5/10/2009

Now that the sound and fury have abated...a bit.

Now that the sound and fury have abated, a bit, let's breath in and out slowly and look at the Anglican Consultative Council's actions on Friday. What did the ACC actions accomplish?

Concerning the Resolution on the Anglican Covenant:

(i) The Anglican Covenant idea and the Third Draft text did not die. They are both very much in place. Parts 1-3 have been accepted as written. Part four has been sent forward to a small working group and directed from there to the Joint Standing Committee of Primates and ACC

for action. All of which means that a text might well be in place to be sent around the communion by the new year (2010).

(ii) If the internal-to-the-text argument holds - that the Covenant does not impinge on the Constitution or Canons of member churches - then there is no reason why The Episcopal Church can't vote on it at one convention. For TEC that would mean in 2012. That is no later that predicted before ACC. All the wringing of hands about delay is just histrionics.

(iii) The ACC decision makes it possible (although only possible) that a resolution to the problems of certain subsections of part four might be found and the Covenant might in fact be more widely acceptable.

(iv) The ACC resolution also makes one matter clear: That the text will only go for signature to the churches that are listed as part of the ACC, not to individual dioceses within such churches and not to churches not part of the ACC defined list of Churches part of the Anglican Communion.

In sum, the ACC Resolution on the Anglican Covenant has not killed the Covenant but rather confirmed the considerable reservations around section four and offered a possible solution.

Concerning the resolution on the work of the Windsor Continuation Group:

(i) This is a disaster. The core of the wreckage is part c:

c: affirms the request of the Windsor Report (2004), adopted at the Primates’ Meetings (2005, 2007 and 2009), and supported at the Lambeth Conference (2008) for the implementation of the agreed moratoria on the Consecration of Bishops living in a same gender union, authorisation of public Rites of Blessing for Same Sex unions and continued interventions in other Provinces.

The major problem here is that there are no "agreed moratoria." The constant effort to turn the requests of the Windsor Report into moratoria agreed on by all the Churches of the Communion is a failed one. For one thing, as has been pointed out on many occasions, most recently by Ms. Josephine Hicks, representative to the ACC from TEC, interventions in TEC

from other Churches in the Communion began before the Windsor Report and have continued unabated. For another, as indicated at Dromantine, the Primates there still understood that the best they could do is encourage the Primates to use their influence to encourage their churches to exercise moratoria. (See my post on "Implementation of the agreed moratoria...")

(ii) The rest of the Windsor Continuation Group resolution essentially empowers the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Joint Standing Committee to do more or less what Section four of the Covenant is proposing. To the extent that the ABC or the JSC can argue that there are moratoria in place, they can on that basis condemn actions, make recommendations for redress, argue for or against representation in the instruments of communion meetings, etc.

The Skunk is on the Table:


The flaw in the Ridley-Cambridge Draft Covenant is that it is in reality two documents in one: parts 1-3 constitute an effort to describe the elements of Christian belief and community expectations that hold us together; part 4 constitutes a beginning canon of organizational structures for dealing with membership, conflict, resolution of conflict and possible disengagement. The two are not parts of a single narrative, rather they are different sorts of narratives.


ACC was quite right, for right or wrong reasons, to separate them.

A Possible Solution regarding the Covenant:

Make Sections 1-3 the Covenant. These three are reasonable pieces, fairly well perfected over the span of the three drafts. Let's do as was suggested in the debate and have an Anglican Covenant consisting of these three sections, plus the final declaration.

Make Section Four an "advisory paper" for the Instruments: Send Section 4 as advisory to the "Instruments of Communion" with the note that each instrument is currently empowered to determine who may or may not be included in the life of that "instrument." That is as it should be. The material in Section 4 goes to those instruments with the hope that it is helpful to that instrument's determination of just how each church will engage with that instrument.

What that would mean concerning inclusion in Anglican Communion life is that:

The Archbishop of Canterbury (and the Church of England by implication) would determine the list of churches with which it is in communion as it does now. It might take the advice or not of the Joint Standing Committee on the advisability of communion with a particular church.

The Anglican Consultative Council would determine the schedule of churches that belong to the ACC by its own internal processes and Constitution and could make use of the advice of the JSC concerning inclusion or exclusion of Churches from membership.

The Primates Meetings and the Lambeth Conference would be invitational based on confluence of the two lists - the ABC's, and the ACC's. A church not recognized by Canterbury or not part of the ACC would not be invited to Primates Meetings or Lambeth. This does not preclude other heads of churches or bishops being invited as guests or observers, but such invitation would be at the pleasure of the gathered group.

What that would mean in terms of "relational consequences" in times of dispute or disagreement is this:

The fourth section observes in
4.2.5 that regarding relational consequences of disputed actions taken by any Church , "the Joint Standing Committee may make recommendations as to relational consequences to the Churches of the Anglican Communion or to the Instruments of the Communion. ... each Instrument to determine its own response to such recommendations."

The notion that the JSC recommends and the Instrument determines provides a sufficient basis for dealing with disagreement and dispute. The role of the JSC would be to provide recommendations to ACC and the ABC regarding invitation, limitation on participation, and possible exclusion from the common life of the Primates Meetings, the Lambeth Conference or the ACC.

This of course gives precisely the powers to the JSC that the Windsor Continuation Group and the Draft Covenant envision, but it does so only to the extent that the JSC is advisory. The Instruments themselves determine the action taken.


A possible solution regarding the Windsor Continuation Group Report.

It appears that the ACC in its resolution on the matter has already determined that the JSC, with or without the Covenant, will proceed to act on Section four. Fine. It will remain a matter for the churches and the Instruments of Unity to determine just what to do with their recommendations.

It would appear that the so called orthodox Churches will continue to ignore any and all calls that they not intervene. It would appear that the churches struggling with concerns for inclusiveness will go to considerable pains to honor both the cautions of the moratoria, the realities of their own communities and their needs, and the call to see some choices of the faith community as involving matters of justice - matters in which justice delayed is justice denied. The realignment conservative crown will continue to blatantly ignore the moratorium on interventions, the inclusion-liberal crowd will try (unsuccessfully) to be all things to all people.

Meanwhile, because TEC is not a monolithic structure or people, TEC will continue to weigh carefully the development of public rites of same sex blessing and ordination of anybody to the episcopate. If General Convention 2009 were to ask for the development of such rites it will take nine years to have them be fully recognized. By that time the number of states in the United States in which same sex marriages are taking place will be large enough to where the federal law will have to demand that those marriages be recognized as contracts in all states. By that time the number of dioceses providing short term responses (forms or suggested patterns for blessing) out of perceived pastoral need will grow. By that time there will have been considerable attention given to the fact that with very few changes the existing marriage rites will suffice for all marriages in places where same sex marriages are legal.

Meanwhile TEC episcopal elections will continue to weigh the candidate against a wide variety of concerns, legitimate or otherwise, that arise in these times, including whether or not the persons manner of life is a source of concern in TEC or beyond. Dioceses will make decisions by election and the rest of TEC will confirm or not. There will be blood on the floor and wreckage in the fast lane, and some good men and women will not be elected for foolish reasons, and some astounding dullards will be.

And life will go on both in TEC and in the Anglican Church of Canada and in the Church of Uganda and everywhere else.

That's the way it is.

And the Anglican Church in North America will take its place among the denominations in North America claiming to be Anglican. The other churches of the Anglican Communion will have to decide who to have among them, or if they might try to have several partner churches in the US and Canada and if
TEC or the ACoC will continue to partner with them.







And while all that is going on, day by day people will come to live inside the love of God in Jesus Christ and they will be called Christians.


And perhaps we in TEC can get on with being who we are as a band of Christians who find ourselves together through all this.

The recommendation concerning the resolution on the Windsor Continuation Group report? Ignore it. If the Joint Standing Committee wants to make investigations, recommendations, reports, etc, fine. If the Archbishop of Canterbury wants to send Pastoral Visitors, bishops on his behalf, hold Pastoral enquiries, etc, fine. But not on our dime, not unless we welcome them to be among us.

The relationships we have with other churches, dioceses, parishes and individuals across the Anglican Communion are jewels without price. We ought to value those relationships and cherish them. But they are not for sale, not for the price of belonging to the institutions of the Anglican "instruments of communion," not for the honor of being the holder of the Anglican "franchise" in North America, not for the hope of a third patriarchy to go with Rome and Constantinople, not for NADA. (Pardon the double negative.) Our real relationships with real people and churches will remain. They are not for sale at any price, including our own integrity as a church that struggles with its efforts to do justice and love mercy.

Let's get on with it.




21 comments:

  1. Mark - Your video is beautiful and spot-on. Lskove it. Thanks!

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  2. Sir, pls don't count your chickens...... TECUSA and other "liberals", for monetary reasons, are grossly over-represented in councils of the AC so decisions are not necessarily widely respected in the AC - but as GAFCON proved in Jerusalem in 08, most of the AC ain't too worried by losing the support of inherited TECUSA endowments and will not countenance more years and decades with behaviour "incompatible with scripture" gaining an inch at a time in the AC, never persuading many with theological argument, but being successful politically despite that. Winning polical points in a council really does not mean much when most of the AC moves ahead regardless....and they will move because they do not think we have a situation in which an eye is saying to a foot that it does not need it but the body is electing to lance a boil....for health reasons.

    You will see somethng stronger than the Ridley draft adopted by most of the AC and ACNA..... the challenge to the ABC will be to join or be left behind...he will join the majority of the AC as choosing to be the man who took the AC from 55m+ to <20m globally is not such a great legacy - and he knows even he has not persuaded many theologically so is unlikely to be willing to do that for the groups who have hijacked his time as ABC .....

    Whatever happens, in the next months and years, TECUSA becomes part of something much smaller..... people ain't fooled....the internet has helped a lot to show all in the AC what is going on ....so immediate, so resistant to spin....the truth is out there and it is that most of the AC rejects revisionist ideas - TECUSA has to deal with this reality sooner or later..... political wins in stacked councils do not ultimately count for much.

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  3. I'm inclined to think that the whole mishigoss over gay marriage (which despite protests to the contrary is what this conflict is all about) will be made redundant by the actions of state legislatures and courts over the next few years. Like it or not, all the churches, even the gay hostile ones, will be handed a big pastoral issue that affects their rank and file (members, friends, and families). That gap (real and perceived) between the message of universal love, and the policy of discrimination will continue to erode the moral authority of Christian institutions, and that erosion will only accelerate as changing attitudes of the general public and government institutions render such discrimination archaic and morally repugnant.

    I agree. We have our own house to attend to first.
    And since secularism is the single fastest growing religious choice these days, someone has to be there to show people that the idea that they can only choose between fundamentalism and atheism is false.

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  4. I love the video. That says it all. Right on! Let's get on with it.

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  5. Well, here is Observer/NP, counting his chickens as usual....

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  6. Fr. Mark,

    Your post is a great example of a seeking for a reasonable solution to the conflict. That is precisely why it wont work.

    The progressive side of this argument is seeking a reasonable solution, a way to live together. A quick read of Observer's post will show you that there is another side looking for a wall to keep us not-holy-enough out.

    It wont wash. They wont stop believing in bibledolatry and polity. The demand for structure to make us behave wont go away.

    ;;sigh;;

    No one thinks ACC is a governing body now, no one thinks much of the ABC's ability to lead and the primate's meeting is actually the some-of-the-primates meeting. The covenant is simply not going to solve the problems. We may, I hope, start to see an emerging web of ministries instead of some formal structure. I hope so. The world is getting flat and it is time the church started to figure that out.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  7. Observer's referring to the new plan, or at any rate one of the new plans: That ACNA, FOCA, and GAFCON respond to ACC-14 by strengthening Part 4 of the Ridley Draft Covenant, then sending it out to their supporters. Once a few of their supporters sign on, they will declare "their" Covenant in effect and binding on "their" Communion (which may or may not be the same as everyone else's Communion).

    A similar proposal has come from ACI: That the RDC be sent out as is, without revisions to Part 4, to provinces for their signatures, and so go immediately into effect in "their" Communion, which may or may not be the same as GAFCON's Communion or the Anglican Communion.

    Others have noted that to adopt a different Covenant because it is more to one's own liking is pointless, schismatic, or both. Nevertheless, there will no doubt be three or more Covenants in circulation shortly, with each faction on the Right advocating for its own version. However, only one Covenant will be approved for use by the Communion at large, and it will be the Covenant with revisions to Part 4.

    I note that the furious emissions from the Anglican Right are over a quite reasonable request to revise Part 4 in the interests of clarity, with revisions to be completed on an expedited timetable. It really does seems as though ACI, GAFCON, et. al. had a Cunning Plan tucked away in Part 4, and now that it will be struck out in revisions, their anger knows no bounds.

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  8. I think that Adrian Worsfold, The Pluralist, has answered "Observer" in his posting at The Episcopal Cafe, "Reigning in the Ridley Draft":

    The condition of Anglican evangelical theology is narrow, sectarian and culturally separated and strikes anyone outside as obsessive, institutional and irrelevant. It is a pity that liberal theology has been moribund for so long, as it too tries to obey doctrinal rules that don't quite come with the support of theological research. Indeed there is one general crisis of the whole of the Anglican form of Church and its relevance - it is losing its anchor within Western society. . . . When the Church of England ordains women bishops, it will finally lose its traditionalist Catholic wing, and then will move closer to . . . The Episcopal Church and its own neighbouring Churches in the British Isles in terms of inclusivity. Yet this means even more a bi-polar fight between liberals and conservatives. This means only more strain not less, and one wonders how much [stress]weak institutions can take when disagreements have become so simplistic and narrowly focused.[slightly condensed -- JMM]

    People look to the church for social support. The old story seems to have little to do with present-day life. The church could search its tradition for ways to move with the people in their search for spiritual experience, but its days as authority and guardian of Truth are over. It faces changes that will look like death to the old order, but the alternative is simply to fade away.

    Murdoch Matthew

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  9. If the Episcopal Church becomes part of something that is much smaller, then so be it. If the numbers in TEC are reduced because of a forward move to be an inclusive church, where all baptized members have the same rights and privileges, where there is justice and mercy for all, then how can that be bad?

    The secular world is moving faster than the churches to bring about equality in marriage rights. What a shame that the church lags behind, when it should be leading.

    We are called to follow Jesus, and if, in so doing, we become unpopular, then that should not matter.

    The ABC has insulted the Episcopal Church quite enough. Whichever way he goes, whichever side he take, that he will do, and God bless him in the doing.

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  10. Sorry, meant, "LOVE" the video. Guess that's why the Preview button was invented.

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  11. Thanks Mark. Well said. Pay little heed to Observer's proleptic Schadenfreude. I don't think he'll be able to enjoy it in actuality, as I think his prognostications (and his diagnosis) are off. But then, OCICBW.
    Tobias

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  12. Indeed Mark, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus."

    I have no other desire and I see the eyes of Jesus fixed upon me, filled with compassion, love, forgiveness, and hope.

    There is nothing else of worth to me, gay from birth, Christian through baptism, Episcopalian by choice. If there is no one left but a small remnant, still Jesus has promised he will be with us. It is more than enough. Thank you for this. Amen.

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  13. ¨...discrimination will continue to erode the moral authority of Christian institutions, and that erosion will only accelerate as changing attitudes of the general public and government institutions render such discrimination archaic and morally repugnant.¨ Doug

    Observer hasn´t a clue as he´s seems caught up in his world of offend, exclude and pretending *things* are normal...his grasping and clutching pep rally speech for discrimination and hate make his pitch for sanity appear second rate.

    Blind bigotry fear and hate are driving puritans mad.

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  14. The ACI's idea is good....very "liberal" in that it suggests all being free to act along the lines of their conscience re Ridley. Why not let those who want to sign do so??

    If 55m Anglicans are in church on a Sunday and if 40m+ are in churches which have signed a covenant (this year!) based on the Ridley draft (with the accoutabilty bits that TECUSA really does not want), TECUSA et al are not forced to sign......

    Remember, all the stressin the AC in the last 6 years is happening because TECUSA et al are desperate to stay in the AC (see BO33 if you doubt this!).... it is not the majority of the AC which is desperate to keep TECUSA et al..... even the moderates, like ACI, are waking up to the reality that enough time has been spent being patient and "listening" and that the revisionists are never going to accept that they have failed to change "the mind of the Communion" through theological arguments but want to carry on with their ideas inside the AC regardless - so, it is time for the majority of the AC to move together. TECUSA et al can sign, of course....... up to TECUSA. Depends how badly your leaders want the global stage and the air miles - pretty badly, I bet. I still bet a BO33 equivalent is given to Rowan at GC09 because TECUSA is desperate for the AC stage as it manages to attract so few in the US. But delaying the majority of the AC for more years and years ain't going to happen..... because it is not in the interests of most of the members of the AC.

    I agree with those in TECUSA who, on principle, want to get rid of BO33....not because I want to get rid of TECUSA but because I think the duplicity of BO33 is bad for TECUSA.... but still, I think a version of it will be be demanded by Rowan and delivered by Katie at GC09...... the last 6 years have seen politics often outweight principles, after all

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  15. What observer:) Observer's watch, they are not super duper pointy hats. They do not pontificate (pardon the pun).

    Now, I just have to ask this... and I hope someone will answer me in good faith:

    WHY do we WANT to stay in the ACC? Is there something about torture that becomes us?

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  16. Mark,
    I am presently serving an ELCA parish and at the moment teaching a couple of folk who want to become members in the Lutheran Church. I can't be a Lutheran--my understanding of the faith does not include the "total depravity of man". So I teach them what Luther says and I teach them how I have come to understand faith--the relationship of God with humanity in Christ Jesus.

    They could care less. The congregation coulds care less. Neither bishop could care less. I could care less. It is all about following Jesus. It is being true to following Jesus--not arcane beliefs, or whether we know how to do liturgy.

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  17. Well...it has happened sooner than I thought.... the PB of TECUSA is already preparing you all for any repeal of BO33 NOT being on the agenda..... Rowan will be pleased.

    Of course, people will have the freedom to ignore it, but I am not surprised that your leaders want to keep BO33....they must stay in the big club at all costs as they do not like the prospect of being small outside the AC.... a political, not a principled positon.

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  18. Observer, you have to read past the headline of that article from The Living Church.An article is headlined, "P.B. Opposes Revisiting Resolution B033," and that is at best a misleading interpretation of her comment.

    Why misleading? Because the body of the article states "Bishop Jefferts Schori said B033 would be debated, but that she opposes its repeal." Repealing obviously has a different meaning than revisiting. This misrepresentation is beyond questionable, and warns the reader of inaccuracies that go beyond bias. So one must check other sources before jumping to conclusions, even sources that advocate positions you abhor.

    This ranks right up there with all the comments that accused Mark Harris of violating attorney-client privilege in connection with certain ACI email messages.

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  19. I am still curious, NP/Observer, as to just how many Anglican Covenants you believe will be circulated for signatures. I count at least three, but won't there be more? Isn't every faction on the Anglican Right putting out its own Covenant? How is this a "Covenant," when every faction is signing a version different to all the others?

    The problem with the Anglican Right, as many have long noted, is that they are living in the days of the Judges -- judgmental as they are. Every one does what is Right in his own eyes.

    That includes, of course, throwing away the Canterbury-Centered Communion if, by some chance, the present Archbishop fails to do what some faction on the Right wants.

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  20. One really wonders if Observer is robot generated or simply off medication (or on the payroll of a not-so-thinking tank)? Sure, attempting to stur up trouble and cause disruptiveness amongst us mike work if Observer had any understanding of her/his need for improved methods to her/his madness.

    Silly goose.

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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.
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