8/20/2007

Ratcheting up the Noise: Forty Days, etc.

Voices from the realignment and dissenter community in the Anglican Communion are ratcheting up the volume, with great piety, wringing of hands, and agonizing groans. They are doing so in reference to a doomsday date of September 30th, one provided by the Primates Communiqué in March. They are doing so in order to push the House of Bishops to act in order to avoid the doom that is purported to follow if they do not accede to the requests of the Primates. It is a shallow gambit in a difficult struggle.

The Archbishop of Nigeria has issued a paper titled, "A MOST AGONIZING JOURNEY," available on the Church of Nigeria site, but on Thinking Anglicans in much better format. Fr. Jake does a fine job hacking through the underbrush of this document. Most of the realignment / dissenter community saw fit to just print it as it is. The Archbishop notes the time, "With about seven weeks to go, hope for a unified Communion is not any brighter than it was seven months or ten years ago." He, of course, is referencing the date of September 30th.

Forty Days of Anglican Prayer has started a countdown to that same date, prayerful, mind you. In that they follow on Baby Blue who has had a counter working down to September 30th for some time.

"Forty Days" has a really special seal, "Windsor compliant website," taking the Windsor Report to a new level, authorizing websites as compliant. Sorry this one is not.

Then again, PRELUDIUM does not believe the Windsor Report is more than a report. So here we have an alternate seal, unauthorized by the very best.

Now there is also a strange story in the Church of England Newspaper that the Archbishop of Canterbury is going to be "manipulated" by the House of Bishops and its schedule of activities, and that the Windsor bishops want to help the Archbishop avoid being manipulated. Again, the noise is that the meeting between the Archbishop and the House of Bishops of TEC is going to be a failure as far as the realignment / dissenter crowd is concerned, and therefore the September 30th deadline will come without any submission by the HoB to the requests from the Primates.

The Living Church, on the other hand, makes it clear that the Windsor bishops at their meeting worked on how to get the ABC to be clear about insisting on compliance and the "consequences" of noncompliance. So the Windsor bishops are involved in some not to subtle efforts to manipulate the ABC.

The volume is turned up precisely so that the Episcopal Church (TEC) will all be suitably impressed and frightened into submission. Acknowledging the noise is one thing – it is just there. But TEC need not be frightened by it or assume that TEC has done something to provoke it, something the House of Bishops could fix.

The September 30th "deadline" is duly noted. It, like the deadline for responses to Lambeth invitations (July 31), have been seen as just that – deadlines – beyond which there will be consequences. But in neither case did the document which originated the so called deadline spell those out. In the case of the invitations the Archbishop said it would be very helpful if responses could come in by July 31. Reportedly only about one quarter of them had come through by that date. He has since extended the period for acceptance. And in any case, as the Church Times editorialized, there was no deadline ever mentioned by the Archbishop.

In the case of the Communiqué, where everything was couched in the politeness of recommendations we have a similar problem. The Dar Es Salaam Communiqué, pushed through in what was called a "great spiritual struggle," included this statement, found in the section called "Key Recommendations of the Primates":

"In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church

1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144); and

2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134);

unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134).

The Primates request that the answer of the House of Bishops is conveyed to the Primates by the Presiding Bishop by 30th September 2007.

If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion."

So the requests are accompanied by what many have taken to be a dire warning. If they are not met it would appear that at least some of the primates would either insist that The Episcopal Church (and perhaps the Anglican Church of Canada) be read out of the conversations leading to a covenant, excluded from various meetings, or if that failed, that these same Primates would themselves boycott various meetings, including Lambeth.

There are indeed "consequences" to whatever the House of Bishops may convey by way of the Presiding Bishop to the Primates. Here are three possibilities (I am sure there are more):

  1. The House of Bishops responds by acceding to one or the other or both of the requests. Doing so is highly unlikely, since "unequivocal common covenant" is hard to come by, and the HoB cannot determine for the whole church, much less all its own members, how a resolution is to be interpreted. Still, the HoB could try. And, if it succeded the Primates – particularly those of the so called Global South – would be in a bit of a quandary. Unless the Primates, or some of them, are intent on rejecting the responses as somehow insincere, the tents of the intruders must be pulled down. But then what of the growing insistence that this is not about sexual issues (as both of the requests are) but rather about the list the Archbishop of Nigeria has produced? (See his letter "A Most Agonizing Journey.") What about the requests for alternative primatial oversight, based in part on the fact that the Primate of TEC is a woman? No, if the HoB accedes it only leads to the next round of requested capitulations. Remember the source of much of the discontent goes back to our not disciplining Bishop Spong and the ordination of women.


  2. The House of Bishops responds by determining that in neither case can they do what is asked and still stay true to the doctrine and discipline of The Episcopal Church, believing that the HoB ought not make unilateral decisions in areas where either the discretion of the diocesan or the will and governance of General Convention is contravened. The HoB might argue out the issues and reach decisions about each request, rejecting each. At the same time the HoB might affirm its willingness to promote the idea of an Anglican Covenant, give assurances that The Episcopal Church remains, from its standpoint, in communion with every Church in the Anglican Communion, and intends to take its place in the life of the Instruments of Communion. Then the whole matter of life together in the communion is thrown back on things like the invitations to Lambeth, continued inclusion in the Primates Meetings, restoration of normal life in the ACC, etc. At that point the resolve of the Primates of the so-called Global South is to either press the decision makers – the Archbishop of Canterbury and the ACC – to disinvite TEC, or if that does not work to simply walk themselves, setting up whatever alternative universes they wish. These might include a new-and-improved Anglican Conference with its own Province in North America, separation from the "Global North" and its lackeys, and melding with churches like the Traditional Anglican Communion.


  3. The House of Bishops might simply decide to politely decline to be coerced by the September 30th deadline, pointing out that the Primates's request require the voice of the whole church, which voice can best be registered by the actions of General Convention. In this case they would neither affirm nor deny the requests; they would take no vote and voice no opinion on the merits of the requests. Rather they would refer the requests to the proper agent, the General Convention. They would leave it to the various interested parties in the Anglican Communion to determine what to do about that. Much of what would follow with option two above would hold here. (This possibility has my vote, but then again, thanks be to God, I don't have one.)


The clock is ticking. September 30th will come and go. The Anglican Communion is messy now, it will be messy then. There will still be good things done by the member churches of the Communion, there will still be the need to coordinate much of the international work of the churches, there will still be the needs for mutual concern, relief, development, mission, prayer and encouragement. Followers of Jesus Christ don't need to work on deadlines. The one deadline we have ever had to worry about came and went and was dealt with on Good Friday and we live in the joy of life where death has no dominion.

All the noise and clamor is there to make it appear that September 30th is THE moment that will determine all things Anglican and/ or spell the death of what is most dear to us. It is not. The bishops of The Episcopal Church will, we trust, know that.

18 comments:

  1. Mark,

    Another option: HoB declines to act without a full GC, but, via Title 1, Canon 1.3(a), could call for a special session of GC before 2009, in order to impress on the Communion that we do take worldwide concerns seriously and are willing to spennd the money to meet in special session to do so.

    The relevant canon: "Sec. 3 (a) The right of calling special meetings of the General Convention shall be vested in the Bishops. The Presiding Bishop shall issue the summons for such meetings, designating the time and place thereof, with the consent, or on the requisition, of a majority of the Bishops, expressed to the Presiding Bishop in writing."

    RFSJ

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  2. And Prayer Book revision, don't forget Prayer Book revision (that heretical '79 book!)

    If the Communion is highjacked and morphed into the image of Peter Akinola, I want nothing to do with it. It will not, as a former bishop of mine claimed, relegate the EC into "just another Christian sect" (at least he still acknowledged that it would be Christian) because of apostolic succession, and apostolic ministry is far more what I am concerned with.

    RFSJ - Why in the world would we want to feed the crisis mentality by calling special session of GC? We're already showing our willingness to deal seriously with international issues by the way we handled GC06, all the chatter on blogs and other media outlets, other statements from the HoB, and esp. by engaging the AbC directly (the sole reason he is coming) just before the dreaded deadline.

    I agree with Mark: If we are judged as having resonded insufficiently (that judgement has already been rendered, btw, even before the HoB meets), as some famous person said, news of our demise has been greatly exaggerated.

    What a horrid spiritual and mental state to be in to not only want to not be a part of a particular entity (e.g. the EC), but to actually wish, hope and pray for that entity's demise, as Duncan does. I for one appreciate his/their constant blather because it helps keep me focused on the importance of defining myself, not by what I am not, as they do, but by what I am, a faithful follow of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    No point in feeding the crisis mentality, RFSJ.

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  3. How soon could one be called? I expect that we could not have one before the summer of 2008. Besides, how much would that cost, diverting money from the actual mission of the Body of Christ?

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  4. I agree that the response should be to defer to General Convention. I just think that a special convention to address this issue once and for all should have been called for this summer. You can say that there should be no deadline imposed, and therefore this one should not be honored. But I still think that to say that we have to wait until 2009 really just says to the rest of the Communion, "you aren't worth the expense of a special convention". Since we have the provision for such a meeting in our canons, I can't think of a more appropriate time for it than now. In my view, this is a great failure of TEC, and the common response to this idea of throwing up one's hands is deplorable.

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  5. Actually calling a special convention in the summer of 2008 might not be a bad idea. It would serve two purposes:

    1) It would show that the Episcopal Church takes with utmost seriousness the question of how of how the Anglican Communion makes up its collective mind.

    2) It would witness to the rest of the Anglican world that the Episcopal Church really means it when it says that church decision-making should be in the hands of bishops, priests and lay people working together.

    The special convention could and should go beyond dealing with the specific questions raised by the primates to press for a different, more consultative process for drafting an Anglican Covenant if there is to be one. The present "process" is a joke, even though the U.S.'s Katherine Grieb battled valiantly all by herself at the drafting meeting. The draft, of course, was subsequently reworked to its further detriment by Akinola, Minns and company.

    I'd like to know what the Mothers' Union of the African provinces, one of the great strengths of those churches, makes of all this shouting. Maybe TEC might suggest their representatives get included in covenant conversation.

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  6. As the famous 1970ies hit said:

    "These pots were made for crackin'
    - and the're gonna crack all over you!"

    ... or something :-(

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  7. Thanks, Mark! I've borrowed the "non-compliant-logo" and posted it on my own blog ... great idea!

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. My "Ode to the Schism Mongers":

    Come, Thou long expected Schism
    Born to set Thy people free
    From our fears of queers release us
    As we quest for Purity.

    CANA’s strength and consolation
    Hope of homophobes thou art
    Dear Desire of “Network” nations
    Joy of every “Windsor” heart.

    Reasserters you’ll deliver
    As you split the church apart.
    Come thou long expected schism
    Let the glorious rupture start!

    May our absolutist spirits
    Rule not just our hearts alone
    But exclude all who resist us
    ‘Til we capture Cantaur’s throne!

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  10. The one concern I have is that the HoB has not exactly shown itself to be courageous. B033 is a flat out cave in to presure. It was the cop out of the invitation seekers, and literally shoved up the throat of the Deputies (not a typo.)

    Bad enough that the house passed it, worse that Bp. Katherine began her term with an act that showed so little respect for the deputies. Now it is her leadership we are counting on, and I for one am terrified.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  11. Of course, when you get down to it, Akinola and Company are not "Windsor Compliant" either -- they have violated the part of the report calling for not crossing ecclesiastical boarders.

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  12. Susan Russell shows in her words, attitude and tone why there is NO room for reasserters in the new Episcopal Church.
    On the one side she pleads for a way for us to all get along and then she posts her vitriol and hate for those who actually believe what they have been taught.
    It would be ugly enough if it came from a lay person, but Susan is an ordained priest.
    You can't have it both ways. Either be welcoming, or not.
    I can't hear what you say Susan, your actions are simply tooo loud.

    Joan of Orthodoxy

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  13. Tom Sramek, Jr. --

    Quite aside from the question of boundary violations, I'm not sure Akinola and Company have ever claimed to be "Windsor Compliant" The WR allows for the possibility that there might be a process of reception for the full inclusion of gays, something that the self-described "Global South" has always rejected as contrary to Scripture.

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  14. Joan ... I hear what you're saying, and ...

    I believe the time has come to draw a stark, distinct, clear distinction between faithful members of church-at-large with differences on matters theological trying to work to stay together in relationship in spite of those differences and the Schism Mongers who have been orchestrating this rupture of the Anglican Communion for the last decade and now want us to foot the bill for the sackcloth and ashes they parade around in mourning for the rupture they have wrought.

    In point of fact THEY are the ones who can't have it both ways. It's like the old story of the man who killed both of his parents and then looked for sympathy because he was an orphan.

    The commentaries and comments on conservative blogs (and you know who you are) make it abundantly clear that there is NO room for reconciliation for those who profess this absolutist aberration of Anglicanism.

    It's time to call it for what it is. And it IS their "long expected schism" and they are rejoicing in it while the rest of us are still setting a place at the table for everybody who will come.

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  15. Susan:

    You only make room at the table for those who kow-tow to your agenda. You call those of us who believe same-sex unions are extra-bibilical - homophobes.
    Don't say there is room at the table when you demean and denigrate the conversation.
    Your pastoral attitude is sadly lacking and unfriendly. The oozing sarcasm and hate you spew belies the very collar you wear.
    Sorry, but as long as we are being honest with each other that's how you look to me, one struggling to stay in the church but completely disagreeing with what "your" side is doing to it.

    Peace.

    Joan of orthodoxy

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  16. obadiahslope21/8/07 9:22 PM

    the prior said
    "Quite aside from the question of boundary violations, I'm not sure Akinola and Company have ever claimed to be "Windsor Compliant" The WR allows for the possibility that there might be a process of reception for the full inclusion of gays, something that the self-described "Global South" has always rejected as contrary to Scripture."

    The Windsor Report leaves open the possibility that what the primates at Dar called "the emergence of a new consensus' in the communion. The Prior has this right. The WR also allows for the possibility that the communion may say no also.
    If to be Windsor compliant is to be open to both possibilities, can I suggest that none of us who give free reign to our view on blogs, are WR compliant?

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  17. Counterlight22/8/07 8:59 AM

    "You only make room at the table for those who kow-tow to your agenda. You call those of us who believe same-sex unions are extra-bibilical - homophobes."

    It never ceases to amaze me how accurately the reasserters describe themselves when they attack others.
    I'm with Susan Russell, time to call and spade a spade; a big pagaent of the homophobes paid for with offerings of gay Anglicans. It's that mortal terror of sailors and hairdressers kissing that holds these folks together. If it wasn't for the gay boys and girls, they'd be carving each other up with butcher knives.

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  18. obadiahslope --

    No problem for me -- I have always been a critic of the Windsor Report -- it is misleading & disingenuous & just plain bad history from beginning to end -- were anyone to suggest to me that I were "Windsor Compliant," I would regard it as an insult.

    At least two of the members of the commission have admitted that it was an unsatisfactory piece of work but "time was short and we had to come up with something." This has been the bane of liberals trying to deal with narrow reactionaries who are concerned only with victory -- the effort to find "common ground" results only in giving in.

    Time to wise up, IMHO!

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