OK, so Sirius is up and about with the Sun, and it is hot in the northern climes and time to laze about. But not all the dogs are in the shade dozing off to dreams of cars chased and finally caught. Some are growling over the bones picked from General Conventions past and dreaming of greater things.
The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, commonly called the Anglican Communion Network, is about to meet in Pittsburgh, the see city of its Moderator, the Bishop of Pittsburgh. The annual meeting will be from July 31, Aug 2, 2006.
That meeting will consider adapting a Common Cause “theological statement” and a “mission covenantstatement.” Both are carefully crafted documents, whose purpose is to further solidify the relationships among a group of ecclesial and quasi-ecclesial entitites, namely: the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Communion Network, Anglican Essentials Canada, Anglican Mission in America, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Anglican Province of America, Forward in Faith North America and the Reformed Episcopal Church.
Interestingly the group does NOT include CANA, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the organization developed by the Church of Nigeria. The bishop elect for this work, the Rev. Canon Martyn Minns, has yet to be consecrated and ordained, and we have no indication yet as to when that might happen.
The list of theological criteria in the theological statement interestingly parallels that of the constitution of the Church of Nigeria:
The Common Cause Theological Statement (abbreviated):
1) The Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Scripture
2) The historic faith declared in the Catholic Creeds.
3) The teaching of the Seven Ecumenical Councils
4) Two sacraments of … Baptism and the Supper of the Lord
5) The 1549 through the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and its ordinal as the foundation for Anglican worship and the standard for doctrine and discipline.
6) The godly Historic Episcopate
7) The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.
The Church of Nigeria Constitution states:
The Church of Nigeria…shall be in full communion with all Anglican Churches Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain:
the Historic Faith,
the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
taught in the Book of Common Prayer and the ordinal of 1662
and in the Thirty-Nine Article of Religion.
While the two are different in their need to list the bill of particulars regarding which sacraments, and the matter of biblically based faith, and the work of the first seven councils, it is of no matter: the conclusion in both cases has to do with the standards for doctrine and worship provided by the Prayer Book, with the 1662 book at its core, and the Thirty-Nine articles.
There is no reason why the Church of Nigeria, by way of its American colony offshoot, might not sign the Common Cause Theology and Covenant Statements. The Church of Nigeria has already entered into covenant with the Anglican Province of America and The Reformed Episcopal Church. We shall see.
Meanwhile, what of Bishop-Elect Minns? When will that consecration take place and where? Soon, certainly, but where?
At the last meeting of the Network (the Hope for the Future Conference) there were ordinations presided over by a bishop not of this church (The Bishop of Bolivia) for persons to serve in “Anglican” parishes not of the dioceses in which they are located. I reported on it earlier on this blog.
We would do well to watch the doings at the Network annual meeting: At the very least to see if the Common Cause group grows by one to include CANA, and perhaps then to see if it becomes the context for the ordination of yet more missionary clergy, chaplains to those who have left or are thinking about leaving The Episcopal Church for what is hoped to be an emerging “constituent” community that is really, really, really Anglican.
There is of course another scenario: that CANA, and the Church of Nigeria behind it, are committed to the Global South group and not interested at all in becoming part of anything where North Americans will have primary leadership, in which case the only way in the door to a more perfect Anglicanism is for there to be submission by American dioceses or bishops to oversight by churches in the Global South consortium.
Several Episcopal Dioceses have sought alternative “primatial” oversight, believing, one supposes, that The Episcopal Church, from which their bishops have received orders, is counterfeit. How many are ready to “submit” to oversight from churches that will declare the prayer books used in their ordination and which most of their constituents use regularly in their sacramental worship, defective?
It will be interesting indeed to see how many people are really, really, really interested in stepping back from the 1979 Prayer Book (US) to the 1662 book, both in theology and practice, and to see just what true allegiance to the Thirty-Nine Articles will mean. I suppose undoing all the liturgical context out of which most of those who are ordained bishops and clergy in the network got there, reverting to the 1928 Prayer Book, asking candidates for holy orders to sign on the dotted line re the Thirty-Nine Articles, and of course then not ordaining women, will help get there. But, no, what will really get there is the end of lay ministry, since baptism will no longer be accompanied by a covenant statement that implicates the baptized in ministry. Then purple and black will trump rumpled and worn every time.
Keep your eye on the dog days of summer. In the winter the dog will stand by itself in the cold.