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Anglicans Online last updated 9 December 2018
|Consecration of the Rev'd Charles H. Murphy
III and the Rev'd John H. Rogers Jr to the Episcopate At the Cathedral Church of St Andrew, Singapore
Lee Tuck-Leong (firstname.lastname@example.org)
SINGAPORE: On the 29th January, 2000, a Saturday afternoon, about 30 people gathered at the Anglican Cathedral of Singapore for the consecration of the aforementioned persons. The ceremonies began at 6.00pm in the evening. The participants of the rite included the episcopal party that consisted of the Most Rev'd Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop of Rwanda, The Most Rev'd Moses Tay, Archbishop of the Province of South-East Asia, the Right Rev'd John Ruchyahana, Bishop of the Diocese of Shyira in Rwanda, the Right Rev C Fitzimmons Allison, the 13th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, Episcopal Church, USA; the Right Rev Alex D Dickson, the first Bishop of the Diocese of West Tennessee, Episcopal Church, USA; and the Right Rev David Pytches, the former Bishop of Chile, Bolivia and Peru and presently a rector in a parish of the Church of England. The other presbyters involved were the Very Rev'd John Tay, brother of The Most Rev'd Moses Tay and Dean of the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, The Rev'd Canon James Wong, and an unknown Caucasian priest. Other people present were about four acolytes and fifteen other relatives and friends of the episcopal candidates.
The ceremony began with an atmosphere of uncertainty and confusion. Prior to the service, the acolytes were called for in the afternoon on Saturday and informed of the service. The service time was uncertain, stated at perhaps 5.00p.m. or 6.00p.m. At around 4.40 p.m., the Very Rev'd John Tay gave a briefing to the acolytes. The episcopal candidates were described as people unable to be consecrated Bishops in the Episcopal Church of the United States because of their opposition to the 'pro-homosexual' agendas of the Church. The service was originally intended to be held on the following day but was brought forward in order to prevent disruption to the ceremonies by people of 'ill-intentions', and that included possible delegates from Canterbury or people associated with the 'liberal' Episcopal Church. The acolytes were told to look out for 'suspicious' characters, and if needed, to physically restrain any who might disrupt the service, and to call the police, if necessary.
Apparently, none of the acolytes were informed of the gravity of the action nor of the repercussions resulting thereof. Till today, some of the acolytes are begrudging the fact that they have not officially been informed of the responses to the consecrations from within the worldwide Anglican Communion. In fact the whole service was held in such a hushed manner that a confused presbyter based at Saint Andrew's Cathedral, the Rev'd Dennis Lee, was asking around for some clues as to what was happening. There were, however, some presbyters who knew that the service would take place. The Rev'd Christopher Ponniah, for example, was well informed of the service beforehand. He described the consecration to be a diocesan decision taken up by people of the higher hierarchy and refused any further comments and instead referred any enquiry to the the Rev'd Canon James Wong, who organised the service. The Rev'd Canon James Wong refused to make any comment.
Describing the consecration as a diocesan decision will stretch the reality too far out. Many clergy are still not informed of what took place. Three vicars randomly interviewed expressed surprise that it even took place at all, with expressions of incredulity. Normally, any bishop that is to be consecrated has to be approved by the Diocesan Synod and the decision rectified by the House of Bishop. In this case, none of the above was involved. Due to the lack of a proper process, the legality of the service is questioned. In any case of an episcopal consecration in Singapore, the Diocesan Chancellor will be called upon to read the authorisation for the consecration and to provide a 'legal' presence. In this case, the Diocesan Chancellor, Justice Lai Kew Chai, who was invited to the consecrations, refused to attend, on the ground that though he is the Chancellor for the diocese, and the consecrations had nothing to do with the diocese. The Diocesan Chancellor was not the only person who boycotted the event. Assistant bishop to Moses Tay, The Right Rev'd John Tan has also chosen to disassociate himself from the consecrations. The consecrations, he said, were purely of the Diocesan Bishops' own doing. He has also stated emphatically that both Charles Murphy and John Rogers do not belong to any diocese within the Anglican Communion. It is for this reason that the oath of obedience to a provincial primate was not present in the liturgy. When revealed that the Most Rev'd Moses Tay refused to reveal anything on the consecrations, he further commented that surely that said a lot. It is also interesting to note that originally, three candidates were supposed to be consecrated. The Rev'd Jon Shuler, a Diocesan missionary to the deanery of Vietnam had been offered the Episcopate. He declined the offer.
Another impediment to the regularity of the consecrations is, contrary to the official press release from Saint Andrew's Cathedral which named three consecrating bishops, only The Most Rev'd Moses Tay and the Most Rev'd Emmanuel Kolini served as the consecrating bishops. The other bishops merely said prayers of blessings over the candidates. One senior cleric suggested that there are some who question the validity of the consecrations on this ground.
One member of Saint Andrew's Cathedral commented that the consecrations were highly insensitive to Anglican protocol. What happens, he asked, if the Episcopal Church decides to send bishops to Singapore? On the Provincial level, the Bishop of West Malaysia, the Right Rev'd Lim Chang Ean is aware of the consecration. He will not release any comment until the issue is dealt with in the Provincial House of Bishops' meeting later in February.
The Most Rev'd Moses Tay will retire on the 1st of April, 2000.
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