2/10/2010

CofE Synod steps back from the edge, succeeds in stepping in dung

Well, there it is:

Anglican watchers have been waiting for a report from the Church of England Synod which has been debating a motion by Lorna Ashworth to the effect “That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America.”

David Walker reports that the final form of the amended motion is this:

"That this Synod, aware of the distress cause by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada,

"(a) recognise and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family;

(b) acknowledge that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further; and

(c) invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011."

This is far short of Ashworth's motion, but deep enough into the muck of things to track such muck through the houses in Anglican-land.

The Anglican Church in North America seems starved for any signs of recognition from the CofE and its Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury and at the same time ACNA claims to be quite satisfied with meals eaten elsewhere and willing to dismiss the current ABC and perhaps the CofE as hopelessly bogged down in modernity's problems. This leads to the oddities of an ACNA response today that is happy that they got air time at the Synod but which does not make a big deal of it all. On the other hand Baby Blue just can't help being, well, excited.

She gushes, "Breaking News: Church of England "recognizes" and "affirms" ACNA's desire to "remain" in the Anglican Communion." It is "The most fantastic news." "Pure and simple, the Church of England recognizes the ACNA. " What seems to excite her the most is her read that, "But they do not once name-check The Episcopal Church, but instead calls us all - calls us all - "Anglican churches of the United States and Canada." This is enormously significant."

This is a litte over the top. The resolution that passed Synod was far short of what Ashworth wanted... a clear expression that the CofE "be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America." What the Synod got was an recognition and affirmation that ACNA wants to remain in the Anglican family.... far short of CofE recognizing communion with ACNA, a notice that that aspiration raises issues (I'll say!) and invites the ABC to report to Synod in 2011.

BB reads the following phrase, "That this Synod, aware of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada" to mean that the CofE believes there are at least three Anglican churches in North America: TEC, the ACoC, and ACNA. Of course there are. Actually there are a much larger number of Anglican churches in North America - some forty or fifty. Quite a few are one bishop, two priests, and a congregation here and there. But there are, at the moment only two Anglican Communion related churches in North America, TEC and ACoC. (OK three if Mexico is counted as North America.) The ACNA is not a member of the Anglican Communion.

It is hard to know just what ACNA is proposing these days. It wants in, it wants out. The Synod motion gives them a bit more of an in, but what they want something quite different - a new Anglican community connected to only the pure parts of the current Anglican Communion. They are pretty sure TEC and ACoC are non starters, probably agree with GAFCON that the Episcopal/ Anglican Church of Brazil is out, as well as several other highly suspect National or regional churches in the Anglican Communion, and are very

The Synod has moved carefully back from recognition, but has stepped into the muck and is tramping though the house.


16 comments:

  1. It reads the same but is just formatted differently on the CoE website;

    That this Synod

    (a) aware of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada;

    (b) recognise and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family;

    (c) acknowledge that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further; and

    (d) invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011.

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  2. BB's world is often one of poetic desire fueled by a mixture of politics, anger, guilt and confusion - much like her hero, Bob Dylan.

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  3. Did I miss something? When last I looked, many of the Episco-shards that make up ACNA were not in the Communion before ACNA was cobbled together. What's this "want to remain in" stuff?

    Robert Dodd

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  4. I agree with your post, though there's one small error. There are actually seven (yes, seven) Anglican provinces in North America now, in the technical sense. Excluding the Carribean, there are five. We can't forget our sisters & brothers south of Mexico.

    I wrote about this a while ago.
    http://www.sevenwholedays.org/2008/12/04/of-provinces-and-math/

    Peace,
    Scott+

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  5. Re Episco shards. I believe the wording was remain in the "Anglican family" There is no attempt to define that entity. It could, for example refer to any church that derives its origin to the Church of England, the Reformed Episcopal Church for example, which does not now nor has it ever had and relationship to the Anglican Communion. That is why, from ACNA's perspective, the wording here is disappointing. It draws attention to the fact that ACNA is not nor has ever been in the Anglican communion, and, for that matter, can not then wish to "remain" within it. Also interesting is that the amended mtion reference "those who formed" ACNA. I wonder of whom, exactly, it is referencing, the June 2009 Article passers? Ratifiers? Who? EmilyH

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  6. Oops. misread your comment Mr. Dodd, my apologies EmilyH

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  7. My question exactly, Robert.

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  8. As someone who is critical of the desire for quick fixes in the Communion, I am rather pleased with the resolution and would have been unhappy if the original resolution had passed. I think that every Church in the Communion will have to figure out its own position on ACNA. Given the divisiosn with the CofE, I am pleased that the Synod has made a cautious response and that it will be a while before any further response is made.

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  9. All I see is the usual over-wordy appeal to another sort of "listening process."

    They'll "study" it. It would've been kinder to just say "Get lost!" The CofE is hoping to drag it out until either a) a clear "winning side" is shown, or b) ACNA goes away.

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  10. Read it carefully and it remains sufficiently meaningless.

    Recent divisions in all, some (undefined)...

    Anglican family (meaningless - could be Communion, could be any definition)

    Aspitation - quite loose - raising issues (undefined) and need to explore (imposing an opinion there)

    Invite (well, quite less an assertion than something the Archbishops 'need' to do).

    The Bishop of Bristol's amendment was too obvious in its wrecking, so they had to be more subtle. This looks more like something, but actually is very little indeed.

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  11. Clutching at straws here......how come the ABC and the synod did not simply say, "Sorry, TEC is the Anglican Church in North America" and let that be clear??

    They are getting the ducks in a row....in May, they expect TEC to, once again, go its own way regardless of the "mind of the Communion" and then ACNA is in line for full recognition.....which it already has from the largest AC provinces.....the CofE has opened the door to do the same.

    Talking of ACNA wanting to be in....why does TEC want to be in the AC?

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  12. Can anyone explain +Rowan to me?

    pax, Devon

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  13. Why would ACNA expect to be granted full communion status by the Church of England Synod? As they discussed during debate, and as has been mentioned by some on the listserv, ++York and ++Canterbury are canonically vested to determine with whom they are in full communion.

    Peace,
    JB

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  14. I listened to the Archbishop of Canterbury's address at St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York City on January 30th via the links found at this site:

    http://www.myocn.net/

    under the heading "Theology and the Contemplative Calling: The Image of Humanity in the Philokalia," which is some way down the page.

    The opening remarks included welcomes to the various dignitaries listening to the address. Among them were Bishop Herbert Donovan representing the Presiding Bishop, Bishop Mark Sisk of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, Archbishop Robert Duncan "and the other bishops of the Anglican Church in North America," and more.

    The address by the ABC was, of course, erudite and over my head.

    In the questions afterwards, the ABC answered several, and at the end said he didn't have time to address questions on the Anglican Communion, other than to request prayers for our unity.

    There were then brief closing remarks by His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah.

    I wish I could have been there, observed who sat next to whom, who spoke together afterwards, and so on. I trust that all occurred in Christian charity.

    Allison de Kanel

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  15. No inter-communion “recognition” of the ACNA by the CofE is involved here, other than the fact that the CofE--like the rest of us--all “recognize” that ACNA “exists”, wants “to be Anglican,” can avail itself of methods “to request” to become formally in communion with the CofE, the TEC, the ACofC, the Anglican Communion, etc., etc. In essence, nothing has changed.

    Now the matter can be allowed to die in the CofE and Communion bureaucracies, where ACofC and TEC supporters can keep the topic bottled up in committee forever, if necessary. This Synod vote also dramatically reduces the chance of any other ACNA “recognition” resolution being promoted hereafter. After all, “it’s being studied” it’s “in committee”, the ACNA “has yet to make a formal request,” that a request “is pending, and subject to...” etc., etc. Finis, in other words.

    Folks in the UK should be aware that besides TEC there are about 20 Anglican Churches in North America. Each of them just as “recognized” by the CofE (and by the TEC and ACofC for that matter), as the ACNA.

    Readers may be interested in checking out some of these other “Continuing” Anglican Churches:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuing_Anglican_movement

    Kurt Hill
    In snow-bound Brooklyn, NY
    (More than a foot of the white stuff fell last night!)

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  16. Nom de Plume12/2/10 7:03 AM

    "It is hard to know just what ACNA is proposing these days. It wants in, it wants out."

    Sounds like the Hokey-Pokey to me. :-)

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