(from a note I sent to the House of Bishops / House of Deputies List)
Several correspondents have written regarding a dinner hosted by either the American Anglican Council and the Moderator of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, or by the Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria.( See VirtueOnline & The Guardian )
The Guardian said "Last night the leading critic of the Americans and Canadians, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, was said to be entertaining his supporters and the traditionalist American and English evangelicals, who have been circling the meeting semi-clandestinely all week, at what was described as a "celebratory" party, paid for by the Americans.
One of those in attendance was expected to be the US Episcopal bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, who has led the opposition and has been staying locally, apparently holidaying in Newry in February."
Assuming such an entertainment was held, we may wonder what was being celebrated by this group in far Newry. What was being served in the Doomsday Café?
The Moderator and Bishop of Pittsburgh gave a statement compared this meeting of the Primates to the Synod of Whitby in 664 AD. He said that as that Synod "decided for unity with the universal Christian Church in matters of worship and church order, so the 2005 Primates meeting has decided for unity with the universal Christian Church in matters of doctrine and morals."
One wonders... perhaps that is a bit over the top. In 664 one might well argue that there was indeed a "universal Christian Church" but in 2005 there certainly is not. A good number of the Evangelicals present at dinner last night must cringe at the thought that they are one with the doctrines of, say, Roman Catholics concerning Mary or Transubstantiation. And while celebrating, perhaps those still able at that late hour to read the Primate's document would notice that nothing is said of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, no mention is made of the Moderator of that organization, or of realignment.
The Episcopal Church is being asked to step back from full participation in the work of one of the four instruments for unity - a request which does not seem to work for unity at all, but rather for self-inflicted punishment (if that). But no one is being asked to step forward in its place. So what is being celebrated? At the Doomsday Café the roast is cold and the bread is old, and the only joy there is to hope we will beat ourselves up to prove we want to be good.
As for the Gospel: it is everywhere being heard, outside that Café and inside it. For the Gospel calls us all beyond the edges of the ACC, the AAC, the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion and damn near everything else.
Or at least so it seems to me.