10/21/2005

The AAC and the Via Media Memo: Lots of Noise and Smoke, and Certainly Paranoia.


It appears that the minutes of a meeting of the Via Meeting Steering Committee Meeting on
9/29/05 was “leaked” by a source named by the American Anglican Council as the Connecticut Six. The AAC is in quite a dither about it all and has published an article on the memo titled, “The American Anglican Council Condemns Via Media’s Planned Coup of Biblically Faithful Dioceses.”

So the AAC considers the memo to be about a planned coup. It would help if the AAC, or at least the author of this article, could read English. Far from being a “planned coup,” the memo describes a strategy for dealing with bishops (presumably the Network bishops) who, following General Convention 2006, might announce that “they are in a ‘new’ Anglican Communion and the Network is ‘recognized’ as the only legitimate expression(s) of the A.C. in North America.”

The scenario required for this question to make sense involves taking seriously the fairly overt strategies and plans of the AAC and the Network to seek recognition for the Network as the “legitimate expression of the Anglican Communion in North America,” and the threat or promise of Archbishops Gomez and Akinola to disengage from any way of being the Anglican Communion that would include ECUSA and perhaps, interestingly, the Church of England. Via Media does indeed take the AAC and Network at its word.

Such strategizing does not entail Via Media conducting a coup. Rather the strategizing assumes the coup that has been in the works all along – the coup that wrests the claim to legitimacy from ECUSA and gives it to the Network. The AAC is raising a lot of smoke, some fire, and makes no sense at all in its critique of the Via Media memo. Hopefully very few people will take the AAC article seriously.

Here is what the Via Media memo had to say about plans in the "memo," which seems to have been the notes taken by someone about the meeting:

“Strategy discussion what can we do, then how, then how to reach the larger community.

1. What will be our response the “Day After” when the bishops start announcing they are in a “new” Anglican Communion and the Network is “recognized” as the only legitimate expressions of the A.C. in North America?

• Have ready blank presentments for abandonment of the communion.
• Have already drafted request stating that the see is vacant and requesting appointment of interim bishop. Need to coordinate with PB on these appointments.
• Have request for special convention ready to give to interim bishop so that vacant spots in diocesan government can be filled (trustees, council, standing committee, commission on ministry, etc.)
• Be ready to take legal action on property identify who will serve as litigants, what property needs to be covered.
• Have plan for locations and personnel to provide worshipping communities and “safe havens” for the faithful remnants. Identify retired priests and deacons, lay leadership.

2. Build a broader awareness and support for VMUSA and the coming crisis.

• Tap into provincial presidents.
• Build sister parish connections and lay leadership.
• Find a group of bishops to work with, including PB candidates
• Cultivate Executive Council, Officers of General Convention
• Cultivate local press
• Develop criteria for recognizing schism"

As a strategy outline it is interesting, perhaps a bit dramatic, but certainly not the planning of a coup. On the basis of this strategy outline, the AAC article goes ballistic:

“According to documents and articles in circulation, Via Media USA is planning attacks against the Anglican Communion Network (ACN) dioceses and bishops at the conclusion of General Convention 2006. It is reported that they will have fill-in-the-blank deposition documents against ACN bishops, as well as true-church-lawsuit documents, ready to fill in for court litigation. If Via Media’s plans become a reality, every orthodox bishop and diocese will be ousted, leaving dioceses with rogue bishops and diocesan commissions. The biblically faithful within those dioceses would be held captive and lose their affiliation with the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Via Media’s exposed plot to supplant ACN bishops is outrageous and unconscionable.”

It is useful to note that the AAC article says Via Media is out to “supplant ACN bishops.” But the Via Media memo is about bishops who have declared themselves to be part of something else than the Episcopal Church – the Network, a new Global South oriented Anglican entity, something. Via Media is contemplating the situation in which Bishop X declares a break with the Episcopal Church in favor of the “legitimate” Anglican Communion presence in the US. The principle in place here is that the Diocese in which Bishop X has served is an Episcopal Church diocese and no matter the number of people who follow Bishop X, the Episcopal Church has every right to declare the see vacant and appoint or elect new bishops, officers, etc, in a now vacant see.

The Via Media has nothing to do with ousting anyone. It has everything to do with a bishop claiming to be bishop of a diocese of the Episcopal Church that he is taking with him into a new setting. The AAC article turns the matter inside out, and while it is at it, it accuses Via Media of being filled with dupes and revisionists. To quote the article,

“Since its inception, Via Media has served as a pawn of 815 [the Episcopal Church’s national office], Integrity USA, Every Voice Network, and other radical revisionists intent upon transforming the Episcopal Church into a religion devoid of Christian faith, doctrine and practice. While espousing a mantra of tolerance and diversity, the organization has now been exposed as a body committed to dismantling dioceses that uphold Scriptural faith and historic Anglican doctrine. Via Media clearly has no desire to walk together with the Anglican Communion; nor does it respect the mind of the Communion on matters of sexuality. Rather, it has plotted and schemed with unparalleled duplicity to seize control of dioceses, thereby usurping legitimate episcopal and diocesan authority.”

The article then turns from this strange accusation to an entirely new string of observations, ones that betray a level of paranoia that is remarkable.

“Let us not forget that a group of ECUSA bishops has established a special task force to develop strategies for ensuring that no churches leaving the Episcopal Church as a matter of conscience retain their property. Formation of this task force has been made public; now Via Media’s intentions have been revealed. What other secret plans are being plotted behind closed doors that have not yet been leaked? We encourage those who have knowledge of such plans and proposals to come forward and place them in the public sector so that all can be forewarned.”

Why, we might ask, the vehement insistence on there being secret plots and plans? Perhaps it is enough to observe that the AAC and the Network have been strategizing for so long and have so complex a network of organizations, individuals pledged to this or that covenant, churches in or out of recognition by the Anglican Communion, and bishops and clergy in, partially in, or out of communion with their own Primates, that they believe that strategic planning belongs only to them. Perhaps the AAC kind of wishes no one would plan for eventualities so that they could then do anything without objection?

To bad. Via Media people and others will continue to think things through.

29 comments:

  1. "Why, we might ask, the vehement insistence on there being secret plots and plans? Perhaps it is enough to observe that the AAC and the Network have been strategizing for so long and have so complex a network of organizations, individuals pledged to this or that covenant, churches in or out of recognition by the Anglican Communion, and bishops and clergy in, partially in, or out of communion with their own Primates, that they believe that strategic planning belongs only to them. Perhaps the AAC kind of wishes no one would plan for eventualities so that they could then do anything without objection?"

    Is it because most perception is projection?

    ReplyDelete
  2. It is interesting that both sides of the conflict now have their "gotcha" memo (the Chapman memo being the other one), and both sides now have their documentation by which they can react to the other side with suspicion, fear, and paranoia (while, of course, accusing the other side of those very same things). The game goes on. I would be quite amused by it all, except for the face that this is my church too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. rb's comment, "It is interesting that both sies of the conflict now have their "gotcha" memo...

    True, there are two memos, the Chapman and now the Gundersen one. The difference, I think, is that the Chapman memo was about strategies for either a take over or a take away effort (sometimes called a coup), and the Gundersen memo was about strategies for dealing with the Chapman scenario.

    The two are not the same in content, but they are the same in form...memos about strategies.

    The reactions to both memos are more alike because they come from the pundants of this or that cause. I do remember some of the reactions to the Chapman memo being a bit dicy.

    My concern was that the AAC article on this memo was a misread of the concern of the group, which was not to produce a coup, but rather to keep the Episcopal Church as such more or less intact.

    At least that is what I was trying to write about.

    I do absolutely agree with rb, "The gme goes on, I would be quite amused by it all, expept for the fac(t) that this is my church too."

    Actually, I am not amused at all. I am mostly saddened. This is indeed our church and those things which separate us from one another in it too easily become part of a hurtful game.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's sort of odd, isn't it.

    When it's the ACN or AAC, it's a way of holding true to the church they love.

    When Via Media does the same thing, it's a "coup."

    ReplyDelete
  5. When it's the ACN or AAC, it's a way of holding true to the church they love.

    When Via Media does the same thing, it's a "coup."


    True. But the opposite is also true:

    When it's the Via Media, it's a way of holding true to the church they love.

    When the ACN or AAC does the same thing, it's a "coup."


    I don't think the question of who is actually staging a coup is particularly helpful. Its side has its own unique perspective on this question, each arguably valid.

    My understanding was that the various groups of the Via Media were formed to promote reconciliation and unity between the two camps in the ECUSA -- at least, that's what I read in ENS. If so, what happened? Where were the actions, the movements, the gestures toward reconciliation? Where was the attempt to gain common ground and a common understanding, to work to hear and understand each other and find acceptable compromises, and other things typical of working toward reconciliation? I'm afraid this memo absolutely ends any usefulness of Via Media for reconciliation. Actually, I think it ended some time ago, considering the statements that have come from it.

    I grieve mightily that our church (all sides) is so good at spin, litigation, and strategizing to gain the upper hand in its internal conflicts, and so incredibly poor at reconciliation. Especially when it understands that its mission is "to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ." I do wonder sometimes if we have as a body have lost our way.

    ReplyDelete
  6. And if the Network IS recognized by Canterbury, what then?

    ReplyDelete
  7. RB, you are right--the "staging a coup" language isn't helpful. Especially when the behaviors engaged initially by the ACN/AAC and defended as the way of preserving "their" church (no recognition that it once was God's church), are now being used by VMUSA--and ACN/AAC decries them as "staging a coup."

    Anonymous,
    If the Network is recognized by Canterbury, what then? Then the Network is recognized by Canterbury, we know where everyone concerned stands, and we quit all this cr@p and nonsense and get on with being the kind of church each group believes it is truly called to be, rather than squabble for position and the perceived high-status relationship. That at least has some integrity to it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. These comments reflect some serious misunderstandings.

    First, the ACN is about trying to keep ECUSA IN the Anglican Communion. Without the ACN ECUSA would have lost hundreds of thousands more Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals than it has.

    Second, equating the Chapman memo and the VM minutes is a false equivalency. Chapman was one man's opinion/proposal and was not adopted,whereas the minutes, if I read them correctly, are an actual plan that was adopted.

    Third, an ECUSA with ACN actually decreases the chance that ECUSA will be fully expelled from the AC. I.e. having the ACN leaves open more of a door for future negotiations and reconciliation than a full-blown, formalized split.

    Some of our wiser liberals have recognized that the Windsor Report could actually be a welcome wakeup call to correct a series of missteps. For example, GC'03 approved VGR, despite the fact that GC has held that it is "inappropriate" to ordain anyone sexually active outside of marriage (GC '79/'91). The waffling of Resolutions D-039 ('00) and C-051 ('03) certainly have done nothing to clarify the situation.

    What we need is clarity and honesty. If the liberals want to cast off the anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals,then let's be open, honest, and clear about the decision. That may be what we will see at GC'06, as liberals clearly have the political muscle to accomplish that (whether or not the pew-sitters agree). But the present trend of dishonesty is simply destructive.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your account is rational and fact-based on the "leaked" notes.

    I do not see how it is possible for one to read both the leaked notes and the articles written by The Living Church and by The American Anglican Council and not conclude that these articles are violations of the commandment not to bear false witness.

    John S. Morgan

    ReplyDelete
  10. Bill:

    Please understand that I am largely sympathetic to the ACN -- probably more so than to its opponents. Nevertheless, I have some problems with your account of things:

    You say that "Chapman was one man's opinion/proposal and was not adopted." Chapman actually said, "I am responding to you on behalf of the American Anglican Council and their Bishops’ Committee on Adequate Episcopal Oversight (AEO)." This would suggest something else.

    You also say that "the ACN is about trying to keep ECUSA IN the Anglican Communion." The memo appears to me that their interest was keeping themselves in the Anglican Communion, not the whole ECUSA: "Our ultimate goal is a realignment of Anglicanism on North American soil committed to biblical faith and values, and driven by Gospel mission. We believe in the end this should be a “replacement” jurisdiction with confessional standards, maintaining the historic faith of our Communion."

    It seems to me that ECUSA did have legitimate concern relative to this memo, and if we are to be honest, as you rightly enjoin, this can't be ignored.

    On the other hand, I acknowledge the legitimacy of the AAC dioceses' concern. The widespread perception of the actions of GC03 (inside and outside of the AC) was that this was a departure from the tenets of the Christian faith. I imagine many bishops and priests of anglo-catholic and evangelical dioceses and parishes found themselves in a position where they had to take some definitive action, or lose many people within their congregations, and sacrifice their own integrity as well.

    On the third hand (?), the affirmation of the dignity and human rights of gay and lesbian people in our midst is also a legitimate concern. So the people advocating the allowance of gay bishops and same-sex blessings are also acting from a sense of faithfulness and integrity.

    I don't actually ride on the fence on this subject; I have a definite opinion. However, it doesn't seem to me that separation is necessarily our only recourse. If we go that route, I am convinced that the results would be catastrophic. The evangelicals and anglo-catholics won't stay together in the ACN. The differences between them are too great; WO is still a hot issue.

    On the other hand, if a separation occurred, ECUSA would lose much of its diversity, and as a result, some of its inclusiveness. This will be a tremendous obstacle when it faces a much greater challenge within the next 20 years: ECUSA must evangelize or shrivel to a fraction of itself. The statistics show that the laity are getting older, most of them past child-bearing years. It will not reproduce itself on its own. Therefore it must reach beyond itself for new members. And I would suggest that if it loses its conservative wing, it will lose many or most of its best evangelists, and many excellent pastors and leaders. Just at the moment ECUSA should be mobilizing, it is embroiled in controversy and conflict. And the real issue tearing the church up is not homosexual rights or apostasy or uncooperative dissenters; it is the conflict itself and the church's failure to deal with it effectively. At least, that's how I see it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. the ACN is about trying to keep ECUSA IN the Anglican Communion

    Only if the "Anglican Communion" is read in the Akinolan sense of "the like-minded". :-/

    This is all So Sad. :-(

    I think these "Gunderson Notes" (or whatever) are tremendously unfortunate: they only fan the flames of paranoia all around.

    But the situation is one of the proverbial "baseball sandlot": with no agreed-upon umpire, each side is screaming "He started it!" "No, he started it!" (It almost makes one understand those who run off to Rome, and Their Umpire: if only I thought said umpire was "infallible", which I emphatically Do Not!).

    Lord, umpire your squabbling children! Amen.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well, even though I'm named in the memo, I haven't been approached by anyone, though I have done some work for Concerned Episcopalians of Tennessee, which is different from Tennessee Via Media. I would be proud to do anything for Via Media that is consistent with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. It's pretty safe to say that Via Media, unlike the ACN, intends to obey the canons and stay within the Church, even if they don't get their way. Via Media is about resisting the narrow, sectarian, and authoritarian vision of the far right and preserving Anglican respect for a diverse Church where all may gather for common prayer at the Lord's Table.

    This seems to me to be a case of projection. Talk of plots reveals a lot more about the intentions of the ACN than anybody else.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Mark, you hit the nail on the head. Projection, pure and simple.

    ReplyDelete
  14. All may gather? Including those narrow, sectarian, and authoritarian far right folks? How welcome are they likely to feel if they are caricatured this way?

    I've been reading the Network's material for some time, and I really don't see a coup. The Network is not naive enough to think they can take over ECUSA; they know they don't have the numbers. What they are considering is leaving, and keeping the property they use for worship and administration. (There is, of course, also their relationship with the rest of the Anglican Communion. They assume ECUSA will likely throw their relationship with the AC away). The "coup" of the VM is that they may attempt to take the property from the Network dioceses should they attempt to leave. Both times, the "coup" refers primarily to the property. The great objection, voiced over and over again, is not the loss of the people but of the property, not the sundering of relationships but of real estate. (This appears to be a primary concern even for many of the bishops at the last HOB meeting.)

    When did property become so important to the Kingdom of God? The Son of Man may have no place to rest his read, but by golly, we'd better -- and it should be nice, too! Why should our property and wealth be our curse? I wonder if ECUSA should take its cue from St. Francis, and give away very last piece of its property and wealth, all those beautiful churches and cathedrals, the pension plan, the endowments -- all of it. Then we could sit down together and say, "Okay, now what?" Perhaps within a short time we would realize that our rivals are not nearly so bad as we thought; nor are we so good and wise as we thought.

    Won't happen, of course. Our property is too dear to us, too expensive to give away, too much a part of us. Would that we felt that way about each other, the people, as well. Would that reconciliation was something we practiced and worked at, not something we advocated and talked about.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I said their vision was narrow, sectarian, and authoritarian. I'm all for finding them a place at the table. That's Christ's gift to them and not mine to take away. I do oppose and have consistently opposed their narrow, sectarian, and authoritarian vision for the Church. I suspect that if this vision is not realized, some will leave and some will stay. There is no way to please everybody. Just because I'm a pluralist doesn't mean I don't have a vision for our common life, which is diametrically opposed to that of the AAC and ACN.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Regarding importance of people and property... I'm sure this won't sound quite as I intend it... but just because property matters are handled in a certain way... that is in a legal or carefully negotiated mode... detailed, plodding, procedural... doesn't mean that it is more important than the individual or the persons involved.

    The human beings are the (potential if not actual...let's not argue about it) children of God and are therefore respected and considered free, far more significant in the long run than the property. It their judgement on the reality of these situations that is ultimately decisive here.

    The property... well, it falls to duty and fiduciary concerns: and to be faithless in little things is to be faithless in large.

    Ultimately too... the legal recourse is concerned with the human beings involved... past and present. I'm not really sure how important human beings are in any case according to some of the things I see written where it is Truth that seems a cudgel and not a Man.

    ReplyDelete
  17. obadiahslope25/10/05 5:33 PM

    Regarding Bill's comment: how much room at the table is an intersting question. With a plate and cutlery? Food?
    When the presenting issue is a justice issue making room for those opposed is difficult. I wonder if evangelicals would find a welcome at Bill's table. Would there be seminaries that teach the conservative view in his church? Encouragement and support for young people to become conservative ministers? Room for conservative congregations to grow and plant new ones?
    There will be those who regard the conservative view as harmful, regressive and even evil. It will take a big commitment by the majority to "making room" to allow the presence of a viewpoint that is regarded as so wrong.
    Yet some conservatives as Bill predicts will stay and "having done all, stand". The Evangelicals in the Cof E are an example of that. From a tiny movement in the midddle of last century they have rebuilt and it might happen again. Who knows?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Obadiahslope,

    They will be able to participate in the conversation, to worship, teach, and preach in their distinctive ways.

    They will not be able to dominate others and neither will my side.

    This is if my vision is realized. I'm not sure it will be. Probably no ones will be fully this side of the Kingdom.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Mark:

    It is quite possible to be "faithful" in the little things and at the same time to be faithless in the large, to "tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and [neglect] the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith." Actually it happens quite frequently, and I am far from convinced that it is not happening here. Though I actually do blame both conservatives and liberals for the conflict, I haven't missed your tu quoque: "I'm not really sure how important human beings are in any case according to some of the things I see written where it is Truth that seems a cudgel and not a Man." Wouldn't the great thing be for everyone to put their cudgels down, rather than talk about how big the other person's cudgel is?

    Bill, I suppose your vision is actually my vision. I'm just extremely frustrated that the process isn't leading that way, or anything like it, as far as I can see. What would a church where no one side can dominate the other would look like?

    ReplyDelete
  20. It would look like the Kingdom. I'm not sure that we should argue in terms of utopias, though its good to have a vision in mind to direct practice. I think that we should focus on the direction of change that we seek to foster by our interventions into a complex system. In a forthcoming article in the Anglican Theological Review, I argue for dispersing authority, away from bishops and toward the whole people of God, away from central bodies and toward local bodies, away from "core doctrines" and toward the person of Jesus. He alone defines the center. He is everywhere. And every disciple and every Christian community, regardless of size, participates directly in his life-giving work. I think that by adhering to the Anglican moral tradition of respecting liberty of conscience and by embodying protection for conscience in our canon law, we will do a great deal to alleviate concerns on both sides of the spectrum that those in power will "Lord it over" them. If the Anglican Communion is going to heal, we will need to give up our desire to control one another. I am willing to give up my own desire to control what conservatives do in good conscience. They will have to accept a situation in which some bishops are lgbtq and some unions are going on, if they are going to remain in communion with the Episcopal Church USA. Those decisions can be stalled (I don't they can be stalled much past GC2006) but they can't be reversed, if I have any sense of the demographics of this Church. But I would not want to be part of a Church that didn't have some evangelicals in it. I learn from them and I share some of their convictions.

    ReplyDelete
  21. obadiahslope said...

    Regarding Bill's comment: how much room at the table is an intersting question. With a plate and cutlery? Food?
    When the presenting issue is a justice issue making room for those opposed is difficult. I wonder if evangelicals would find a welcome at Bill's table.


    Bill's response is much more articulate than mine will be.

    I was struck by the you way obadiahslope phrased the question: Will the liberals make {save? maintain?) room for conservatives at the table?

    The question has already been answered: As far as I know, Bishop Griswold has never declined to share the Eucharist with the conservatives in TEC or the AC -- even with those who are his harshest critics. Bishop Robinson has not shunned the conservatives.

    On the other hand, we have seen in the HOB meetings and in the Primates' meetings that the conservatives now regularly choose to leave our Lord's table when liberals are present.

    So ... obadiahslope ... who needs to practice their table manners?

    ReplyDelete
  22. obadiahslope26/10/05 8:51 PM

    Lisa,
    it is a measure of how differnt and diverse we might be that in using the words "room at the table" I wasn't thinking about Holy Communion. maybe I should have been, but I wasn't thinking about that aspect of fellowship in particular. I can't speak for Bill but I was using "room at the table' more generically.
    I apologise for being confusing. It never helps.

    I am not sure that rehersing who said what to who will help much here. There are however times, St Pauls tells us that the church should refuse holy communion to some as an act of discipline. Whether or not today's circumstances fit that is a huge question. Too big for this post.

    Bill, has stated elsewhere that his vision of the church has all sides in it, and not oppressing or dominating each other. as he points out we may not see this this side of heaven.

    Room at the table for evangelicals means the ability to grow and thrive, call evangelical ministers, send students to evangelical seminaries and plant churches. Many evangelicals would stay in ECUSA if they believed that this sort of room at the table was available.

    I live a long way away from you. I simply don't know if such room is available. Bill tells me it is in his diocese. Were it available across ECUSA much of the tension would disappear in my view. And table mammers in your sense would improve if there is hope that all can stay at the table.

    it is hard to eat with someone if you have the feeling they don't really want you there.

    And I acknowledge that both sides feel this way and that this is a time of exaggerated emotions. The story of the two "secret memos" is that both sides are responding to the worst vcase scenarios.

    Many progressive posters here and elsewhere are pointing out that the two sides need to be given room to be different. I agree.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Room at the table for evangelicals means the ability to grow and thrive, call evangelical ministers, send students to evangelical seminaries and plant churches.

    obadiah, I find this tremendously helpful (sort of answers the question I just left for you on Fr. Jake's).

    . . . and even more tremendously troubling.

    This sounds like (as I confess I suspected) that it's all about POWER for the "evangelicals" (you know I don't like this title).

    It's not the evangelicals' church . . . anymore than it's the progressives' church. It is Christ's Church.

    NO ONE gets a guarantee that their particular POV "will grow and thrive, call ministers, send students to seminaries and plant churches." What all Anglicans get is the privilege of serving Christ in Christ's Church . . . and being fed thereby.

    All our fallen, fallible human perspectives are but dust, and will pass away. Only the Body of Christ survives (until Christ comes again).

    We must ALL let go of our claims on POWER, and focus on serving Christ (most often found in "the least of these")!

    [NB to rb: if I have any concern for property, it's ONLY so that, wherever life may take me, there's Anglican altar where I am welcome to receive the Bread of Life. Yeah, I prefer Gothic: but even in a pup tent, if there's a Rite 2 Eucharist happenin', I'm a happy camper! :-D]

    ReplyDelete
  24. obadiahslope27/10/05 4:34 AM

    JCF,
    I do not set out to trouble you.
    I should make it clear that evangelicals seek the CHANCE to grow and thrive in Anglicanism. No-one but God can give true growth.

    If Bill's idel came to pass I would see evangelicals working alomgside the other tendencies, with no group dominating another. In what sense does that mean "POWER for the 'evangelicals' "?
    I am not sure I understand how it could mean that. I would like to read more from you on that.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I see the communion table as a sign of a much broader reality of communion. As a sacramental sign, it points to and helps create the reality that it signifies. Ultimately, only God brings about communion.

    I think that what we are called to do is to formalize local option and agreements to disagree which grew up by default. We also need to articulate a theology about why this is a positive missionary advantage rather than merely a political necessity. Here as elsewhere, we need to return to considering our assumptions about Jesus, the Trinity, and humanity, both to uncover underlying differences and to look for common ground.

    Our basis for commitment to a shared ecclesial identity might be different depending on what side of the debate we enter into that union from. There will be some resultant instability. Windsor it seems to me thinks that we can do more than we can. The groundwork for deciding on a new global polity has not been laid. All Windsor can do is to say, "We will walk together or choose to walk apart." Perhaps that's true, but more needs to be done to persuade all parties that their proposal is the right one. I've seen no convincing arguments that it is.

    But that doesn't mean I want to sacrifice a worldwide Communion. I will do anything that doesn't violate what I take to be absolute Gospel imperatives or my personal integrity to keep this mess together. God bless the mess.

    ReplyDelete
  26. It is worthwhile to recall that the rules of hospitality that were literal law in the culture of Jesus' day, are two sided. Certainly a guest has a right to a place at the table, but equally, the guest must behave. So, here is a question, do the conservatives want to be both host and guest, do they want to behave?

    I submit not in all cases. When a bishop offers DEPO, goes out of his way to be as un-present as he can and receives in response the keys tossed on the table as the vestry walks out, someone has not behaved. Guests at the table do not have the right to determine who else is there, nor where they sit.

    FWIW
    jimB

    ReplyDelete
  27. Mark's post said:

    "Far from being a “planned coup,” the memo describes a strategy for dealing with bishops (presumably the Network bishops) who, following General Convention 2006, might announce that “they are in a ‘new’ Anglican Communion and the Network is ‘recognized’ as the only legitimate expression(s) of the A.C. in North America.”

    My wife Carla and I had been active members of a small Episcopal congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas.

    When the diocese became an official signatory of the ACN, we concluded that this already constituted exacly the action that Mark describes as possibly happening after General Convention 2006. That is, we consider the "Episcopal" Diocese of Dallas to have already left the Episcopal Church USA.

    When we joined our church, it was to become Episcopalians, and we only became Anglicans by inheritance. We are not interested in becoming non-Episcopalian Anglicans. Accordingly, with great sadness, we have formally separated ourselves from our church and the Diocese, and now consider ourselves "Episcopalians at large".

    We would welcome the formation of a new Episcopal Diocese of Dallas and the appointement of a new bishop to what we now consider the vacant See of Dallas.

    Doug and Carla Kerr

    ReplyDelete
  28. JimB --

    I don't think I understand your comments. Are you saying that the liberals are the hosts, the evangelicals are the guests, and they need to be polite guests? I would have thought both liberals and conservatives would serve both roles. I can certainly find examples of bad manners on both sides, and I question the value of finger-pointing on this issue.

    Yes, it's unfortunate to see evangelicals walking away from the Episcopal Church. I want this to stop as well. But if the conditions needed for evangelicals to have the chance to survive and thrive in the Episcopal Church are not met, they should leave, and indeed they must leave. Isn't this obvious? They also have their own integrity and their own "gospel imperatives." Part of the issue is that, frankly, evangelicals need some assurance and evidence that they can continue to live and function as evangelicals in the Episcopal Church. Yes, this is about power -- the power inherent in freedom and self-determination, not to dominate others, as JCF unkindly presumes.

    I think some misunderstand the question. No one is asking whether the Episcopal Church wants the evangelicals to stay, and under what conditions they might stay. They don't need your permission to stay any more than you need their permission to stay; it's their church too. The real issue is whether they should stay. I think the answer is yes, but not under the present conditions, which are clearly unhealthy for both sides. Nor do I think DEPO is a sufficient answer, which was constructed by liberal bishops without consulting conservative parishes to discern what their needs are. (I think obadiahslope has probably outlined those needs pretty well.)

    ReplyDelete
  29. I should say that I think Bill's suggestions sound promising. I hope his article is made available online.

    ReplyDelete

OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.