of South East Asia
Breaking of Communion with the Episcopal Church of the United States of America consequent on the purported consecration of a gay bishop
The Synod of the Province of the Anglican Church of South East Asia (“the Province”) unanimously reject the purported consecration of Dr Gene J Robinson (“Robinson”) on 2 November 2003 by the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (“ECUSA”) in New Hampshire, as a bishop in the Anglican Church. The Province views the purported consecration as a flagrant disregard of the fundamental teachings of the Bible and the long established doctrines of the Church.
As Dr Gene J Robinson is a practising homosexual who had divorced his wife and has for the last 13 years been living with a male partner, the Province cannot and do not recognize his consecration and ministry in the Anglican church.
In view of ECUSA's action in proceeding with the consecration despite the warnings and pleas of a large majority of Anglican churches worldwide, the Province regrets that communion with the ECUSA as well as those who voted for the consecration and those who participated in the consecration service is now broken.
This means that the Province no longer treats those in ECUSA who carried out and supported the act of consecration as brothers and sisters in Christ until and unless they repent of their action and return to embrace Biblical truths. At the same time, the Province remains in fellowship with the faithful believers within ECUSA who rightly oppose and reject the erroneous actions of their house.
This decision was made unanimously at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Synod held in Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia on 20 November 2003. A copy of the resolution is attached for general information.
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STATEMENT OF BREAKING COMMUNION
1. Episcopal Church of the United States of America [ECUSA]
On 5th August 2003, despite the strong and clear warning and pleading of a large majority of the Provinces in the Anglican Communion, the General Convention of ECUSA confirmed the election of the Dr. Gene Robinson to be the Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire. Dr Gene Robinson thus became the first known practising homosexual who had divorced his wife, separated from his two children and chosen to live with his male partner for 13 years to hold the office of a Bishop in the Anglican Communion. His confirmation created a crisis of faith and leadership in the Anglican Communion which led to the convening of a special emergency meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion by the Archbishop of Canterbury in London from 15th to 16th October 2003.
At this special meeting in Lambeth, many Primates reiterated the profound pain they felt which was caused by the controversial confirmation on Dr Gene Robinson’s election. The Primates declared:
“These actions threaten the unity of our own Communion as well as our relationships with other parts of Christ’s Church, our mission and witness, and our relations with other faiths, in a world already confused in areas of sexuality, morality and theology, and polarized Christian opinion.”
In the same meeting, the Primates warned against the consecration of Dr Gene Robinson and further declared that:
his Consecration proceeds, we recognize that we have reached a crucial
and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we
have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be
put in jeopardy. In this case, the ministry of this one bishop
not be recognized by most of the Anglican world, and many provinces
are likely to consider themselves to be out of Communion with the Episcopal
Church (USA). This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest
level, and may lead to further division on this and further
as provinces have to decide in consequence whether they can remain
in communion with provinces that choose not to break communion
Yet on 2nd November, 2003 the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA and some of his Bishops went ahead and consecrated Dr Gene Robinson to be a Bishop. We are appalled that ECUSA proceeded with the said consecration in total disregard for the faith and unity of the Anglican Communion.
Thus at this first opportunity, we, the members of the Synod of the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia, want to support and endorse the Statement issued by the Bishops of our Province dated 13th August 2003 and the Statement of the Global South Primates issued on their behalf by Archbishop Peter Akinola dated 2nd November 2003.
In view of the serious breach of fundamental teachings of the Bible and the long established doctrines of the Church Universal, we make the following declarations:
(i) We do not recognize the ministry of Dr Gene Robinson as a Bishop in the Anglican Church.
(ii) We are no longer in communion with the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA and all those Bishops and Dioceses [Appendix A] who voted for the confirmation of Dr Gene Robinson’s election and those who joined in the consecration of the same.
(iii) We encourage and support our Primate to work with like-minded Primates, Bishops and churches in the Anglican Communion to urge ECUSA to repentance and to return to the faith that has been given to the Church Universal. If ECUSA refuses to repent, we will commit ourselves through our Primate to work with like-minded Primates for the realignment of the Anglican Communion.
(iv) We support the call of the Primates of the Provinces concerned “to make adequate provision for Episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates.” We request our Primate to take an active part whenever required in this matter.
(v) We support and reaffirm ourselves to be in communion with that part of the Anglican Communion including those faithfuls in ECUSA who accept and endorse the principles as clearly defined by Resolution I.10 [Appendix B] of the Lambeth Conference 1998 and the various Primates’ Meetings since 1998.
We affirm and endorse the Statement of Breaking Communion issued by the House of Bishops of this Province to the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada, dated 6th June 2003 in consequence of its authorization of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions and the implementation of the same, effective 28th May 2003.
We further support our Primate’s involvement in giving appropriate help and support to those orthodox parishes under persecution, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
I] List of Bishops who voted for the Confirmation of Dr Gene Robinson
II] Participating Bishops at the Consecration of Dr Gene Robinson
Most Rev. Frank T Griswold
Krister Stendahl, Lutheran Church
of Sweden Bishop Emeritus
Episcopal Diocesan Bishops
Rev. Joe Burnett,
Suffragan, assisting and retired Episcopal Bishops
Rev. Craig Anderson,
(a) commends to the Church the subsection report on human sexuality;
(b) in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage;
(c) recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;
(d) while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialism of sex;
(e) cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions;
(f) requests the Primates and the ACC to establish a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion and to share statements and resources among us;
(g) notes the significance of the Kuala Lumpur Statement on Human Sexuality and the concerns expressed in resolutions IV.26; V.1, V.10, V.23 and V.35 on the authority of Scripture in matters of marriage and sexuality and asks the Primates and the ACC to include them in their monitoring process.
Background on the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia
The Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia is a union of all Anglican churches in South East Asia, with ecclesiastical responsibility over 9 nations namely: Malaysia (West Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah), Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Brunei, Laos and Nepal.
Anglican churches are organized into dioceses, with each diocese being headed by a Bishop. Each diocese is then part of a province, which is led by its overall spiritual leader, known ecclesiastically as the Primate. The Primate of the Province is currently Archbishop, Most Rev Datuk Yong Ping Chung of the Diocese of Sabah.
The Anglican Communion is a historical fellowship of Anglican churches worldwide. They meet formally at Lambeth Conferences (named after the Lambeth Palace, where the Archbishop of Canterbury as Primate of the Church of England presides) once every 10 years for fellowship and to discuss matters concerning church doctrines and issues that may impact the church and/or society. Provinces are represented at these Conferences by their bishops and Primates. There are altogether 38 Primates in the Anglican Communion. In between Conferences, Primates meet for consultations.
At the Lambeth Conference 1998, the attempt to authorize and implement public blessing of same-sex unions/“marriages” was defeated by a large majority of bishops despite strong lobbying from ECUSA [Episcopal Church of the United States of America] and some bishops in England, Canada and Australia. The Province of South East Asia has consistently maintained that same sex unions are against the course of nature, totally against Biblical teachings and Church doctrines and an abomination to God.