Over on Drell's Descants, Brad Drell has posted the news that Bishop Bruce MacPherson will be the second bishop invited to the Primates Meeting in February. The dates for the meeting are February 15-19. Lent and Beyond gave the dates as February 12-19. It appears that the Living Church is the source of that set of dates. The Living Church earlier had the correct dates.
I understand, however, from the Episcopal Church Center that the actual meeting, that is the sessions of the formal meeting, does indeed run from February 15 to 19. So Bishops MacPherson and Duncan are to meet with the Primates the day before the formal called meeting. This would be in line with what I understood was the Archbishop of Canterbury's intention, namely to have these bishops meet prior to the formal meeting.
Brad Drell's comment is therefore puzzling: "Specifically, he has been asked to be there on February 14, at the beginning of the Primates’ Meeting, rather than as part of a preliminary meeting before the Primates officially convene. This is the same invitation given to Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh. +Bruce has accepted this invitation." If the meeting is indeed on the 14th, and the dates for the formal meeting are fromthe 15th to the 19th, then the Primates will hear what these two have to say and then they will leave - we hope.
The choice of Bishop MacPherson is an interesting one. He is a fine bishop and has just recently been made the President of the Presiding Bishop's Council of Advice. He is conservative but a very constructive and pastoral person. His presence is, however, contrary to the Council of Advice's own read of the matter of inviting additional people from the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal News Service article on the meeting said this; "The Council was not encouraging of the Archbishop of Canterbury's consideration of additional "dissenting" bishops from this Church attending the Primates' Meeting."
So Bishop MacPherson goes as the President of a Council that advised against consideration of additional "dissenting" bishops attending the meeting. Believing him to be a person of great integrity I am sure he goes not as a "dissenting" bishop and not with the understanding that he is attending the Primates Meeting. We may rightly hope that he will be a moderate voice.
Once again, however, there seems to be no voice beyond the pale of the purple, no voice from the progressive bishops, clergy or laity, and no voice from Gay and Lesbian persons.
Perhaps the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks that our voices are already present in the voice of our Primate. The answer, of course, is yes and no. Yes, she is the Presiding Bishop for all of us in the Episcopal Church and we are glad of it. No, she is not the voice specifically of any of these communities - clergy, lay, Gay or Lesbian - but rather the primary voice of who we are as a Church expressing itself through General Convention. Her voice alone is not the progressive voice.
If the ABC wants the Primates to hear from the progressives, lay and ordained persons other than bishops, or Gay or Lesbian Christians of the Anglican community, balancing out the presence of two bishops, he has only to ask. I don't think he does.
I suspect he believes that has already been done at the ACC meeting where we were asked to withdraw but also asked to witness to and defend our actions. That was at the Anglican Consultative Council, where at least there were communion wide voices of a variety of sorts. This is the Primates Meeting, and if the Primates are to hear any voices beyond what they want to hear now is the time to invite those voices in. If not, the Primates will hear only what they want to hear and because they have ears to hear they will indeed feel satisfied.
It will be a thin gruel and not the feast of the banquet we had hoped.