Good News: The Archbishop of Canterbury will accept the invitation to visit the US House of Bishops. They invited, he responded.
Medium News: The ABC will bring members of the Standing Committee of the Primates and Anglican Consultative Council. The Anglican Communion News Service reported, "Dr Williams said he would undertake the visit together with members of the Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council."
The invitation from the House of Bishop stated, "We invite the Archbishop and members of the Primates' Standing Committee to join us at our expense for three days of prayer and conversation regarding these important matters."
Which is it? The Primates Standing Committee (all big cheese) or the Joint Committee… (includes some smaller cheeses)? Well, never mind. The House of Bishops invited the ABC and the whole of some group to attend at our expense. The reason why this is medium news only is that the greater the group the less possible it will be to actually engage the Archbishop of Canterbury rather than listen to a variety of voices, the greater the number the less the need for real engagement with the "Focus of Unity." Oh well.
Bad News: The meeting will be at the fall meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans, sometime between September 20th to 25th. That is, between five and ten days before the September 30th deadline for a response from the House of Bishops to the requests made of it in the Primates Communiqué of March 2007. It puts the Archbishop's presence in the context of a last minute push to get some acceptable response from the HoB to the Primates. This has all the makings of a mess.
Even with all this I am glad he is coming, glad he is bringing folk of whom at least some may be lay persons or clergy other than bishops, glad he is meeting. But it may be that the Archbishop will need to be prepared to talk with the US Bishops about what to do after the dance is over, for it is becoming increasingly clear that there is no room on our dance card for the Primates, at least not for those that interest them.