First it was predicted, over on Stand Firm. Then it was proclaimed by The Living Church. Then the Anglican Communion Network put out a press release. December 3, 2008 is the big day! What is going to happen on that day?
The Living Church article proclaimed, "Convention Planned to Form New Anglican Province." At that meeting representatives of the various groups belonging to the Common Cause Partnership will need to "sign on" to the Jerusalem Declaration and proclaim their willingness to work together (one supposes that here the draft Constitution and Canons are the issue). It is the first step in a process leading to a new ....something, a thingy, a province of something.
The announcement came at a meeting of the Anglican Relief and Development Fund. The Living Church reports that,
"During the meeting at Christ Church, some of those primates present agreed to recognize the new province if the leadership of the CCP would “set aside territorial issues and ego struggles” and sign the so-called Jerusalem Declaration drafted during the Global Anglican Future Conference in the Middle East in June."
The Anglican Primates on the board of ARDF are The Most Rev. Dr. Peter J. Akinola, The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis, The Most Rev. Justice Akrofi, The Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi, and The Most Rev. Dr. John Chew. Who among those were actually at the ARDF meeting is unclear, but at least Archbishop Nzimbi was, since he preached at Christ Church, Vero Beach, Florida, where the ARDF meeting was being held.
The parish news of Christ Church, Vero Beach, wrote, that provided the CCP folk sign on, "the Primates’ Council is likely to recognize the new province as the legitimate expression of Anglican Christianity in North America."
What we have then is an event on December 3rd where representatives of various groups sign on to the draft constitution and canons, the Jerusalem Declaration, and promise not to get into infighting, and form the new North American entity which will be recognized as a Province (one assumes immediately) by Primates that said they would at the ARDF meeting. The GAFCON Primates Council will then at a later point formally "recognize the new province as the legitimate expression of Anglican Christianity in North America."
This of course is opposed to the illegitimate expression in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
There then seems to be a plan to go about to all the Provinces asking them to buy on the GAFCON recognized province. It is unclear if they will be asked to recognize it as the sole legitimate Province in North America or as a parallel Province. How this then relates to the Primates Meeting in February or the Anglican Consultative Council in May is also unclear.
The Living Church observes,
"The unilateral creation of a new province just two months before the start of a scheduled primates’ meeting leaves Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams with seemingly little room to maneuver."
The question is of course just what this new entity is - it is called a province, but a province of what? The GAFCON Primates do not constitute a world wide organization that can "admit" provinces into its overarching organization. For that to happen the GAFCON Primates have to decide that they too are ready to declare themselves the core of a world wide Anglican provincial system that would exclude TE and the ACoC and others and include the CCP new province in North America.
December 3 may be the birth of some new entity - a thingy. But it is unclear just what this provincial thingy is in relation to the Anglican Communion or for that matter in terms of the GAFCON Primates until they exact the final costs. So far those costs are signing on to the Jerusalem Declaration and promising not to get into territorial fights among themselves and resolving to keep their leadership egos out of it. The costs will get higher before this is over.
Meanwhile we can prepare for the hype about December 3rd by remembering that what is being celebrated there is the front edge of a small and very tenuous radically conservative Christian organization claiming to be the salvation of Anglicanism in North America.
In any reasonable read they are trespassers with hunting licenses, bishops not in communion with TEC or ACoC here to grab what they can under the guise of saving North American Anglicans. They have declared TEC and ACoC to be the enemy. Talking a good line about live and let live they have signed on to "reject" the authority of TEC, ACoC and their leadership.
It is time to get on with being the Church we have been called to be. "Trespassers," to quote Walt Kelly, "will not be missed, if they leave or if they stay."