5/15/2007

Signs of the End Game

They are shooting pool in an upper room, shooting dice on the veranda. There are dramatic readings of ads in the café and workings of the Ouija board here at Preludium. It is slow time in the fast lane and the cars are pulling in for new tires, and windshields are getting cleaned. What in the Anglican world is going on?

The End Game is being played out. It is a time when vigilance is in order. Stay awake!

Consider the following:

Andrew Brown, writing in The Guardian Unlimited, said this: "None of the Sunday papers seem to have noticed it, but the Anglican Communion ended on Saturday. There was even a church service to mark the occasion, held in a non-denominational chapel for hire in Virginia, USA, where the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, installed an Englishman, Bishop Martyn Minns, as his representative in North America."… "Installing Bishop Minns may prove to be the moment when he decisively over-reaches himself. Even if it does not, it is decisive for Dr Williams, too. Nothing that he now does or says can be justified on the basis that it preserves the unity of the Anglican Communion. That unity has now been shattered. There is no communion, and no good reason for anyone to pretend otherwise." Well, that's depressing.

Then the Archbishop of the Province of Southern Africa had this to say,

"…human sexuality is not the prime concern for most Christians in their life of faith.

Of course, some may leave the Communion as a result of our current problems. But we must not take ourselves too seriously. As Joost de Blank once said 'God works his purposes out, despite the confusion of our minds.'

I suspect that future generations will see this as something of a storm in a teacup, and certainly not as central to the Christian life.

For the centre of Christian life is Jesus Christ."

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane's complete address to Bishop's Forum is worth the read. But here, while he recognizes that some may leave he continues to be hopeful that there is continued life in the Communion. He has some very critical things to say about the Primates and their place in the unity of the Communion. Fr. Jake has a good take on all this HERE.

There is then the continued sense that The Archbishop of Nigeria, particularly as chair of the Global South Steering Committee (Now the Global South Anglican Steering Committee) is about to carry through with the promise of the GS Primates Meeting in Kigali in 2006, to wit:

"We are convinced that the time has now come to take initial steps towards the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA. We have asked the Global South Steering Committee to develop such a proposal in consultation with the appropriate instruments of unity of the Communion. We understand the serious implications of this determination. We believe that we would be failing in our apostolic witness if we do not make this provision for those who hold firmly to a commitment to historic Anglican faith." Well, the GSASC has commissioned a paper leading to an "Anglican Catechism" suitable for such a new order.

Things are moving along nicely toward the formation of OAC (Other Anglican Communion) headquartered who knows where (Alexandria was once touted as a possible site).

Remember that the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) Primates also commissioned a paper, "The Road to Lambeth" which said as follows:

"…we have concluded that we must receive assurances from the Primates and the Archbishop of Canterbury that this crisis will be resolved before a Lambeth Conference is convened. There is no point, in our view, in meeting and meeting and not resolving the fundamental crisis of Anglican identity. We will definitely not attend any Lambeth Conference to which the violators of the Lambeth Resolution are also invited as participants or observers."

Well, reports are coming in that are meant to assure us all that the invitees to Lambeth will include all the bishops of all the current Provinces of the Anglican Communion. That being the case, CAPA Primates (or at least some of them) and GS Primates (at least some of them) may indeed be ready to go in a different direction.

What has happened in the installation of Bishop Minns, then, looks like the first step into an alternative structure in the US to be recognized not by Lambeth, but by the Other Anglican Communion (OAC)

This is not, then, about the first steps towards a province to be proposed as part of the Anglican Communion meeting as Lambeth at all. It is a province in waiting for a new thing, the OAC.

Well, there's the tea leaf reading.

Out there in the blogsphere good friends from across the divide are making small chortling noises. Fr. Dan Martin, whose blog Confessions of a Carioca is often a fine read, has several times now confessed that he knows things he cannot talk about regarding the future of his bishop, diocese, etc, all somehow related to the events around the Installation of Bishop Minns.

BabyBlue drives me crazy with great pictures, wistful music about summertime ending, morning breaking, somewhere over the rainbow, etc; small hints about surprising things not expected; and other odds and ends. This is interrupted occasionally by celebrating the announcement of a new rector for Truro and a somewhat unbecoming parody reading of a New York Times ad about The Episcopal Church. (As a former ex-Southerner and a grandchild of an Englishman I get really put on edge by the parody of either accent. O well.) But underneath it all I have great respect for BabyBlue, her café and all. One day we will meet as friends. Still, somewhere in the hints there is something moving as well.

What's going on? Well, my guess is (i) some few bishops (numbers smaller each time it gets near the edge) will move on over to the province in waiting. They will take with them some people, but it appears very little of the property; (ii) Some Primates from Africa and a few from other parts of the world will find an alternative way to do an international communion (the OAC); (iii) Lambeth will happen without them.

And what of the Anglican Communion Network? Some of it will become part of the OAC development, some of it will slowly step back and continue in The Episcopal Church. There is committed work in mission going on in the ACN and that can find a place in the wider network of mission agencies again, but some of that will continue in distinction from the work of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. Some of it will merge with evangelical multi-denominational agencies.

Meanwhile, one wonders where Dean Zahl is off to, now that he is leaving Trinity.

But the end game is being played out. The time is not September 30 (the deadline for 'proper' response to the Primates). It is not January 2008, the time when invitations go out to the bishops to come to Lambeth. It is not Lambeth itself. It is not when the Draft Anglican Covenant gets passed out for Lambeth and then Provincial approval.

It is when the split is recognized and understood to be real and new tents are put in place and we can get on with the regular praise of God in Jesus Christ. Then perhaps we can be neighbors, good fences and all. The time is soon.

But before that happens there will be one last major grasp at taking it all. So it is a time to be watchful.


8 comments:

  1. It is when the split is recognized and understood to be real and new tents are put in place and we can get on with the regular praise of God in Jesus Christ. Then perhaps we can be neighbors, good fences and all.

    I think this is really the best we can all hope for at this point. And, honestly, I think that what you identify could be a good and healthy situation for all involved.

    Thanks for this post.

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  2. End game. Yes. Praise God.

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  3. Michael Gerson, a former assistant to George Bush and a member of one of the CANA parishes, has published a biased hit piece on the Episcopal Church in the Washington Post.

    You can find it here.


    you will notice that there is a "Post A Comment" section at the bottom. You will have to register to use it - but it is our one place (other than letters to the editor) to speak back to this. Also note that you can click on "recommend" under under contributions that you feel "get it". Consider doing a little online activism and pay this a visit.

    (you will see my comment under the name "denniswine")

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  4. christopher+16/5/07 10:02 AM

    It is the utter unwillingness of the Nigerian Church - and of some others - to tolerate diversity of thought and practice on secondary theological issues like human sexuality - in their view, to be fair, part of a larger primary issue of biblical inerrancy/authority - that is at the root of the present challenge. So who exactly is unwilling to live in a multicultural environment in this case? Looks like it's Nigeria, contrary to Mr. Gerson's assertions, because the Anglican Communion is nothing if not multicultural. Nonetheless, Mr. Gerson's piece is a good read and a largely insightful commentary on religious trends impacting various denominations.

    He is quite wrong on this, though: "Episcopal leaders," he says, "complain of the threat of 'foreign prelates,' echoing anti-Catholic rhetoric of the 19th century." Wrong, Mr. Gerson. This concern echoes one of the core issues of the very English Reformation itself, not some later phobia.

    The end game we are observing is the final decision (over time, in true Anglican fashion) whether or not to abandon the traditional Anglican understanding of national churches governing themselves locally in favor of a Roman-style curial system of top-down power (when push comes to shove, that is).

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  5. Various members of the Anglican Far Right have been dropping pearls of expectation for years. There have been so many lines in the sand that it's beginning to look like a Zen garden out there. No doubt something does happen from time to time, and then they spin it as a fulfillment of their prophecy. Not unlike Nostradamus, really. BabyBlue has learned the lesson of prophecy outlined in Kazantzakis Last Temptation of Christ: when things are going well, predict they will turn bad, when going poorly, predict a turnaround. You will always be correct. And with Nostradamus, be vague and drop hints rather than make clear statements. Works like a charm.

    You, however, dear brother, are going further out on a limb, and I am there with you. I have long said that the realignment in the AC will take a form not unlike what you suggest here. The irascible cannot coexist with those they condemn.

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  6. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for your good humor. I was thinking of Professor Delores Umbridge at the time.

    bb

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  7. Let's not get confused that this is only happening in Virginia, and only under the glare of the Post and the New York Times. Yesterday I ran across a letter from Bishop Gideon Githiga, Diocese of Thika, Anglican Church of Kenya. (http://s148588134.onlinehome.us/5.html) It is dated February 8, and is addressed to a "Network" congregation in Mississippi. It includes this: "It is our hope that the discussion on the creation of an American Diocese will bear fruits. But there is need for closer discussion between the Thika parishes. It would be good if the parishes in Missouri and Nashville may have closer fellowship with the Thika parishes as the distance between us and them is not that big. Some form of corporation will give a stronger case when it comes to look for the American ACK Diocese."

    The epicenter for this effort is in Memphis, and there have been at least two meetings there, reportedly including congregations from as far as New England. As I understand it, this is not so directly "anti-Episcopal," as some of these are new congregations formed separately from, rather than departed from, the Episcopal Church. Still, while Akinola is getting all the attention, it appears Archishop Nzimbi is making his own efforts, and perhaps on a much wider scale.

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