“Abandoned in Deepest Africa”

Does that title have a double meaning? Oh, those “backwards” Africans. But surely they’ll continue to let us condescend to them for the rest of the trip! Nope, sorry: “hospitality withdrawn.”

The Rev Christopher Newlands, chaplain to Bishop Gladwin, and not part of the Kenya visit, said: “We are shocked but are trying to see what we can do to recover the planned programme and make the best possible use of their time out there.

“The group of curates with the bishop are experiencing the work of the church in Africa and are trying to build bridges between Chelmsford and four dioceses in East Africa so we are disappointed with the reaction.

“I hope that we can get over this misunderstanding and make clear our determination to carry forward the Lambeth Resolutions and to learn how God is at work in all his people in England and in Kenya.”

Ah yes, “building bridges” with other Anglicans by tearing down the bridges with the communio sanctorum. The benighted bigots “misunderstood” and “reacted” disappointingly. Isn’t that how it always goes? The ones who are truly causing the offense act as if they are completely taken aback by the fact that anyone would dare to question their fidelity to the Faith. You mean there are still people out there who think that “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered” behavior is a sin? News to us.

“Bishop Gladwin is trying to meet Archbishop Nzimbi to explain what patronage of the Changing Attitude group means.” Thanks, Rev. Newlands, but I think we know what it means. Sometimes a misunderstanding is not a misunderstanding at all.


“Tell It to the Church”

You have to love litigation as the cure-all for ecclesiastical problems. In Dallas, two members of a church called “Watermark” are suing to prevent the pastor from talking to other people about their sins, which, according to the story, they “thought they had revealed…to Watermark’s pastor confidentially.”

I don’t know all the details of how Watermark works things out. Some things seem a little strange, like “Watermark’s bylaws say a member ‘may not resign from membership in an attempt to avoid such care and correction,'” and “Watermark’s next step would have been to send more than a dozen letters to people who know “John Doe” – half to Watermark members and half to members of other churches who know and have worked with him.”

“The basis of the lawsuit was the church wanted to go outside of the church and the community at large, including potentially even their employers,” said Jeff Tillotson, attorney for the man and woman.

But this story raises the larger issue of church discipline and what kinds of risks congregations take in actually exercising it. I kind of doubt that the pastor of Watermark was engaged in private confession and absolution. It sounds like they just told him their sins and he felt like he had to begin the discipline process. It also sounds like the man refused to repent of the behavior for which he was called to account.

It’s always a little risky to draw conclusions from newspaper stories, when all the details are not known. This will be something to watch, especially for pastors and congregations who take church discipline seriously.