2/13/2010

Just a little peek at B030 and the work of the Communion Partners.

The Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson's remarks on The Communion Partners, given in Dallas, have been condensed into an article, Who We Are in Communion Partners by The Living Church. It and its companion piece, "The Vision of Communion Partners: Renewal" are helpful in trying to understand the work of the Communion Partners.

Bishop MacPherson wrote, in reference to part of the agenda of the Communion Partners,

"A further step was also borne out of General Convention 2009: Resolution B030 encouraged domestic dioceses within the Episcopal Church to enter into “missional relationship.” This resolution captured the interest and energy of a number of Communion Partner bishops, and we held a meeting while still gathered in Anaheim.

We had before us a real sense of being able to share in an active and life-giving partnership with dioceses and congregations within the Episcopal Church that hold similar Gospel commitments. This in itself was reaffirming of the commitment made by Communion Partners to be about the ministry of the Church within a variety of settings.

Our vision was one of providing, through missional relationship, a mechanism that would embrace not only those places under the jurisdiction of Communion Partner bishops but also rectors and congregations that find themselves outside of this umbrella."

He sees B030 as an instrument for encouraging Communion Partner bishops and jurisdictions engaging rectors and congregations "that find themselves outside this umbrella."


This is a creative and I believe misleading interpretation. Reading the final form of B030 and the explanation given it would appear the intent was for TEC dioceses to engage with former missionary dioceses, now part of the Domestic Mission Partnership group. It had nothing to do with congregations and rectors who felt unsupported theologically in the dioceses in which they found themselves. It was about partnering with dioceses that were part of the Domestic Mission efforts of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

Here is what the resolution states, and the explanation attached:


Resolution:B030
Title:Domestic Mission Resolution
Topic:Companion Dioceses
Committee:11 - Church in Small Communities
House of Initial Action:Bishops
Proposer:The Rt. Rev. Michael Gene Smith

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 76th General Convention direct the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society to facilitate and encourage companion domestic mission relationships among dioceses and congregations within The Episcopal Church, and especially with the member dioceses of the Domestic Missionary Partnership (DMP); and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention direct the Executive Council in collaboration with the DMP to study the needs of and recommend ways to expand domestic mission, and to report to the 77th General Convention.


EXPLANATION

A number of Missionary Districts were "elevated" to the status of Diocese in 1970 despite the fact they were not financially self-supporting. Some of these are now members of the Domestic Missionary Partnership. In addition, many congregations have been blessed by mission partnership relationships in post-Katrina Louisiana. Building on this momentum, now is the time to embrace the opportunity for expanding work in the domestic mission field.
The Domestic Missionary Partnership is an active partnership of dioceses that, by Baptism, are sent into the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The current membership of the DMP consists of the dioceses of Alaska, Arizona, Central New York, Eastern Oregon, Eau Claire, El Camino Real, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, Utah, Western Kansas and the Navajoland Area Mission. All dioceses are invited to join the DMP. See www.domesticmissionarypartnership.org.

B030 is a fine resolution, and given the hardships of many of the dioceses in the DMP, it is an essential part of the work of this Church to develop partnerships and engagements with these dioceses, including domestic companion relationships.

Bishop MacPherson may wish that B030 had something to do with the agenda of Communion Partners, but it doesn't, as far as I can understand it. I do applaud the commitment by Communion Partners to engage in dioceses not their own with clear agreement with the bishops where they intend to have parish or rector relationships. Likewise I believe the intent to remain part of TEC is genuine. It makes Communion Partners a voice for what at present is an apparent minority in TEC. Their task it seems to me is to make the case for being a growing minority and perhaps a hidden majority.

This would be better served if there were not statements such as this, from HERE:

"Episcopalians have become very accomplished at listening to ourselves, but rather deaf to the voices of the other provinces of our communion and the theological minority within our own province. Furthermore, the voices of those the majority of the Episcopal Church chooses to hear have effectively deafened our province to the voice of Scripture."


I entered the current frey - this ecclesial snit-fit- when I realized some years ago that I was cast, along with many of my friends, as un-biblical, un-Anglican, and un-Christian. The charge may have merit, at least as applied to me, and in whatever is left of humility I am ready to face the charge and respond. But I was aware that others who had these charges raised against them were acting clearly as bibilically sound Anglicans and convicted Christians. It got my dander up.

If the Communion Partners are interested in the slightest in convincing me that they are right, it would be helpful for them to back off. When they write, "the voices of those the majority of the Episcopal Church chooses to hear have effectively deafened our province to the voice of Scripture," I sense I am either one of those who "choose to hear" folks who draw me away from Scripture, or I am one of those doing the drawing. This is not an attractive, righteous or even true place of beginning. It is a beginning with condemnation.

Well, perhaps that is what Communion Partners need do to. Tough love. Hard but true.

The thing is, I have worked, plodded, written, engaged, and otherwise given my all to the matters on a personal and spiritual level as well as on an ecclesial level, and I believe the Communion Partner assessment to be wrong. I attend to the voice of Scripture (assuming I understand rightly what is meant by the writer of this passage). I attend to others whose voices carry weight with me, but I must say those voices are not of a single mind or a common trajectory.

Communion Partners may reach out, but not yet to me. I guess the divide is still there: Some consider my friends and me to be un-biblical, un-Anglican, and even sometimes un-Christian. Oddly I believe Bishop MacPherson and others in this group to be indeed biblically grounded, Anglican and Christian, but wrong. I wonder which is worse, being wrong or being heretical?

Hard to say. But it does make conversation difficult.

Meanwhile the real intent of B030 remains. When are we going to get serious about those dioceses in TEC that need our missionary attention? Now would be about right.

4 comments:

  1. Its time for action. Any diocese that fails to pay its full assessment will not have its choice of bishop approved when it comes time for the next election, and the national church will appoint a bishop for them.

    Time to drive these voices of opposition out of the church.

    Then we can have a church that all thinks the same as us. Of course people will get upset and leave, but thats ok. We only lost 20% of attendance in the last 5 years, who cares if we lose another 20% over the next 5.

    Oh wait...most of our parishes are actually quite small...losing that many people means they won't actually be financially viable anymore....a majority of them may actually have to close their doors and won't be there to preach our new gospel....

    Oh well, who cares. As long as we win. We are right and they are wrong. Lets drive them out of this church. Lawsuits I say. Sue their vestries I say. Depose them I say. Replace their priests. Replace their bishops. Win at all costs.

    Jeremiah

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jeremiah: Had TEC actually taken your "advice," there would be far fewer problems today. No bishops were acted against until they freely chose to attempt to separate their diocese from TEC. Actually, I think our Presiding Bishop (and the one before her, actually) have been fairly temperate in the use of their canonical powers. Frankly, I think it is often the conservative wing of TEC that wants to enforce doctrinal conformity and "drive those voices of opposition out of the church." Since they are in the minority, their only recourse is to withdraw to a self-proclaimed "purer" church. I probably don't qualify. But then, you might not either!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Completely OT, Mark, but it's just been driving me up the wall.

    I think that, in the Gandhi quote in your header, the word is "matchless" not "machless."

    Sorry, but it's just been snagging my attention every time I open your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  4. MarkBrunson....good eye. Thanks. Glad you actually see the header, much less read it! Corrected as of now.

    ReplyDelete

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.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.