There's a train wreck coming. We've all know it. There it is.
To the credit of the dissenters, notably the Anglican Communion Network, it is not as if it were hidden from view. Still it is an odd Advent, one that surely marks adventurous times where we see strange beasts and have unique adventures. Here is a announcement of the Common Cause Leadership Council meeting, published today by the ACN. It came by email at 3 PM (EST)
The next major milestone in the development of Common Cause is next week, when the Common Cause Leadership Council gathers in Orlando, Florida on December 18 for its inaugural meeting. The Council comprises the head bishop, a clergy representative, and a lay representative from each Partner. This body represents Common Cause in all its fullness, and has the authority to do the work of the Partnership.
This is the organizing meeting of Common Cause, at which the assembly will elect its first officers and establish its initial committees and task forces. As such, December 18, 2007 will mark the formal beginning of a "separate ecclesiastical structure" in North America. Following this meeting, Common Cause will be in a place to seek official recognition from the Primates of our Communion.
We at the Network are pleased to have been given the Kingdom assignment of building unity among the Common Cause Partners. Thank you for sharing with us in this task, and please pray for our work next week.
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Canon Daryl Fenton
Anglican Communion Network"
Of note is the fact that "December 18, 2007 will mark the formal beginning of a "separate ecclesiastical structure" in North America. Following this meeting, Common Cause will be in a place to seek official recognition from the Primates of our Communion."
Note that there is no mention of the Archbishop of Canterbury and no mention of the Anglican Consultative Council. The ABC invites to Lambeth and that is one way official recognition takes place - you get invited to the gathering. But they are not going there, since most of the CCP "head bishops" belong to groups clearly not invited. The Anglican Consultative Council votes new members in to the ACC, with approval from the member Churches by way of their Primates, but they are not going there either. The process is too long and some Primates might ask questions of some of the participating churches in the CCP.
No, they are going to "seek official recognition from the Primates of our Communion." It will be interesting to see how they will do that. Will they simply write the Primates and petition to be included? Will they petition for a special Primates Meeting to hear their petition? And, no matter how they do so will they be relying on the campaign for an Anglican Covenant that will give the Primates authority to act in this matter?
They will do anything they need to do, for after all they are not bound by the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church or the current processes of the Anglican Communion. Only one of the CCP partners is in theory constrained, and it is clear members from the Episcopal Church have moved beyond the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church anyway. As for the normal processes of the Anglican Communion they have already elevated the role of the Primates (particularly the Primates of the Southern Cone) and reduced the Archbishop of Canterbury to a frail role in which his muttered comments are taken as support when needed and his clear distancing taken as fearfulness.
The Advent of strange times is upon us. It will all turn out alright, but the adventure will be easily derailed or sidetracked. Mostly we will see the Lord present in the same small ways He was present at first - with few, except workers, angels, stars in the heavens, dotty old wise people and other non ecclesiastical system types. The Episcopal Church will be fine. Advent will bring new occasions for mission in California and perhaps several other places. The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society has had a need to stretch its domestic limbs a bit.
The CCP and the ACN will find their Advent as well. Remembering that most of the folk in the various churches and convocations of the parts of the CCP will find their adventure in the small workings of faithful living as well, all will be well.
I can't say as much for the CCP and ACN in their hopes to be the recognized ecclesiastical entity in North America. The trouble with folk whose way of dealing with things going badly is to walk out is that if that gets to be a habit they remain unstable and fracturing.
The really good thing about the sense of Advent in life is that all adventures are filled with hope, sometimes hope in spite of hope. We hope for one thing, and behold another comes. It worked for those who hoped for a King and got Jesus. Maybe it will work for all of us as well.