1/19/2007

The Same old Petition Still Hangs On....

The meeting of the American Mission in America taking place in Florida, with its gathering of Primates, has my attention for the moment. It is billed as a forward looking gathering of what is now a full blown church under the Provincial oversight of the Archbishop of Rwanda. They are set on getting on with mission, and insofar as that is the agenda of the meeting well and good.

But of course AMiA is also connected by way of the Common Cause Partners to the Anglican Communion Network. And the Partners are about fulfilling a vision articulated in a petition immediately following Lambeth 1998. The attending folk at this gathering in Florida may be about the business of local startups, new mission, etc, but the big boys in the back room are, I am sure, planning for the next round of struggle for the seat reserved for the church acknowledged as the constituent member of the Anglican Communion from the United States.

Before AMiA came into being, but following Lambeth 1998, a group called “The Association of Anglican Congregations on Mission” submitted a petition to the Primates Meeting following Lambeth. It gives form to what becomes the guiding vision for AMiA, for the American Anglican Council and for the Anglican Communion Network. One of the ‘threads’ playing through all this is the Moderator of the Network. It was an odd piece: it assumed the Primates could act with authority in the life of a particular Province; it was written as a quasi-legal brief; it was an extended legalistic rant. It based its claims on the sexuality resolutions of Lambeth 1998, but it was more about earlier problems - bishops with bad theology (Spong); bishops who were women (Harris); revisionism on the march.

Here is what the petition asked for: (I have highlighted several sections.)

The Association of Anglican Congregations on Mission ("Petitioner") hereby respectfully petitions that the Primates' Meeting of the Anglican Communion, and its members in their individual capacities as Archbishops and/or Primates of the Church, take action to resolve a case of exceptional emergency in The Episcopal Church of the United States of America ("ECUSA").

As will be more fully set forth below, the exceptional emergency consists of members of ECUSA being led astray from the true Gospel, and deterred from bringing people to Christ, by unorthodox ("revisionist") bishops and other leaders of ECUSA who have rejected the sovereign authority of Scripture. The revisionists have supplanted Scripture with human experience to fashion a new religion and code of moral standards that are irreconcilably contrary to historic, orthodox Anglican faith and practice. They are imposing their new religion and morals throughout ECUSA, all in violation of Resolutions I.10, II.8, III.1, III.5 and III.6 adopted by the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops.

The emergency cannot be resolved within ECUSA itself. The revisionists control ECUSA's national governing bodies and most of its major dioceses. They cannot be persuaded to change their teachings or be dislodged from their positions of power by the orthodox minority within ECUSA. The emergency can be resolved only by the Primates' Meeting, or its individual members, causing the reformation of ECUSA or the replacement of it with a continuing Episcopal Church as the province of the Anglican Communion in the United States.

Petitioner prays that the Primates' Meeting take the actions asked of it by the 1998 Lambeth Resolution III.6, as well as any other actions necessary or appropriate to commence the reformation of ECUSA by, inter alia, causing: (1) ECUSA's revisionist bishops and other leaders to immediately cease violating 1998 Lambeth Resolutions I.10, II.8, III.1, III.5 and III.6; and (2) ECUSA's national legislative body, General Convention, at the meeting thereof to be held in July, 2000, to adopt such resolutions and canons and take such other action as will bring ECUSA into compliance with those Lambeth Resolutions.

Petitioner also prays that if ECUSA, its General Convention, and its bishops and other leaders do not heed the actions of the Primates' Meeting, but continue to violate Resolutions I.10, II.8, III.1, III.5 and III.6, the Primates' Meeting assist in the formation of a continuing Episcopal Church that submits to the sovereign authority of Scripture and is loyal to our Anglican tradition and formularies, and recognize it to replace ECUSA as the province of the Anglican Communion in the United States. Petitioner further prays that, if the Primates' Meeting fails to cause ECUSA to be so reformed or replaced, the individual Primates exercise their individual powers to that end.

The document (which is quite long) is signed off by the then Very Rev. John H. Rodgers, Jr., Th.D., General Secretary of AACOM and Member of ECUSA and the Anglican Communion, December, 1998. Dean Rogers is now Bishop Rogers of AMiA. He is of course no longer a member of the Episcopal Church.

The essentials of this strange and tortuous petition are still with us. Inaction by people who should have known better has meant that AMiA, unrecognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury, has snuck in via its being a subset of the Province of Rwanda. The proposition that the Episcopal Church can be replaced by some other entity either directly or indirectly by way of a Province willing to include them has, until recently, gone unchallenged and Rwanda has never been rebuked by the Primates or the ACC for having taken AMiA under its wing.

This is why I am very concerned about these eight current and two retired Archbishops getting together in Florida, with Bishop Duncan, Moderator of the ACN and Bishop Frank Lyons, bishop of Bolivia - but in fact bishop of a much larger group of parishes in the US than he has in Bolivia. I don’t believe for a moment that they have not found time to strategize and recall the heady days of their petition to the Primates in 1998.

The fat is in the fire for sure, and the rot is in the tree.

7 comments:

  1. Lambeth has only been (until now anyway!) a meeting of diocesan bishops? And furthermore, it's been clear (until now anyway!) that there can't be (w/ the special exception of Europe: both CofE and TEC) more than one diocesan bishop in any given place?

    Therefore (there's a point to this)...

    ...despite claims of Bp. Rogers (and now, Bp. Minns), they OUGHT not be invited to Lambeth, as they are (pretending to occupy) the same space as Episcopal diocesans? (Notwithstanding their membership in the House of Bishops in their respective national churches).

    Just looking for confirmation, of my take on this... (until now anyway! ;-/)

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  2. Jcf,
    my recollection is that assistant bishops were invited to the last Lambeth.

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  3. obadiahslope21/1/07 12:21 AM

    ...but this does not address the geographic question. Arguably there are three jurisdictions in Europe if you count the Lusitanian church!

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  4. obadiahslope said "arguably there are three jurisdictions..." If one were to argue this, there would be four - remember the Spanish Reformed Church.

    But the matter is more complex still... Both the Lusitanian Church and and the Spanish Reformed Church are in defined jurisdictions. The Convocation of American Churches in Europe makes no formal claim to be a diocese. Its bishop is suffrigan to the Presiding Bishop. The CofE Church in Europe has a Diocesan but he too at least formally is landed not in the whole of Europe but (I think) in either Gibralter or in England.

    So there are two irregular jurisdictions in Europe, ones that have their roots in chaplaincies to English speaking people from either England or the United States. The Convocation has become a missionary community moving well beyond the chaplaincy stage. I don't know about the CofE churches. At any rate they are not distinct on any basis having to do with who is the "real" Anglican presence.

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  5. Bishop Whalon is getting extremely annoyed about this whole parallel jurisdictions chatter (I highly recommend his linked piece in Anglicans Online!):

    The Convocation of American Churches in Europe is not a diocese of the Episcopal Church, and does not have geographical boundaries. Like the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe of the Church of England, which is similar, we have a 'jurisdiction of persons.' See www.tec-europe.org.

    This anomaly is one I have written about in an essay entitled "The Blight of Parallel Jurisdictions" a column for Anglicans Online. See http://anglicansonline.org/resources/essays/whalon/parajurisdiction.html

    I hope to see this anomaly corrected. Bishop Geoffrey Rowell and I am very tired of hearing that the Convocation and the Diocese in Europe are a model for how Episcopalians can live in separate jurisidictions in the US.

    +Pierre Whalon

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  6. once again prior aelred... on the case. Bishop Whalon is annoyed, you are annoyed, I am annoyed. Damn near everyone who has a sense of what is going on in the highly complex ecumenical and Anglican environment in Europe is annoyed. I don't know what we can do but keep at it.

    It appears I spelled Suffragan wrong, so correcting that, I will also say that I like prior Aelred's read.... it is a 'jurisdiction of persons' not of area. I gather Prior that you included a note from Bishop Whalon at the end.

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  7. But can someone address my larger point? (i.e., *IF* the Model of Lambeth Past prevails, then---for example---one can invite +Peter Lee for Virginia, *OR* +Martyn Minns for Virginia, but NOT both?)

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