Mail, Hard Copy and Electronic Bites

Three items of interest in real and electronic mail:

1. The American Anglican Council (AAC) Newsletter arrived last Wednesday.

It finally states what has become apparent: The AAC and its sister agent, the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, have pretty much given up on the Windsor Report.

President Anderson in the November “Encompass” said this about the Windsor Report, “The Windsor Report is not an adequate measure of the commitment to Scriptural teaching and the historic faith because it contains contradictory assertions.” Instead Anderson suggest, “two key issues will indicate compliance with the Anglican Primates’ February 2005 Communiqué and will determine whether ECUSA will choose to walk together or apart with the rest of the Communion: affirmation of the basic tenets of Christian faith and embracing the Biblical views on sexuality/ marriage expressed in Lambeth 1.10”

I suppose the distancing takes place in part because the chair of the Lambeth Commission suggested that ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada had complied as well as they could until their synods meet and because the Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council opined that apologies were due both churches in reference to their treatment at the last ACC meeting.

When the Windsor Report was first published the Network turned to it as a model and began to talk about parishes and dioceses signing on to a “Windsor Action Covenant.” I have heard nothing about that covenant in recent months, and going on the website for the Network the only place to find the covenant is in the “news” section where it’s announcement is back there a bit – April 2005)

It would appear that the Windsor Report has ceased to be of much interest to the AAC or the NACDP (aka the Network). Instead they turn to the Primates communiqué of February 2005. There the argument returns again to basic tenets of the Christian faith (undefined in the article) and the famous resolution of Lambeth. Working on the first is an important exercise – just what do we understand to be basic tenets of the Christian faith? But the second is a mess of pottage. It is a resolution. It is, as has been said, the “current position” of the Anglican Communion by way of satements by various “instruments of unity.” But it is open to discussion, change, etc, just as is any resolution. (We can resolve new things in the place of old.) And, lest the AAC and the NACDP forget, such reversals are possible in any deliberative system.

Their strategy is not to attempt such reversal, or at least it doesn’t appear so. Instead, Anderson says, “Work with us as we seek to clarify the issues and force dioceses as well as General Convention to go on the record for what they believe.” I suppose if what General Convention does is believed to be different from Lambeth 1.10 or what these groups understand to be basic tenets, they will assume General Convention will have gone astray and would no longer worthy to be included.

2. The Living Church reports on a letter from the Bishops in the Church of Brazil to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The letter itself is not yet available, but it must be a rouser. (I highly recommend the Living Church online as an adjunct to its print edition. I read the online addition for “late breaking news briefs” and the hard copy for all the normal stuff (where to buy bread, what jobs are open, who died, etc.)

The Living Church article reports that it roundly castigates the Archbishop for not taking seriously and respectfully their difficult work regarding the deposition of the bishop of Recife and of 32 of the clergy there. Again the Archbishop’s actions and inactions at the Global South meeting in Egypt came under attack.

The Archbishop’s lecture at that meeting was quite fine, and many of his comments in a question and answer period were important markers in trying to understand his position on a variety of matters growing from current difficulties. But these are getting lost in the critiques that have followed.

He was criticized by a letter from the Global South primates (some of them at least) for not stating clearly that he was going to exclude ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada (or at least some of their bishops) unless there was a clear change in the directions of these Provinces. Now it appears that he is being criticized for not speaking more clearly in support of a Province itself excluded from the meeting in Egypt and for its actions as a province.

I pray for the Archbishop regularly, but perhaps a redouble of such prayers are in order.

3. The latest addition of Anglican / Episcopal World came in the mail. It has a picture of the Archbishop of Canterbury on almost every page. But with it, on almost every page, are pictures that tell us something more about the Anglican Communion than that it is more and more of the “Global South.” What the pictures tell is that it is richly varied and still somewhat predictably hierarchical. Lots of purple shirts, great copes, some miters, clerical collars, and some suits – still in this edition there were a number of men with no shirts, and women with strong minds. An odd collection of people, thank God: pictures of a world much larger than any of us might otherwise know. In the middle of it all, a picture of Hurricane Katrina taken far enough away to be beautiful.

And bundled with it was the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, whose purpose is to draw all of us to the one place where the Anglican Communion makes the best sense – in the place of prayers for the lives of all these people in all these places whose lives are filled with God’s grace. So, as usual, it's time to pray.


  1. All these things make an ordinary Episcopalian even more confused. What are we to make of all this? Our priests are not clarifying these things to us. This is a big smokey cloud, and we have no idea where this is going, and even those of us with minimal education in this have enough sense to dread the General Convention in 2006.
    Are we going to pull up to the church parking lot one day and see a new church sign? Those who live in conservative diocese wonder what will happen - does it pull out of ECUSA? What a mess, and no hope of clarification for months.

    I really wish someone would give a discussion on what if an ECUSA bishop said my diocese is outta here. What would honestly happen? What are the mechanics of that? Does he take every parish? Half of them? We hear debates over documents and conventions, but not much about what it means to the person in the pew. :(


    Thuribly Confused.

  2. "I really wish someone would give a discussion on what if an ECUSA bishop said my diocese is outta here."

    According to the canons? All he has really said in that case is "I'M outta here." Individuals can leave the Episcopal Church at any time. If they are clergy, there are certain consequences that don't obtain for laity.

    But dioceses and congregations don't leave. Period. This is the Word of the Lord. (Thanks be to God!)

  3. I think the good news in Mark's post is that we can begin using the WR for its intended purpose, as a study document to promote a conversation about our common future rather than a litmus test for inclusion or exclusion from the AC. I think that after it is studied, General Convention will come to the proper conclusion, which is that the theology is weak and the Anglican Covenant needs to be scrapped or substantially reworked. I have to say it was disheartening to watch my diocese (Uppper SC) endorse a report that many of the delegates had never even read, which proposes fundamental alterations in Anglicanism, supporting its proposals with revisionist history and bad theology.

  4. Fr. Harris, I still don't understand. At the Gen. Con. '06, is there not potential for a split? What does that mean at the parish level? Can my vestry vote for our parish to pull out of ECUSA and align into ...into what?... that keeps our parish tied to the Anglican Communion, but out of ECUSA?
    I can't even ask my question intelligently, but I can say I just don't understand the potential outcomes at the parish level after GC06. Our bishop is conservative, and so are some of his parishes. Is there some way he can work with ECUSA and purchase the diocesan house and a few parishes that want out of ECUSA and to continue with him? I just can't find any answers to this. :(
    Still Thuribly Confused.

  5. Thuribly Confused,

    I think you've also posted comments on my blog, and it sounds like you're in my Diocese.

    If you'd like, please email me and I can suggest at least 3 or 4 parishes who definitely won't be pulling out of TEC, no matter what our AAC-supporting bishop does...

  6. Simeon, you recognized my cassock? ;) Yes, I am in your diocese. I will email you.


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.