12/22/2008

To every spin, spin, spin, spin, there is a reason, spin, spin, spin....

Leaders and friends of the new improved Anglican-like ecclesial thing in North America, aka The Anglican Church in North America,  are busy at work putting the spin that righteous churches and church people were turned out of The Episcopal Church, that they are the wounded and dispossessed, and that they have come together to heal the Church.  In the past several weeks, perhaps as a sort of Christmas gift, they have been piling up the spin. Here are some examples:
The Cybercast News Service (CNSNews.com) says it "endeavors to fairly present all legitimate sides of a story and debunk popular, albeit incorrect, myths about cultural and policy issues." It came into being because CNS folk believed that the bias has been to the left, and they will set things right.
This is what they had to say about the 11 churches in Virginia that have left The Episcopal Church and whose case has been heard in court in Virginia with a decision to their side. "The split from the Episcopal Church came after the Episcopal Church closed the door to congregations questioning the consecration of a practicing homosexual – V. Gene Robinson – as the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire."

CNS got that wrong. Congregations not only can question the consecration of Bishop Robinson, they can move to make it impossible for TEC to ever do it again by mounting with others an effort to revise the canons of the church regarding qualifications for ordinations. But they did not. Some tried but could not.  Instead they voted to leave and join another church.  TEC did not "close the door" on questioning.  It answered the question, for one moment, and reserved its answer later.  Still, CNS made good reading for those who would like to think they have been beaten into leaving.

And the cure for "having the door closed" on these suffering souls?  Well, of course, it is the healing that comes with the Anglican Church in North America.


Cynthia Brust started using the healing image early on, on December 3rd. Ms. Burst  made a remark then which was then quoted by Moderator Duncan in a "Comments" article in Church Times, "“The healing of the Anglican Com­munion began today.”  He then went on to comment in greater detail just why he believes this is healing. In the CT article he said the following:

"Many of these are congregations or portions of congregations that left the Episcopal Church in the United States, or the Anglican Church in Canada. Covenant or no covenant, it is simply no longer realistic to expect those congregations to rejoin provinces that have sued them and defrocked their deacons, priests, and bishops for standing up for what mainstream Anglicans believe.

Instead, another more permanent solution than temporary ties to gen­erous Anglican provinces over­seas is needed. We need a unified body both to heal the divisions among ourselves and to give the broader Anglican Communion a unified and coherent partner with which to be in relation­ship. 
Forming the Anglican Church in North America is a significant step forward on both these fronts. It is an amazing God-given healing of that internal division and an opportunity for forming constructive relation­ships within the Communion. Eleven fragments of “mainstream” Anglicanism in the United States and Canada were involved in the adop­tion of the provisional constitution: the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Coalition in Canada, the Anglican Communion Network, the Anglican Mission in the Americas (Rwanda), the Anglican Network in Canada, the Convocation of An­glicans in North America (Nigeria), Forward in Faith North America, the Missionary Convocations of Kenya, Southern Cone (including the Bolivia and Recife networks), and Uganda, together with the Reformed Episcopal Church. 
These fragments draw together some 700 congregations in North Am­erica, with an estimated 100,000 worshippers on average on any given Sunday. This constellation is thus numbered as larger than 13 of the provinces of the Anglican Com­munion (including Scotland and Wales), and compares to the 750,000 the Episcopal Church in the United States claims to draw every Sunday."
Spin abounds. In particular he claims, "We need a unified body both to heal the divisions among ourselves and to give the broader Anglican Communion a unified and coherent partner with which to be in relation­ship" and ACNA "is an amazing God-given healing of that internal division and an opportunity for forming constructive relationships within the Communion."  
If we look just back of the facade of healing, we see article 13 of the Jerusalem Declaration which all members of the Common Cause Partnership signed on December 3rd. It states, "We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord." So much for "healing internal divisions."  
What the Moderator means is healing internal divisions among dissenters, not Anglicans in North America.  No mention is made of the vast majority of Anglicans in North America who constitute the members of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, except to reject their authority.  
The "fragments," says the Moderator, " draw together some 700 congregations in North Am­erica, with an estimated 100,000 worshippers on average on any given Sunday. This constellation is thus numbered as larger than 13 of the provinces of the Anglican Com­munion (including Scotland and Wales), and compares to the 750,000 the Episcopal Church in the United States claims to draw every Sunday."
The Moderator is good at numbers, but Thinking Anglicans is better. Take a look at TA's estimates of the numbers of congregations relating to ANCA, HERE.   The Moderator may be off by say 50 or so congregations. He fails to mention that a number of these are parishes in formation and he may be overestimating the numbers of parishes in the dioceses whose leadership and majority of members chose to leave, but somewhere in the 600-675 region seems about right.  
His spin however is that these are "real" worshippers and that this therefore constitutes an ecclesial entity worthy of provincial statues. He estimates 100,000 average on any given Sunday, and after comparing it to Scotland and Wales, but not the Province of the Southern Cone (total Anglican population not much more than 22,000) he says, "and compares to the 750,000 the Episcopal Church in the United States claims to draw every Sunday." 
Compares how?  I presume he means compares favorably. That's the intent.  Note, he also claims these are real "worshipers" as opposed to those TEC "claims to draw every Sunday."  Little nuances well placed - ACNA is great, real, healing, uniting.  TEC is getting smaller, is broken, wounded. 
In this context this statement makes "spin" sense. "Covenant or no covenant, it is simply no longer realistic to expect those congregations to rejoin provinces that have sued them and defrocked their deacons, priests, and bishops for standing up for what mainstream Anglicans believe." It might be useful to observe that the defrockings (by which is meant deposition - a thing that happened to Bob Buncan) have been a product of clergy and bishops leaving TEC, acting without regard for the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, or as a result of abandonment.  

The Church Times article by Robert Duncan refers to him as Bishop and Moderator.  An article in CT refers to him as Archbishop Duncan.  Neither mention the fact that he is deposed. And of course no mention is made of the fact that the Reformed Episcopal Church is not recognized as a part of the Anglican Communion, or that CANA and AMiA bishops were not invited to Lambeth. 

As for the eleven entities that signed the December 3rd statements forming this new improved Anglican something in North America, only eight are recognized by CCP itself as part of its organization.  Moderator Duncan  included "Missionary Convocations of Kenya, Southern Cone (including the Bolivia and Recife networks), and Uganda, together with the Reformed Episcopal Church."  The notion of the "Recife network" is interesting, if for no other reason that the bishop of Recife - Southern Cone was also not invited to Lambeth and is not listed by ACC/ Lambeth as bishop of Recife.  But of course 11 looks much bigger and better than 8, and "fragments" allows CCP a bit of breathing room.

All in all, of the bishops part of ANCA, only a very few were able to get passes to attend Lambeth:  Iker, Duncan and Ackerman. The rest were never part of the Anglican Communion or were irregular enough not to get invited, or were deposed.  None of this makes it into the spin on healing.

It may be that this gathering of fragments will heal the realignment and dissenting community.  It will not heal the Anglican Communion. But then again the spin is all about the dissenters.

13 comments:

  1. So I am still not clear as to why the ACNA is including the REC. I can understand a coming together of all of the "fragments" that have come about in the past few years that have some sort of connection to the AC and who's clergy have some semblance of validity in the eyes of much of the AC, but still don't understand why they included a group that split from TEC over a hundred years ago.

    Can anyone enlighten me?

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  2. I don't think this group will be able to remain together; those who left TEC (or PECUSA, whatEVER), had their reasons and not really an Archbishop Duncan is not really going to bring them all together.

    As an aside, I've been reading a book on the canons of the first four ecumenical councils, and I don't think our friends in ACNA should be calling themselves "orthodox" as they don't really meet the requirements.

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  3. Mark:

    You speak of this new province including people the Anglican Communion does not include, as if this were a bad thing. I thought you were good with inclusiveness. What does it matter whether they were invited to Lambeth or not? After all, neither was Gene Robinson. Please don't do the nyaah-nyaah-nyaah-I'm-a-real-Anglican-and your'e-not thingy. You don't know how much it makes me want to burn my Anglican ID card when people do that.

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  4. Sorry, RB, but facts is facts. And fact is, the ACNA thingee is not a part of the Anglican Communion, its numbers are a moving target (the 100,000 claimed membership becomes 100,000 claimed ASA at the snap of a finger), its presentation of the facts a tissue of blatant lies.

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  5. RB,

    If I may...

    The difference is that these folks decided to leave The Episcopal Church and have ignored the Canons of said church, while +Robinson is a duly elected bishop in good standing with the Episcopal Church who has not abandoned his ordinal vows. I am willing to share communion meal with anyone, even if I disagree with them on theological points. These men are not willing to share the same with me or those within my church family. If that is the case, I wish them peace. Just please leave the fine china and silver where it was when you came in.

    I believe that the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church are a wild garden, where all plants whether "beautiful" or not grow and are tended by the Father into what they are supposed to be. This lot wishes to take that away and have everyone be a rose or a tulip, and said plants must grow a certain way and take in nourishment in a spacific manner or they are not "real" flowers. And heaven forbid someone think a daisy or dandiloin is acceptable, much less worthy of a place of honor in the garden.

    Until Falsebishop Duncan and his band of Pharasees are willing to share God's bounty with all, they can continue to play at being an Anglican Church. But what I see of them is not Anglican Christianity as I understand it. Like the Prodigal Son, whenever they are willing to come back, we will still be here to accept them, as we accept everyone else.

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  6. "It may be that this gathering of fragments will heal the realignment and dissenting community. It will not heal the Anglican Communion."

    Shall we rely on TECUSA to heal the AC eg as in 2003 when it ignored ALL thr Primates and tore the fabric of the Communion??

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  7. Malcolm: Yes, they are not yet part of the Anglican Communion, and maybe never will be. So what? Their bishops may not be able to go to Lambeth in 2018 (and may not miss it that much), but how will this affect congregations and parishioners? Will they get a different section in heaven when they get there? Can I sit with the African-American Baptists then, since I like their music? (Aw nuts; I'm still an Episcopalian.)

    May I point out that if they have only 650 churches instead of 700, that puts them off by only 8%? And if there is confusion about how many people are members or attend, how is that different from many other churches?

    Now, Arkansas Hillbilly, are you sure you could not take communion at one of their churches? I took a few classes through Trinity in Pittsburgh a few years ago, and the liturgy teacher there was insistent about not excluding gays and lesbians or anyone other than the non-baptized. Is there online documentation showing that they celebrate a closed communion, or is this an assumption on your part?

    Finally, I'm very uncomfortable about referring to houses of worship as "china" and "silver". I thought these were holy places where these people gather together to worship God and find Christian nurture, not primarily pieces of real estate with monetary significance. It seems shameful that these places have been devalued in this manner, and frankly, in my mind, borders on desecration.

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  8. Nom de Plume23/12/08 8:31 AM

    OK, I'm a bit confused here as to status and claims of status. Are the deposed bishops and their deposed or illegitimately-ordained clergy followers claiming any ongoing licensing by the Southern Cone, or is that over now that they've developed a case of ACNA? In other words, has the border crossing from South America now ended?

    Padre Mickey, is that book you're referring to "The Church of the Ancient Councils" by Peter l'Huillier? Great book.

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  9. Well, RB, the fact that they are not part of the Anglican Communion wuld be utterly irrelevat except that they keep wandering about claiming they are.

    As to the numbers, 8% here and 8% there starts to ad up. The claim of 700 congregations may, as Matt has argued elsewhere, be an honest error. Or it may be deliverate inflation. At the very least it was sloppy accounting.

    The magical morphing of 100,000 members into a 100,000 ASA is more problematical - especially since even as membership numbers, 100,000 seems inflated by any reliable source.

    Finally, their claim that they have been forced out is simply a lie. Sorry, but there is no other word for it. It is a lie, pure and simple.

    If it were true, then Ephraim Radner, John Howe, Mark Lawrence Dan Martens and others would all be standing out their with them.

    They were not forced out, and every time they say it, they convict themselves as liars.

    They chose to leave. Let them acknowledge that they are whre they are by choice. Then and only then is there any hope for honest conversation.

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  10. Yes it is, Nom de Plume, and you're right, it is a great book!

    ¡Feliz Navidad a todos!

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  11. RB,

    There are many doccumented instances where these conservative Bishops and their friends from abroad have chosen not to share communion with Bishop Gene and Bishop Katherine.

    And I will refer to church property as "china and silver" if I wish because in the end it comes down to a dispute over property and power. If it were not, former bishops Duncan, Iker, and Schoffield and the folks in Virginia would not have attempted to take said property with them when they left.

    Like it or not, the Episcopal Church is a hierarchical church, and if you leave said Church, you should leave the Church's property and go start your own.

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  12. Nom de Plume24/12/08 8:28 AM

    Thought it had to be, O Padre Mickey. I have a copy on a little desk-top book stand just past the right-hand corner of my monitor, along with "The Anglican Canons 1529-1947" edited by Gerald Bray, among other works.

    Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noel, Froeliche Weinachten, God Jul, and Happy Christmas to all.

    And special blessings to Mark Harris, who gives us a daily gift on this blog.

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  13. All the talk about a "new province" in North America continues to perpetuate - for the most part unintentionally - the fallacy that the churches of the Anglican Commuion are provinces - of what? Surely not the Church of England and, since Mark is right about this, not provinces of the Anglican Church, since that only exists in those churches which have chosen to adopt that terminology. It is well past time to drop the term province from Anglican usage except as it is used to identify provinces with member churches of the Communion.

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