Bishop Duncan, the Moderator of the Network, was interviewed by Newsweek reporter Elise Soukup in a web article filed today, June 18th. In that she asked the following:
“Is there a chance that conservative bishops will leave the Episcopal Church after the convention?”
The Bishop’s reply: “The simple answer is no. The Episcopal Church has acted in such a way that the Anglican Communion has said, "Do you realize that if you continue to go in this direction that you're walking apart?" So one can only imagine that the [Episcopal] church's connectivity [with the worldwide Anglican community] is going to get less and less. But we're not going anywhere.”
The assumption is then that there will be no dramatic break, not at convention, and not immediately following. The assumption is that there will be considerable pain.
There might well be a walk out at Convention, or perhaps more likely an ooze out (with less and less attendance of network bishops and deputies in the actual workings of Convention). When might that happen? The two most obvious occasions would be on the election of a Presiding Bishop clearly committed to what the Moderator has called the “revolutionary” work of the Episcopal Church, and the failure to respond with a forceful moratorium and repentance based set of resolutions on the Windsor Report.
The first of these occasions is the work of the House of Bishops today, Sunday. If a name is brought from them to the House of Deputies that is clearly unacceptable to the realignment forces, it might be an occasion for a show of displeasure.
The second will depend on the results of the work of both houses on the resolutions, which will not heat up in all likelihood until there is a special order of business for debate in the House of Deputies, most likely Monday or at the latest Tuesday.
Walk outs are useful, sometimes even a relief. But they make the work of debate and the struggle to find a way forward all the more difficult. And, since what we do here is understood and reflected on by Anglicans elsewhere, a walk out here will signal to other groups, say CANA (the Convocation of Anglicans in North America) that they should with greater urgency move forward with their plans for developing an alternate Anglican presence in North America.
There are some who are saying a definite break / walk out would be preferable to the painful and exhausting bleed-off that is going on and promises to go on. Many on all sides wish we could indeed get on with matters of mission in the broken world.
It is perhaps time to note that in all the hubbub of General Convention coverage and blogging, almost no one is picking up on the fact that nothing is heard from the usually vocal Church of Nigeria, from AMiA, from the Primates of Provinces usually supporting Network activities. And there is a very low key presence of the Network, the American Anglican Council, and the various conservative societies and the Institute for Religion and Democracy at General Convention. They all are present in the exhibit hall, but all subdued.
The beginning of the withdrawal of the Network has already begun. It will continue, it appears, and its end will be the sort of breakdown that will justify to some the Church of Nigeria's efforts to provide a second Anglican Communion body in North America. We will be hearing from Nigeria soon.
And, given the new effort of the Network, the partnership called “Common Cause” the realignment effort moves forward. Low profile here does not mean nothing is going on.
There may not be a dramatic end of things: there may be only a whimper and a long low moan, not a bang. But there will be a loss for us all in it.
All of this must look very strange to our Anglican Communion friends. It looks fairly strange from here.