9/02/2006

Asked and Not Received: Time to Move On

Well, there it is: I asked six questions some days ago. Not a single answer. Since I am not a ecclesiastical gumshoe and no one is volunteering the information I will work on the premise that the following is true:

  • The ABC’s small working group on what to do with the General Convention actions will remain unnamed.
  • The ABC is not at all interested in personally commenting on the ordination of Bishop Minns.
  • The Covenant Drafting Group is either not appointed yet (a real possibility) or the whole idea of the Covenant is being usurped as we speak by the Global South who will write what they think is appropriate and send it on.

And

  • No one from the US or UK went to the ordination of Bishop Minns in Nigeria, save his immediate family.
  • No progressives have been consulted by the Archbishop of Canterbury since General Convention.
  • No representatives of the Gay and Lesbian communities in the US or UK have been consulted by any of the “reflection” groups of bishops being pulled together.
There is no reason to think that anybody who knows anything about any of these concerns has read my blog, or seen my questions on these matters on the House of Bishops / House of Deputies list serve. After all, the blog is small, the summer is hot, bank holiday and false- labor day weekends have all been upon us, and many are called but few are chosen to actually contribute to the HoB/D list.

Still, I am always hoping for some light on any of the questions raised on my page Sniffing Hounds, Dog Days, the Trail Grows Cold. If I am wrong on any of the above, based on receiving no answer at all, so be it. I will be glad to know differently.

Several years ago I thought it useful to get the precise date and attendance at the conversation in which the Archbishop took up the topic of the formation of a Network. I published my query and a follow up on Louie Crew’s pages.

What I wrote was this:
“I draw your attention to an article by Martyn Minns, titled "Is the Anglican Communion Network the best way forward" -- posted by Dr. Kendall Harmon.

In that article Fr. Minns states,

‘The Network was formed last year to support and encourage the life and ministry of those alienated by the actions of General Convention. The original suggestion came from a meeting that David Anderson, President of the AAC, and I had with Archbishop Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace on September 18th, 2003. We had been invited to give a first hand report on the state of the Episcopal Church after Minneapolis. We shared something of our struggles and it was at that conversation that he suggested the need for a Network. He called it a Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes. He wanted to be sure that we used a positive name and not be identified as dissenters. He was also very deliberate in using the word "Confessing" because that would connect it with the "Confessing Christian" movement that stood for the orthodox faith in Germany at a time when the official Christian bodies were being manipulated and co-opted by the government of Nazi Germany. The name subsequently became the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (or Anglican Communion Network or ACN).’”

I was called a busybody for taking important people away from their more important tasks to answer my question. Now, these years later, it is perhaps of some historical and ecclesial interest to note that Canon Minns, who has been active in the Network these three years, is now Bishop Minns whose missionary device is CANA, a part of the Church of Nigeria. Bishop Minns has been well placed these several years.

The Archbishop’s office stepped back three years ago from the reference to the Confessing Church, but not from the Archbishop having been part of the conversation. Now the Archbishops Office has stepped back from support of the consecration of Bishop Minns, but no word has been heard from the Archbishop personally to distance himself from the Church of Nigeria’s actions.

Perhaps I am still just a busybody, but I still hope that someone sees the reason for the questions: Too much seemingly is being done without any interchange (listening is a word that comes to mind) with those affected – the Episcopal Church, Gay and Lesbian Anglicans, etc. The voices of the Global South are heard, as are the moans of the realignment folk, and even the voices of the moderate in the Episcopal Church, but not the voices of progressives who believe that the claims of the baptized trump claims of tradition or purity codes. And should there be found such considerations of the progressive stance, it seems little when compared to the serious invitation to persons and organizations whose positions require no change from past tradition and ancient purity.

In all of this a pattern emerges: the mirror of subsidiarity, the notion that things get handled at the lowest possible ecclesial level, is the notion of the patriarch, who with other personages of high station make the decisions in secret and for others of lower station. Both understandings of authority and decision making are profoundly dismissive of the prophet who comes before the king and the common people, who are given common tasks but not consulted on greater ones.

The result of lack of consultation between those who claim to be authority in the church and those who by right of prayer and prophecy and search for justice are equally of authority will result in an irrelevant death of the very church that both considered home. That will be either foolishness or perhaps tragedy.

Let me be clear: my concern is not about past actions or consultations. It is about the present and future. Where are the invitations now for progressives in the development of an Anglican Communion wide covenant, in the working group on judgment on the Episcopal Church, of life in the Communion? Will there be any? And where is the criticism of the rank disregard by Primates, without any semblance of Provincial consultations within their own Provinces, of the Windsor Report?

I have come to the regrettable conclusion, given the amount of time I spent with colleagues on the matter, that the Windsor Report is for the most part dead. Perhaps something like a compact among Anglican Provinces will result, but that will be in spite of the Covenant example given as an appendix to the Report. The good theology (and there was a good bit of that) will find other venues for further discussion. But its use as a bludgeon by the realignment crowd spells its demise.

If the Primates, and in particular the Archbishop of Canterbury, do not give ear to representatives of progressive concerns, the authority they hold will be absorbed by common men and women, who seek Christ and will find and be found by Christ anyway, and regrettably perhaps elsewhere.



6 comments:

  1. Mark, I can agree that the claims of the baptised trump purity codes. However, it's harder to say that they trump 'tradition'.

    The portion of the baptised who wish for a theologically comprehensive church don't have claims that 'trump' the Anglican tradition--they are in harmony with and supported by that tradition.

    The portion of the baptised who wish for harder boundaries between who is in and who is out do not make claims that 'trump' Anglican tradition--they pretend that such a tradition has never existed, and would prefer that those who read Anglican theology and history would just cease to do so, and that new students would not be attracted to study it. Only in that way could their claims to be 'true' or 'continuing' Anglicans go unchallenged.

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  2. I didn't see any reference to the mid-September meeting that this posting by PB Griswold announces on the Anglican Church website. Is this significant in your view? Will there be a balance of viewpoints represented by these bishops?

    Recent Comment from the Presiding Bishop of TEC

    On the September meeting

    I have become aware of a great deal of speculation regarding a meeting that will take place in New York in mid - September. I would like, therefore, to offer a few clarifying words on what has been conceived as an opportunity for those of differing perspectives to come together in a spirit of mutual respect to exchange views. Shortly after the General Convention, Kenneth Kearon, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, shared with me some conversations he had had with the Archbishop of Canterbury regarding the whole notion of “alternative primatial oversight” and the difficulty in making a response. Though application for the same had been made to the Archbishop, it was clear in our conversation that the Archbishop, though symbolic head of the Anglican Communion, has no direct authority over the internal life of the Provinces that make up the Communion.

    Canon Kearon’s point was that such requests needed to be discussed and a resolution be sought within the Episcopal Church itself. We agreed that the most helpful next step might be to have a candid conversation to include the Presiding Bishop-elect and me together with bishops who have expressed a need for “alternative primatial oversight,” and to have Canon Kearon join with us in the conversations. Bishops Duncan and Iker were then asked to be participants. We also agreed that the group might be expanded by other bishops to be chosen by the participants themselves. Bishops Duncan and Iker invited Bishops Salmon, Stanton and Wimberly to take part. I have asked Bishops Henderson, O’Neill and Sisk.

    This is the genesis of the meeting now set for mid-September. Bishop Peter Lee was asked to serve as convener and he in turn thought it would be helpful were he joined by a bishop known to have views different from his own. Accordingly, Bishop John Lipscomb was also asked to serve as convener. Whether or not this is the first in a series or in fact a one-time conversation will be decided by the group itself.

    As I write these words I am deeply mindful of the state of the world and of the desperate need for the costly and all-engaging work of reconciliation. In the light of the ongoing struggles across the globe, and certainly at this moment in the Middle East, the preoccupation with our own internal disagreements must not allow us to close our eyes to the needs of the world and its suffering people.

    The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
    Presiding Bishop and Primate

    The Episcopal Church

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  3. wendy...you are quite correct, as usual. I was speaking to those for whom 'tradition' means not the Anglican tradition to which you speak, but "orthodox" traditions that brook no comprehensive talk. I was really speaking to your "harder boundries" crowd.

    And Brojoe: Right... no reference to the specifics of the mid September meeting except that I know of no persons other than the bishops and the Secretary of the ACC who will be there - no voice from the Gay and Lesbian world, no voice from laity or clergy. It is a purple world.

    As to balance of viewpoints: I am sure there will be the attempt, but none of the bishops there are in the least bit radical, save possibly the PB Elect, and she is not in position yet to take the lead.

    We shall see.

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  4. I don't know if they've actually used the "a" word, but it is beyond dispute that the Global South (heirarchy) has anathematized progressivism (which they equate to that *other* a-word, apostasy).

    As long as they are setting the agenda---has anyone seen any evidence that they aren't?---then ++Rowan has effectively anathematized progressive voices (qua "progressive"---in the same way I imagine he's only talking to closeted LGBTs now!), also.

    I hope I'm wrong.

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  5. Ah yes, you don't want to listen and act upon the request of Windsor, but they should listen to you.

    And you want 1-3% of the world to have an equal voice with the Orthodox. Sometimes your ridiculousness is amusing.

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  6. And, as often as not, (other) anonymous, your amusement is ridiculous.

    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.