On day two of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, or The Standing Committee, the Anglican Communion Officer reported on two matters - a proposal to have The Episcopal Church separated from The Anglican Communion and a proposal to expand the number of primates on the Standing Committee to 8 - plus the ABC.
I wrote about this HERE.
I wrote on 7/26 mid-afternoon. On 7/28 the Anglican Communion Office reported on day four of the Standing Committee meeting. They reported the following:
As agreed, the Committee revisited Saturday's discussion. Dato' Stanley Isaacs delivered a frank and passionate presentation about the distress felt by some parts of the Communion about The Episcopal Church's decision to breach one of the moratoria. He concluded by proposing that rights to participate in discussions of matters of faith and order at the Standing Committee and the ACC be withdrawn from The Episcopal Church.
In the subsequent discussion Archbishop Philip Aspinall reiterated that the Standing Committee did not have the power to undertake such an action. He reminded the Committee that the Covenant had been drawn up to address just these kinds of points of disagreement. It was also stated that the Standing Committee did not have all the powers of the ACC, especially when it came to the Membership Schedule.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori questioned why the proposal was singling out The Episcopal Church. Bishop Ian Douglas stressed he was present in his role as an elected representative of the ACC, not a member of The Episcopal Church and he desired to always be responsible to the Council. He thanked Dato' Stanley Isaacs for attending the Standing Committee meeting despite his [Isaacs'] feelings about recent events in the Communion. He said that having other elected representatives present who represented a genuine segment of the ACC helped him [Bp Douglas] to be a better member. He added that he missed having Bp Azad's voice at the meeting.
Dr Tony Fitchett agreed that the Committee needed as full a range of views as possible. "I'm conscious I'm not here representing my province," he said. "I'm here because I was appointed by the ACC. My accountability is not to my Province. I expect to continue to serve on the [Standing Committee] even if my Province were ever to be unacceptable to other churches because of its actions."
After what Canon Elizabeth Paver described as "the time, prayer and space necessary for everyone to be heard on this matter" the Standing Committee agreed a resolution that it: "regrets ongoing breaches of the three moratoria that continue to strain the life of the Anglican Communion; regrets the consequential resignations of members of the Standing Committee which diminish our common life and work on behalf of the ACC and the Primates' Meeting; recognises that the ACC and the Primates' Meeting are the appropriate bodies to consider these matters further."
The note from the ACO begins, "As agreed, the Committee revisited Saturday's discussion." Interestingly the only note on this section in the report on day two was that, "The proposal was not passed, and the group agreed to defer further discussion until progress on Continuing Indaba project had been considered." But, never mind. They did indeed revisit the discussion on Tuesday.
Good thing, for at least they were able to move to correct the misunderstanding / inaccurate reporting / or whatever from day two. There has been considerable commentary on this and other blogs regarding the implications of the report of day two. It appeared then that the Standing Committee had not stated clearly that it could not itself take action to remove TEC from the Anglican Communion nor could the Standing Committee replace the ACC re membership schedule. And, thankfully it closed with the comment that it "recognizes that the ACC and the Primates' Meeting are the appropriate bodies to consider these matters further."
I must confess a bit of anger on reading the report of day two. One friend suggested it was "over the top." Perhaps it was. Still, given the only report that officially came from the meeting - that of the Anglican Communion Office - and the content of that report in which a proposal was made and considered and in which the request from the Primates for greater representation on the Standing Committee was moved forward to the ACC meeting, I stand by my initial reaction.
I am also willing to cool off a bit, given the follow-up conversation of the Standing Committee that is reported by the ACO. Perhaps the reporters missed the fine points on day two. Perhaps when people thought about it all they realized that there are limitations, etc. Perhaps some folks read the blogs. Who knows? But the conversation on day four seemed better ordered. If I was mistaken in how I read the report of day two, I apologize.
My major concern frankly had been the move to enlarge the Standing Committee to 8 primates, the ABC, and 8 (bishops, clergy and lay persons). The comment, "not one dime," had to do primarily with funding a primate engrossed Standing Committee. I have been and continue to be a strong advocate of generally funding the work of the Anglican Communion. So my "one thin dime" remark has to do with the question raised about the financial implications of enlarging the size of the Standing Committee. It seems to me one of the implications is this: why should member churches of the Anglican Communion support a Standing Committee that, embedded in the ACC constitution, effectively acts on its behalf, when the ACC's internal representative structure is nowhere represented in the Standing Committee's structure?
Over on Episcopal Cafe there is now a poll being taken about whether my "not one thin dime" approach is more or less popular to that of the Rev. Tom Sramek, Jr. Remembering that this is about continuing support of the Standing Committee, I'd suggest you go and vote.
I agree with Tom that we ought to be very careful about comments about pulling our funding. I presume he and all of us remember that a goodly portion of TEC Dioceses find it inconvenient to pay their full "fair share" and a number have not supported TEC for years. We do put up with it (although I wish we didn't.) But the Standing Committee itself asked, indirectly, for the financial implications of making the committee larger, and one of them is very simple. The implication of a larger, more primate heavy Standing Committee with greater decision making abilities is that we, the users, will be asked to pay for it. The question is, when do we get to pass on it? And when we pass on it, will we get to say "this big and no bigger?" "this powerful and no more powerful?"