Anglican Primates’ meeting: Day 2 news

3 October 2017 • Persistent link:

Anglican primates pray for the victims of Las Vegas shooting

The senior archbishops of the Anglican Communion have begun their 2017 Primates’ Meeting by sending a message and letter of condolence to the Bishop and People of Nevada following the mass-shooting at Las Vegas, which has so-far claimed the lives of some 58 people and left more than 500 people requiring hospital treatment. This evening, a period of silence was held at the start of evensong in Canterbury Cathedral and the Presiding Bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church led the congregation in prayer.

The primates spent Monday morning in a spiritual retreat inside England’s Canterbury Cathedral, the mother church of the Anglican Communion, before the formal start of the business-side of their meeting this afternoon. The shooting in Las Vegas was one of the first items the primates discussed.

In a message to the Bishop of Nevada, Dan Edwards, the 34 primates gathered in Canterbury expressed their concern for the victims of the attack, their families and friends.

“We were greatly distressed to learn of the dreadful events in Las Vegas last night,” the statement said. “The scale of the loss of life and the numbers of injured is truly shocking. We are sending our deepest condolences to you and to the people of your diocese – in particular, the people of Las Vegas.

“We are praying for the families and friends of those who have died and for the many people who have been wounded. We remember, too, everyone else caught up in this tragedy – including the emergency services (first responders). We pray that the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ will be with the people of Las Vegas as they endure this trauma.”

The shooting happened shortly after 10 pm Pacific Daylight Time on Sunday 1 October (5 am, Monday 2 October GMT) when a gunman – named by police as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock – opened fire on festival-goers at an open-air country music festival from a vantage point on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. The gunman was subsequently shot and killed by police officers. Investigations and recovery efforts are continuing.

Later, leading prayers for the victims at the start of evensong in Canterbury Cathedral, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said:

“Dear Lord,

You are the creator of us all. We are altogether your children.
When one rejoices we all rejoice; when one suffers we all suffer.

We come to you tonight, Lord, with sorrow in our hearts,
for 58 of your children are no longer with us,
and some 500 of your children are hurting physically and emotionally,
and one of your children took their lives,
and they are all our sisters,
they are all our brothers,
they are all your children.

And so Lord God we come before you now with sorrowful hearts;
hearts so sorrowful that words cannot convey.

We come before you asking you Lord, receive the souls of those who have died,
that they may rest in your love and rise in your glory.

We come before you now asking you to comfort and heal their loved ones who weep.

We ask you, Lord, to take those who are wounded and afflicted and bind up their wounds and heal them.

But Lord we ask you to heal us; to heal your human children;
to help us to find a better way;
to teach us to love and not to count the cost.

Heal your human family.
Heal your creation.
And then make us instruments of your peace.

This we ask, Lord God, in the name of your son Jesus, who died and rose again for this world that you so deeply love.

In His name, and for the sake of the entire human family and all creation we pray.


Scottish Episcopal Church Primus briefs primates on same-sex marriage decision

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop Mark Strange, has briefed his fellow Anglican primates on the decision of his church’s General Synod to permit same-sex marriage. In doing so, he told them that he recognised that his church will now face the “consequences” as those facing the US-based Episcopal Church.

The primates, gathered in Canterbury Cathedral, England, spent an hour discussing the decision by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change its canon on marriage. The discussion took place on the second day of the week-long primates’ meeting.

Confirming that the “consequences” that were applied to the US-based Episcopal Church now also applied to the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby told reporters on Tuesday evening: “Bishop Mark said in his opening presentation that he expected that to happen and accepted that it would. It is left in my hands to follow that through and it will be followed through as I did after the Primates’ Meeting of 2016.”

Archbishop Welby confirmed that no vote was taken by the Primates, explaining that it is unusual for formal votes to be taken at Primates’ Meetings. There was a “consensus” he said.

Describing the discussions, Archbishop Welby said: “We talked about things this afternoon of huge importance. . . People were disappointed. They were angry. But it was a very different mood to many previous Primates’ Meetings. It was more of a family that is having to face the fact that something has happened that is causing grief than a club that doesn’t like one of its members.

“We were quite clear – people were very clear about how disappointed they were. But I think the mood in the room – and how I will feel – is just grieved that one has to do things that no one likes – that I don’t like – doing. You want people to be united, joyful, celebrating together.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) explained that Bishop Strange told the primates that the decision by his Church’s Synod recognised that “there are different understandings of marriage and that no member of clergy is compelled to conduct any marriage against their conscience. Only those clergy who wish to solemnise marriages of same-gender couples will be nominated to the civil authorities for authorisation to do so.”

Bishop Strange said: “In June the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church voted to change its Canon on Marriage. This decision was ours to take as a self-governing province of the Anglican Communion.

“However, I recognise that this decision is one that has caused some hurt and anger in parts of the Anglican Communion and that the decision taken at the last Primates’ Meeting, which was to exclude our brothers and sisters in the [US-based] Episcopal Church from debate on doctrine and from chairing Anglican Communion committees, is a decision that now also pertains to us.

“We will continue to play our part in the Anglican Communion we helped to establish, and I will do all I can to rebuild relationships, but that will be done from the position our Church has now reached in accordance with its synodical processes and in the belief that love means love.”

In his briefing to reporters, Archbishop Justin said that some primates had raised the question on whether the “consequences” decided by the Primates at their meeting in 2016 on the US-based Episcopal Church had been followed through.

“I went through what we have done and they were satisfied,” he said. “I think I can show very clearly that everything that was decided that could be carried out was carried out.”

He said that the primates raised two “confusions” over the decision:

“One was that the Episcopal Church … was at the Anglican Consultative Council Meeting in Lusaka last year. Of course the ACC is a Trust under English law. They are members of that trust. In fact one of them at the time, although he has stepped down, was a trustee. I have no power to overrule English law and say they can’t come. And so that was explained. I don’t think that had been fully understood.

“The other was asking why the Presiding Bishop of TEC was on the task group looking at walking together. When you look at the wording of what was decided last time it was perfectly clear that there needed to be a conversation, a dialogue, about what it meant. And you clearly can’t have a conversation when you only have one group in the room.

“Talking to people over dinner last night and since, there has been no disagreement with that.”

The Primates spent Monday morning in a spiritual retreat in Canterbury Cathedral before a day-and-a-half discussing “internal matters to the Communion.” They will spend the next three days discussing issues of concern to the Primates, including safeguarding, climate change, inter-faith relations and religious liberty – including the continuing plight of Christians in the Middle East.

Archbishop Welby “taken aback” by Las Vegas prayer criticism

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said that he was “taken aback” by criticism of the decision to ask the Presiding Bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church to pray for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. Bishop Curry prayed for the victims at the start of Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral, England, last night (Monday) on the first day of the Primates’ Meeting.

This afternoon (Tuesday), the Revd Canon Andrew Gross, Canon for Communications and Media Relations for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), speaking on behalf of Gafcon, said that the decision to invite Michael Curry to lead the congregation in prayer at the Evensong service “put the Gafcon primates in a difficult spot.” Speaking at a press conference in a hotel near Canterbury Cathedral, he said that they were “forced to look like they are walking together when they are not walking together.”

Later, when asked to respond to the comment during a press briefing at Canterbury Cathedral, Archbishop Welby said that he was “slightly taken aback.”

He continued: “Michael Curry, who is a citizen of the United States, was asked by us – after we had talked with anguish about the events in Las Vegas – we said: ‘Could you lead a prayer as we begin our prayers together at Evensong?’

“People all over the world are praying for Las Vegas,” he said. “I don’t think we ought to bring church politics into Las Vegas. I mean, it is the most dreadful, horrendous, appalling event. I suppose that I would be surprised and disappointed by that comment.”

It is not thought that Canon Gross was speaking on behalf of any of the archbishops attending the Primates’ Meeting. ACNA is not a province of the Anglican Communion and its primate, Archbishop Foley Beach, was not invited to the meeting.