It is a mostly delicately phrased and mutually respectful document. Good for Olympia and good for the parishes.
However, in the middle of the statement of the covenant, the following appears:
“In October 2004, members of St. Charles' and St. Stephen's votedoverwhelmingly to disassociate from the Episcopal Church. To remain in theAnglican Communion, St. Charles' and St. Stephen's came under the ecclesialoversight of the Diocese of Recife in Brazil. The two congregations are also aligned with the Anglican Communion Network which represents over onethousand congregations in North America. Members of St. Stephen's who didnot agree with that decision chose to continue the ministry of St. Stephen'sEpiscopal Church in the Oak Harbor community and have been holding servicesin homes.” (Bold mine)
Now the problems with this paragraph are quite striking:
- The Diocese of Recife in Brazil is, as the Anglican Communion website states, a part of the Province of Brazil. It’s bishop is The Rt Revd Sebastiao Armando Gameleira Soares. It is in no way connected with the realignment community. The claim that these parishes are related to that diocese is incorrect. I suspect what they meant to say is that these parishes are related to the former bishop of Recife, who, along with a substantial portion of the clergy and a number of laity, became an entity (diocese) related to the Province of the Southern Cone. That is, these parishes are related to a splinter group irregularly related to a Province whose territory does not include Brazil. That diocese calls itself “the Anglican Diocese of Recife.”
- The Covenant also states that “Anglican Communion Network which represents over one thousand congregations in North America.” The parish locator map on the ACN pages http://www.acn-us.org/local lists 736 parishes in all of North America. This list seems to include FiFNA parishes. However the listing is put together, the list is far short of a thousand.
ACN claims to be part of the Episcopal Church, but a fair number of its “aligned” member parishes are part of entities that have no relation to the Episcopal Church at all.
It is time for the Anglican Communion Network to give up the sham of stating that it is in any way an organization working within the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. These two parishes are prime examples of the reality: They are under the Episcopal direction of an irregular diocese in a rogue relationship with the Anglican Communion. They claim to be “aligned with ACN,” and are on the locater map as ACN parishes.
The end of the phase in which the Anglican Communion Network bears any semblance of an organization within the Episcopal Church is over. ACN is an alignment of churches and people within it what it calls “Common Cause Partners,” many of whom are not at all part of the Episcopal Church and never were.
The covenant between the Diocese of Olympia and these parishes has every chance of being a solid and just mediated settlement. This not is not about that settlement. It is about the statements that accompanied it. They are not part of the Diocese of Recife and the ACN is not a thousand parishes strong.