Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop: Anglicans Didn’t “Vote us off island”

on February 8, 2016

Episcopalians won’t see changes stemming from limits on the church’s participation in the worldwide Anglican Communion put in place by top Anglican bishops (primates), according to the U.S.-based church’s Presiding Bishop.

“We’re not changing – so there shouldn’t be an expectation that in the next three years the Episcopal Church is going to change,” declared Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry about the denomination’s approval of new gender-neutral marriage rites this past July. “This is who we are.”

Curry spoke the morning of Monday, February 8 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. at a press conference to “discuss the Church’s role in creating a more inclusive society.”

“My sense is that the overwhelming majority of the primates voted as a way of saying ‘we disagree with you, we can’t support your decision because we believe you have changed core doctrine and we disagree with that’ but they did not vote us off the island,” Curry shared. “They did not do that – and could have.”

Instead, the leader of 1.8 million U.S. Episcopalians said that overseas Anglicans had opted for a “moderated response that recognized we are still a part of the Anglican family.”

“There was clarity on our part, both about who we are as a church and about our love and commitment to the Communion, and there was clarity on their part that they disagreed with us,” Curry reported.

Categorizing limits on the U.S.-based denomination as “very specific and focused,” Curry explained that they were centered on ambassadorial and leadership functions, amounting to an “almost surgical approach” that tries to find a mediated way of expressing displeasure “in a way that was real but that didn’t go too far.”

In a January 14 communiqué authored during a gathering in Canterbury, England, the primates required that the Episcopal Church for a period of three years “no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

Some U.S. bishops have questioned the primates’ ability to make such requirements, but Curry did not make a challenge to their legal or moral authority during the Monday news conference.

“Because we differ on a core doctrine, it would not be seen as appropriate for us to represent the Anglican Communion in ecumenical, interfaith, ambassadorial relationships. That’s fair,” Curry assessed. “Because we disagree on core doctrine they are asking that we not cast our vote on matters of doctrine or polity – not about our life together and a whole bunch of other things that get considered.”

Curry was thanked by retired New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, whose election and consecration as the church’s first openly partnered homosexual bishop in 2003 increased tensions in the third largest global family of churches and caused several overseas Anglican provinces to declare themselves in impaired communion with the Episcopal Church.

“Thanks for not throwing us under the bus – the LGBT community as well as the Episcopal Church, we’re proud of you,” stated Robinson, who now serves as a fellow at the D.C.-based liberal think tank Center for American Progress.

During his planned comments, Curry elaborated on two mission priorities established at the church’s General Convention this past summer: evangelism and racial reconciliation.

“The Presiding Bishop needs to be the Chief Evangelism Officer,” Curry trumpeted, declaring a commitment “to what I call the Jesus Movement – the way of God’s love in this world.”

The bishop lamented that “extremism is happening in Judaism, Christianity and Islam” and that a religious center “is very quiet and intimidated.”

Quoting British former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Curry said “The golden calf of the self has been raised by the children of Israel again.”

Curry pointed to Pope Francis as an exemplar of the “Jesus Movement.”

“He wouldn’t use the world inclusion, but that’s what he’s doing,” Curry determined.

Stating of religion, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God – period,” Curry elaborated that the “love of God is about self-sacrifice of self-interest for the good of others.” The Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop defined the way of evangelism as about “drawing towards the center – not about increasing Episcopal market share.”

“I’m in this business because we’re going to learn to live together – and the Episcopal Church will lead the way as part of the Jesus movement.”

“If I didn’t believe that our society could change, I wouldn’t be standing here right now,” Curry announced. “We are not victims of fate: we follow Jesus who was not a victim of his fate, death on a cross, but who rose from the dead. Because I believe that, I believe we can find the ways to become God’s beloved community.”

Curry also fielded questions about the St. George’s school child sex abuse investigation in Rhode Island, pointing to canonical revisions in the 1990s which tightened the denomination’s reporting requirements when abuse is alleged.

Dipping his toe into politics, Curry also recalled his time as Bishop of North Carolina and his involvement there with the “Moral Mondays” protest movement. Referring to actions of the state legislature as “not just” “whether you are a Republican or Democrat” Curry listed “means of voter suppression” alongside reduced funding for public schools, refusal to expand Medicaid or extend unemployment benefits, and passage of loosened gun restrictions as galvanizing factors for interfaith groups in the state.

  1. Comment by Carlos M on February 8, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    “This is who we are.”

    Seriously? Being pro-gay is the core value – not following Christ?

  2. Comment by Antigone on February 8, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    “We’re not changing – so there shouldn’t be an expectation that in the next three years the Episcopal Church is going to change,” declared Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry about the denomination’s approval of new gender-neutral marriage rites this past July. “This is who we are.” If you listen to Curry speaking, he is recounting this as what he said to the Primates before they voted to consequence TEC. He wasn’t reaffirming this or underscoring it. In fact, the only time he mentioned this in the entire event is when he got a question from a reporter. His talk was about Evangelism and Racial reconciliation and the Jesus movement. He really has a new mission that came out of some of the less publicized votes at the last general convention.

  3. Comment by Mark Brooks on February 9, 2016 at 10:38 am

    As expected, the Episcopalian response is to minimize the vote and its consequences, affirm that the discipline will have no effect, and move on. No remorse and no going back. They aren’t listening, they don’t care, and they don’t believe there will be any meaningful consequence. They don’t care what God has to say, so why should they care what the bishops of the Anglican Communion say?

  4. Comment by Patrick Leduc on February 9, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    I wonder if any of these men have study Mathew 7:21-28. If so, they would fear for their own souls. Depart from me, for I never “knew” you. One could reasonably argue that people who refuse to OBEDIENTLY follow God’s law…but instead, without one ounce of remorse, PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS, have any claim to salvation. I can hear them now saying “LORD, LORD”….every one of these Bishops….and Jesus will say to them…Depart from me, you who practiced lawlessness.

    Bishops: Where in God’s word is it OK to bless same sex unions? Your doctrine on Homosexuality is leading people not to repent, but to practice sinfulness without remorse, and leading them straight to hell. That is not love at all. If you truly love the sinner, part of showing love is to tell them Biblical truths. That is that God loves them, but that they are either a slave to their sin nature, or a slave to God. It is not enough to have Jesus as savior…Jesus has to be LORD! That requires obedience, and repentance. Telling people that practicing lawlessness is OK goes against Biblical truths!

    Eternity is a long time. And it is so patently clear who these people are serving…Not God, but a doctrine of deceit. Pathetic.

  5. Comment by RichInIowa on February 9, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    The sin that is the basis of the fall from grace by the Episcopal Church is idolatry.

    They have created a ‘god’ compliant with their Progressive worldview, labeled him Jesus, and worship this idol.

    They justify this by their eisegesis reading into Scripture what is clearly not there and ignoring what is dispositive toward the historical position.

    It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the Presiding Bishop would do the same with the 3 year suspension.

    Just like their surprise at their eternal damnation at the Final Judgement they will be surprised in three years when the ban is made permanent.

    The Christian identity is based on two things: the cross and Christ crucified along with adherence to God’s moral code.

    Homosexual acts violate God’s moral code.

    The Anglican Communion to protect their identity as a Christian Institution must eject the TEC if they refuse to repent to protect their identity as a Christian Institution.

  6. Comment by Murray Stanford Robinson on February 9, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    The Unitarian-Universalist Church is right down the road, I suggest they go there. It is time for repentance and to for TEC to get back to wholesome Anglican Teachings.

  7. Comment by Project Samizdat on February 21, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    it is always important to be very careful about what the actual facts are before rushing to interpret..or reinterpret:

  8. Comment by Simon Says on August 18, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Well, I have been Episcopalian for 53 years, I guess that’s gonna change soon now. What shame.

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