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Event coverage: the Singapore/ECUSA consecrations

by Brian Reid, Anglicans Online News Centre Editor
4 March 2000

This is a summary digest of the Anglicans Online coverage of the consecration in Singapore of two US priests as bishops to be sent to the US. It was produced by distilling the chronological reports in the News Centre.

We have made no attempt to track down everything published about this event and link it. In particular, there is a large body of correspondence within and between the various lobbying organisations. Should you wish to read it, there are generally links to much of that material on those organisations' web sites.


What happened: summary, and statements by principals
Background: why did this happen?
Comments by interested parties
Media coverage

What happened: summary, and statements by principals

On 29 January 2000 at St Andrew's Cathedral in Singapore, two U.S. priests were consecrated as bishops in a small ceremony beginning at 6:00 pm Singapore time. The two men consecrated were Charles H "Chuck" Murphy III and Dr John H. Rodgers, Jr. The newly-minted Bishop Murphy is the leader of First Promise and at the time of the consecrations was Rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. The newly-minted Bishop Rodgers, former Dean of the Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, is a principal of the Association of Anglican Congregations on Mission, whose Founding Articles of Faith and Governance you may read for yourself and which presumably was written by Dr Rogers.

There were six Anglican bishops present at the ceremony. Three were listed in press releases as the consecrators: The Most Revd Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop of the Province of Rwanda, the Most Revd Moses Tay, Archbishop of the Province of South East Asia, and the Rt Revd John Ruchyahana, Bishop of Shyira (Rwanda). They were assisted by the Rt Revd C. Fitzimmons Allison, retired Bishop of South Carolina, the Rt Revd Alex D. Dickson, retored Bishop of West Tennessee, and the Rt Revd David Pytches, former Bishop of Chile, Bolivia and Peru and now a vicar in England. Interviews with acolytes conducted two days after the consecrations led to some disagreement as to just how many of the bishops present had laid hands on the consecrands.

The Most Revd Dr George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, issued a Press statement and then, later, a position statement.

The two primates who participated the consecrations wrote this letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has put his copy of it on the ACNS web site.

The Most Revd Dr. George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, released a letter to the Primates of the Anglican Communion. In it e states that the Singapore consecrations violate Anglican rules and practice, and are therefore illegal. He therefore says that will not recognize the two men as bishops. The ACNS also issued a brief press release announcing the letter.

The newly-consecrated bishops responded quickly, if briefly.

Chuck Murphy has written an explanation of 'what does my consecration mean'.

The Anglican Communion News Service has written this report on the Singapore consecrations.

Background: why did this happen?

The background of this story was described last year by ECUSA's Jim Solheim. There has been talk of schism in ECUSA for some time, and the establishment in 1998 of a parish in Arkansas that was part of the Anglican Church of Rwanda may have been the first actual activity. AACOM issued a press release announcing the consecrations, which offers some explanation of why. You can read the statements by the people who were consecrated, and by the people who did the consecrating. Here is an additional statement by two of the bishops present at the consecration.

Comments by interested parties

Comments by church officials

The Most Revd Frank Griswold, ECUSA Presiding Bishop, issued this statement.

The Revd Canon John Peterson, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, posted this response, which is, alas, not visible with Netscape because of a coding error. Anglicans Online has made a local copy for Netscape users.

The Most Revd Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, issued this statement. He later published a column in the Toronto Globe and Mail (Canada's second-largest newspaper) entitled 'Bishops shouldn't be used as pawns'.

The attorney for the Diocese of South Carolina gave an opinion that Mr Murphy cannot be both a bishop and a parish priest at the same time; story in the Post and Courier.

Episcopal News Service reported late afternoon on 10 February that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church met with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Public comments by bishops

Some bishops have written comments that are in private circulation; we will not link them here until we are certain that the bishop has made them public and that we have an authentic version. If you know of an official statement by an in-communion bishop that we do not list here, please tell us its URL.

Comments by lobbying organisations

Forward in Faith North America: a statement, and an event summary page.

Reform Ireland: this press statement about Dr Carey's letter.

US Prayer Book Society: a first response, and, later, an essay.

Comments by other parties

Anglicans Online asked Tuck-Leong Lee, an Anglican in Singapore who is known to us and whom we knew would have access to the people involved, to interview local Singapore clergy and acolytes and write a report on what he learned. He filed this essay, and also distributed it widely over standard email channels. The Chairman of the Servers Guild at St Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore, wrote a letter to Anglicans Online challenging some of Tuck-Leong Lee's assertions.

The Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry posted this response,

Media coverage

The Charleston (South Carolina USA) Post and Courier, the local newspaper where Mr. Murphy lives, ran a front-page article and, the next day, this analysis. Later it published this article reporting that the Bishop of South Carolina is questioning whether or not Mr Murphy will be allowed to remain as rector of his parish. February 5 it ran this story describing the meeting of the Diocesan Executive Council for the neighboring Diocese of Upper South Carolina. It reported on 10 February that 'Bishop says he'll stay a priest with new title'. Two days later it reported that Bishop Edward Salmon, in his address to convention, drew a comparison between Charles H "Chuck" Murphy III and Martin Luther King. On February 18 the Post and Courier published this article about Dr Carey's ruling and this story about Mr Murphy's reply, but published this 'clarification' of it on March 3.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the local newspaper where Dr Rodgers lives, ran this article about the consecrations, and later this article about the statement from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry.

The US Episcopal News Service posted this story by Kathryn McCormick and later this summary. Later that story was updated by Ed Stannard of Episcopal Life to produce a summary report that is the only one we know of on the web that includes a photograph taken at the consecration. In March 2000 the Episcopal News Service added this ongoing analysis.

Associated Press: this news report and a feature article by the Associated Press religion writer Richard Ostling,

The Church Times (England) published this article (don't miss the cartoon near the end) and a this editorial.

The Telegraph (London) carried this article by Victoria Combe.

The Washington Times, a US newspaper owned by Korea's Universal Life Church, published this article.

The National Post (Ottawa, Canada) writes that 'Rift rocks Anglican Church: Renegades from Singapore'.

The Times (London) reports on the letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, saying that 'Two Anglican archbishops have warned the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, that his efforts to resolve divisions in the Church over homosexuality are doomed to failure.'

The Independent (London) wrote this report of the meeting between Dr Carey and Mr Griswold.

The Telegraph (London) noted Dr. Carey's ruling, as did the Guardian (London).

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