2/09/2011

The Anglican Communion as intentionally interdependent

Is the Anglican Communion broken?
Some ruminations on the supposed break up of the Anglican Communion and the matter of the Communion as intentionally interdependent. 

Over on REAL ANGLICANS the point is made that the Global South's PR machine is moving into high gear. Fred writes, 

"I am now watching as the next step in the Global south public relations program kicks into high gear.  Way back when, specifically the Jerusalem Declaration, in a little preface work, the Conelonialists said that the Archbishop of Canterbury was NOT NECESSARY for an Anglican Communion.  That discussion lay dormant for many months and then a few months ago the rhetoric kicked in.  With the advent of the Primate's meeting in Dublin the PR moved into high gear.  Look at ACI, ACNA, or even the Soundings Board over at the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin and you will see that there is a call for the Archbishop of Canterbury to step aside/down/get the hell out of the way."

The ABC was soundly ridiculed for the Primates' Meeting for  not looking more, well, primatial. There was the matter of the presence of only 2/3rds of the Primates, sometimes stated as Primates representing only 1/3 the world's Anglicans. Then there was the lack of notable statements from the Primates - no communique, no rousing call that certain Provinces conform to Lambeth I:10 or Windsor. And there was the criticism that the Primates spent their time thinking about what constitutes the work, authority and place of Primates in the various churches, a subject that seemed to some to be a far cry from expectations.

ACAWKI: Anglican Communion as we know it.
The realignment crowd is stepping back from any need for a Communion that has as its focus of unity the Archbishop of Canterbury. So they are pleased to say that it is the end of the Anglican Communion as we know it, and flap their wings in distress, pumping their followers up for the big revelation of the new improved Anglican Communion whose primary Primates are those from the Global South / Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. 

Over at Anglicans Down Under Peter Carroll is alternately despondent concerning the future of the Anglican Communion and about the business of giving the existing post-Primatial meeting Anglican "thingy" a clever new name, the Global Forum of Independent Anglican Churches, a name so ugly that even its proponents (if there are any) would cringe. 

Peter is however way to cleaver to be simply about promoting the notion that the Archbishop of Canterbury should step down. Rather, he suggests that the Communion, 'as we knew it' is dead and its successors are two sorts of entities: (i) a progressive "forum" whose agenda is no longer liberal in old Anglican terms but radically independent, and (ii) a coalescence of various groups that have split off from the now discredited progressive crowd and are moved to form around the Jerusalem Declaration and a less Euro-centered way of identifying their unity.

Anglicans Down Under paints a pessimistic picture:  

"In terms of the aspirations of this blog - looking for signs of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church among Christians identifying themselves as Anglican - things will be forlorn. We are not one (either institutionally or organically), if we are 'holy' then a whole lot of other Christians are marching to a different understanding of holiness, 'catholic' is questionable as a descriptor of any Anglican entity claiming global connectedness between Anglican Christians, and as for 'apostolic', well, we argue furiously with each other about the content of apostolic teaching relevant for today as foundation and definition of whatever passes for shared theology among Anglicans, and we have varied approaches to understanding the ways in which we are (or are not) in continuity with the ancient apostolic church."

A new argument seems to be making up about the supposed progressive distaste for the limitations of imposed Communion wide restrictions on the work of individual churches within the communion. The argument goes something like this: 

Anglicans are called to be a communion - that is a community of churches that is by intention one, holy, catholic and apostolic.  While we know full well that such an intention is not met in fact - witness the divisions among the churches not only in our communion but in the whole of the Christian world - we none the less intend the sort of interdependence that would hold us together.  

The argument is then that the existing "instruments of communion" - the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates Meetings have failed to serve this end because we have not held one another accountable on the matter of intentionality.

In this argument, what is wrong with the progressive churches is that they have failed the test of intention, and having done so they are no longer a communion of churches, but a federation of like minded churches, the dreaded Global Forum of Independent Anglican Churches.(GFIAC)

My sense, however, is that progressive churches (The Episcopal Church, for example) have not given up on the intention of interdependence at all. What they have done is to make matters of justice central rather than adjunct to the life of the church. 

The experience of interdependence has been integrated with the need for justice in many instances. For example, the base community forms of bible study (the so called African model) have been used extensively in the US, but in the context of this culture and its lenses. As in other cultures and contexts this way of doing immediate study of the biblical material has opened readers to the discussion of moral and ethical problems and justice concerns. 

Another example: our Hymnal has incorporated music from different churches in the Communion, and from some not part of the Communion, and many of us are aware of our interdependence as we are informed by those hymns and our spirits lifted. When we chose the hymns we include and we see them through our own eyes as well as receive them, that is we receive them interdependently. 

But perhaps the best example of interdependence has been the way in which TEC was drawn into the conversation about strategies for ending apartheid in South Africa and found there encouragement for our own struggles. We were challenged to see the interdependence between our struggles in the US for racial equality and the need to support the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. More, we were challenged as church to move our church held investments from South African businesses. But most of all we became increasingly moved by the leadership of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his companions and predecessors. On some important level our interdependence became all the greater as he became a light to us as well as to the people of South Africa. 

Our interdependence as a church on other churches in the Anglican Communion is real. It does not limit our independence, rather it often challenges our worship, believing, thinking and action. And we can assume that our own challenges are felt elsewhere.

Some of the realignment church groups (AMiA, ACNA, etc) have made a point of being clear about their intentions for interdependence.  For a while the Anglican Covenant was a touchstone, but as it has been seen by these same churches to have been watered down and reflective of the power structures already in place in the Anglican Communion, the Covenant is no longer a primary statement of intention.

The Jerusalem Declaration has become that statement of intention. And yet the JD falls short in intention in that it no longer intends what the Anglican Communion has said it intends. The Lambeth Quadrilateral, often seen as the document of our intentions related to interdependence in church union, is not enough. The Anglican Consultative Council is not enough. The Anglican Covenant is not enough. And why?  Because none of these are confessional in character. All of them place confession (witness) in the Scriptures, the Sacraments, the Creeds and communities of bishops. So it is not clear to me that the realignment community of churches is by intention interdependent in any complete way either.

I do believe that if the Anglican Communion is to survive it will be because we find new ways to express our interdependence. Many of those will not be so new. They will be old ways recalled and brushed off and made new again. Things like mutual respect, concern for witness in context, support of those who witness in hard places, willingness to give for the spread of the communities of faith, aid in distress... they are all there already. We just have to use them. But we will find new ways: learning justice ministry from one another, seeing our history through new eyes, finding common cause in the suffering of the world. 

Meanwhile, Peter once again has raised what he believes is the progressive problem,that it will not flourish, and suggests the same is in store for the Anglican Communion.

"What I do know is that there is no Christian body dominated by liberal or progressive theology which has flourished. .... If (as I suspect) the recent Primates' Meeting represents a decisive step in which the entity known as the Anglican Communion has yielded itself to domination by liberal or progressive theology (i.e. rather than ensuring a balanced theology in lively tension between liberalism and conservatism), then there is no reason to think that anything other than decline awaits that entity - measured both by decreasing numbers being represented by those who meet in the name of the Communion, and by further fragmentation of the common life of those who continue to meet."

"Domination by liberal or progressive theology" spells trouble for Peter. He would rather there be a "lively tension between liberalism and conservatism." Well, part of the tension is that at any given time period one or the other is in the ascendancy - now liberalism then conservatism. Part of the lively tension is living with the fact that sometimes one's own party or group is not in the ascendancy. Intentional interdependence in this situation is learning to live with being a minority opinion at this time or that.

Progressives have no illusions that they are in the ascendancy in the Anglican Communion at the moment, in terms of numbers or representatives. They still have considerable influence for all sorts of reasons, some good some not so good. But intentional interdependency assumes that we keep being in tension one with another through our struggles. It does not mean giving up our progressive agenda, but our willingness to bear the burden of such witness.


Peter believes that the Communion has "yielded to domination" by progressives. Either I misunderstand what he is saying or he is wrong.  Some in the Communion have yielded, others have embraced, others strongly object. But some, notably those who by intention will not attend meetings with the Presiding Bishop, have intentionally scorned the most simple of interdependent activities - sitting in the same room together. If anything the Communion has retained its call for interdependence and simply notes with sadness those who intentionally cannot suffer the tension and presence of those they believe heretical or morally wrong.

If the Anglican Communion is intentionally interdependent then who has given up on that intention? We may note that the so called progressive churches have stuck it out even when their members are removed from certain committees or their representatives to the ACC have been dis-invited to participate. They have intentionally been interdependent, even if that means meeting with people who do not share their sense of justice or their moral concerns.

Peter says, "there is no Christian body dominated by liberal or progressive theology which has flourished."  I wonder if that is true. 

If numbers is the game, then flourish is a matter of growth.  We might suppose that the notion that God's promise of a Messiah was a promise for the whole world, not just for the Jews, and was a progressive one.  We might think that inclusion of all persons in the promised reign of God was progressive. If so then the initial Gospel was propelled forward into a world ready to receive it as at lest a liberalizing of the promise as understood by most Jews, and a progressive reshaping of the vision of the prophets. In that light, perhaps the whole of the expansion of the Christian faith has been a product of liberal and progressive theology.  

But no, the realignment PR machinery is still crunching the words and I am afraid that Peter's assessment can be viewed as part of that. 

Those who believe The Episcopal Church to be profoundly wrongheaded and hardhearted first talked about how TEC had "walked away" from the Communion. Then they proposed that unless TEC repented they could not walk together with us. Now they suggest that we are independentistas unwilling or unable to play with others. Each is in its own way the accusation that we have reneged on being interdependent because to independent minded. This is, I believe, a confusion - understanding interdependence to be static rather than dynamic. 

Interdependence is not about agreements reached on matters of common life, but rather about staying in relation even when tensions are high and others are in the ascent.


Progressives, in their better moments, are always interdependent, believing that the people, living out their understandings of the Gospel and its justice demands, can in an interdependent way achieve what could not be achieved by this or that independent church or jurisdictional body. That interdependence also is to be found in inter-church and inter-national bodies. 

I would trust that should the Anglican Consultative Council be guided by a majority that was unsympathetic to TEC's direction, progressives in TEC would not bolt but stay, taking whatever blows are dealt, and without filching from actions it believes are just and Gospel driven. And, if the will and means were there to have us removed from the ACC, we, as progressives, would hopefully see that as a matter of the moment, continuing to be by intention interdependent, even if our partners were rejecting us.


But my sense is that TEC, even if progressive in its theology, is not about to abandon the intention of relationship with all the member churches of the Communion, that is, those churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, no matter what. Nor is TEC about to step back from actions it believes are Gospel driven.

42 comments:

  1. A few comments, Mark, in a spirit both of goodwill and of constraint (you say too much and too deeply to engage with all your challenges in a mere comment):

    (1) 'Independence' v 'Interdependence' is not only about TEC and the Communion. It was a remark of the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church which most provoked me. And I know there are strong arguments favouring independence in my own church. Then, as you observe, there is the lack of interdependence demonstrated by absentee primates.

    (2) Definitionally, you write: "Interdependence is not about agreements reached on matters of common life, but rather about staying in relation even when tensions are high and others are in the ascent." I would say more: interdependence is about mutual accountability and the way disputes are resolved. While acknowledging intentions to be interdependent as outlined by you, I see TEC as resolutely independent on the issues which many in the Communion would like to see TEC accountable for to the Communion's Instruments of Unity.

    (3) On the question of flourishing etc, I do not mind being proved to be wrong. I look forward to evidence emerging in future years that proves you right!

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  2. Factual comment. One doubts very much whether the Jerusalem Declaration will rally the GS in toto. I suspect it will be moved to the side so that the widest cooperation amongst the GS will ensue.

    Also, I suspect +RDW will not want to lose this major bloc and will seek some way to liase. The question will be whether it will be desired, and in what manner. One can imagine the GS leaving the Canterbury role untouched but also ignoring the present arrangements...much like they did with the Dublin gathering.

    What will be interesting to see is how many provinces--if they needn't lose connection to Canterbury in any event--link up with a GS communion, should such emerge. That is including some who attended Dublin.

    What I think we are seeing is TEC getting what it wants: a loose federation of independent churches. The question will be how many don't want something so minimal and decide instead to associate with whatever may emerge now from the GS. Remember, Chew, Anis and Ernest are not Gafcon and the GS is also not Gafcon. Gafcon is but a subset of the GS, and even Venables said it was time for all in the GS to work together. He did not say that Gafcon was the means for that to happen, not did he mention Jerusalem Declaration, which obl interested 7-8 when it came out anyway.

    Theodoret

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  3. Mark Harris--when you choose as an example of hanging in there, the most unplausible example that the ACC would move in a different direction than TEC, I think one sees how out of touch people on the other side worry you are. The Instruments have been taken over by TEC liberals and their allies. The SC of the ACC and the SC of the AC are white western committees. The GS has pulled out because they don't see the point of playing this game.

    TEC has gotten what it wants, and it will now have to see how many prefer this kind of lose alliance (and interdependence on 'peace and justice' issues as defined by TEC and allies).

    What we are witnessing is a major bloc which does not want to lose the claim to One, Holy, Catholic.
    Call this PR, but I think it more accurate to say: it is the GS saying it will move forward regardless.

    Theodoret

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  4. Peter...as always thank you for your comments. One of the wonderful things about you (I am sure there are more!) is that you wish the best, even when you find most of what is going on a bit depressing. About flourishing ...indeed, we will see. About the only thing we know now is that Christ's OHCA Church will make it. At the moment all the splinters, shards and lumps are vague shadows of the whole. It's hard to say if any have what it takes.

    Again, thanks for the continued thoughtfulness of your blog and this comment.

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  5. Theodoret... You write, "The Instruments have been taken over by TEC liberals and their allies. The SC of the ACC and the SC of the AC are white western committees"

    The Standing Committee of the AC has 6 members whose churches are not "western" and one (New Zealand) which is kind of on the edge. One can argue that it is a TEC and allies sort of group, and maybe that will stick. But the deal is that only works from election to election. Pulling out is not the answer, making sure persons from the Global South get elected next time. To say that the SC of the AC is "white western" is a bit of a reach. It is perhaps 50/50. That they are all allies is even further a reach.

    TEC has not "gotten what it wants," that is just over the top.

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  6. The GS believes it is not being treated fairly; the SC has members who should not be serving, by the rules; they have had enough.

    They may well feel it is a better path to preserve the Communion they believed they were a part of by pulling away, but not pulling out, and conducting their own affairs, cordially and non-provocatively, vis-a-vis Canterbury. Anis, Chew and Ernest are careful and mild-mannered leaders.

    I suspect it could well be that for this very reason, Canterbury is flying to Singapore and will hope he can remain notionally in connection. It would be an aweful lot for him to lose.

    Theodoret

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  7. "The world is flat" as the book title goes. The church is still trying to be a pyramid. Especially in the South and Gaf(fe)con parts of the universe those who are either attempting to scale or at the top of the pyramid think a flat world is if not unholy at least un-Anglican.

    I suspect the shape of interdependence in future will be a matrix of relationships. Respectful, friendly, holy and conflicted relationships to be sure, but if they do not seek to be controlling also holy relationships.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  8. Theodoret,

    The GS believes it is not being treated fairly; the SC has members who should not be serving, by the rules; they have had enough.

    The key word is "believes."

    WE believe differently. C'est la guerre.

    We have had enough of being abused for the beliefs we truly hold, for being accused of foisting practices on other provinces when we have not.

    Both are beliefs - however, even given your own comment:

    I suspect it could well be that for this very reason, Canterbury is flying to Singapore and will hope he can remain notionally in connection.

    . . that even you, at heart, do not see factual support for the GS belief that they have been treated unfairly.

    Which belief - GS treated unfairly, or TEC scapegoated - has more factual support?

    Now, personally, I believe it is far better that we should separate, entirely. TEC will survive, and mostly likely grow, without the AC - I've never known anyone join TEC for the spurious benefit of being part of a communion heavily comprised of outgrowths of English Imperialism. We've had more success with ecumenicism than the ACC. We would be required to subvert conscience to a foreign prelate - no one but a citizen of the UK can become ABC - and that is going to hurt, rather than help any church in the U. S.

    Given the hate - yes, hate - on both sides, trying to cling to this communion is self-destructive; in fact, only the CofE would possibly benefit from it, as it centralizes authority through them.

    So, separate, completely. Continue on with our own duties, with the agreement in place there will be no public comment from the authorities on either side about the other. MAYBE after generations, we might be able to live together again.

    Until then . . . pretending to be a family is self-defeating and a denial of both sides' gospel responsibilities. You want us gone, and we're tired of being the whipping boy.

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  9. The GS believes it is not being treated fairly; the SC has members who should not be serving, by the rules; they have had enough.

    Pray tell who these members of the Standing Committee, all of whom were legally elected to the roll, are the ones who are there in violation of any rules? And which are the rules that say that they should not be serving?

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  10. I like your post, Mark. Interdependence is a good thing and something Christians should strive for, despite difficulties.

    One thing, though, I notice that you link your blog to gafcon.blogspot.com, a blog filled with hate that uses cyber-bullying as a tactic.

    By linking to this site, are you approving of its content? Would you feel good about the youth in your church reading this site, and perhaps making their own site like it? Would you recommend this site in your church bulletin, as a place to learn about Anglicanism?

    I think it's past time to think about how we communicate.

    Thanks,

    Susan P.

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  11. Brunson--

    For someone who screams 'go away' so often, it is funny how you want to cling to your blanket of victimhood!

    The best prediction is that the GS will carry on as if the Communion was still healthy and get on with it. RDW will seek to remain a piece of their thinking, for historical reasons, and some compromise will be made.

    Then those who want the TEC vision will join up with the Dubliners who are prepared to go this route (SEC, C of Ireland, Japan, Canada, et al) and the Gay Marriage Communion will go its way.

    The challenge for this latter movement--apart from Carrell's concerns--will be how to divide up internally. What of those in TEC who wish to remain in the Communion as furthered by the majority? Will this be scorched-earth via Title IV, more lawsuits, etc; or will they simply be allowed to go? In a funny way, Brunson's crew ought to be prepared to push for 'let them go' (a milder version of 'go away') and not scorched-earth.

    But things are in God's hands fully now, and not ours.

    Theodoret

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  12. Mark Brunson - for the first time, we agree... it would be best for both sides to separate / forced institutional unity hurts all. I think the AC is nice for bishops....airmiles, nice photos, feeling important....that is why some will not separate, I suspect (but I hope I am wrong!)

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  13. Theodoret, do not make claims you cannot back.

    For the second time;
    Who on the Standing Committee is there in violation of any rules. Which rules are being violated?

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  14. My God this is going over old ground. The discussion of this is now stale news and has already been absorbed on-the-ground in the GS, as if you care.

    Look, we are already in a crisis situation in which the GS is simply going to ignore the ABC and move forward. Do you dispute this? Why niggle around on this now dated issue. Just do a simple achive search at T19 or here.

    Do you not understand that the majority of the Communion proportionally simply chose to stay away from the Dublin meeting. Had it been five per cent only, this would be a tragedy and important to rectify. As it stands, the GS is simply going to withdraw to its own status quo ante Communion.

    Stand by charges indeed.

    Even Harris allows that the proportional character is questionable. His remedy is for people to show up and vote. At least he sees a problem.

    Sadly, too much mistrust has already been sown.

    Theodoret

    Theodoret.

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  15. http://www.anglicancommunioninstitute.com/2010/07/acc-standing-committee-five-things-that-should-be-done-now/

    Here's everything you'll need to go over this old territory again.

    Remember, you need not agree with what is concluded. The issue is: what does the GS believe and why do they have ample cause to stay away until assurances have been made.

    Now let's get back to 2011 and the topic.

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  16. “As it stands, the GS is simply going to withdraw to its own status quo ante Communion.”

    Quite frankly, I don’t think most Episcopalians (or Western Anglicans, for that matter) really care all that much about the Anglican Communion. It does not impact us on a day-to-day basis. People do not become Episcopalians because of the existence of the Anglican Communion. What these GS countries do or do not do is of very little concern to the average person in the pew; it might be of some concern to people in specific dioceses which partner with a GS diocese, if they were to reject aid, etc., but that’s about it.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  17. I couldn't agree more.

    Those Americans in TEC who know nothing about the Communion and care even less ought to be about the task of eliminating reference to it in their BCP and releasing those parishes and dioceses that wish to retain the historical status.

    If this had been the tack that had been taken, the blogs could dismantle and/or take up other issues.

    Let the Communion remain for those who wish it, and let others get on with their vision.

    Can you propose this at your local Diocesan Convention?

    Kurt

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  18. I should have suspected that it would be the circular illogic of the idiots with a website.

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  19. Brother David

    A former Dean of Berkley Divinity School at Yale. PhD Princeton.

    Ephraim Radner, PhD Yale.

    Christopher Seitz, PhD Yale, tenured Professor at Yale, St Andrews (Scotland) and the University of Toronto.

    Mark McCall, Harvard JD

    Total years of service in TEC and the AC-- what would you guess be?

    Idiots? Well of course they are.

    This is a bloody echo chamber.

    Come back and denounce all of this and reiterate that ACI are idiots.

    grace and peace and goodbye--

    Kurt

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  20. I find myself amused/saddened/enraged/depressed over all the ranting and raving about how The Episcopal Church has abandoned the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. No, we haven't. I've been an active Episcopalian all my life. (This year I'll celebrate the 69th anniversary of my baptism, the 60th of my confirmation, and the 45th of my ordinations. Don't tell me about the Episcopal Church.) Do we have heretics and fools in the Episcopal Church? Yes, of course. (Every church does.) Are they running the Church? Not usually.

    There's only one issue: Gays. That's the only issue. No, don't tell me that it's not the only issue. It is the only real issue. Anyone who doesn't think so is a liar or a fool. Other Churches in the Anglican Communion have often disagreed with us, and continue to disagree with us, about one issue or another (e.g., the ordination of women), and we with them. All families have disagreements. We have always managed to get along. To the best of my recollection, TEC has never tried to impose upon other Churches in the Anglican Communion how to structure their life of ministry and mission. (Did Canterbury threaten "impaired communion" with the PECCSA over slavery, when slavery had already been abolished in the British Empire? Or did Canterbury even notice, or care?)

    What's different now? What's different is that it is now about lgbt people. And this says a lot more about the people whose shorts are in a twist than about the Episcopal Church, or biblical morality, or the catholic faith. We are not going to throw our lgbt brothers and sisters under the bus. Get over it. If that means "independence," so be it. We've been there before.

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  21. I don't see victimhood, simply fact.
    Victimhood would mean there's nothing we can do about it. Clearly we can.

    Perhaps, if you would respond, rather than react, you would find something other than your own voice?

    I've answered you in my last post clearly and respectfully. "Go away" is exactly what's been screamed at us for decades - I'm suggesting separation. Why should you resent that? To go your way and do as you want; or do you love the damage you're doing so much?

    Will this be scorched-earth via Title IV, more lawsuits, etc; or will they simply be allowed to go?

    They've always been allowed to go. This is a false argument on your part.

    If you are worried about the property, then honestly state that you feel you ought to get back what you paid in - the rest, is not owed to you. Be honest that it is about money and ownership for you.

    I've told you - the AC means nothing. It can only serve the CofE's Imperialistic ego. Take that and go, if you like. We'll be fine, perhaps stronger, without it.

    But go. Stop hanging back and taking potshots. Stop trying to hurt us.

    Learn something. Every bit of the bitterness you feel, we feel at you, because you are doing everything you accuse us of, and, frankly, we don't owe to you to allow you to do that to us.

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  22. As to the constant property issue:

    I have no problem with the idea that, if a majority of a congregation wants to disassociate from TEC, that's fine.

    So, what will you give to those in your congregation who wish to stay in TEC? See, it cuts both ways. Will you pay them back all that they payed into your congregation? Give them a "share," as it were, to start their own congregation, as you seem to want for yourselves?

    You speak of fairness, ethical treatment; will you extend it?

    As to names - call yourself Anglican. What possible difference could that make? Why shouldn't there be a St. Paul's Anglican and St. Paul's Episcopal in the same town? Who cares?

    But, why claim that you're the "rightful" diocese, when you've dissassociated from the church in which you were a diocese? Make your own diocese, overlapping diocese, by all means. Who cares? But, in both moral and legal sensibilities, you cannot claim to be the diocese you were while disassociating from the legal corporation (TEC) in which that diocese was formed. Why would you want people to believe you were the "Episcopal" diocese or church of whatever, unless it was to deceive those who wished to join TEC? The only other answer is a jaded pursuit of material belongings.

    Like it or not, as you've continually noted, we are TEC now, and have been for a long time. We believe in what we are doing - believe, just as firmly as you, that it is necessary to our salvation and service to God - though you refuse to extend the courtesy of behaving in that way. To that end, why should we not defend ourselves in the courts of law?

    You use the biblical injunction that believers are not to go before the courts against one another, yet . . . you claim we are not believers. That's fine, as we - and let's be honest lefties and progs - we believe that you aren't terribly devoted followers of Jesus, either.

    We've never been part of a worldwide ecclesial structure that entitles someone to disassociate from the national church and retain that church's identity by affiliating with an international body. This is not a disputable opinion, but mere fact. It's reality. Concrete reality. We're willing to let you go your way, but it is your way, not "the way we shoulda gone." You'll be like the Baptists, or the Pentecostals - not us. Free to be what you feel God called you, but nothing to do with us. You owe us zero, we owe you zero.

    That's the only way it can be, if you are serious about stopping fighting and getting on with God's work - howsoever you feel guided to do it.

    Fair's fair if you want fair.

    So. I simply see no reasonable, adult complaints about the way we've handled the separation. If you feel pain, loss - whether material or emotional, that's all part of standing for your principals. You don't have to stand for them, but, if you do, there are consequences, as TEC's been consistently reminded. If you wish, you can turn it into PR - "Look how we've been martyred!!"

    Otherwise, Theodoret, et al., be honest - don't compound it with the sin of lying:

    The only reason you stay, is because you so enjoy hurting us, humiliating, and tormenting us.

    Be honest.

    Who said (paraphrasing), "I stay in TEC because I love a good fight?" Was that Robinson, or the PB, or . . . who was that?

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  23. WSJM - the primary issue is the authority of scripture. The secondary issue is to do with order i.e. if the communion has a position that something is 'incompatible with scripture', does that leave any province free to go ahead with unilateral actions regardless - or does being in communion put restraints on all, even when convinced of the rightness of actions. Now, after 7 years of the ABC's obfuscation, the GS (which is 2/3 of Anglicans and which is led by very highly theologically educated people) do not want to waste time talking about everything apart from the main issues causing division and avoiding all action...the reality is that they do not need the ABC to carry on their mission, and he has wasted a lot of their time. So, things move on. In a hundred years, some organisations will not even exist. It really doesn't matter too much to be in line with the ABC....or TEC

    As for Peter C waiting to see what happens to attendance, can we not already see Sunday attendance figures telling a clear story?

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  24. I second WSJM's comment.

    I notice that the "gay issue" generates far more passion in the Episcopal Church, and in the Anglican Communion, than the slavery issue ever did. I think the Episcopal Church 150 years ago handled that issue disgracefully, throwing its black congregants under a bus in order to keep the northern and southern parts of the church together, in order to respect the faith of their Southern dioceses.

    And speaking of the authority of Scripture, both sides in the slavery fight hurled proof texts at each other. The defenders of slavery were passionate, and absolutely convinced that they had Scripture and tradition on their side. And they were right. They did have Scripture and thousands of years of tradition and common practice on their side. It was the anti-slavery crowd that had to prove their case.

    That was still true in the struggle over segregation. I remember when I was a small boy in Texas listening to deeply religious people quote the story of Ham from Genesis as the Scriptural proof that God intended the races to be separate. They saw desegregation as a challenge to their faith.

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  25. The authority of Scripture? No, the issue is the authority of one interpretation of Scripture. As a pacifist I have had to accept that my interpretation was a minority one and remain in an interdependent relationship with those who held the majority position. I have no problem with continuing in that kind of relationship with those who hold a different interpretation of Scripture on the the matter of same-sexuality. The truth is that there are some in that crowd who have decided that they won't remain in that kind of relationship with me. That is sad.

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  26. That's fine, Daniel. But your position as a progressive is not the same as others on your side.

    For some it would be unheard of to allow dioceses to refuse new SSB rites with impunity.

    So there will be a struggle within your own ranks.

    Pacifism has no analogy here because the Christian Church has always allowed both positions and supported them both.

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  27. "...the "gay issue" generates far more passion ..... than the slavery issue ever did." An Internet thing, Counterlight. Imagine if it had been around in the 1850s.

    WV "spaci"!

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  28. "Self-important bigots" sound better, Kurt

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  29. What I Learned Reading These Posts

    An argument in the Episcopal Church has shaken a voluntary international organization. In some cases, there isn’t even agreement on the substance of the argument. As a result of that basic failure of communication, proponents of both positions argue their position without regard to the topic.

    Fr Mark and Fr Peter are having a polite, if vigorous discussion about inter-dependence and its implications for independence, or vice versa, they seem to understand the terms of their debate. Personally, they both challenge my thoughts on various matters and I am enriched by their discussions.

    I AM NOT enriched by various trolls and those who wish the change the topic or, incredibly, redefine the topic at hand. What I see is a lot of “pounding the table” on topics that should educe deep thought and reflection.

    Perceptions can not be effectively argued, but they can be changed. LGBT folk have perceptions (grounded in reality btw) that are directly implicated by this argument in the Episcopal Church. But, at every turn, with every appeal to the gospel, they are rebuffed with interpretations of scripture that are stingy, narrow, and possibly taken out of context. The matter is simple: Do we love as Jesus commanded us, without qualification or condition?

    Frs Peter and Mark are trying to move the conversation/argument to a higher level. The rest of us should move with them, if we are able.

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  30. I disagree that the pacifist position has always been affirmed in the Church or that service in the military has. There is some evidence that Christians did not serve in the military in the first few centuries, largely because of the requirement of pagan worship, but also because of Jesus' teaching about violence. One of the saddest chapters in the 20th century Episcopal Church was the forced resignation of Bp Paul Jones because he was a pacifist.

    I find no evidence that the blessing of same sex unions will be imposed on anyone in TEC. It is possible that at some point bishops won't be able to prevent them from happening in their dioceses. I would disagree with a colleague who refused to perform such a blessing, but I would strongly defend the right to do so.

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  31. For some it would be unheard of to allow dioceses to refuse new SSB rites with impunity.

    So as to remove this from the realm of fantasy or manufactured facts, whom did you have in mind when you made this claim? Please provide us with a list of our brothers and sisters who you know would demand this.

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  32. 1. Same sex blessings are being developed;
    2. in time, there will be a new BCP;
    3. it will include these rites and their theology;
    4. dioceses will refuse to accept such a book of prayer and its theological premises;
    5. can TEC accept this? No, it will have made constitutional what individual dioceses could not accept.

    The only real question is how long this will take, not that it will happen.

    Fantasy? One could only so hope.

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  33. Well, Anonymous, we've addressed this in earlier posts.

    1. Same sex blessings are being developed;
    True.
    2. in time, there will be a new BCP;
    True, certainly, just in the nature of things; but no one has called for revision, and no one knows when revision will happen.
    3. it will include these rites and their theology;
    Not necessarily. Remember that rites can be approved for trial use, or for special use (such as for the Book of Occasional Services). It may also include the marriage rite altered to refer to "two persons" instead of "a man and a woman." So, it may be in a new Prayer Book, but not as special rites.
    4. dioceses will refuse to accept such a book of prayer and its theological premises;
    Well, if the critics are right who claim that the Episcopal Church will only have progressives left, that seems unlikely. If, on the other hand, there remain folks who are conservative but who trust that the Spirit can work in the processes of the Episcopal Church (as we see, for example, in the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburg), some will be unhappy, but will they be able to move an entire diocese? That remains to be seen.
    5. can TEC accept this? No, it will have made constitutional what individual dioceses could not accept.
    I'm not sure what it means for the Episcopal Church not to "accept this." It will remain the case that any cleric can refuse to celebrate any wedding, without qualification (and you haven't hypothesized a change in that canon). It will also remain the case (and by that distant future confirmed in both the ecclesial and the civil implications) that while individuals can leave the church a diocese cannot.

    I heard this morning on NPR a young man interviewed at CPAC, the annual gathering of political conservatives. He emphasized that while many social issues, and especially abortion, remained pertinent for young conservatives, "gay marriage" did not - it simply wasn't an issue anymore. If, as seems likely from the young man's setting, this will shape the future of conservative churches, how much more will it shape the future of the Episcopal Church? And if, as some continue to assert, the Episcopal Church has no future, your concerns just don't seem warranted.

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  34. Arguing what any diocese may or may not do is unedifying.

    Tomorrow, a conservative parish may tell it's members to firebomb 815. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow . . . what may come, the undiscovered country. I seem to remember someone very important to both our groups saying something about not worrying about tomorrow, as today's troubles were enough.

    So, let's set the slippery slope fantasies - on both sides - aside; I know I've indulged myself in them and they make for gut-twisting worry that goes nowhere and creates ghosts to fight. Worse, they make the slippery-sloper so pugnacious that they bring the very disaster they fear about because of the anger they've generated!

    We can work out a "conscience clause" at the appropriate time, provided backs haven't been irreparably put up.

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  35. I'm not sure this makes sense:

    "Well, if the critics are right who claim that the Episcopal Church will only have progressives left, that seems unlikely."

    OK. Your point is, there won't be any conservative dioceses like SC, CFL, Dallas, TN, Albany, Springfield, ND, and others. Therefore, these dioceses will not be around to have to decided whether to adopt a PB they view as theologically unacceptable.


    "If, on the other hand, there remain folks who are conservative but who trust that the Spirit can work in the processes of the Episcopal Church (as we see, for example, in the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburg), some will be unhappy, but will they be able to move an entire diocese?"

    In this sentence you simply change the subject to one more palatable for your point of view.

    There is not any evidence that the dioceses above are going to change their views in the manner of a small group in Pittsburg (sic) -- why should they? They are the views of the present BCP. They do not want 'marriage' services without reference to Creation or our Lord at Cana.

    The point was: when the new BCP comes out and the conservative dioceses do not accept it, what will happen? In effect, your answer is, they will probably have left by then.

    An interesting test case will be the upcoming SC convention, where a 2nd reading of their resolutions will be given, and affirmatively voted in. These seek to maintain the status quo ante in the diocese's self-understanding, in the face of Title IV alterations of the polity of TEC -- a view held in the other dioceses mentioned.

    So perhaps we won't have to wait very long. Will a 'national church' sit by if this happens, or will they charge and depose +Lawrence?

    And what will liberals do if such a scenario plays out, as it does not look 'liberal.' What's sauce for the goose...

    Slipperly slope? Or fast-track?

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  36. Anonymous, I can see your confusion. You comment, "OK. Your point is, there won't be any conservative dioceses like SC, CFL, Dallas, TN, Albany, Springfield, ND, and others. Therefore, these dioceses will not be around to have to decided whether to adopt a PB they view as theologically unacceptable."

    Anon, remember that you have postulated as the critical event something that is in an uncertain timeframe, specifically the passage by General Convention of a new Book of Common Prayer. In th length of time that such passage would take, a lot could change. In all likelihood, Bishop Lawrence would no longer be Bishop of South Carolina due simply to retirement. In that period of time (by my guess, at least 10 years, and as no one has asked for it at this point, in all probability longer) many if not most of the bishops will have retired in the dioceses you name. Indeed, some already have. Bishop Bauerschmidt of Tennessee is not Bishop Herlong. Bishop John Howe of Central Florida has announced his retirement, as has Bishop Sisk of New York. I'm not predicting a global shift. I am simply saying that in the time frame you ask about - based on an event you have selected - much will be different in the House of Bishops, as well as among the clergy. We can't be sure that things will remain as they are now. They could get more conservative. No, I might not like it; but it's possible in a decade and more.

    So, will there be conservative dioceses? Will there still be enough conservatives in any given diocese, even among those you name, for the diocesan convention to continue to be conservative, and/or to send deputies to General Convention who are? And if my example of the young man at CPAC, for those who consider themselves "conservative," will the lives of GLBT folks be critical issues?

    So, you shift to a different, and, I agree, more immediate focus: events in the Diocese of South Carolina. At this point, I haven't heard of any action to be taken against Bishop Lawrence. However, if folks in the diocese or other bishops were to bring a presentment (an allegation) at this point, it couldn't be about celebrating or refusing to celebrate a blessing (since at this point such blessings haven't been approved by General Convention. At this point, and likely even if the next General Convention approves some liturgy for trial use, the canons still allow any cleric to refuse to participate in any wedding, without qualification. Moreover, the Canons still give a bishop great authority regarding use of trial sevices within a given diocese. Those could hardly be grounds for action.

    If, on the other hand, a presentment were brought regarding violation of his ordination vows - say, by alienating property under the trusteeship of the Episcopal Church (an issue that we must both admit is far from resolved in South Carolina), or by becoming part of another body not part of the Episcopal Church (say, for example, the Province of the Southern Cone) - there might be something to talk about. Yes, I know: with others, like Bishop Iker, it was the direction of the Episcopal Church, including on GLBT lives, that led them to depart. However, departing didn't violate the discipline of the Church. It was trying to take whole communities with them into schism.

    We don't yet know what will come of the leadership that Bishop Lawrence is providing in South Carolina. We know less about when there will be action to revise the Prayer Book, much less about the character of the General Convention or the various diocesan conventions by the time that could happen. So, it seems there isn't much grounds at this point for all the dire predictions.

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  37. Bishop Lawrence will be deposed on the grounds you mention in your second example. That is the most likely outcome.

    The Diocese will ignore it. Lawrence will remain Bishop. He will not leave. The international support for him will be overwhelming.

    Will TEC then in addition seek to get his property? That could be a fool's errand.

    Now as to the SSBs issue. Your prediction sounds accurate. New liturgies will be drawn up/are being drawn up/are being road tested in Boston. It takes longer to produce a new BCP as it is a constitutional document. So it will be 'every man doing right in his own eyes' on this matter.

    Interesting will be whether conservative parishes will be 'targeted' for 'class action.' I would not put it past Integrity to seek this outcome. I have seen no reason that they should forbear. This is a justice issue and clergy who plead conscience can be targeted as bigots plain and simple.

    As for Dioceses/Bishops being allowed the freedom to say No. I agree it will take more time before they can be strong-armed and by then it will probably be a progressive TEC with very few conservatives left anyway.

    If predictions prove trustworthy, there will probably be a majority Communion within a couple of years that simply ignores TEC and its fellow-travellers. RDW has plead impotence to do anything and that will end up being a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    This wider Communion will seek to recognise the dioceses named above as conservative-communion, and others, within TECdom. At present, dioceses that disagree with the direction of TEC don't have to pay anything; aren't; can pull back and wait to see the outcome in lawsuits; not leave; defend the historical polity of TEC.

    So will the national leadership allow this posture of stay/don't pay/don't permit theological changes that depart from the catholic faith? SC will be in important bell-weather. Esp if deposition happens and SC refuses to accept this; or leave.

    Thank you for your thought-through response.

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  38. "Boys' Own" flights of fantasy as serious, and anonymous, prognosis?

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  39. Anonymous, these are still merely theories, fantasies. They are not reality. Whether they will be or not is largely dependent on how you react to these ghosts of your mind now.

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  40. Whenever I see a Rabbit and a Yellow Frowning Globe conspire to say all is well, I realize that TEC is in good hands.

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  41. What a childish response.

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  42. When one can get an adult exchange from a rabbit and a frowning globe to the actual content of the concerns expressed in the anonymous account, then we can decide how the term 'childish' is or is not mirror reading.

    I put my money on the accuracy of what has been stated. Which appears to be written for someone like Marshall, not to the usual 'one-liner' suspects of rabbit and Brunson.

    Sam

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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.