ENS as published the story that “the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Tanzania hereby declares that its communion with the Episcopal Church (USA) is severely impaired but the Anglican Church of Tanzania remains in communion with those who are faithful to Biblical Christianity and authority of Scripture who remain in the Episcopal Church (USA) or have left or are considering leaving that church body for the same reasons that we have stated above.”
The ENS account gives the full text of the resolution. It touches on several notable matters: (i) a list of those specific Bishops and Priests it is not in communion with, and who therefore cannot act sacramentally in Tanzania, (ii) severely impaired communion with The Episcopal Church, (ii) it will not knowingly receive monies from Episcopal Church official organizations or from anyone in the church who is from the list provided.
This series of statements certainly does two things: it pulls back the welcome mat for anyone in any official capacity with the Episcopal Church and it continues the needless rejection of relief and development monies on the odd understanding that the money is so tainted that accepting it would make ACT party to that which they consider anathema.
About the money complications abound, and money is an notoriously difficult gift to give or receive. Part of the long standing work of Anglican agencies has been to free funding from the immediate control of giving agencies and at the same time require accountability for its use. In that the agencies have been quite successful. But the development of counter-agencies – Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) and Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF) – has occurred as a result of the “doctrine of tainted gifts.” The generosity of donors to either agency is not in dispute, nor is the hope that the funding will do good work. But the notion that ARDF monies are “cleaner” that ERD monies, or less tainted, borders on the absurd, except, of course that the poor are not laughing.
About the welcome mat: The Primates are meeting next February in Dar Es Salaam (Abode of Peace). While the meeting promises to be anything but peaceful, the assumption, one would think, is that meetings of Primates would take place where all member Primates would be welcome. The Archbishop of Canterbury presides, so it is in some way his meeting. But the meeting takes place in the Province of the Anglican Church of Tanzania.
The Province has effectively pulled the mat out from under the Presiding Bishop, who in one way or another is clearly a person “out of communion” and unacceptable the House of Bishops in Tanzania. Her welcome there is isolated to the distinctly closed meeting halls of the Primates, and even there she is a person some will not be willing to recognize as Primate. Outside those meetings, however, it appears that she will not be welcome at all.
The venue for these Primate Meetings is set long in advance, but assumedly always with a check that the Province where they are meeting is willing to welcome all the Primates. Now it appears that one of their member Primates is unwelcome.
The Archbishop of Canterbury needs to clarify the situation by stressing that the Primate’s Meeting is space ‘apart’ from the Province in which its meeting takes place, and that Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori is welcome and will take her part in the sacramental life of that meeting. In this case it is he who is the host, not the Provincial Archbishop and his welcome that is extended.
If because of the “realities on the ground” the ABC cannot do this he should, even at this late date, propose an alternative place of meeting, one in which the welcome mat has not been pulled.
Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori is the Primate of this Church. That fact means that the welcome given to all must be accorded her. If that welcome is not possible then the Primates must be called to account. Ungracious refusal of gifts is one thing, manifest lack of hospitality is another.