Windsor-affirming Bishops issue letter from Camp Allen
A Letter to the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
We, the undersigned bishops, have met together at Camp Allen in the Diocese of Texas from September 19-22. We understand ourselves to be catholic bishops within the Anglican Communion and have met to contribute to our future life within this Communion. We are writing to you as fellow bishops in The Episcopal Church, in the knowledge that many others in our Province and around the world have expressed an interest in this meeting.
We have gathered with a common desire to work for the unity of the Church, as well as for the integrity and vitality of our own Province and the Anglican Communion as a whole.
We are grateful for the helpful briefing from the Archbishop of Canterbury, brought to us through the Bishops of Durham and Winchester. We have corresponded in turn with the Archbishop and communicated our hopes with respect to continuing in full constituent Communion membership. It is our intention to offer a faithful and dynamic witness within the Episcopal Church.
We confess our faith in Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life – the faith that is uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures, set forth in the catholic Creeds, and to which the historic Anglican formularies bear witness.
We are committed to the conciliar character of our Communion. Consistent with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Holy Cross Day letter to the Primates, it is our clear sense that General Convention of 2006 did not adequately respond to the request made of The Episcopal Church by the Communion through the Windsor Report and the Primates at Dromantine. These requests include explicit moratoria regarding church discipline and order. We express our regret, on behalf of ourselves, for those actions with which the Windsor Report was concerned.
We accept and affirm the Windsor Report and view adherence to it as furthering the vocation to heal the breaches within our own Communion and in our ecumenical relationships. Furthermore, we endorse the recommendation of the Windsor Report, as supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury, for the development of an Anglican Covenant.
The Windsor Report properly belongs within the larger framework of Anglican teaching, as expressed, not least, in successive Lambeth Conferences, including the resolutions of Lambeth 1998 (among which is Resolution 1.10). We understand this to be the mind of the Communion for teaching and discipline.
We recognize that many congregations within The Episcopal Church need a safe space within which to live out the integrity of their faith in compliance with the Windsor Report. We also recognize that there are some congregations that do not accept the provisions of the Windsor Report. We pledge ourselves to work with our Episcopal colleagues to care for all God’s people in our dioceses.
Within our group are needs for various levels of response to the conflicts in the church. While here we have worked diligently to achieve unity across these lines. We recognize the need of some among us for an alternative primatial relationship. This recognition does not weaken our fundamental theological and ecclesial commitments. Rather, our unity has strengthened them, and for this we thank God.
It is our hope and prayer that through our fellowship we can contribute to the renewal of our Province’s life within the Communion. We invite others who share our concern and position to join us in our common work on behalf of the church, and we plan to meet again early in the new year. We hope that those of you who share our commitments will find yourselves able to join us then, as we continue our work.
We ask for your prayers and assure you of ours.
In the name of Christ Jesus,
Greg Griffith reporting Saturday, Sept. 23, for Stand Firm:
Interview with Bishop Jack Leo Iker concerning the Camp Allen meeting:
Greg Griffith: Matt Kennedy and I have made a lot of people upset by characterizing the Camp Allen statement as a failed response to Kigali. Matt termed it a "rebuff of our allies." I said, "I'm looking for an explanation as to how these guys didn't sell us down the river."
Bishop Iker: Everyone needs to keep in mind that Camp Allen wasn't designed to be a response to the meeting in Africa, or even something that was being done in conjunction with it. They were two meetings happening for different purposes, in different places.
Camp Allen was an opportunity for some bishops to stand up and be counted as Windsor bishops. General Convention didn't give us that opportunity in an official capacity, so we created this one. When a group of us visited the Archbishop of Canterbury in May, we said we were concerned that General Convention's response to the Windsor Report might end up being inadequate. If that turned out to be the case, the archbishop said he would like a "head count" of those bishops who were willing to abide by the terms of the report. Was it five of us? Ten? Fifteen?
Look at what came out of this meeting: Twenty-one bishops who occupy a wide variety of positions on the questions before us, agreed to four plainly-stated points:
First, that General Convention didn't make an adequate response to the Windsor Report. Second, that we as a group affirm, embrace, and submit to the report. Third, that we all recognize the perilous position many of our congregations find themselves in; some have already left, some are on the verge of leaving, while many others continue to struggle with the question; and that they all need a safe place. And fourth, that there is a need for different levels of disassociation from what ECUSA is doing.
One of the remarkable things about Camp Allen is that all 21 bishops were able to agree that these dioceses need such a relationship with another primate, whatever you decide to call it. For some, it's APO. For others, it's joining the Network. We were delighted to learn that the Kigali statement recognized the same thing. But quite simply, the Global South primates have had it with ECUSA. Having to deal with our problems is a huge distraction from their mission and ministry.
Greg Griffith: Some people are concerned about the change in language from "alternative primatial oversight" to "alternative primatial relationship." Can you explain to us what that change means?
Bishop Iker: At the New York City meeting, PB-elect Schori responded to our inquiries about alternative oversight by saying that she couldn't give to another primate what she didn't have, which was oversight of our dioceses. Leaders in the Diocese of Springfield said that was correct - that technically, the Presiding Bishop doesn't have what we define as "oversight." Rather, the dioceses that are appealing for alternative "oversight" are looking to place ourselves in an ecclesial relationship with an orthodox primate of the Anglican Communion. So the word "relationship" was suggested as a replacement for "oversight."
Greg Griffith: One of the lines in the statement has caused a lot of concern. It's the one that says you all pledge to work within ECUSA, which many of us we see as the cause of the problem, not the source of the solution.
Bishop Iker: One draft of the statement made mention of "work with our colleagues within ECUSA and the primates," but some of the more centrist bishops objected on the grounds that it might be interpreted to endorse border crossing, so we changed it. There's an interesting story there, as well. The final statement was originally phrased, "We pledge ourselves to work with our episcopal colleagues..." with "episcopal" spelled using a lower-case "e." Somewhere between our agreeing to the statement, and it getting released to the public, that lower-case "e" became a capital "E," implying that we were limiting our scope of partners only to colleagues in ECUSA.
Greg Griffith: Did the bishops at Camp Allen have knowledge of what the Kigali statement contained?
Bishop Iker: A summary of the points in the Kigali statement came to some of us via telephone.
Greg Griffith: When did that happen?
Bishop Iker: I believe it was late Thursday afternoon, but I didn't see the complete, official statement until Friday afternoon.
Greg Griffith: But there was never any intention to respond to it through your statement?
Bishop Iker: No. Again, this meeting was held not to craft a reply to Kigali, but to signal, in an official capacity, our desire to remain a part of the communion under the terms of Windsor. This was a letter from bishops who want to comply with Windsor, to other ECUSA bishops, that said, "For the sake of the communion, we think you should join us." That's why Bishop Wolf, who voted for Gene Robinson, was able to sign it - because while she might have personal differences with Lambeth 1.10, she recognizes that it is nonetheless the mind of the communion, and that Windsor is the way forward in communion. It's not unlike Archbishop Williams, about whom it's been reported that he has personal views more accommodating of the homosexual movement than are expressed in Lambeth 1.10, but he recognizes that it is the mind of the communion right now, and institutionally, he's going to support it.
Greg Griffith: So there was none of the compromise that we all dreaded, and which we talked about before the meeting?
Bishop Iker: I don't believe so. I had my own misgivings about the meeting, because I think anyone who wants to be Windsor-compliant needs to be a member of the Network. I told my fellow bishops, "I'm willing to go to Camp Allen and talk to non-Network bishops who want to be Windsor compliant, but I first want to know why they haven't joined the Network."
Greg Griffith: Do you think the statement the bishops signed will cause more bishops to join the ranks of the Windsor-compliant?
Bishop Iker: I don't know. I just don't know.
Greg Griffith: Bishop, thank you for your leadership, and thank you for taking the time to talk with us.
Bishop Iker: Thank you for what you and your folks are doing.