be in the forefront when it comes to appointing women as rectors but that did not keep the Standing Committee from sponsoring a resolution recommending changes to the national canons that make it easier for parishes to choose women priests.

 

Passed overwhelmingly by convention, the resolution proposes changes to Title III canons on ministry to give parishes more leeway in calling rectors and inviting priests to officiate at services, and clergy more freedom in transferring into dioceses.  The goal, as outlined in an accompanying statement from the committee, is to prevent a bishop or ecclesiastical authority in a diocese from using a priest’s gender as a condition for denying licensing of clergy or their calling to a parish.  The canons that would be affected are canons III.14, III.16 and III.17.

 

In arguing against the measure, the Very Rev. James Steele, dean of the Kankakee Deanery, said that the language of the 1976 General Convention resolution enabling women’s ordination was intended to be permissive, rather than coercive.  To now alter that language, which was aimed at dioceses, not congregations, to limit the discretion of a bishop or standing committee, he said, is counter to the mind of the ’76 General Convention.

 

“At the time we were given the advice of Gamaliel:  If this be of God it will succeed, and if it isn’t it won’t.  Well, in most places it has succeeded, but in a very small number of dioceses it has not.”  said Steele.  “But I think the advice of Gamaliel is still operative and that the way that laws of the church have been stated is that it is their prerogative to determine their own future in this matter.”

 

Among those speaking for the resolution was the Rev. Canon Janet Campbell of the Cathedral of St. James who noted that the matter of holy orders’ validity would be moot “if there still weren’t church-wide discrimination against women, lay and ordained.”  This discrimination, said Campbell, is both subtle and blatant, unintentional and deliberate. “It’s  habitual. It is unconscious.  It runs deep.  It is stubborn.  It’s hard to change.”

 

Ordained women, she said, “know how it feels to have someone refuse communion from us.  We know how it feels to be lost in a sacristy full of brother clergy while preparing for a liturgy.  We know how it feels to be the last to be employed, if we find employment when we graduate from seminary.”

 

Also speaking for the resolution was the Rev. Joy Rogers, assistant at St. Luke’s, Evanston, who pointed out that the church in 1976 committed itself to fully incorporating women clergy in the life of the church. “We ourselves are signs that the mind of the church has been expressed in General Convention [and] that like creation itself, this church has chosen to order its ministry as male and female in the image of God,” said Rogers.

 

The resolution, she added, is sensitive to both positions, those in favor and opposed to women priests, and respects the actions and convictions of the church as a whole. “No one knows better than women clergy that the newness that we are has not been universally celebrated or affirmed, but we are doing ministry across the life of the American church and more and more throughout the communion.”

 

UPDATE:  In 1997 General Convention rescinded the 1976 conscience clause guaranteeing canonical protection for opponents of women’s ordination, making support for women’s ordination a mandatory condition for episcopal consecration, priestly ordination and even serving on vestry.  The standing joke was that the only real article of faith required of Episcopalians was a belief in the validity of women in holy orders. Everything else — the Trinity, the Virgin birth, the Resurrection, even the existence of God — was optional.

 

British Parliament Agrees to Women Priests — James Rosenthal

 

With no more hurdles before them, women will likely be ordained in the Church of England by early next spring — perhaps in time for Easter.  In separate votes, both houses of the British Parliament have given overwhelming approval to the legislation permitting the ordination of women priests that was passed by the Church of England’s General Synod on Nov. 11, 1992.  Following often heated and bitterly contested proceedings, the House of Commons voted 215 to 21 on Oct. 29 to accept the legislation.  Just four days later, a favorable vote of 135 to 25 in the House of Lords settled the fate of the legislation.

 

In presenting the measure to the House of Lords, Archbishop George Carey referred to the legislation as “one of the most significant pieces of church legislation ever to be presented to the house.”  As leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Carey also paid tribute to the positive experience with women priests in other provinces of the Communion, noting that there were more than 1,000 Anglican women priests around the world.

 

In reference to the theological dispute at the heart of the debate, Carey emphasized that “it is the humanity of Christ which is important, not his maleness” and that having women celebrate the Eucharist “would indicate the inclusiveness of all humanity in the person who celebrates the Eucharist.”

 

“The church now longs to concentrate on promoting the Gospel of Christ to a society in great need,” Carey added.  “We have well over 1,000 women deacons who are offering their skills and gifts to their service of Christ and many of them see this legislation as offering the fulfillment of their ministry,” he said.  “I am confident they will enrich the priestly ministry of our church.”

 

Lord Robert Runcie, former archbishop of Canterbury, supported the measure, declaring “it is high time to breathe spiritual life back into a church which is weighted down by bureaucracy.”  Runcie commended the ordination of women, asserting that women priests might effectively model “the Good Shepherd, rather than the successful graduate of the management training school.”

 

Bishop David Hope of London, an outspoken opponent of women’s ordination, insisted that the issue of ordaining women as priests “remains a disputed question theologically,” but also asserted that attempts of some dioceses to declare themselves “no-go areas” for women priests was unworkable.  Hope also said that justice demanded equal opportunity for women and that their gifts and graces were needed in the church’s public ministry.

 

An attempt by parliamentary opponents of the measure to delay the legislation failed, as did a last-ditch effort by a conservative evangelical group to halt the measure on the eve of the debate. After two minutes of deliberation, High Court judges dismissed claims by the Church Society that only Parliament — not the General Synod — was entitled to make “fundamental changes” to church teaching.

 

The legislation permitting the ordination of women priests is expected to be promulgated during a special sessions of the general Synod in February and then it will be sent to the queen for royal assent.  The archbishop’s own diocese — Canterbury — has scheduled the first ordinations for women priests on May 8.

 

UPDATE: The first women priests in the Church of England were ordained on March 12, 1994.  General Synod has now agreed to the revised Women Bishops Measure on November 20, 2013, with the first women bishops of the Church of England expected to be appointed and consecrated sometime in 2014.


Affirming Catholicism Conference

 

The first Affirming Catholicism USA conference will be held at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein June 1-4.  Keynote speaker will be the Rt. Rev. Rowan Williams, bishop of Monmouth in Wales and former professor of divinity at the University of Oxford.

 

A steering committee chaired by Chicago’s Bishop Frank Griswold, with East Tennessee’s Bishop Robert Tharp as vice chair, has selected the theme “Living the Catholic Mystery in the Twenty-First Century.”  The steering committee, whose members include both Episcopal Synod of America members and women priests, hopes to honor all viewpoints at the conference while stressing what participants hold in common.

 

“We do not seek to be a forum for converting people from one point of view to another on such issues as the ordination of women to the priesthood,” said committee spokesman the Rev. Park Bodie.  “Our focus will be to reflect on the Catholic tradition within Anglicanism and its offering to the church for today and the future.”

 

Affirming Catholicism grew out of a 1990 meeting between clergy and laity of the Church of England and the Episcopal Church of Scotland.  Their purpose, said Bodie, was to forge “a movement of encouragement and hope” for assisting the witness of Anglican Catholics in the wider church, rather than remain in a reactionary mode to new viewpoints.  In November 1991 the group met in Chicago to determined whether a North American chapter was needed or desired by Anglo Catholics in the Episcopal Church.  Out of that meeting a steering committee was formed to plan next June’s conference.

 

UPDATE: Bp. Rowan Williams of Monmouth became Archbishop of Wales in 1999 and was appointed as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002. He retired at the end of 2012 to take a teaching position in Magdalene College at Cambridge.  Affirming Catholicism moved from trying to avoid political debates over such issues as women’s ordination to become an organization that is fully pro-women bishops and has actively worked for the full acceptance of women bishops in England, with no concessions given to Anglo-catholics holding the traditional catholic understanding of a male-only clergy:

 

Affirming Catholicism particularly welcomes the first and second of these general principles, which make it clear that there can be no ambiguity over the ordination or consecration of women.

 

  • Once legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England will be fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and will hold that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience;
  • Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must then be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter;


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