29 January 2000: Surprise consecration of US Bishops in Singapore
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 recent activity. Today another
schismatic step was taken in ECUSA. Seven Anglican bishops from around the world met in Singapore to consecrate Charles H "Chuck"
Murphy III and Dr John H. Rodgers, Jr as bishops who are administratively outside
the governance of the province they will serve in.
The background of this story was described last year
by ECUSA's Jim Solheim. The newly-minted Bishop Murphy is the leader of First Promise and
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. AACOM's web site indicates that they have
been begging for schism for a while now; it would seem that their wish is being granted. The Archbishop of Sydney, hardly a liberal,
has expressed his dismay as have the Archbishop
of Canterbury and the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA.
Whether this group allies itself with an existing schismatic group
or forms yet another remains to be seen. Their doctrine, as much as we understand it, is similar to that of, say, the Reformed
Episcopal Church, which has existed for more than a century. But their liturgical traditions are probably quite different.
The consecrators were 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, retired Bishop of West Tennessee,
and the Rt Revd David Pytches, former Bishop of Chile, Bolivia and Peru and now a vicar in England.
We should like to remind you of the essay "Heresy
versus Schism: Which is Worse?" by the Revd Pierre Whalon, rector of St Andrew's Episcopal Church in Fort Pierce, Florida.
Since ECUSA did not take our advice and cancel General Convention this year, we figure that now they will have an issue to center their
Updates and responses in chronological
order as of 20 February 2000
ECUSA's Presiding Bishop released
a letter to all bishops in the communion and another to all primates. The Archbishop of Canterbury released a press
statement. AACOM has issued a press release announcing
the consecrations. The Rt Revd William Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh (in
whose diocese Dr Rodgers lives) issued this statement. 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. Forward in Faith
North America has on its web site copies of a
response by Dr Peter Toon, president of the Prayer Book Society of the United States, and an
essay about it, also by Dr Toon. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the local newspaper where Dr Rodgers lives, ran this
article about it. The 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 Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry posted this
response, which its local newspaper described as "distancing
itself from consecration of bishops." The US Episcopal News Service posted this
story by Kathryn McCormick. The British press picked up the story; Victoria Combe wrote this
article in The Telegraph (London). The Washington Times, a US newspaper owned by Korea's Universal Life Church, published this
article. The Bishop of South Carolina (in whose diocese Mr Murphy lives) has issued this
The story has made the US national news wires; here is an Associated
Press report and a feature article by the Associated
Press religion writer Richard Ostling, As the excitement calms down and people have time to think, end-of-week summary analyses
are being published. The US Episcopal News Service published this summary.
The Church Times (England) published this one (don't miss
the cartoon near the end) and a very strong editorial, presumably
by Church Times editor Paul Handley.
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 Associated Press carried this story
describing the meeting of the Diocesan Executive Council for the neighboring (to Mr Murphy) Diocese of Upper South Carolina. Forward
in Faith North America has issued this official statement
on the Singapore Consecrations. The Most Revd Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has issued this
statement. The two primates who performed the consecrations have written this letter
to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has put his copy
of it on the ACNS web site (you can compare our transcription with his if you like). The Charleston (South Carolina USA) Post and
Courier, local newspaper to Mr Murphy's parish, has 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. Archbishops Goodhew (Sydney), Mtetemela (Tanzania), and Sinclair (Southern Cone) have issued this short joint
statement on the consecrations. The attorney for the Diocese of South Carolina has given an opinion that Mr Murphy cannot be both
a bishop and a parish priest at the same time; story in the Post and
Regardless of your opinions on this matter, you might get a chuckle out of this sentence from the
statement (referenced in previous paragraph) by Canada's primate, Michael Peers: "Bishops are not intercontinental ballistic missiles,
manufactured on one continent and fired into another as an act of aggression."
The National Post (Ottawa, Canada) writes that 'Rift
rocks Anglican Church: Renegades from Singapore'. The Post and Courier reports 10 February that 'Bishop
says he'll stay a priest with new title'. 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.'
Episcopal News Service reported late afternoon on 10 February that the Presiding
Bishop of the Episcopal Church met with the Archbishop of Canterbury. 'It will be Carey's task "to determine the canonical status"
of the two American priests who were recently ordained to the episcopate in Singapore, Griswold reported. The archbishop's chancellor,
or legal advisor, was a part of the continuing conversation on that issue', according to the news release.
Archbishop Michael Peers, presiding bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada, has published a column
in the Toronto Globe and Mail (Canada's second-largest newspaper) entitled 'Bishops
shouldn't be used as pawns'. Bishop Claude Payne, Diocesan of Texas, has issued this
statement. Bishop Charles Jones of Montana has issued this statement.
Bishop William Smalley of Kansas has issued this statement. The
Church Times has published an essay by Archbishop Harry Goodhew
of the Diocese of Sydney.
The Diocese of South Carolina, where one of the newly consecrated bishops was a parish priest, is
holding its annual diocesan convention. According to an article in
the Post and Courier (Saturday, 12 February) Bishop Edward Salmon, in his address to
convention, drew a comparison between Charles H "Chuck" Murphy III and Martin Luther King and indicated he 'would be willing
to license [Murphy] to function sacramentally' as a missionary bishop.
The Bishop of California has written a wry editorial
in the form of a mock advertisement for Anglican Airlines. Two of the bishops who participated in the consecration have issued
We noted this afternoon an entry in the diary
that Bishop Dorsey Henderson kept during the House of Bishops meeting in Camp Allen, Texas, March 1999. 'Comment by the Archbishop
of Canterbury in saying “no” to the suggestion, by First Promise and others, that a separate province of the Anglican Communion be established
in the United States: “That’s silly!”' And his pastoral letter
to his diocese is now on the Diocese of Upper South Carolina's web site.
Dr. George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has released a letter
to the Primates of the Anglican Communion. He states that the Singapore consecrations violate Anglican rules and practice, and are
therefore illegal. He therefore will not recognize the two men as bishops. The ACNS issued a brief press
release announcing the letter. The Telegraph (London) noted
the event, as did the Guardian (London) and
the Church Times. The newly-consecrated bishops responded
quickly, if briefly, perhaps moved by the coverage in Mr Murphy's
hometown newspaper. Chuck Murphy has written an explanation of 'what does my consecration
mean'. And that same hometown paper has written this story
about Mr Murphy's reply. Reform Ireland, a conservative lobbying group, published this
press statement about Dr Carey's letter.
The Rt Revd John B Lipscomb, Bishop of Southwest Florida, has announced that 'Bishops
From Singapore Unwelcome Here'. The Chairman of the Servers Guild at St Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore, has written a letter
to Anglicans Online challenging some of Tuck-Leong Lee's assertions in the above-listed article. We don't see major disagreement,
particularly on the most important issue of the number of bishops laying hands, but as always we want to let you decide for yourself.