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Press Conference with Bishop Peter Beckwith (live blog)

By Matt Kennedy, Stand Firm

Bishop Peter Beckwith at an impromptu press conference on the lawn outside of the Darwin Building 3:45 pm:

I want to set a few ground rules.

Don’t bait me. I would ask that you identify yourself and your organization. I would also ask that you report accurately. If you have a question I would have you clarify because if you print what is not what I think I said I will suggest that people “consider the source” which would not be a compliment to you.

I am the Bishop of Springfield. In Illinios, in TEC, in the US.

I was born again July 31st 1940. That is when I was baptized in TEC. On the fiftieth anniversary of that occasion I called to thank my parents for what they had done for me. I was grateful that they had included me in the kingdom of God under the Lordship of Christ. Since then I have been growing in Christ under the scriptures which point directly to the Trinity, the God we worship and it talks about the Church, the Fellowship, and the sacraments we’ve been given to share together.

I was ordained a deacon on 29 June 64

A priest on Jan 6, 1965

These are special days for me. One is the feast of Sts Peter and Paul and the other is the Feast of Epiphany.

On 29 Feb 1992, consecrated a bishop

Hard to keep these straight as I get older.

I was ordained into a church that did not have women on vestries. They were not allowed to serve as delegates to diocesan synods or to represent the diocese at General Convention. I do not think we had a better church then. I do not think it was better because of that gender discrimination.

What concerns me most about the time that followed and the inclusion of women into full ministry is how we went about it. In 1974 women were ordained, the Philadelphia 11, by retired bishops, one the parent of one of the odinands. Nothing was done about that. In 76 at Gen Con, the ordinations regularized. Those 11 ordinations paved the way for WO in diocese that wanted to do it

Since that time it has become prescriptive. You are not to discriminate between male and female candidates for the priesthood. Some in TEC, as you know, do that. That is a discussion on another level and I don’t what to get into it at this time. That set the course for the behavior of TEC when it came to the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals.

That has brought us to the brink of schism and as perhaps you know 270 bishops are not here maybe more and maybe less. They, arguably, represent the majority of the AC

My journey here was roundabout. I was not gong to come for many reasons. Some was expense. What would the investment produce? Is it appropriate to sit and talk to folks who are on a different page, not simply a different page, another book, not just another book but an entirely different library. Some feel that sitting here gives credit to those who are in that other library.

But I was convicted by the Lord to come here and GAFCON and I am glad I went to both

They are different experiences, both valuable. It is good to be with people who believe the Creeds.

In TEC I do not get that sense. But here, it almost immediately became obvious to me that there are many more orthodox bishops than I expected.

I am really glad I came.

We can talk about the process, there are concerns. We have had some wonderful gatherings and I think there is progress being made on the statement. The proof is in the pudding and we will have to wait and see. It is almost an impossible task for 600 bishops to say something appropriate and helpful and encouraging and in sync with the mission of the church and the gospel of Christ in the time allotted. There is progress

Will the document be perfect? No. Will it be helpful? We hope.

A couple of days ago we were in an indaba group talking about interfaith relations. IT was mainly an opportunity to hear from bishops where Christianity is a minority

I am from Illinois, in the Midwest of the US. I too deal with interfaith relationships. We do not have many Seiks, Muslims, or Hindus, in my diocese, maybe in Chicago, but not in Springfield.

My situation is that I am dealing with interfaith relationships within TEC and the sub province, the 5th, of TEC.

We have heard talk that there are 2 gospels being preached in TEC and the AC and we have heard that clain denied. I believe the former is true and if you doubt that then read the Lambeth Witness being published here. That certainly leads me to believe that my assessment is true

There is stronger evidence.

Is Jesus Lord and Savior? Or is he friend and prophet? If he is not Lord and Savior is then whether he is friend and prophet is unimportant (?)

Is Jesus a way or our way or the is he the way?

Is truth what you think it is or is all truth God’s truth and it is our challenge to discern what that truth is?

All of these things are being said in TEC. I almost fell out of my chair in the HOB years ago when a bishop said, the church wrote the bible and the church can change it.

We cannot do that on our own? What kind of integrity would we have if we did that as merely a province?

I can go on and on. There are surely different libraries that we are living in.

The challenge of this conference is to make fundamental determinations not the least of which is: is non-celibate homosexual activity a wholesome witness within the church and to the world?

I think there is an opportunity for the WCG to point the church in one of two directions

1. It can be an inclusive Church


2. it can be a church grounded in orthodox principle’s

If we ride the fence we will suffer

It is time that that choice has been made



Tim Morgan: who speaks for conservatives here?

A: I do not. I speak for myself. What I say is what I believe. I do not think there is anyone who speaks for conservatives any more than there is anyone who speaks for the institutionalists or revisionists

Q: ENS: Given what you said about the two rival gospels being preached, what do you think about the bible and mission process today, about the bishops engaging in mission with the bible

A: I thought my bible study and indaba groups were wonderful. Referencing the nibble is not enough. There must be agreement on what it is saying.

Is it a challenging document or is it a document to affirm everything I want to do?

We are all idolaters. I discovered in 03, that I had been putting TEC in front of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I committed myself not to do that any more. In 2006 I realized I was still working on that process.

I am doing a lot better.

Kallsen: you mentioned you discovered a lot of conservative bishops are here. Can you name names?

A: I could but I think you should ask them yourselves.

Q: you said “sitting on the fence” is the alternative to schism?

A: people being what they are I tank you cold say yes. However redeemed people, no. WE can be drawn together. The one thin about the kingdom of God. We cannot have it on our terms.

Tom Jackson: is it your opinion that TEC repent and If so would GACON come back

A:I would think so. Repentance means change direction;. What I am hearing is that this is not possible. A bishop yesterday said he would not sacrifice his homosexual colleagues, it sounded like a deal breaker. I believe in an inclusive church, if it were not I could not be in her. A forgiving church. I believe only in Christ do I have any place to stand

A quick story., went back to the 10th anniversary of my high school reunion…my classmates could not ebeing it. The church took me.

The only reason I would presume to do what I do is to demonstrate that if God can use me he can use anyone

Q: Then do you have any words of hope to GLBT people

A: A lifestyle may not be a wholesome witness to the church. The American church has gone on its own with he idea that they were going to just do it and if anyone has a problem with it they can just get over, it,. It is arrogance

Q: What should the church do about gay bishops?

A: we have already done it, we need to continue in conversations and not just assume that what we do is appropriate

Q: there were two provincial meetings yesterday. Do you see any sense of coming together? Do things seem to move toward a common mind

A: to be frank, I go into those meanings I go out confused. For example we were told at the first meeting or second, that the Sudanese statement was a misunderstanding and that there would be a clarification issued: ‘They do not have a problem with what we are doing.’

Has anyone seen a memo?

No. these people believe that what we do costs them lives. Do they want to get along? Yes. If we do not change will the communion continue? Questionable.

Q: you say you cannot have the gospel on your own terms, are not you suggesting that the whole church should have the gospel on your terms.

A: I have not said anything that the church has not said for 2000 years. How can you say I am making it on my terms? You say you are a bible believer. Is it about us or God?

Q: God

A: [unintelligible]

Q: yes…

A: so in the us being a promiscuous culture, is there any chance that we view sex on our terms rather than God’s terms. And maybe we need to decide, as the eniels says, whether there is a purpose to sex , god’s purpose

I am open to a discussion. I am not open to people just saying without conscience.

Q: would you say TEC is a Christian denomination?

A: A person tells me he is of Christ, I cannot debate that. Scripture is clear. God judges. We can’t. I remember that. I remember that vote very clearly. It was overwhelmingly defeated. We did not need to pass that it was said because we did it once. Imagine using that standard with worship. WE prayed once why do it again. The tenets of the faith remind us of who we are and whose we are. I think that was defeated because we will not put up with anything that interferes with the current agenda which I inclusion of LGBT in every level of the Church

For me orientation is not the issue, but the behavior. I do not care if someone us heterosexual or homosexual, I want to know what they are doing. There is a lot more misconduct among heterosexuals than homosexuals. The fact is that sex outside of marriage…a man and a woman… is the standard, God says

You want to debate, I am willing to listen. But first you have to act on it with consensus and then confirm to see who are disturbed by your action.

The early church determined that schism is caused by those who cause the split

Q: Will you align with another province if the ABC ride the fence?

A: I do not know what I am going to do other than serve Jesus. If we cannot focus on Christ, I am gong to have to do something else.

Under ordinary circumstance I would have retired 3 years ago. I have three more, max. I stayed on because I do not want people to think I can be chased off. There are not too many occasions where I have quit, I do not know what I am going to do but I hope it is responsible.

Q: Are you content with the indaba groups and the way the conference is set up, given that this is a crisis time and a once in a decade opportunity.

A: I had my own concerns when I read about it. I said there was no sense in going to that. It sounds like it is designed like the HOB.

It is important to get together but more importantly is to deal with issues; we’ll have to see. I can see it coming, I do not think we will have it tied up at the end of the week, we’ll have to see.

Q: Are you afraid that it will be difficult to replace yourself with a conservative bishops?

A: No

Q: In light of Lawrence

A: There are any number of people who could succeed me and do a better job. Hopefully I have done something they can build on and launch from.

TEC is supposed to be inclusive as long as you think what we think.

Q: Isn’t that what you are saying?

A: Not at all. I am more than willing to welcome anyone.

Someone said, how wonderful it is that people are being honest. Well, if I told you I am a thief… just because I tell you who I am may not solve the problem at all. The problem gets compared to a lot of things – divorce, circumcision. It is a moral issue.

The divorce solution was the best one for a bad situation. Is divorce condemned by Christ, Absolutely. I do not know if ay divorced person who would say otherwise.

But being divorced twice and in the HOB is not a wholesome example,

Being divorced and in charge of the same church

Q: Why are you speaking now

A: I don’t know too many who would say I am silent. I speak when I think it is important.

Q: Naughton: you mentioned the word cure: do you think homosexuality can be cured?

A: I would leave that up to them. Cure is a broader term. How did I say that?

Q: You said honesty is not a cure

A; It is not a cure to the situation. The problem is not orientation or even sexual behavior. The problem that it divides people from God and from others. The cure, let me be clear, I know of witnesses who say they have been cured. I’ll let someone else decide that. Just because I happen to be honest is not a solution.

Q: Is there any divide in the way we read scripture and does that present a problem

A: There is a problem. I do not believe a bishop can say, this is the meaning of scripture. We are called and ordained to uphold scripture.

To say that the bible is clear is not to say that it is clear in every way. People have a tendency to look for proof texts rather than how do I read this and be transformed by it. The challenge is this. I am to give up everything for Christ.


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