2/13/2008

The Windsor Continuation Group: As if there was much to continue.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said he would do it in his Advent Letter and lo and behold he has done it: He has appointed a group called "The Windsor Continuation Group." Here is the announcement from the Anglican Communion Office:

"The Archbishop of Canterbury announced the formation of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG), as proposed in his Advent Letter

The WCG will address outstanding questions arising from the Windsor Report and the various formal responses from provinces and instruments of the Anglican Communion.

The members of the group are:

The Most Revd Clive Handford, former Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East (chair)
The Most Revd John Chew, Primate of South East Asia
The Right Revd Gary Lillibridge, Bishop of West Texas
The Right Revd Victoria Matthews, former Bishop of Edmonton
The Very Revd John Moses, former dean of St Paul's, London
The Most Revd Donald Mtetemela, Primate of Tanzania

They will be joined as a consultant by:

Dame Mary Tanner, Co-president of the World Council of Churches

and assisted by:

Canon Andrew Norman of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Staff and
Canon Gregory Cameron of the Anglican Communion Office.

Bishop Clive Handford, who will be chairing the group, said: "We are conscious as we undertake this work that the Archbishop has given us an important responsibility to assist the Communion to move forward. A significant element of our work will be face-to-face conversation with those who have key roles in shaping the future of our common life. I believe in the Anglican Communion, and hope that our work will help it to find healing and new strength."

The group will be working intensively in the period running up to the 2008 Lambeth Conference, where its initial work will contribute to the shared discernment of the bishops in strengthening the life and identity of the Anglican Communion.

The Archbishop of Canterbury commented: "I am deeply grateful to those who have accepted the invitation to carry forward the important work in our Communion's life that I indicated in my Advent Letter. This is a demanding assignment. I trust they can count on our prayers throughout the Communion as they bring their combined wisdom and attentiveness to the strengthening of our common life through the Windsor Process."

This has all the makings of a disaster. The group has to be made up, one supposes, of people who think the Windsor Report, now a Process and sometimes an idol, is basically a good idea on its way to being a means of "strengthening the life and identity of the Anglican Communion." Still, the persons chosen for this committee include several who are not likely to engage in "face-to-face conversation with those who have key roles in shaping the future of our common life," if that includes those who think the Windsor Report a report only and not the mandate for a total reconfiguration of the relationships among member churches in the Anglican Communion.

The primary "outstanding questions arising from the Windsor Report and the various formal responses from provinces and instruments of the Anglican Communion" are these: (i) How did this report come to be an idol, (ii) how soon can we consign it to a less deified place in the scheme of things in the Anglican Communion? and (iii) when will "Windsor compliant" be an expression known only to those who delve into the arcane?

No, perhaps the outstanding question is why? Why the WCG? What is there to continue?

Well, we shall see. I am not filled with anticipatory glee.

13 comments:

  1. The most important question is why is TEC still wasting its time, bending over backwards (eg BO33) to stay "in communion" with the AC after Dromantine, Tanzania, The Windsor Report and now committee of "Windsor Compliant" people?

    Why does TEC tolerate VGR not being invited to Lambeth???

    What matters?
    Truth or expediency?

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  2. I agree 100% -- the Windsor Report was a tissue of lies & a complete disaster -- ++Rowan seems determined to destroy the WWAC & I honestly don't understand why!

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  3. What matters? The love which binds us into community (sometimes even with those we disagree with most strongly) is what matters.

    There are at least two issues addressed by the Windsor Report that haven't been resolved yet. First, those border crossing bishops haven't stopped and gone to serve in some legitimate jurisdiction. Second, some way still needs to be found to assure conservative Christians eslewhere in the communion that conservatives here in TEC aren't eing horribly mistreated. The second seems like it should be easy since conservatives generally aren't being horribly mistreated, but finding a way to communicate that fact in a way that others trust has been remarkably difficult.

    Jon

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  4. Perhaps Dame Mary Tanner can help the Anglican Communion (AC) understand that it is foolish to have a double standard for full communion - one set of standards for full communion amongst AC provinces and another for full communion between individual provinces and other Christian churches (e.g., Church of Sweden, ELCA). Is full communion full communion, or is it not?

    If the answer to this involves the supposed, automatic, full communion amongst AC member churches in communion with Canterbury, well, we've already been told by Nigeria and others that this no longer applies. The only way it might ever apply again, apparently, would be if TEC, the ACoC, the CoE and others just do what Nigeria says in terms of sexual ethics, same-sex blessings and the ordination of gay bishops (at least those honest enough to be open about themselves and their families, that is). And even that's only until the next chellenging issues come along, say, Nigeria's possible desire to forbid gay clergy period.

    So let's drop the illusion of automatic, universal full communion and focus our energy on maintaining the highest degree of reciprocal full communion possible within the AC - without implementing a formula or mechanism structured so that a select and persistent group effectively has the final word on biblical interpretation and universal church discipline. Take the pressure off those who, for whatever reason, will not be in relationship with everyone else in communion with Canterbury; take the pressure off others who are incorporating a vision of full inclusion into their ministry.

    christopher+

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  5. Anonymous asks:"What matters?
    Truth or expediency?"

    And anonymous answers:

    What matters is love. It's not obvious how that translates into action on this issue, but it shouldn't be forgot that that's what matters.

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  6. As I noted on another blog, one never knows how to read the intent of a man who consistently violates my personal communcations rule: Eschew sesquipedelian obfuscation!

    That said, lest we forget, he said he was interested in deciding if some who have been invited are outside the boundaries. I understand from the blogs that he is livid over the boundary crossings. Hmmmm.....

    FWIW
    jimB

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  7. The traditional, Anglican standard for full communion amongst Christians, by the way, is the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. Those Anglican provinces for whom this minimum standard of faith and practice is no longer "enough" should nonetheless still be able to be part of the Anglican Communion, take part in all fellowship, as they see fit, and decide for themselves with which other provinces they are in full communion. But - and this is the crux of the issue - they must not be empowered to force their views on secondary issues on others. Nor should anyone else force their more nuanced views on them. All of this presupposes, of course, that AC authority is not centralized.

    If being part of a diverse communion of churches amounts, in the view of some, to "forcing" issues or viewpoints upon them, they can opt out formally. By no means, however, are double-standards for ecclesiastical unity and attempts to enforce uniformity on nonessentials the answer; these just create more problems, as this whole discussion has shown.

    christopher+

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  8. Perhaps discussing the Windsor Report is the best thing that can happen? Any real discussion will reveal that the people most interested in "enforcing" it are also violating it. And many times something as useless as this can be talked to death and that ain't always all bad.

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  9. Laura Toepfer14/2/08 3:20 PM

    One underlying premise of the Windsor Report that has concerned me from the outset is the so-called "Instruments of Unity." They showed up in the WR as if a settled thing when, as I understand it, they first appeared in the Virginia Report a couple of years prior. It seems a shame to me that the WR and its response assumed these Instruments of Unity were a reality instead of a construct. I have other problems with the WR too, but that's a big one for me, and something I doubt will be addressed. My hope is that the Windsor Continuation Group will start by asking questions of the WR rather than accepting it as gospel, or even received wisdom. We shall see.

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  10. John-Julian, OJN14/2/08 4:20 PM

    Mark, you are SO VERY right!

    Sometimes I get the feeling that these people must be living on some other planet which receives no news or information of any kind about us and our lives. Sometimes I find myself asking, "What 'church' are these people talking about?" It's nothing I even vaguely recognize.

    I rather thought that the voluntary absence of the bunch of reactivists from Lambeth pretty much settled the matter. Futzing and putzing now about Windsor Report, Dramantine, Tanzania, etc. seems like all ancient history to me.

    I think that none of us would choose to have them gone, but now that they have gone – and whatever anyone says, they are GONE – what's the point in playing compromise games for their approval now? They simply won't come "back" unless we follow their recipe to the letter,and we simply won't/can't do that.

    So, can't we just heave a great communal sigh of relief and get on with things? All those documents and reports and demands, etc. were only faltering steps on the way, but now we've been there, done that, so why continue to wave these flags?

    I join with Prior Aelred in quiet amazement about ++Rowan's still apparently wanting to wave those dead, divisive banners. And I have just come to the conclusion that I shall never understand that good man's motives, intentions, or methods.

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  11. John-Julian says "So, can't we just heave a great communal sigh of relief and get on with things? "

    WHo is the "WE"???

    TEC and +Durham?
    VGR and + Gomez?
    The Primate of the US and Tanzania?

    Not sure what you mean by "we"
    and that you realise that the ABC does not count it a success to have the bishops of more than half the world's Anglicans and the growing provinces not coming to Lambeth.

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  12. Christopher+ makes an important point.We do seem to have two different definitions of “full communion,” and I’m not sure that either one of them is, in the mathematical sense, well defined. The arguments that have raged in the Anglican Communion for going on five years is a great diversion, a waste of time, a disgraceful sin. We should all get on with mission and stop worrying about who is friends (or not) with whom like a bunch of high school student.

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  13. A brief comment on John-Julian's remarks:

    In my home diocese of Virgina, as you know, several large churches left and affiliated with CANA and other offshore entities. Diocesan councils, since they left, have been extraordinarily productive, focused on God's call for us to do His work in the world. Of course we are still in the midst of legal wranglings about property, but the diocese is going forward in a way that feels quite healthy to me.

    At the risk of an unpleasant metaphor, if you have an infected tooth that is distracting you and your whole body from health and productivity, perhaps it is better to pull the tooth. John-Julian is right. These primates are spiritually, politically and psychologically gone from the Anglican Communion, by their own choosing, by refusing ++Rowan's invitation. It is sad, but it may turn out to be healthier for the Communion in the long run.

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