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Anglican Consultative Council elects one of its new youth members to the Standing Committee

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 2:20am

[Anglican Communion News Service] On the final morning  (May 4) of the formal meetings of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-17) in Hong Kong, three new members have been elected to the Standing Committee including, for the first time, a youth member. The three are, Basetsana Makena, Anglican Church of Southern Africa; Joyce Haji Liundi Anglican Church of Tanzania; and Hosam Elias Naoum, the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East. Makena was attending her first ACC meeting as one of the new regional Youth Members, representing the continent of Africa.

Read the entire article here.

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Process issues, packed agenda prompts ACC-17 members to call for changes at future meetings

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 1:52am

Anglican Consultative Council members raise their hands in a rare actual vote on a measure. Most resolutions were passed by “general consent” or “general assent,” rather than by a show of hands. Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] As the Anglican Consultative Council concluded its April 28-May 5 meeting here, many members were saying the group needs to reconsider the structure of its meeting and its resolution process.

Episcopal Church ACC members Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny, the Rev. Michael Barlowe and Rosalie Ballentine all said in a May 4 interview with Episcopal News Service at the end of the ACC’s last business session that they wished the agenda had not been so crowded. The previous meeting, ACC-16 in Lusaka, Zambia, lasted 12 days in 2016. This meeting ran eight days.

“It became evident among most everybody here that we want to have space and time to learn and understand one another, and to debate and to listen, and to have all of the emotions that go up and down and beyond,” Konieczny said. “I hope that those who have organized this meeting have heard that.”

Business sessions featured video and live presentations coupled with table discussions that at times that many said felt rushed and difficult for those for whom English was not their first language. Ballentine, who attended ACC-16, said this meeting had “an absolute lack of process”

“We talk about ‘walking together,’ but part of that walking together has to be the opportunity for us to talk together, to hear each other, to listen,” Ballentine said. “You can’t do that if  you don’t create the space for that to happen.”

Barlowe wrote a lengthy Facebook post May 2 about what he called the “the control exercised over the interaction and involvement of Anglican Consultative Council members.” Barlowe, who is The Episcopal Church’s executive officer and secretary of General Convention, runs an office that spends much of it time planning meetings, including General Convention, that are meant to operate within what he called the church’s “commitment to participation and transparency” in governance.

During the group’s contentious debate about sexual identity earlier on May 4 Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby frequently spoke in French and translated texts displayed on the screens in the room into French and asked others to interpret his comments and to translate the texts into Spanish and Swahili. However, those are only three of the many languages spoken by ACC members.

“Much of the disagreement and much of the confusion and the anxiety today was around language,” Konieczny said. Bishops from the global south told him that they did not understand the wording of parts of his resolution. And, they told him that some word choices would convey concepts that would be “extremely difficult and different” in their culture, he said.

Full ENS coverage of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council is available here.

Thus, Konieczny said, those bishops were reluctant to consider the motion. Their reluctance brought the meeting to a halt as Konieczny, some of those bishops and Welby drafted a compromise amendment which rewrote the resolution. Welby eventually explained the compromise in French, translated the text into French, and asked other members to do so in Spanish and Swahili.

ACC members need more than partial translations or to know enough English to able to figure out what’s going on, Konieczny said. They all need a setting in which they can carefully examine the proposed actions and fully participate in the debate so that the council can hear all points of view, he said.

Barlowe said the difficult debate on the sexual-identity resolution showed the “collapse of control,” adding that “the controlled agenda and everything else actually didn’t do what perhaps was intended, which was to stifle debate and conversation.” Instead, when people had a chance to truly debate an issue, he said, they had things to say but interpretation and translation issues and the lack of previous engagement on the issue “made the situation worse.”

ACC Vice Chair Margaret Swinson told her colleagues at the end the last business session of the meeting it was clear go her that “we need a process review around resolutions.”

She cited two reasons. The first was “for the sanity of the resolutions committee,” which often met while others were doing other things such as eating or on trips to visit parishes in Hong Kong.

Episcopal Church ACC members Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny, center, the Rev. Michael Barlowe and Rosalie Ballentine talk during a break May 1 outside the Anglican Consultative Council meeting room at the Gold Coast Hotel in Hong Kong. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The other is the fact that members for whom English is not their first language struggled throughout the meeting from the lack of any formal interpretation or translation services.

There were no official interpreters at the meeting, which was conducted in English. Earlier in the week, Chief Operating Officer David White acknowledged that “for a very large number of people here, English is not your first language.” Many reports and other documents are available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, something that was not true at previous ACC meetings. However, resolutions were available only in English.

White said it would have cost the communion office $10,000-15,000 per person to provide interpretation services to those who needed it, a cost he called “financially impossible.” He said those members were asked to “bring somebody with you and we will deal with translations that way.”

More than once during business sessions, Welby called attention to the fact that, as he put it during one point of order, ACC-17 was “insisting that [members] use English, when either they may not read or understand English, or it’s their second or third or even fourth language.”

Swinson said resolution filing deadlines would need to be earlier to allow for translation. She committed the communion’s Standing Committee, of which she is a member, to review that process.

The council’s rules of order seemed to be fluid at times, with council officers sometimes strictly enforcing announced deadlines and limits on resolution amendments, and at other times offering flexibility. May 4 especially featured debate in the midst of sometimes-changing rules about the admissibility of amendments.

The council did not actually vote on many resolutions or amendments, but rather the members were asked by the chair “Are you content to give your general assent to this resolution?” Sometimes, the term “general consent” was used. The chair did not ask for dissenting voices. The session chair did and could decide to put a motion to a show of hands.

In one instance, the members objected to the chair’s decision that they had consented to a measure, despite an audible number of “no’s.” Konieczny asked for a show of hands and was reminded that the council had been told earlier in the meeting that one-third of the members were required for such a request. More than one-third of the members rose to support his request.

Barlowe said that while The Episcopal Church is not perfect, it tries to “level the playing field through things like rules of order and standard parliamentary procedures.” Such rules can seem boring, he said, but they provide “a way to hear all voices.”

Read more about it

ACC background is here.

ENS coverage of the ACC is here.

The Anglican Communion News Service covered the meeting here.

Tweeting happened with #ACC17HK.

The bulk of the meeting took place at the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

 

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New Anglican Communion budget formula has ‘extreme potential impact’ on The Episcopal Church

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 1:34am

Episcopal Church ACC member Rosalie Ballentine of the Diocese of the Virgin Islands asks May 4 for more information about the new formula for calculating provincial contributions to the Inter-Anglican Budget. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] A new formula for setting the level of financial commitments from the Anglican Communion’s provinces approved May 4 by the Anglican Consultative Council has the potential to greatly increases the amount of money expected from The Episcopal Church.

Anglican Communion Chief Operating Officer David White acknowledged that annual formula, based on the number “active bishops” in a province multiplied by their average salary (including housing costs) multiplied by 10 percent produces “the most extreme case of potential impact” for The Episcopal Church.

It would be up to each province to determine the two variables to plug into the formula. The only organization in The Episcopal Church that currently collects bishop and clergy salary information is the Church Pension Fund. It uses that information to calculate annual pension assessments and eventual benefit levels for each clergy participant in the fund. It has traditionally considered that information to be confidential.

Thus, it is impossible run the formula at this point. It was also unclear how the formula would impact the Church of England, which is the largest contributor.

Episcopal Church ACC members Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny, the Rev. Michael Barlowe and Rosalie Ballentine voted against the measure when a show-of-hands vote was called for.

Full ENS coverage of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council is available here.

The decision came during the last business day of the 17th meeting of the ACC, which ran April 28-May 5.

Historically the Church of England (at 41.4 percent of the total income) and The Episcopal Church (at 21.9 percent) have been the two largest contributors to what is known as the Inter-Anglican Budget. General Convention has budgeted $1.15 million as its total 2019-2021 contribution (line 412 here).

White’s budget report says the ACC’s unrestricted spending budget in 2019 is about $2.3 million. “Given the consistent excess of ambition over resources,” the report says the budget needs a 5 percent annual increase in money available for unrestricted spending, as opposed to money contributed for specific programs.

Ballentine told White “when we look at the proposed formula, just by throwing around some quick numbers, there are some of us whose contributions, voluntary or not but based on this proposal, would increase exponentially.”

She asked him for more details about a line in his report that mentions the communion office’s willingness to negotiate during a 2020-23 transition period with provinces whose expected contribution would dramatically increase or decrease.

“It is absolutely the case that there will be discussion,” White said. “I recognize that [this] is the most extreme case of potential impact. It is not the case that in our planning that we have assumed that it is possible for The Episcopal Church to move from the current position based on history to that which might be determined purely by strict application of the formula in the [transition] time period or potentially at all, but it becomes a basis for discussion.”

“The generosity of The Episcopal Church is not in question,” White said, given its budgetary contribution, Episcopalians’ involvement in the of the Compass Rose Society, which which contributes 21 percent of the communion office’s budget and the “additional bits of support that happen across the communion.” There is only the question as to how the formula “can be managed against that context,” he said.

Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny, left, talks May 4 with Anglican Communion Chief Operating Officer David White during a break in discussions about the funding formula for the Inter-Anglican Budget. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Combining the $1.15 million budgeted as its total 2019-21 contribution with money for “global mission development” and salaries and travel for church-wide staff who work with partners across the communion, the current triennial budget includes $3.89 million for mission and ministry in the Anglican Communion. The triennial budget does not include the work of Episcopal Relief & Development across the communion. The latest annual report is here.

The Inter-Anglican Budget is heavily dependent on the provinces’ contributions, which account for 73 percent of all unrestricted income. Ten of the communion’s 40 provinces and six extra-provincial churches contribute 94 percent of the income. They are (in percentage order) Church of England; The Episcopal Church; Australia; Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia; Canada; Wales; Ireland; Hong Kong; Scotland and Japan.

White’s report said “several” provinces contribute “substantially below the sum requested.” According to a chart in the report, 16 provinces paid nothing in 2018. The non-paying provinces in 2018 were Brazil, Burundi, Central Africa, Central America, Congo, Nigeria, North India, Mexico, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, South East Asia, South India, Tanzania, Uganda and West Africa. Fifteen paid nothing in 2017, 17 in 2016 and 16 in 2015.

The current voluntary contribution has been calculated based on the province’s historical contribution plus annual inflation. White’s report suggests that the number of active bishops in a province is a reasonable indication of its size and that what a province pays its bishops points to its financial strength. The formula would automatically adjust for numerical and economic growth and would automatically adjust for inflation, the report said.

The budget report said total income might increase by 20 percent to 40 percent if the proposed formula was applied and if half of the current non-contributing provinces started to make regular annual contributions.

The communion’s Standing Committee has regularly discussed “introduction of an operational sanction,” White said, and has considered telling those provinces which can afford to contribute but do not that their representatives to ACC meetings and the Primates Meeting would not be reimbursed by the ACC’s budget, as they are now. However, the resolution passed by ACC members does not include that provision.

In a separate resolution, the ACC accepted a six-year strategic plan for the Anglican Communion Office’s work that outlines work that could potentially at least double the office’s current annual spending of £2.0-2.5 million ($2.6-$3.2 million). It says that $6.6 million in spending by 2025 is “a reasonable ambition.”

Read more about it

ACC background is here.

ENS coverage of the ACC is here.

The Anglican Communion News Service covered the meeting here.

Tweeting happened with #ACC17HK.

The bulk of the meeting took place at the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

The post New Anglican Communion budget formula has ‘extreme potential impact’ on The Episcopal Church appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Welby’s Lambeth invite apology smooths way for Anglican Consultative Council to walk together

Sat, 05/04/2019 - 11:55am

Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny is embraced May 4 by Burundian Bishop Eraste Bigirimana, right, and Diocese of Nairobi Bishop Joel Waweru, both of whom opposed a resolution he proposed. Both participated in crafting a compromise that the Anglican Consultative Council unanimously passed. Photo: Paul Feheley/Anglican Communion News Service

[Episcopal News Service — Hong Kong] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, working with others, preserved the unity of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council on May 4 by apologizing for his 2020 Lambeth Conference decisions about bishops in same-sex relationships and agreeing to renew the communion’s 21-year-old promise to listen to the experiences of LGBTQ people.

“I ask your forgiveness where I made mistakes,” Welby said.

The April 28-May 5 meeting came close to breaking down during the afternoon of its last business day, not over the Lambeth Conference, but over the larger issue of how much the council ought to say about the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of the church.

The conflict arose via Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny’s resolution calling on the communion’s Standing Committee to gather information about the provinces’ efforts to listen to people “who have been marginalized due to their human sexuality within the church, society and their respective cultures.”

Full ENS coverage of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council is available here.

The members did not object to that work. However, a number of them refused to accept the resolution’s preamble, which would have reaffirmed “the respect and dignity of persons as Children of God who have been marginalized due to their human sexuality” and state that “they should be fully included in the life of the Anglican Communion.”

The frank but polite debate over the resolution, the intense negotiations that took place during breaks in that debate and the ensuing completely rewritten resolution proved that “in the end, the love of Christ showed through,” Konieczny told Episcopal News Service after the meeting. “We showed that we’re able to have conversation and we’re able to understand one another and that we’re able to compromise.”

“Maybe what little bit of what we did here can be an example for the larger communion and, for those who chose to stay away, that maybe in some way this will help them at least think about coming back.”

Only Nigeria and Uganda did not send members to the ACC-17 meeting. Some bishops have said they will not attend the Lambeth Conference because they object to the theological stances of other bishops and provinces.

The Rev. Michael Barlowe, The Episcopal Church’s clergy member on ACC, called Konieczny’s weeklong effort “courageous.” The Episcopal Church, he said after the meeting, was served well by Konieczny “graciously trying to engage a very controversial subject.”

The entire ACC was gracious during the nearly three hours of debate and negotiation, said Rosalie Ballentine of the Diocese of the Virgin Islands, The Episcopal Church’s lay member.

“It does show that we can disagree in a loving way,” she said. “Some of us in The Episcopal Church sometimes need to learn to step back and realize that it’s really supposed to be about Jesus, about God, about how we walk in faith, as opposed to getting our way. A lot of that was demonstrated today.”

Debating ‘included’ versus ‘welcomed’

The language in the resolution’s preamble touched all the rifts in the communion over sexuality and went too far for some. It got no better when an amendment proposed changing the last clause “they should be fully included in the life of the Anglican Communion” to “they are fully welcomed in the life of the Anglican Communion.”

The members debated the nuances of being “included” or “welcomed,” and whether the understanding of either word changed when translated into other languages.

Konieczny accepted the amendment to move the resolution forward and it passed 38-20, with 17 abstentions.

During the ensuing debate on the resolution, Sudanese Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo said that in his majority-Muslim country “tomorrow the church will be closed” if the ACC agreed to the resolution. “If we pass this resolution, we are sending a very wrong signal” to the church and the world, he said.

Bishop Eraste Bigirimana, from the Burundian Diocese of Bujumbura, said the communion has been divided since Anglicans formally began talking about sexuality at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. The division, he said, comes because not all believe that “the Bible is very clear: fornication is a sin, adultery is a sin, homosexuality is a sin for the Christian.” Bigirimana said “the Bible has to be our reference.”

Diocese of Nairobi Bishop Joel Waweru opposed the resolution because it “sets doctrine,” something the ACC does not do. He said ACC members “have not had any time to discuss issues of human sexuality,” but were now being asked to vote on a resolution about it. And, Waweru argued, the resolution ought to be expanded to include people who have suffered discrimination for any reason.

“As one coming from the global south,” the bishop said he agreed with others who worried that passing the resolution would give fodder to conservative Anglicans, prompting even more of them to boycott the 2020 Lambeth Conference.

Canadian Diocese of Edmonton Bishop Jane Alexander told her colleagues that the ACC resolution simply reminded the church about the yet-unfulfilled commitment the 1998 Lambeth Conference made via Resolution 1.10 to listen to LGBTQ people.

If the ACC cannot reaffirm the respect and dignity of those who have been marginalized due to their human sexuality, she said, “then my heart is broken and we’ve broken our Baptismal Covenant,” and “we didn’t mean a word” of a Code of Conduct, which members passed at the start of the meeting that contains a similar statement.

Near the end of nearly 45-minute debate, Konieczny said he would not support a proposal that was made to delete the entire preamble. He said he worked on the resolution all week and accepted “multiple revisions” because he was conscious of the differences that ACC members represent.

“I’m distressed. My heart is broken. My faith is challenged that” the council cannot affirm the statement made in the week-old Code of Conduct and “that we want to send a message to the world that we will respect you at a distance, but you’re not welcome. This is not the body of Christ in which I belong.”

For the ACC to debate whether anyone was a child of God and welcome in the church “is beyond my understanding,” he said, adding that 50 percent of the geographical areas of the member churches “disenfranchise, incarcerate and execute people who differ in their human sexuality, yet we say nothing.’

“Instead, we’re worried about the politics instead of the people.”

After the members paused to pray, ACC Vice Chair Margaret Swinson ruled that the proposal to delete the preamble “destroys the spirit in which this motion was offered too much” for her to exercise her discretion to allow it to come to a vote.

During the afternoon tea break, an increasingly large group of ACC members gathered around the Archbishop of Canterbury and Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny as they stood below the dais in the council’s meeting room, searching for compromise. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

Welby suggested that the council pause for table group discussion. That pause led into what became a nearly 50-minute “tea break” during which various combinations of members and staff huddled, sometimes joined by Konieczny, trying to craft a compromise. Welby was often at the center. Waweru and Konieczny worked together at one point, Waweru with his hand on Konieczny’s back as he sat and read the final proposal.

With that draft in hand, Swinson asked the members to listen to Welby and decide if they could accept it as a compromise. He reminded the members that the Anglican Communion has fiercely disagreed in the past about contraception, divorce and women’s ordination. “So, we must not panic” about the current chapter in the communion’s the nearly 30-year-old debate about sexual identity.

The archbishop of Canterbury is known as the “focus of unity” for the ACC, Lambeth Conference and the Primates Meeting. In that spirit, Welby said it is his “fault and my responsibility” that certain people are upset because some people were invited to the 2020 Lambeth Conference and others were not.

“It may be that at the end of time, I will understand that I got that wrong, and I will answer for it in one respect or another on the day of judgement,” he said. “Where I handled it badly, which I am sure I did, for one group or another, I want to apologize to you because I have not helped the communion, either for those who are concerned by who was invited or those who are concerned by who was not invited.

“I ask your forgiveness where I made mistakes.”

Diocese of Nairobi Bishop Joel Waweru, standing at left, keeps his hand on Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny’s shoulder as the latter reads the language of a possible compromise that threatened to derail the last business session of ACC-17. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby stands reading at Konieczny’s left, Bishop of Lambeth Tim Thorton is at his right and next to Thornton is Lambeth Palace Assistant Chief of Staff Stephen Knott. ACC Vice Chair Margaret Swinson, at right, talks with ACC legal advisor Darren Oliver while Bishop Anthony Poggo leans over the table. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

The compromise wording, which came to the council as an amendment by Waweru, notes “with concern the pattern of invitations to the Lambeth Conference 2020” and asks Welby to put in place a listening process “with supportive and independent facilitation in order to hear the concerns and voices of people especially those who have felt themselves marginalized with regard to their sexuality.”

Welby must also organize the collection of the work already done in the communion since Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 called for such a process. He is to report to the Standing Committee and ACC-18 in 2022. Lastly, the resolution asks him to report to both groups about “all issues of discrimination” across the communion.

After his apology and explanation of Waweru’s amendment, Welby apologized in French and translated the amendment into French. He asked Diocese of Northern Argentina Nick Drayson to translate both into Spanish and Diocese of Central Tanganyika Bishop Dickson Chilongani to do the same in Swahili. Members for whom English is not their first language have struggled throughout the meeting from the lack of any formal interpretation or translation services.

“Out of respect and love and affection for our archbishop and out of love and affection for our member churches, and especially for my brothers in the global south, and for the unity of the church,” Konieczny said that he was “willing to accept this amendment from my brother, Joel.”

Struggling to speak, he said he wanted his “brother bishops in the south” to know that “we are willing to talk, and walk in unity and love together, and encourage them to come and meet with us.”

Waweru’s amendment passed 83-0 with three abstentions in a straw poll meant to test its strength. Waweru, Chilongani and Bigirimana came to Konieczny to hug him. Konieczny kissed Waweru’s hand as the members began to sing “Bless the Lord, my soul.”

The council formally convened and passed the amended resolution “by general consent.”

The resolution, titled “The dignity of human beings,” says

”The Anglican Consultative Council

  1. notes with concern the pattern of invitations to the Lambeth Conference 2020 and requests that the Archbishop of Canterbury as a focus of unity ensures that a listening process is put in place with supportive and independent facilitation in order to hear the concerns and voices of people especially those who have felt themselves marginalized with regard to sexuality. The Archbishop of Canterbury will also be responsible for compiling all the work done in this area across the Anglican Communion since Lambeth 1998 and reporting to the Standing Committee [of the ACC] and ACC18.
  2. requests the Archbishop of Canterbury to look at all issues of discrimination across the Anglican Communion and make recommendations to the Standing Committee and to report back to ACC18.”

The council later rejected a previously filed resolution that would have asked Welby to consider establishing a theological task group to clarify the core identity and boundaries of the Anglican Communion in the 21st century. Konieczny said he feared the resolution’s actual intent was to create a body with the power to declare “who’s in and who’s out in the Anglican Communion.”

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

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