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Presiding Bishop reflects on Camp Allen, Kigali statements
Deputies' president echoes important clarifications

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
9/28/2006
[Episcopal News Service]  Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold reaffirmed, in a September 28 letter to the bishops of the Episcopal Church, that the process initiated by the 2004 Windsor Report is "a process of mutual growth which calls for patience, mutual understanding and generosity of spirit rather than stark submission."

Griswold wrote to the members of the House of Bishops, reflecting on the recent meeting of 21 Episcopal bishops at Camp Allen, Texas, and the gathering of Global South Anglican leaders in Kigali, Rwanda.
 
In his reflections he wrote that the people of the Episcopal Church are "making our best efforts within our church to be faithful to the Windsor process."

He questioned the Global South leaders who called for a separate Anglican identity in the United States, as well as those members of the Episcopal Church who are also "working to achieve such an end."

Griswold challenged the declaration of some of the Global South primates who claimed to be unable to accept Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori's leadership.

He also refuted claims that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, had initiated the Camp Allen meeting or delegated two Church of England bishops to speak at the meeting on his behalf.

Griswold wrote that he agreed with the Kigali statement's declaration that "the challenges facing our Anglican structures can be a distraction from the work of the gospel." Working for healing and reconciliation in the world can lead to the same in the Communion, he wrote.

The full text of Griswold's September 28 letter is available here

Meanwhile, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson said September 28 that the "clarifications" in Griswold's letter were "very important."

"The Windsor Report was issued as one part of a process. The responsibility for the response to the Windsor Report belongs to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, a bicameral legislature with representation from lay and clergy as well as bishops," Anderson said in the statement issued after Griswold's letter was released. "At the 75th General Convention, our response was made… [W]hen decisions affecting the whole Episcopal Church are made, representatives of the whole Episcopal Church need to be present for the conversations as well as the possible decision making."

Anderson called the Kigali communiqué "a truly unilateral act."

The full text of Anderson's statement is available here

A statement issued at the end of the meeting of Global South leaders, held September 19-22 in Kigali, Rwanda, criticized the General Convention's response to the Windsor Report.
 
The statement called for the creation of a separate Anglican church structure in the United States and said that some of the primates would not be able to recognize Jefferts Schori's standing as the leader of the Episcopal Church when the Communion's primates gather in Tanzania in February. The statement asked that those diocesan leaders who are in conflict with the Episcopal Church be allowed to choose another bishop to represent their views at the Primates Meeting.

The text of the Kigali statement is available here

A group of 21 Episcopal Church bishops who met at Camp Allen in Texas at the same time as the Kigali meeting said September 22 in a letter to their colleagues in the House of Bishops that they support the Windsor Report and believe that the 75th General Convention "did not adequately respond" to the report and subsequent statements. The bishops pledged to "care for all God's children in our dioceses" and did not call for a separate Anglican church structure in the U.S.

The letter also thanked the two Church of England bishops who attended the meeting held at the Episcopal Diocese of Texas' Camp Allen Conference and Retreat Center, northwest of Houston.

The text of Camp Allen Episcopal bishops' statement is available here
 
Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker, who attended the Camp Allen meeting and is one of eight Episcopal Church bishops who have asked for a relationship with a primate other than the Presiding Bishop, has said that some of the bishops meeting at Camp Allen received a summary of the Kigali statement via telephone late September 19, three days before it was issued.

Iker's interview is on the website of Stand Firm, a group claiming on its website to represent "traditional Anglicanism in America."

Texas Bishop Don Wimberly's late-July invitation to the Camp Allen meeting said that the two Church of England bishops would attend the meeting and "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."

Griswold wrote that such an interpretation was not correct.

"It is important for you to know that the Texas meeting was in no way held at the Archbishop's initiative nor was it planned in collaboration with him," Griswold told the bishops. "The two bishops from the Church of England did not attend as delegates of the Archbishop, nor were they empowered to speak on his behalf except to give the message that ‘the bishops meeting are bishops of the Catholic Church in the Anglican Communion.' "

Griswold wrote that Williams and he have both "always encouraged exchanges of views, as have I."

"At the same time, such encouragement does not necessarily imply affirmation of or agreement with points of view expressed in the course of such exchanges," he wrote.

When Jefferts Schori attends the Anglican Primates' next meeting, set for February in Tanzania, she will be able to carry out the primates' role of bearing witness "as fully as possible to the life and complexities of their own provinces," Griswold wrote.

"I have sought to bring to the primates' meetings the wide range of opinions and the consequent tensions within our own church. I have every confidence that Katharine will do the same. Furthermore, the voices from dioceses that the Kigali communiqué fears will not be heard seem to be well represented among the primates themselves."

In her statement, Anderson questioned the communiqué's claim that Jefferts Schori's views are unique and make some primates unable to accept her role. Anderson noted that both Griswold and his predecessor Edmund Browning hold many of those views.

"What is unique is her gender in the circle of primates. That seems to be their biggest objection. I note with sadness that the Kigali communiqué does not extend the courtesy of referring to Bishop Jefferts Schori as a bishop, where everyone else is referred to with titles. It adds a low note that is not worthy of the faith espoused in the document," Anderson wrote.

Griswold's letter to the bishops said that the 75th General Convention affirmed its commitment to the Windsor Process in Resolution A165

"It also needs to be said that the assessment of the responses of the Episcopal Church to the Windsor process is not the responsibility of self-chosen groups within the Communion," Griswold wrote. Taking issue with those responses before the processes set up under the Windsor Report have had a chance to be implemented is "inconsistent with the Windsor process, as are continuing incursions of bishops from other provinces into our dioceses."

He said that the Kigali statement's call for a separate Anglican structure in the United States and the efforts of some within the Episcopal Church to achieve that end "appear to be an effort to preempt the Windsor process."

Griswold wrote that he is "glad to know that a great deal of time at Kigali was devoted to such concerns as poverty eradication, HIV/AIDS, peace building and evangelization," noting the Episcopal Church's commitment to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Griswold wrote that he prays "that our mutual concerns will allow us to work together for the healing and reconciliation of the world, and thereby find the source of our healing and reconciliation as a Communion."