Texas Bishop Don A. Wimberly's invitation to a "consultation for bishops" in September said it will include two bishops from the Church of England who, with the "blessing" of the Archbishop of Canterbury, are looking for "a group firmly committed to the Windsor Report who can forge a visible link with the See of Canterbury on terms acceptable to the Communion and in keeping with its ethos and mission."
The subject of the meeting will be "Constituent Bishops: Solidifying Communion after Windsor," according to the letter.
"It remains my intention to stay within the Episcopal Church and a part of the Anglican Communion even though I don't believe General Convention's response of to the Windsor Report was sufficient," Wimberly wrote in an August 11 statement due to be posted on the Diocese of Texas website.
That statement said that the purpose of the meeting, set for September 19-22 at Camp Allen Conference and Retreat Center northwest of Houston, is "to arrive at a common response to the current circumstances of the Episcopal Church -- one that will insure an unimpaired relation between bishops who uphold the requests of the Windsor Report and the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other Primates of the Anglican Communion."
Wimberly said in an August 11 press release that the meeting's intentions are rooted in the Baptismal Covenant's call to reconciliation and unity.
"Being One Church is a holy calling not dreamed up by any bishop or vision committee but called forth by our very baptismal vows," Wimberly said. "Please pray for me and for the other bishops who love this Church, that we may be called to unity in the truth of Christ."
The Church of England bishops who will attend the meeting—the Rt. Rev. N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, and the Rt. Rev. Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester—"having had thorough discussions with [Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams], are coming with his blessing to discuss with us the nature of our future relation to the See of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion," Wimberly wrote in his letter of invitation.
While Wimberly's statement says that the invited Episcopal Church bishops represent a "diversity of opinion," his invitation said that those bishops attending must agree to four points that he wrote are "all assumed as a starting point by Bishops Wright and Scott-Joynt." They are:
1. "Agreement that Lambeth 1:10 now constitutes the teaching of the Anglican Communion."
2. "Commitment to the Windsor Report as marking the way ahead for the Communion, and acceptance of its recommendations in respect to blessing same sex unions and the ordination of persons engaged in sexual relations outside the bonds of Holy Matrimony."
3. "Acceptance of the Communique from Dromantine issued by the Meeting of Primates in response to the Windsor Report."
4. "Agreement that the response of ECUSA's General Convention to the Windsor Report does not go far enough, and the intent to find a way to be related to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Communion in a way that is not impaired."
Wimberly wrote that the four points are "a starting point for discussions of the way ahead for bishops and dioceses who intend to remain within ECUSA, who wish to remain fully a part of the Anglican Communion, and yet do not believe the response to the Windsor Report on the part of our recent General Convention adequately safeguards full Communion membership."
Wimberly developed the list of original invitees with the help of West Texas Bishop Gary Lillibridge, Dallas Bishop James Stanton and Rio Grande Bishop Jeffrey Steenson.
He urged recipients of the letter to notify him about any diocesan bishop "who can accept the four points" and if he or she has not already been invited, an invitation will be sent.
He would not release the list of original invitees or a current list of those who have accepted his invitation.
"Lambeth 1:10" refers to a resolution passed in 1998 by the Lambeth Conference, the decennial meeting of all the bishops in the Anglican Communion. The resolution said, in part, that while the bishops recognized that "many persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation" are members of the Church, they rejected homosexual practice as "incompatible with Scripture" and "cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions..." The full text is available at http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/1998/1998-1-10.cfm.
There is not complete agreement within the Anglican Communion about when a Lambeth Conference resolution becomes "the teaching of the Anglican Communion," especially because the Lambeth Conference does not have specific authority to require compliance with its resolutions. The Communique from the meeting of the Primates in the Dromantine Retreat and Conference Centre, Newry, in Northern Ireland in February 2005 stated, in part, that Lambeth 1:10 "should command respect as the position overwhelmingly adopted by the bishops of the Anglican Communion."
"I need to underscore the fact that these four points are not ones for debate at this meeting," Wimberly wrote in his letter. "They are assumed as a starting point for seeking means to solidify Communion after Windsor. It is my hope that you will be able to accept this invitation and enter with fellow bishops into a consultation that can produce a way forward that both prevents some in our Church from 'walking apart,' and others from seeking irregular means of preserving their Anglican identity."
Wimberly stressed that Wright and Scott-Joynt can provide "necessary information about the circumstances in which we now find ourselves, but it is we the bishops who are committed to the four points above who must jointly find a way forward."
The bishops who attend will have to discuss the following five points, according to Wimberly's letter.
1. "Solidifying Communion links to Canterbury and the Meeting of Primates."
2. "Development of a leadership council for links with Canterbury and the Meeting of Primates."
3. "Commitment to common action."
4. "Thresholds for an Anglican Covenant."
5. "Care of Clergy and Parishes not represented by 'Windsor Bishops'."
"Windsor Bishops" is a title adopted by bishops who say they support full compliance with the report of the 2004 Lambeth Commission on Communion, known as the Windsor Report.
The Camp Allen meeting will not be open to the media. A statement will be issued at the end of the meeting.