5/01/2008

Revisiting the Realignment Timeline, just for a moment.

Some minion in the Anglican Communion Network office is either too clever by half or a dolt. The headline of the most recent posting on the "News" section of the ACN pages is this, "Realignment Complete, San Joaquin Refocuses on Mission and Ministry." Of course this is not true.

Realignment will be complete when there is a new "biblical, missionary and united" Anglicanism in North America. A simple glance at the spiffy visual presentation of the process (see HERE) or the timeline of actions and issues (HERE) are enough to remind us that the object of realignment is not what the former bishop of San Joaquin has done - align himself and his cohorts with the Province of the Southern Cone. That is a stop-gap measure. The end game is realignment by coalition into an new Anglican union in North America. The plan has been and is to use alignment with other Provinces as a means of getting to a new place - a new ecclesiastical entity in North America that will seek recognition from other Anglican Provinces as the true, blue, real and bonified Anglican Church in the neighborhood.

The time line on the CCP pages is particularly interesting as a reminder of this plan since it includes several actions for 2008.
  1. Province by province visitation and appeal for recognition of the "separate ecclesiastical structure in North America"
  2. CCP Leadership Council 2: Advent, 2008
    1. Reports and adoption of work from committees and task forces
  3. Constitutional convention for an Anglican union held at the earliest possible date agreeable to all the Partners
The sense of the matter is that the Provinces of the Anglican Communion will be visited and asked to recognize the new entity when it emerges, that work supposedly done by Advent 2008 when the CCP Leadership Council meets. A Constitutional Convention would then be planned, most likely in 2009.

The Common Cause Partnership (CCP) will need to get the existing ecclesial groups to buy on to these developments, so in the Province by Province visitation, particular attention will need to be given to those Provinces who have taken on various churches in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada and have provided bishops for local oversight.

We can be sure that CCP bishops will be at GAFCON and at Lambeth working to line up support. They will also be quite willing to use the possible realignment of the Anglican Communion to a new structure not headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and not based in London as a threat or a promise if they do not get the recognition they seek from Canterbury.

What will this new ecclesiastical structure look like, in terms of dioceses? It will finally be territorial - in that it is a structure for all of North America. It will involved dioceses, although it is not clear if there will be overlapping jurisdictions based on the source ecclesastical groups out of which they came (for example there might continue to be a CANA diocese with parishes not necessarily in a particular territorial jurisdiction).

It will be missionary, particularly if the agenda of the Anglican Missinon in the Americas is heard. Thus it will see unreached areas of the US and Canada (which will include anywhere that the apostate Episcopal Church is active) as mission territory.

But my bet is that it will fairly quickly become an Anglican-type ecclesiastical structure, with territorial dioceses whose responsibilities are for the work in a particular area of the US or Canada.

For this reason I think it is important to look at the current "strong" centers of realignment churches as a hint to future territorial divisions. To the extent that this is on the minds of bishops currently contemplating an exit from the Episcopal Church it may explain something of the strategies they might use regarding temporary alignment until the great day of union.

Looking at the map on the Common Cause Partnership home page, which lists 1100 parishes, (which includes Episcopal Church related parishes and all other Common Cause Partner congregations) one can see the "hot spots" where there are large numbers of churches in an area. Major hot spots are located in Southern California, Mid Texas, Illinois, Florida, South Carolina, Virgnia/ Washington DC, Pittsburgh, and upstate New York. Not surprising given the Network Dioceses of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, Episcopal Dioceses of Fort Worth, Quincy, Albany, Pittsburgh, the American Mission in the Americas concentration in Florida and South Carolina, and the Convocation of Anglicans in North America in the Virginia area.

So, casting an eye to what a union with dioceses and bishops might look like, my sense is there will be the following: The West (Schofield); The South West (Iker); the Mid South (Reformed Episcoapl Church?); The South East (AMiA?); the Middle Atlanatic (CANA); the North East (Duncan); The Mid West (Quincy?). The scattered Uganda and Kenya congregations will make their way into various new dioceses.

Of course this could be off course. The Reformed Episcopal Church may not finally make it into the group. The Kenya and Uganda groups might not be assimilated. Quincy might not go along with Fort Worth, San Joaquin and Pittsburgh. It's all pretty fluid.

But, just suppose Bishop Iker doesn't feel the necessity of going to the Southern Cone, believing that rather quickly there will be a new Anglican structure in North America? What if Pittsburgh votes not to "join" another province immediately but simply wait for a few months to regroup in this new structure. Might they not be in conversation with Canterbury to be "extra-provincial" for a short while prior to becoming part of a new province?

Katie Sherrod wrote recently, "It's interesting to note that very recently our bishop and other diocesan leaders have begun to drop a little bomb into discussions. Bishop Iker said at a recent meeting at All Saints Church that we shouldn't get too wedded to the idea of the Southern Cone. We may not be going there."

Perhaps Bishop Iker would just as soon be autonomous enough so that in the new mix of the united Anglican entity, he would be bishop of a wide area and not just Fort Worth. Better than than a diocese with limited jurisdiction under the governance of the Province of the Souther Cone. The folks at the bottom of South America are, afterall, lower than a snake's belly.

8 comments:

  1. Zooming in on the hotspots is interesting. It looks like (and I could be off in my count) that the hot spot of Southern California is 9 parishes in the San Diego area and 17 or so in the LA/Orange County/Riverside/Santa Barbara area. TEC congregations in the LA+ area are over 100 and I think around 50 in San Diego.

    Pam Alger

    ReplyDelete
  2. "A very spiffy visual presentation of the process" indeed! I notice that the claim is made that "The Episcopal Church is departing from Christianity." Has anyone told Jesus? Do we have a spiffy sound bite from Jesus about this?

    ReplyDelete
  3. It seems pretty clear that Canada will not be institutionally distinct in this "provisional province." Expect to see a diocese of Canada, with the bulk of its congregations in the BC lower mainland.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mark, I think someone hit one of your buttons today. You are much more vitriolic than usual.

    You all keep speaking of a new Anglican entity for North America as if the rest of us are not here, and so do not count. It is obvious the new entity is for the US & Canada. There are three other Anglican provinces represented in North America, however poor and struggling we may be; the Anglican Church of Mexico, firmly aligned with TEC, the Anglican Church in the Central Region of America, which likes to refer to itself as the Global Center and the Church in the Province of the West Indies, whose soon-to-retire Primate aligns himself mostly with the Global South.

    Most of us are too busy keeping a roof over our heads, food on the table and reaching out to make sure our neighbors have the same, as Jesus taught us, to be aware of the arguments of the wealthy provinces of the Communion. As are our latin siblings in TEC dioceses in Central & South America, the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil and the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of the Americas. Some leaders in the Southern Cone may be lower than a snakes belly, but certainly not the folks in the parishes kept mostly in the dark about their Presiding Bishop's globe hoping.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Robert Dodd1/5/08 9:25 PM

    Mark:

    Think more carefully about the CCP's "hot spots." Our diocese, Albany, is one such: 97 of its 116 churches (85%) are flagged on the CCP map. However, of 815 parishes in seven neighboring dioceses, only 18 -- 2% -- belong to the Network and CCP. Pittsburgh's "hot spot" is also surrounded by CCP-poor dioceses.

    When dioceses went "Network" in 2003-4, the Network laid claim to all of their parishes. To get out required an effort, which few vestries made.

    Albany Via Media is encouraging our parishes to visit the CCP site, read about Common Cause, and decide for themselves whether they belong on its map. Several parishes have already bailed out: A week ago, the count was 102 parishes (88%) for CCP. It's a start...

    Unless a parish or individual has decided ON ITS OWN to join an organization other than the Episcopal Church, that organization has no right to claim it. To do so is dishonest.

    Robert Dodd

    ReplyDelete
  6. David,

    Not that Mark needs defending, but i read the comment about being "lower than a snake's belly" being something the folks leaving and aligning with the SC really think. I may be wrong(I often am) but that's what I saw.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Susan, read Mark's last paragraph again, for I fear that you have fallen into the snare.

    Our normally gentle host is giving a reason why, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, that +Iker & Co may not join the Southern Cone. But that is surely not an opinion that +Iker & Co would hold; that the folks at the bottom of South America are, after all, lower than a snake's belly. That is all Mark's opinion.

    But, from his report of the trip with the TEC Executive Council to South America, I am sure in reality, Mark reserves that opinion for one asshat South American Presiding Bishop!

    ReplyDelete
  8. "Lower than a snake's belly" is a worn Episcopalian joke referring to the so-called "low church" variety of Anglicanism. It is not an accusation of being low class. In this case, the high church Anglo-catholics of Fort Worth may be uncomfortable with the ultra-low church evangelicals of Southern Cone. We need to be cautious when using humor on the internet.

    ReplyDelete

OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.