Re Wringing of Hands: The Lambeth Conference has not even begun and the wringing of hands has begun. On Sunday Ruth Gledhill ran an article on Times OnLine which included several inaccuracies (i) "The 700 invited bishops, reduced in number because 200 Africans and Asians are boycotting the conference in protest at gay ordination...", (ii) "The Bishop of New Hampshire, the Right Rev Gene Robinson, is to defy the Archbishop of Canterbury by turning up uninvited at Canterbury for the Lambeth conference this week," (iii) The Times has learnt that the crisis is likely to worsen, whatever is decided at the conference, because the Episcopal Church of the US plans to overturn its pledge not to consecrate any more openly gay or lesbian bishops." (iv) "The US church, which will dominate the conference with 125 bishops attending, is expected then to elect rapidly and consecrate a further five or six such bishops."
The numbers invited are 800+ and 600+, at least according to earlier reports. Bishop Robinson is not planning to break into the Lambeth Conference uninvited, he is present in the larger community surrounding Lambeth. The Episcopal Church may or may not consecrate any more openly gay or lesbian bishops, but "plans to overturn its pledge," is an overstatement of what may happen. There will no doubt be resolutions to clarify the sense that concerns about "manner of life" do not in a blanket way include all persons who are gay or lesbian. One of them essentially making more such ordinations easier may pass. But that is a far cry from some plan already set. And the notion of "five or six such bishops" who are gay or lesbian "rapidly" being elected is a pretty far cry from the sometimes torturous process of election in the US. And by the way, 125 bishops from the US, who can't agree among themselves on much, is not exactly a "dominating" gang.
Ruth Gledhill has been doing some class A reporting recently, but this piece seems to me a bit over the top. It is part of the wringing of hands that is build up prior to Lambeth and while it makes good copy it is a bit sensationalistic.
Re: Falling Upon the Sword. Ephraim Radner, #50 in the Telegraph Poll of most influential Anglicans, has aired his concerns in another piece, this time much longer, that takes the form of an open letter to the bishops attending Lambeth.
In it he essentially encourages the bishops to bolt the current Lambeth agenda saying, "you have no choice but to be courageous and call for the work that needs to be done, and then do it, whether the conference seeks your counsel or not." He asks the bishops to take the agenda back from the planning group and resolve to (i) declare the actions of TEC and some Anglican Church of Canada dioceses to be unacceptable, (ii) "... call back into your midst those who have stayed away from this Conference, not simply as a sign of continued fellowship, but in order to meet face to face again to resolve and heal the breaches that are widening among you month by month. " (iii) "... come to a common and directive mind on how you will recognize and work with those Anglicans in North America especially – bishops, dioceses, congregations, and clergy – who have remained faithful and wish to remain faithful to the common agreements of our life in the past and those upon which you are ready to embark (and yes, this includes many who do not accept the ordination of women; they cannot be forgotten). " (iv) "...state clearly your commitment to the expeditious formulation and application of an Anglican Communion Covenant, one that will be faithful, concrete and adaptable to the mission entrusted to us."
What Professor Radner wants is for the Lambeth Conference to kick TEC out unless it repents, bring back those who have vowed to stay away from Lambeth, invite in the faithful remnant from North America, and commit to a covenant. It is a complete cave in to some of the so-called recommendations of Windsor and the statement of GAFCON / Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. It would replace TEC and the ACoC with a new North American province and become a covenanting world wide church.
Dr. Radner's second proposal, that "You must call back into your midst those who have stayed away from this Conference," is perhaps the strangest of the lot. As a recommendation concerning a meeting that happens only every ten years the recommendation really only has force if there is some way to call these 200 bishops back NOW. That may be impossible, but of course they could call back their Primates, either waiting in the wings or readily at hand on several days notice. We might ask just where ArchbishopsOrombi, Kolini and Akinola are these days. Near at hand? Able to jump on a plane? The vision of such a call by resolution and then the anticipation of the reentry of these Provinces into theLambeth gathering has all the making of high drama and great copy.
This open letter is a challenge to the bishops take up an agenda of resolutions and use Lambeth as a synodical governing body. Hopefully the open letter will be filed away and lost in the days ahead.
If his urging to the bishops is followed, we don't have to wring our hands about the future of the Anglican Communion, we can kiss the Anglican Communion goodbye.
If for any reason Professor Radner is writing with knowledge of some actions being contemplated at Lambeth by person or persons unknown, then he is talking conspiracy to grab the flag. If he is writing a dream sequence, then he is a dreamer of nightmares.
Either way he has fallen upon the sword.