Snotty Remarks to the Contrary: We are indeed The Episcopal Church.
David Virtue made a comment this week about the outgoing Presiding Bishop, he said, “he leaves the highest office in The Episcopal Church, (once The Episcopal Church USA)…”
As with several other word mongering activities it is useful to point out the fact that it is not the General Convention of 2006 that renamed the “Episcopal Church, USA” as “The Episcopal Church.” Our righteous friends would have us believe that we renamed the Episcopal Church at the Convention. But the reality is that The Constitution and Canons, in its Preamble speaks of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, otherwise known as The Episcopal Church and the Book of Common Prayer (see page 513 where Bishops sware to “engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church.”) Both these notations, with the spelling "The.." are in place have have been for years. What was being stated at the General Convention was that we needed to pay attention to the fact that the Episcopal Church, unlike many Provinces of the Anglican Communion, is a multi-national union of dioceses. This point is not one that the realignment crowd would like to admit, for some of the dioceses of this church are decidedly "Global South" and pointedly left out of "Global South" conversations, since they are tanited by their relation to The Episcopal Church.
David Virtue and the Insurrectionist realignment crowd are attempting to share an in joke – that The Episcopal Church has run off and formed a new thing – it is a sort of “wink-wink” Monty Python sort of gambit. Time to drop it.
Meanwhile, there continues to be serious conversation about Alternative Primatial Oversight, as if the Anglican Communion was equipped to offer such a thing and as if such a proposition made any sense. The AC is not so equipped and it doesn’t make any sense to speak of anyway. But the object is to say it over and over again, usually with the word “pain” thrown in fairly often. Liberals are then expected to roll over, get their bellies scratched and be subservient to those in pain because they didn’t have sufficiently orthodox primatial connections. Humbug.
The reason for this exercise is to make it "ordinary" to look at solutions to Anglican Communion issues that run against the ancient understanding that bishops do not muck about in one anothers back yards. The purpose is to get us used to the idea that provincial and diocesan boundaries are of no particular importance.
The idea is to move us beyond even asking why Bishop Lyons, for example, is not soundly criticised by the Archbishop of the Southern Cone, the ACC, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates, and damn near everyone else in sight. Instead of dealing with a reality this stuff is meant to get us to deal with a fiction as if it were a reality.
The realigment community may not be too bright, but they sure are clever. Manipulation is the name of the game: talk about APO, talk about "two churches claiming to be the Episcopal Church," talk about pain a lot, make a cross and get up on it, make us feel badly about having done good things. It is clever as can be, and it is deadly. The purpose of all this is to weigh The Episcopal Church down with baggage uncomfortable enought to make us flinch behind our liberal desire to be nice.
Still, this matter of Alternative Primatial Oversight comes with some interesting baggage. It is perhaps of some value to rehearse the unfolding of this meeting.
On October 6th, the Moderator wrote , “Shortly thereafter, the leaders of 20 Anglican Provinces (out of 38 total Provinces and representing some 70 percent of the world’s active Anglicans) met, promising that Alternative Primatial Oversight would be provided, and that the Global South Steering Committee would work both with the leadership of the whole Communion and with Network leadership to work out the substance of such provision. Meetings to carry this pledge forward will begin within weeks. An eighth Network diocese, having joined the Appeal of the other seven, will be part of that deliberation.”
The Moderator of the Network said on October 25th, in accepting a degree from Nashotah House, “Representatives of the Global South Committee will be meeting with representatives of the eight APO dioceses within a very few days.”
On November 1st Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori wrote assuming the possibility that several Primates here for the Anglican Relief and Development Fund Board would be meeting at least there (for no formal announcement of a separate meeting had been announced) to invite them to meet with her as well.
It is not until November 8th that the Global South web pages announced the fact that there would be such a meeting.
The APO idea was grabbed onto early and has been spoken of as an established possibility all along. The notion that there was an “invitation” from Global South Primates to meet with APO folk that might or might not be accepted was so much foolishness, meant to throw us off track. (It did throw me a bit.) From the outset, when Kigali first offered to be of help, the meeting was in place. Only the timing was at issue.
The strategy is, if you meet about APO, it must be a possibility. The strategy might work, for God knows how willing the church is to roll over and play dead for this gang. Perhaps if they talk about their pain enough we will do so.
The problem is, they can talk all day, but there is not a single one of these Provinces that would permit or condone any conversation about the interference in their Provinces of Anglicans who thought contrary to their understandings of the Gospel.
So next week there will be a meeting of at least four Primates of the Anglican Communion and diocesan leaders of dioceses of The Episcopal Church to discuss how to avoid having any relation with the Presiding Bishop of this Church. Pay attention!
They will meet to discuss the overthrow or avoidance of the constitutional authority of this church. How much of this is ecclesial sedition and how much righteous revolution may be argued. But we can say that it is time to keep our hands on the Union that is The Episcopal Church and our eye on the prize, which is its good name and function in the society as a church devoted to the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Jesus saves. Bank on it. This crowd is attempting to draw interest. Read the fine print.