Well, here it is boys and girls - from the notes of the second day of the Standing Committee meeting:
"Primates on the Standing Committee
After extensive discussion on the Primates' Meeting 2009 request to increase its Standing Committee membership from five to eight, the Standing Committee:
- noted the request from the Primates' Meeting 2009 to increase from 5 to 8 the number of Primates on the Standing Committee
- affirmed that the proper body to make a decision about this request is the ACC
- without expressing a view for or against the request asked the Legal Adviser to draft constitutional changes to implement the following structure for the Standing Committee for consideration at the next Standing Committee meeting and eventually by ACC-15: The President, the Chairperson, the Vice-chairperson, 8 Primates, 8 other Trustee-members (non-Primates)
- requested the Finance and Administration Committee to advise on the financial implications of this proposal."
OK, now breath deep. As it stands there are 8 bishops, 4 laity and 2 clergy on the Standing Committee, with one or two slots open. The change in the makeup would be that there be 8 primates + the ABC, 9 primates, and 8 other Trustee members (non-Primates) + the Vice-chair. Primates would then already constitue 50% of the make up of the Committee.
Assume for the moment the Vice-chair is not a primate. Well, in the group of 8 others there will be a mix of bishops, clergy and laity + the Vice-chair. Suppose there really is a distribution among the various groups with some reasonableness - say 3 clergy and 3 lay and 2 bishops. Depending on the position of the Vice-chair that could mean that all told there would be 11 or 12 bishops out of a 16 member Committee. That is, 6 or 7 of the 18 would be other than bishops (remembering that the primates are bishops).
The resolution "requested the Finance and Administration Committee to advise on the financial implications of this proposal."
From at least my perspective I think here is one implication: Not one thin dime of our money to fund this body.
The Episcopal News Service notes that, "The Standing Committee usually meets annually but has met biannually for the past three years. It oversees the day-to-day operations of the Anglican Communion Office and the programs and ministries of the four instruments of communion." What ENS did not say is that the Standing Committee will have broad powers, which were exercised in part yesterday, to recommend excluding a church from active membership in the Communion. Actually the Standing Committee did more yesterday. It usurped powers not its own.
Yesterday, the Anglican Communion Office indicated, there was a proposal to separate The Episcopal Church from the Communion. "A proposal from Dato' Stanley Isaacs that The Episcopal Church be separated from the Communion led to a discussion in which Committee members acknowledged the anxieties felt in parts of the Communion about sexuality issues. Nevertheless, the overwhelming opinion was that separation would inhibit dialogue on this and other issues among Communion Provinces, dioceses and individuals and would therefore be unhelpful. The proposal was not passed, and the group agreed to defer further discussion until progress on Continuing Indaba project had been considered."
What is astounding about this proposal is that it was considered. The notion that the Standing Committee has the power to effect a separation is not even suggested in the Anglican Covenant being proposed. There the Standing Committee could recommend to various instruments of the communion a course of action, but those instruments would have to act.
Here, in the context of the Standing Committee meeting itself apparently the proposal was discussed and failed to pass. It was not considered out of order.
So, here it is, dear friends. The Standing Committee believes it has the power to pass on a resolution that The Episcopal Church be separated from the Anglican Communion. THERE IS NO RECORD OF OBJECTION. Further, we have no idea what actually went on in the discussion that followed because the meetings are closed.
So a closed meeting of the Standing Committee can consider a proposal to separate The Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion, supposedly with the understanding that such a proposal was in order. It failed not because the power of the Standing Committee was challenged, but because it was felt to be premature and the Standing Committee awaited further input.
Given this, why in the world would TEC, or any other church in the Anglican Communion, believe the Standing Committee to be a servant of unity in the Anglican Communion. It has only met under the new Constitution of the ACC once and already it has usurped powers supposedly those of the ACC itself. The proposed change in the number of primates on the Standing Committee will bring further imbalance away from the ACC and towards the Primates, from any sort of representative governance to princely governance.
Before we know it the damn thing will be a college of Cardinals with a minority of minions in tow.