Silence and Other Avoidance Mechanisms.

The Canadians have spoken with force and unanimity concerning the Church of Nigeria, “We therefore disassociate ourselves from the actions of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) that are inconsistent with the Commitments of its bishops made at Lambeth and Dromantine, and we call on Anglicans throughout the Communion to listen and respect the human rights of homosexual persons.” (From a resolution of the Spring meeting of the Anglican Church of Canada’s Bishops’ meeting, April 25-27)

That is now twelve days ago. News of this remarkable statement of disassociation has been out for some time and there has been official silence from the Church of Nigeria and their American friends, the American Anglican Council and the Network of Anglican Dioceses and Parishes, aka the ACN. Odd indeed given that the Moderator of the Network and a spokesperson for the Church of Nigeria have both risen in the past to the defense of the Archbishop and the Church concerning their support of the law being considered in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Network has produced a bulletin insert about the Network that is quite instructive in several unintended and odd ways:

(i) It says of its own formation: ”The Anglican Communion Network (Network) was formed just over two years ago, in the Diocese of Dallas, at a gathering in Plano. Those responsible for its formation knew that the time had come to call the Church in America back to
obedience to “the faith once delivered to the saints.” They knew that a church whose compass was set on the ways of the world could not prosper the gospel and was destined to die.”

There is no mention of the Archbishop of Canterbury having anything to do with its formation. There is no mention of concerns about gay and lesbian persons or actions of the 2003 General Convention. There is the assumed death of the Episcopal Church as currently formed.

(ii) About its form, the insert says this:

“The Network was formed as an ecclesial body to model faithful Anglicanism in this country. As its founding documents and its actions attest, the Network is Biblical, Missionary and Uniting.”

The remainder of the insert expands on these three characteristics.

In this insert the Network is being described as “an ecclesial body,” with all the characteristics of a church, but one that is faithful to Anglicanism (as opposed to the Episcopal Church), with the structures in hand (missionary and new church efforts, a relief fund, work with youth, etc) and with the effort to coalesce the work of the many small factional church bodies of Anglican heritage.

This short document, produced for “people in the pew,” no longer presents itself as an effort within the Episcopal Church reacting to what it might consider wrong actions, but as a new thing: a church in its own right. The only mention of the Episcopal Church (which it mentions only as ECUSA) is in describing Common Cause, the gathering together of people who over the years have left the Episcopal Church. No longer is there any pretense that this is an organization working from “within” the Episcopal Church.

And, for a third small note on oddities of the week, Thinking Anglicans reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury has appointed “four wise men” to work with him in assessing the situation related to the upcoming General Convention.

Nicely enough I just received the latest addition of Anglican World with an insert of notes on the march 2006 meeting of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion. In those notes is the following:

“The 75th General Convention, Episcopal Church (USA).

In June this year, the Episcopal Church holds its 75th General Convention, when it will respond to the recommendations of the Windsor report referred to them by the Primates. In order to discern the response of the Anglican Communion to the decisions of the 75th Convention, JSC on behalf of the Primates and the ACC, whom they represent, established a small group from amongst their members who could join with the Archbishop of Canterbury in assessing the situation in the Communion after the Convention and report to the Joint Standing Committee meeting and the Primates Meeting in February.”

Is it then that the “four wise men” are in fact the “small group from amongst their members?” It would be odd for the ABC to have two such small groups, and the two persons mentioned as part of the “wise men” are the Archbishops of Wales and Central Africa, both on the Joint Standing Committee. We shall see. But of course the oddity in this is that there are no representatives of either the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada. So we will be talked about, but not with. It serves us right, since gay and lesbian people are talked about a lot in Anglican circles, but mostly not talked with.

So… Odd silence from Nigeria on the disassociation of the Anglican Church of Canada from its actions, perhaps a turning away of even caring what the Anglican Church of Canada thinks; an odd publication by the Network, in which the Episcopal Church is only obliquely referenced at all; and an odd gathering of “wise men” who will distantly talk about the decision of General Convention.

Perhaps not so odd: avoidance is a sign of growing unreality, and it would seem the Church of Nigeria, the Network and the Joint Standing Committee share that in common.

“Nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall surely be.”


  1. Actually, I'm not sure it is so odd not to have TEC represented among the four "wise men." We're pretty much taking the lead in moving towards declaring that same sex partnerships are fine. I hope that Archbishop Akinola isn't one of the four for similar reasons; he's the apparent leader in resisting the direction TEC wants to go. Neither of us is in a good position to really reflect on what the more neutral provinces think of our actions.


  2. Bill Carroll11/5/06 10:47 AM

    I might be wrong, but I believe the purpose is to shore up Williams' credibility as he decides to stay in full communion with the Episcopal Church until Lambeth. If that were the purpose, I might try to get the most conservative primate that I thought I could bring on board, a moderate or two and a liberal, and then put on the screws. A more controversial matter remains which bishops will be invited. If Williams does not invite all bishops of a member province, then we could be looking at a real schism. If he fails to invite Bishop Robinson, he will anger many Episcopalians, including me, but shore up his support elsewhere. It may be that Bishop Robinson voluntarily recuses himself, which I don't think would be a good idea, but wouldn't have the same dangers as the ACC, where we quite foolishly paved the way for constitutional changes. One vote will not likely make a difference. But the symbolism makes an even larger one potentially.

    A plug for the Episcopal Church's own bulletin inserts.


  3. Thinking Anglicans only reported what the Telegraph's Jonathan Petre reported.

    As far as I know, this panel to which JP refers is not new at all, but has existed since the last ACC meeting in Nottingham.

  4. I think the real disgrace is not the silence of the Network or ACC, which is entirerly predictable. They are utterly focused on power to force belief. What is disgraceful is the matching silence from the CoE, ECUSA and the partners in Nigeria's CANA structure.

    Is Candada the only country with bishops who are capable of proclaiming truth? From here, it certainly seems to be!


  5. Has our HoB met since the news about Nigeria came out? I can't recall.

  6. Bill Carroll13/5/06 9:53 AM

    I do wish the candidates for Presiding Bishop would speak out, unanimously if at all possible. If not, it might divide those who are suitable for the job from those who are not. I'd also like to see the General Convention and not just the bishops condemn this legislation and to disassociate themselves from the Church of Nigeria's support for it.

  7. Jon,

    It has met and the silence is deafening.




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