4/29/2010

The New Anglican Maps: The Anglican Communion and the Confessing Anglicans.

Two new essays regarding the Anglican landscape come to the same conclusion: The fractures in the fellowship of churches called The Anglican Communion have reached the point where two different "maps" of relations are required. In Individualism, communalism, and the Anglican Covenant, published on Episcopal Cafe, Marshall Scott writes:

"I fear ...that the Communion cannot stand. I am among those who have note that we have already lost “the-Anglican-Communion-as-we-have-known-it,” beginning with the assertions expressed not first but most widely in the Windsor Report about the roles of the Primates’ Meeting. However, I fear it goes deeper than that. This is not, at least in theory, an insurmountable difficulty. However, it would require a generation of thoughtful conversation to really understand one another. ... So, words will be said, and actions taken, and lines drawn; and the Communion will divide...

But right now, we are where we are, and who we are. We see the world as we see it, including how God is working in
it. I will mourn when things fall apart; but I cannot see how it will not. We can love one another, and talk to one another as best we can. I just don’t think we’ll be able to address this difference soon enough to change our trajectories."

Marshall Scott is a highly thoughtful and engaging writer. Go read the whole thing, HERE.

From the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FOCA) and GAFCON, the General Secretary of GAFCON, Archbishop Peter Jensen, also has written on the matter. The article, FCA General Secretary responds to the Global South to South Encounter maps out his observations of where things are headed. Some excerpts (but go read the whole thing.)

"The crisis moment has now passed. Many of the Global South provinces have given up on the official North American
Anglicans (TEC and the Canadian Church) and regard themselves as being out of communion with them. They renew the call for repentance but can see that, failing something like the Great Awakening, it will not occur. The positive side to this is that they are committed to achieving self-sufficiency so that they will cease to rely on the Western churches for aid. That is something the Global South has been working on for some time, with success."

"In my judgment, the assembly was unresponsive to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s video greetings. I don’t think th
at what he said was obscure. It just seemed to be from another age, another world. His plea for patience misjudged the situation by several years and his talk of the Anglican covenant was not where the actual conference was at. He seemed to suggest that the consecration of a partnered lesbian Bishop will create a crisis. In fact the crisis itself has passed. We are now on the further side of the critical moment; the decisions have all been made; we are already living with the consequences."

"Right action demands that we understand our own times accurately. If I am correct, that we now belong to the post-crisis phase, we need to know what such a moment requires. Action in this phase is no less demanding. One thing is for sure: those who wait and do nothing will be playing into the hands of ideologues who have had such a triumph in the west."

Two different readings, two simil
ar conclusions: The Anglican Communion is broken. The crisis has not been averted and the consequences are at hand. The failure to communicate across cultural, social and theological boundaries is too great for the moment. Distrust makes the notion of a viable Anglican Covenant impossible or irrelevant. The Anglican Communion as we know it is no longer. It is time to get on with the work God has given us to do - no matter that now we cannot do it together. That is their conclusion and I believe they are probably right.

If so, where do we as members of The Episcopal Church go from here?

My sense is this:

There will continue to be "The Anglican Communion"..."a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer."

It remains to be seen if The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada continue as "regular" members of that fellowship. Being part of the Anglican Communion in that sense does not require TEC and the ACoC to be part of the Anglican Consultative Council or the Primates Meetings or even invitees to the Lambeth Conference. It requires only that we be in communion with Canterbury and be understood (presumably by the ABC) to be upholding and propagating historic Faith and Order, via the BCP.

The "map" of the Anglican Communion will, in that sense, be inclusive of strained fellowship and incomplete communion - there will continue to be occasions when a bishop or clergy from one church is not welcome to officiate, much less take up a post, in another. The map will have warning signs posted over certain areas, warnings that some form of quarantine or embargo has been put in place. Perhaps the map will indicate that TEC and ACoC are "areas of danger." Other spots will also be so marked. Zimbabwe and Malawi will be so marked. But on the whole the map would look more or less like the map of the Anglican Communion does now. The difference is there would be no-fly zones, hazard and quarantine postings and generally greater passport control. There will be messy efforts to come to the aid of parishes and dioceses "suffering" one way or another. There will be areas of hazardous duty pay. (The map is only roughly predictive.)

But there will also be a new map and a new Confessing Anglican world: A map that points out places of safety and commonality throughout the world for those who wish to form a more perfect union of Confessing Anglicans.

This map will be a "safe haven" map, and while it will show whole churches in the Anglican Communion as safe, there will also be areas where the listing of safe places will get much more specific.
All of Uganda will be safe, but Australia will have hot spots where only this or that parish is acceptable. In some places, notably North America, a new church will arise that is safe, and the map will simply overlay the "real" collection of dioceses and national or regional churches, as opposed to the ones in place in the Anglican Communion.

People will be told, when in North America you know you are safe when you are in a ACNA parish. Such a map might also include trusted companions - parishes and dioceses that have signaled their trustworthiness by an oath of conformity (in this case signing on to the Anglican Covenant or its successor documents).

This map will consider all non Global South provinces missionary territory, and North America particularly hostile territory. The support of ACNA will then be viewed as support of mission in a field hostile to the Gospel.

Now both of these maps will be world maps and there will be significant overlay, but the one - the Anglican Communion map - will be a map of regional bodies, some in full and others in partial fellowship, and the other - the Confessing Anglican map - will be a safety map. Readers of the AC map might note that gay people might not be welcome in the Church of Uganda and Ugandan Anglicans would not feel particular dioceses or churches in the US were welcoming of them, but these would be seen as limitations on fellowship, not reasons for complete breaks in communion. The Confessing Anglicans map would not include churches that were not sufficiently confessing. In those areas instead there would be a network overlay of safe places, or in the case of North America a new entity in the place of the old. The new map is a mission strategy map, the old map is a map of a community of churches.

On a practical level all this would mean the following:

Most of us, most of the time, are highly local in our practice of the faith. Depending on which map we use we might more often pray for churches or church leaders who are shown on the map we normally use. We might give for mission work with the intention that our moneys support mission in the world as we see it. Hopefully relief work would know no boundaries, but even there the agents of relief work might be different. But otherwise, at home, which map we use will not be very central except when church leadership wanted to do or say something locally and gather such support as might be possible from friendly quotes.

Many would be saddened that fellowship is broken, but we would simply have to live with it. About the Anglican Communion, Ed Rodman said, "It is what it is." It is what it is, and, about the Confessing Anglicans, they are what they are. Sad, but true.

My sense is that the Archbishop of Canterbury is not ready to declare that TEC and the ACoC are not in communion with the See of Canterbury. It may be that the various "instruments of communion" might suspend inclusion of TEC and ACoC in their meetings. It might be that the ABC would not invite Bishops Robinson or Glasspool or their supporters to the next Lambeth
Conference. All of which would be very very untidy. But there is sometimes beauty to be found in the midst of such ugliness. As Bishop Robinson discovered at Lambeth 2008, exclusion opened doors to conversation and engagement well beyond the tent of meeting. But communion with the See of Canterbury would remain.

As for the Confessing Anglicans, the links between western / northern evangelicals and the Anglican churches in the "global south" are to some extent the product of western / northern evangelical engineering for its own purposes. It remains to be seen if there is any long term value to the relationships or if these are relationships of convenience. The Confessing Anglicans map may finally be less interesting to the Global South than it seems at the moment. And for those realignment folk who believe communion with Canterbury to be a touchstone of Anglican engagement, the Confessing Anglicans will be less attractive, particularly if they break communion with Canterbury over matters of ordination and blessing.

But for now it appears that the mapping has been done. We are in a "post crisis" period when there are now new maps and we have to continue navigating as well as well can in an increasingly more and more interconnected world.

In that light it is interesting to reread the Pew Forum interview with Phillip Jenkins in 2007 on the Global Schism in the Anglican Communion. Towards the end of his opening remarks he says,

"
It is quite likely that by 2050 or so there will be three billion Christians in the world; the proportion of those who will be non-Latino whites, people like myself, will be somewhere between 15 and 20 percent. Imagine a map of the Christian world as of 2050: Where are the largest Christian populations? It's an interesting list. Heading the list is the United States, though, of course, a lot of the Christians will be of Latino and Asian and African descent. Where next? Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, Congo, Ethiopia and China. What are the names that are not on the list? Oh, Germany, France, Italy, Spain - maybe the people in this room are old enough to remember something called Western Christianity - (laughter) - well, it died in our lifetime."

We shall see.

19 comments:

  1. Your sense of what is unfolding is my sense too!

    I find it hard to see my own church, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia jettisoning links with TEC and ACCan, or with Global South provinces (which include Melanesia), and certainly not cutting ties with Canterbury/CofE/Ireland/Wales/Scotland, however the world map of Anglicanism is organised.

    There will be Kiwi Anglicans travelling to North America who would assiduously search out ACNA congregations to worship in, and those who will happily opt for the nearest TEC or ACCan parish.

    It is not possible for us to ignore or exclude Sydney when relating to the Australian Anglican church; and it is difficult to see the Australian Anglican church as a whole cutting ties to any part of the Communion (whatever Sydney says or does about not being in fellowship with this or that province).

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  2. For enlightened "Western Christianity" to survive and grow in influence, and to avoid ghettoisation, we must move away from concepts of national churches and even local churches and be inclusive of all like minded individuals wherever they may be geographically.

    As I have stated before, once TEC has made, or has been forced into, a break from the Communion, its members will notice very little negative change within their church. In fact, the positives will far outweigh the negatives. But the effect on those of us forced by democracy to remain in "unfriendly" provinces will be immense and soul destroying.

    American isolationism would destroy progressive Christianity elsewhere in the Anglican (broken) Communion. It is not a liberal trait to aggressively evangelise within other cultures. In fact, it is usually regarded as a "very bad thing." But needs must and the time is fast approaching when the enlightened church will need to decide whether to ape the expansionism of bigotry or to give up its commitment to a universal gospel of divine inclusiveness, withdraw into enclaves of powerless isolation and wither on the vine.

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  3. At last I think you have got your head around where all this has been heading.
    The only suggestion I would make is this. The 80% of the Anglican Communion you refer to--which will remain as it has been, which will attend Instrument meetings, be in clear association with Canterbury, etc--will be The Anglican Communion, and will require no further label generated from within its own ranks. (Burundi, SE Asia, Middle East, etc do not think that their Communion anglicanism is 'Confessing'). This will be The Anglican Communion. Now the challenge could well be to generate a title for the part that you describe above, led by TEC in its present 815-Exec council version. Because as you indicate, Cantaur will not excommunicate this version of TEC, but he could well limit its participation in Communion affairs (non local, to use your term). Will this be the Progressive Episcopalian Federation? Do you have a proposal?
    James in SC.

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  4. PS--I should add. The covenant may be dead for 815-TEC, but if the decisions regarding its involvement in Instruments follow the conclusions you reach here, it could be alive for everyone but TEC-815, including portions of Canada and TEC itself (one thinks of Communion Partners). So the idea that only ACNA is a trouble maker vis-a-vis 815-TEC simplifies things overmuch. CP's Rector base includes a very big swath of major churches across the US, all very much wanting to remain in the Anglican Communion on the terms stated above. A Covenant is a way for them to do that. Singapore simply told its provincial reps to deal with the covenant at that level. It what you describe for 815-TEC transpires, then the Covenant could be a very workable modus vivendi for Anglican Christianity.

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  5. Peter... we sometimes think alike because we are (dare I say) on the case. I read Anglicandownunder almost every day and about a third of the time think you are right. Hope my ratio is about the same.

    There are several big problems still to address - ACNA and TEC / ACoC are clearly not in communion and to have two church entities in the same area not in communion with each other both be in communion with Canterbury calls up ancient hives and itches; and (I believe) the differences in our churches are to a large extent a product of our differences in the understanding of the role of bishops (showing thereby the problem with the #4 of the Lambeth Quadrilateral) so we need to work on this bishop thing.

    I saw your posting on Peter and Mark agreeing. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Mark ran away naked in the night, apparently, and Peter warmed himself by the fire at the cost of betrayal. We share a fine heritage!

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  6. MadPriest...not so mad. Exactly so. something like your comments drive my sense that we cannot give up on engagement with the "larger" Anglican world, quiet independent of our inclusion or exclusion from various groups. We will find ways to link with folk world wide and ways to spread a gospel of inclusiveness.

    One problem, as you know dear MadPriest, is that we in TEC, being mostly folk from the US, live with the reality that we are not in fact inclusive except in so far as we are forced by history or conscience to be so. So we are on some levels progressive, but we have a blinking long way to go. We are not so good on race, getting better on gender, do tolerably well on age, are making some strides on inclusion of gay and lesbian persons, etc. Still, Sunday Morning and all the rest of the ecclesiastical week is pretty well segregated or at least monocrome.

    We are not powerless or isolated yet. And your cautionary note is very much in order. If we allow ourselves to be cast into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, we will wither.

    This is no time for whining or sadness. It is a time to spend what we have for the Lord we love and for his presence among us all.

    Thanks for writing.

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  7. The still undealt with reality is like this: TEC is losing it's own members all on its own. A significant portion of those members would gladly go to any newly minted Anglican Church in their community.

    Let's see: Trade my bishop (SW. VA.) who supports and was on the board of Planned Parenthood, supports RCRC, and
    loves all things revisionist, for an Anglican bishop who upholds the historic faith? There IS no choice. I'm there, ready for it the moment that it happens. Let a a full page ad appear in any community's newspaper and advertise the differences and see which church fills up. Just tell the truth in simple form and watch the chips fall. Let people choose: historic faith vs. social activism ala Planned Parenthood and you'll get an education real fast.

    TEC has been dying the death of a thousand cuts, mainly by its own hands. The historic faith has been given over to social activism the likes that one sees in SW. VA. And you wonder why we've dropped to about 750,000 ASAs?

    No, no, this isn't about "them". It's about what TEC has done and is doing to itself. Keep electing social activists and calling them bishops and you will continue to see those ASAs tell you the truth.

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  8. James in SC.... I know it is hard to remember but please sign off on each item. I presume you are the one doing the PS that is the next post.

    Thanks for the comments. I do not agree with you that "TEC in its present 815-Exec council version" is what TEC is at this point. TEC is the Regional / National church in the US and the other countries where its dioceses are found that is part of the Anglican Communion. So if TEC is excluded from certain activities on a AC wide level it is still the province in place.

    Some hope that ACNA will replace TEC and the ACoC as the "province" of the Anglican Communion in North America. I don't see that happening. It may well be that some Provinces will relate to ACNA and not TEC. That is their business. So there will be some networks that arise that no longer include TEC. There may even be in the future a second world wide Anglican community that grows out of the Global South Encounters and GAFCON as a combination of efforts and concerns. We shall see.

    The notion of a Progressive Episcopalian Federation or whatever is no way to go. I don't want to be part of a world wide church period, federation or whatever. I believe we have every reason to want international partners in a fellowship of churches. Furthermore, I distrust the progressiveness of progressives, even if I do aim to be progressive myself. "Progressive" should not be used as a label or title. It should be descriptive of work and action. So, I'd hate there to be a "Progressive Episcopalian Federation" or anything like it.

    From the outset I have been opposed to a world wide church thingy, no matter what its name. We've enough of those and they have very mixed reviews.

    I indeed have a proposal, and it is in the making. Hope to get it on the blog very soon.

    Thanks for writing.

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  9. Mark, I do think, based on the rhetoric on the recent South to South Encounter (and not least on a plan outlined in Bishop Mouneer's address) that there will be a new Anglican-family structure that will, ultimately, explicitly reject Canterbury. I think Archbishop Jensen writes his own opinion, but that many share his opinion, including the new Global South leadership (not to mention those just rotating out of leadership). I don't think it's a matter of if but when.

    I think there will still be in some formal sense a family of national and regional churches in which the Episcopal Church participates, but whether or not Canterbury is the center will depend on Canterbury's determination that there must be a Covenant and that the current draft is it. That determination in itself may isolate Canterbury, even within the UK.

    Peter, I think the divisions in Australia and perhaps A/NZ/P may be seen differently than in North America. ACNA has drawn lines within North America, and TEC and ACoC have drawn lines in response, that will make association difficult, even through a third party. We'll see.

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  10. I’m with Mark in opposing anything that looks like a worldwide church. This view has absolutely nothing to do with theology or ecclesiology. I simply believe that organization that big cannot be monolithic without also being dictatorial (think Rome). Some people may be fine with that, but I’m not. Governance in TEC, a church small in numbers if not in extent, is, at best, difficult. The Greeks did not think that anything bigger than a city-state could be governed democratically.

    I don’t know how Anglican churches will relate to one another in the future, but we surely do not have to communicate through Canterbury. This is 2010, for God’s sake! Let Rowan spend his time fixing his own church (which surely is a mess) and return the Archbishop of Canterbury to the figurehead status that is his (or, perhaps one day, her) proper role.

    If other Anglicans want a connection to TEC, all they have to do is ask.

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  11. As much as a third?! Excellent :)

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  12. I wrote TEC-815 to distinguish the will of those in charge as against movements like Communion Partners. It the TEC you are describing wants to move away from The Anglican Communion, it is false to only hold up ACNA and its logic. A very solid percentage of Episcopalians in TEC believe in the Anglican Communion on the terms stated in your essay, as 80% of the Communion hold to it, that is, a global missionary movement that began in Canterbury, catholic and evangelical. They believe in the logic of the preamble to the C/C as stated in our PB.
    So I suppose the question raised by your essay is, will 815-TEC-Executive council, if they choose not to stay in Communion, decide to go after those in TEC who want the communion, the covenant, and are happy to be accountable in a world wide church? If Covenant proves viable given the kinds of actions from Cantaur you suggest, many inside TEC will signal their adoption of it, as has Dallas already (and probably CFL, W-LA, SC, Albany, ND, TN, and others; and the CP parishes in other dioceses). Will TEC-815 seek to prevent this or will it acknowledge the consequences of seeking what it believes in and let others go their way?
    James in SC.

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  13. I'd prefer to see my offering plate money spent on creating that very "liberal federation" the right scoffs at. I'd rather see that than more Episcopal money spent on meetings of international ecclesiastical princes getting together to exclaim how awful we are.

    If the Episcopal Church is booted out or demoted in status, perhaps we could find other more productive ways to spend our money abroad (certainly on our friends abroad and on trying to reach those who want and need our help) than on an Anglican Communion that proclaims its Christian love for us, but really does not like us very much at all.
    Perhaps we could find whole new international networks of friends through others such as the Lutherans.

    Far from wanting to retreat behind our borders, I think a lot of Episcopalians would greet our impending bum's rush out of the Anglican Communion as an opportunity to expand internationally, and to do so aggressively, and in places where former Anglican courtesies once prevented us from poaching congregations and clergy. Episcopal congregations in London, Sydney, Buenos Aires, and Lagos would no longer be out of the question. We could take a page out of the playbook of our antagonists, as Madpriest suggests.

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  14. I disagree with Marshall Scott. The *majority* of GS Primates does not wish to ignore Canterbury. It is waiting to see how Canterbury chooses to lead. If Canterbury leads in the way Harris's essay intimates, they will fold in behind the covenant and Canterbury. If Canterbury does not act as Harris suggests, then the reaction in the GS will be varieagated. But this comment thread I take to be on Harris's essay. If what he suggests transpires, The Anglican Communion will be the 80% as heretofore in its most recent life and Cantaur its traditional See. TEC-815-Exec Council will have decided to go its own way.
    My question is the same as above. In such an eventuality one would hope that those who wish to stay with the Communion would not be prosecuted for doing so. After all, they would simply be confirming the Anglicanism they have always assumed was TEC's own identity. James in SC

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  15. I quibble with IARCA being placed in the Global South/Confessing branch. They are quite clear that they are in the MIDDLE, gracias. (I know these maps are not yours....)

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  16. Caminante.... IARCA was meant in the first map part to be part of the "expansive" AC, that is, middle, precisely. In making the map the lower part of IARCA inadvertently was blue. I have corrected that. Ooops.

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  17. "If other Anglicans want a connection to TEC, all they have to do is ask."

    I second Lionel Demiel's comments.

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  18. Gracias... of course it remains to be seen where IARCA now will go with its new primate though there now is a primate emeritus for the first time in the history of IARCA and he still is bishop with a voice.

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  19. all they have to do is ask

    Erm? Has there been a Masonic takeover in American Christianity. We're still working on the invitation approach over here.

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OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
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