I suspect the ABC received considerable advice, sought and unsought, concerning what to do. Preludium carried a post several days ago that included the following:
"The Archbishop of Canterbury has to speak up, and quickly, to stop the dance. The objection is not about the binding nature of Lambeth 1988 resolution 72 or Lambeth 1998, 1.10, but about the reality that GAFCON and ACNA are mucking about because they believe that the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of England are corrupted by a false gospel. If so, they are out of communion with those churches, as they are with TEC and The Anglican Church of Canada.
The rupture in the Anglican Communion now consists of a breach of trust and boundary crossing between some member churches of the communion, and some faux Provinces (ACNA) and the Church of England itself, whose relationships of full communion define which churches are part of the Anglican Communion. It must now be addressed as an internal matter for the Church of England. "
Well, the Archbishop has indeed spoken up. He references the matter of boundary crossing with this observation:
"I would also like to remind you of the 1988 Lambeth Conference resolution number 72 on episcopal responsibilities and diocesan boundaries. This resolution reaffirms the historical position of respect for diocesan boundaries and the authority of bishops within these boundaries. It also affirms that it is deemed inappropriate behaviour for any bishop or priest of this Communion to exercise episcopal or pastoral ministry within another diocese without first obtaining the permission and invitation of the ecclesial authority thereof. The conclusion of this resolution was that in order to maintain our unity, “it seems fair that we should speak of our mutual respect for one another, and the positions we hold, that serves as a sign of our unity”.
The issue of cross-border interventions has continued to come up in recent conversations within the Anglican Communion, and may well be something that is included in the agenda for the next Primates’ meeting, which takes place from 2 to 7 October 2017, in Canterbury."
The Archbishop hints that this will make it onto the agenda of the Primates' meeting in October. That is certainly a venue for further discussion, but it puts off for some time the pressing matter that by mid-summer there will be an bishop of a North American Church operating without diocesan permission in several dioceses in England, Scotland and in Europe. It may be that the ABC will want to wait, but I would suppose that various bishops in Scotland and England might act sooner and declare that by the presence of that bishop acting within their jurisdiction, a state of broken communion now exists between those dioceses (and indeed those Provinces) and the GAFCON Provinces. in the case of ACNA the lack of full communion status is already the case, ACNA not being part of the Anglican Communion or holding full communion relationship with the CofE or the Scottish Episcopal Church by other avenues. But surely bishops whose jurisdiction is challenged by the presence of this foreign bishop have every business saying that ACNA's actions make any hope of full communion impossible.
The ABC referenced the question of Royal Mandate. He wrote "The idea of a “missionary bishop” who was not a Church of England appointment, would be a cross-border intervention and, in the absence of a Royal Mandate, would carry no weight in the Church of England." This is an important observation. As I understand it (and I could be wrong) it is by royal mandate that bishops in England are ordained, hold jurisdiction and title, and have attending rights in England. An exemption was made so that British subjects and foreigners might be consecrated by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for work in "foreign lands, without such mandate." But within England such mandate is necessary if it were to carry weight with the CofE.
What this means, I suppose, is that clergy claiming to be bishops in England related in any way to the life of the Church of England or in any way representing the wider Anglican Communion are fraudulent and I suppose subject to legal proceedings.
So the ABC has taken the first step. Now the bishops whose jurisdictions are ignored and perhaps even the CofE and the Scottish Episcopal Church, need to consider the second step - formal objection and immediate declaration that the ACNA bishop is acting contrary to canon and that impaired communion now exists between the GAFCON Provinces and those dioceses or Provinces so affected.
But now GAFCON has now decided to use the Anglican Church in North America as the vehicle for its efforts to introduce what it considers "true" Anglicanism to England and Europe.
Now there will be two bishops beating the bushes in England and all of Europe, claiming to be true Anglicans but denying the ecclesiastical validity of the Anglican churches already there.
GAFCON and ACNA are involved in a schismatic two-step.
Archbishop Foley of ACNA announced yesterday in Edinburgh, Scotland, that Canon Andy Lines will be ordained as GAFCON bishop.
You can read his bio HERE.
Archbishop Foley stated,
"The GAFCON Primates have asked our Province, the Anglican Church in North America, to take on the task of providing a missionary bishop for Scotland. Our Province was formed at the direction of GAFCON 2008 after many of the Provinces of GAFCON had provided the same kind of oversight for clergy and congregations in North America. They have asked us to consecrate Canon Andy Lines."
"Our College of Bishops discussed and decided to accept this responsibility. Following the Canons of our Province, the Executive Committee of the Province was not only consulted, but also voted unanimously to support this endeavor. We also appointed an oversight Committee of Bishops to provide guidance and accountability for Canon Lines as he walks through our consecration process and to support him after he is consecrated a bishop. Archbishop Robert Duncan is chair of the committee which consists of three diocesan bishops: The Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood, The Rt. Rev. Charlie Master, and The Rt. Rev. David Hicks."
Two things to note from all this:
(i) ANCA makes the claim that the "Province of ACNA" was formed "at the direction of GAFCON 2008." ACNA makes this claim based on the fact that the Jerusalem Declaration states, "In particular, we believe the time is now ripe for the formation of a province in North America for the federation currently known as Common Cause Partnership to be recognized by the Primates’ Council."
The Common Cause Partnership was before GAFCON 2008 "a province in the making" and many of its members were present at GAFCON. The notion that ACNA was formed "at the direction of GAFCON 2008" is a stretch. ACNA was formed at the direction of its own leadership, and in particular the leadership of Bishop Robert Duncan, deposed Episcopal bishop of Pittsburgh. To say that ACNA was formed at the direction of GAFCON 2008 makes it sound as if ACNA was a product of GAFCON. It was not.
(ii) Archbishop Duncan, now retired, is still in the mix. He is chair of the committee of bishops who will work with Lines. Duncan is back, and this time will be supporting the ministry of a ACNA bishop mucking about directly in the workings of the Scottish Episcopal, the Church of England and the CofE and TEC work in Europe.
GAFCON and ACNA are continuing to claim the moral high ground, referring again and again to the Lambeth 1998 resolution on sexuality (Resolution 1.10). Like the claim that ACNA was formed at the direction of GAFCON, the claim that Lambeth 1998:1.10 constitutes the established doctrine or discipline that is binding on the whole communion is just not true. It is not true even if the Windsor Report says so, or the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion says so. Lambeth was constituted as an instrument for sharing in a fellowship already established and signaled by being in communion with the See of Canterbury. It is not a binding deliberative body.
Proof of this is that ten years earlier Lambeth 1988 passed resolution 72 on "Epsicopal Responsibilities and Diocesan Boundaries." It too was assumed by many to be binding on all Anglican churches in the Communion. It stated,
1. reaffirms its unity in the historical position of respect for diocesan boundaries and the authority of bishops within these boundaries; and in light of the above
2. affirms that it is deemed inappropriate behaviour for any bishop or priest of this Communion to exercise episcopal or pastoral ministry within another diocese without first obtaining the permission and invitation of the ecclesial authority thereof.
3. urges all political and community leaders to seize every opportunity to work together to bring about a just and peaceful solution."
Lambeth 1988, Resolution 72, stands just as Lambeth 1998, Resolution 1.10 , as the resolved position of the Communion. The Windsor Report (section 155) called for a moratorium on actions contrary to Lambeth 1988, Resolution 72 just as it did on actions contrary to Lambeth 1998, 1.10.
But neither resolution is binding.
ACNA and GAFCON have regularly disregarded this resolution on the grounds that The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and now the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of England have fallen away from the true faith.
GAFCON and ACNA are now dancing the schismatic two-step in Scotland and England. The Archbishop of Canterbury has to speak up, and quickly, to stop the dance. The objection is not about the binding nature of Lambeth 1988 resolution 72 or Lambeth 1998, 1.10, but about the reality that GAFCON and ACNA are mucking about because they believe that the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of England are corrupted by a false gospel. If so, they are out of communion with those churches, as they are with TEC and The Anglican Church of Canada.
The rupture in the Anglican Communion now consists of a breach of trust and boundary crossing between some member churches of the communion, and some faux Provinces (ACNA) and the Church of England itself, whose relationships of full communion define which churches are part of the Anglican Communion. It must now be addressed as an internal matter for the Church of England.
This is no longer a matter for the Anglican Consultative Council, or the Primates, or the Lambeth Conference. This is a matter for the Church of England and its Primates.
The Episcopal Church owes much to the Scottish Episcopal Church and we need to stand by and with the SEC. In addition we too have churches in Europe and they are subject to raiding parties from ACNA and GAFCON as well. It is important that we stand with vigilance against the possibilities of ACNA and GAFCON incursion into the life of various of our parishes in Europe.
But most importantly, it is time for the Archbishop of Canterbury to act and separate the Church of England from communion with those who call the CofE morally compromised. Now the CofE is itself being taken to task, and as well the Scottish Episcopal Church. ACNA and GAFCON have come to Europe and are out to finally bring the war home to Mother.
There are now two world wide organizations, the one called the Anglican Communion, is "fellowship, within the one holy catholic and apostolic church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional churches in communion with the see of Canterbury."(Lambeth 1930). The other is The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans" organized as the GAFCON primates and their provinces together with certain regional bodies which they consider provinces or provinces in the making. The two are increasingly adversarial. And GAFCON / ACNA have now moved further into an offensive posture.
It is time to call them to account. It is time to ask, "Are you in communion with the See of Canterbury or not?"
|photo from Episcopal News Service, Michael Hunn|
The Presiding Bishop preached at the Eucharist which drew the parties to the covenant together with the clergy of the Episcopal Church of Haiti. In that service, the covenant, already signed and in force, was signed again in the presence of the clergy of the Diocese. The Presiding Bishop's sermon may be found HERE.
Towards the end of the sermon Bishop Curry said,
"The roots of this diocese are in Bishop Holly’s fervent desire that the loving, liberating and life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ should be proclaimed among the descendants of Africa here in Haiti.
The roots of this Diocese are in Bishop Holly’s passionate conviction that following the way of Jesus the Church here might help the people and nation of Haiti to rise up and to claim the high calling among the nations of the earth.
But ultimately the roots of this Diocese are in the one of whom Isaiah prophesied when he said:
So, standing firm, rooted in the faith of Christ Jesus, let the Diocese of Haiti rise up and reach out anew!"
Bishop Curry's words are moving and totally appropriate to the context. The "root" metaphor is deeply meaningful in Haitian self-understanding. Christy Wampole, in her book, "Rootedness: the Ramifications of a Metaphor" recalls its use by both Toussaint Louverture at the beginning of the Haitian Revolution and Jean-Bertran Aristide in 2004.
"Toussaint Louverture used the root metaphor in 1802 as a rallying cry for the success of the Haitian Revolution, when he declared: "By overthrowing me, they have only brought down the trunk of the tree of freedom in Saint-Dominque: It will regrow because its roots are deep and many." Jean-Bertran Aristide, Haiti's first democratically elected president, later appropriated this declaration on the occasion of his own removal, in the first speech after his exile in 2004."
The metaphor is also used in biblical literature. Bishop Curry was right to reference the passage from Isaiah, as a sign that the depth of the roots in the Episcopal Church of Haiti are to be found in the stump not only of the Haitian revolutionary tree whose hopes were for the liberation of the people of Haiti, but the stump of Jessie from whom would arise Jesus who liberates us for a new creation.
There is as well another context in which rootedness is a metaphor of considerable importance to Haiti, and Bishop Curry's sermon alludes to it:
"The roots of this diocese are in Bishop Holly’s fervent desire that the loving, liberating and life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ should be proclaimed among the descendants of Africa here in Haiti.
The roots of this Diocese are in Bishop Holly’s passionate conviction that following the way of Jesus the Church here might help the people and nation of Haiti to rise up and to claim the high calling among the nations of the earth."
Bishop Curry reminds us that the roots of the Episcopal Church of Haiti also are deep and many. The tree goes back to the work of Bishop Holly in the 19th Century, work that was both religious and political in its desire to live free in Christ. But ultimately, the "roots that are deep and many" go back to Jesus Christ. Thus, the way out of the conflicts of the day is to recall and regrow from the roots, to renew the church by returning to its roots. For the Episcopal Church of Haiti those roots are Holly, the quest for liberation from slavery and slave making states and the desire to live free, and the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So in responding to a current conflict between the Bishop and his Suffragan Bishop, and between clergy who have taken up the cause of one or the other, the appeal was not to resolution by reference to custom or canon law, but by reference back to the root from which the efforts of the Episcopal Church of Haiti sprang, roots which themselves called on all members of the Church to be followers of Jesus Christ, part of a new way of being. Bishop Curry calls this "the Jesus movement," which is not finally an institutional presence but a commitment to life together as God's people.
Many people have worked to make this resolution of current conflict possible. Bishop Curry has been particularly helpful. Hopefully the way forward to a good electing convention and a positive transfer of the episcopate to a new Diocesan will take place. All signs are good.
At the same time it must be pointed out that there have been times in this lengthy process where the reactions of The Episcopal Church in its bureaucratic voices to matters in Haiti were paternalistic, patronizing, and colonial minded. It is past time for TEC to put away such ways of responding.
I have argued that The Episcopal Church of Haiti is poised to move into ways of being church that would lead to its autonomy as a church. See my essay HERE. Progress to that end has been delayed by some years by the preoccupations of the past year. Hopefully the new elected bishop of Haiti will stand ready to take the church into an autonomous future which will give voice to the rootedness of which Bishop Holly speaks and Bishop Curry favors - a church truly Haitian, rooted in its people and in the full Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) is, as a stand alone seminary of the Episcopal Church, dead. I was able to be there as it breathed its last. It ended with lots of words, possibly inenviable political correctness, and vague promises for an afterlife as a new entity, EDS at Union Seminary.
Those who hope for its future and those who simply mourn its past both have to deal with the reality that if there is a resurrection body, it is not the same as the body that died. Whatever EDS will be about in its new Union suit, it will not be the same as it was when it wore Episcopal garb. That much is sure. What is not sure is whether or not EDS/Union will remind us of anything of value in the 160 year history of the Philadelphia Divinity School, the 150 year history of The Episcopal Theological School or of the joint venture, The Episcopal Divinity School. If not, the death of EDS will be just that, death and nothing after. If there is in the new body EDS/Union some real connection to its predecessor bodies, and those connections bend the trajectory of the work of the new body, then EDS will have found resurrection.
For now, however, the reality is that there has been a death in the family. EDS is gone.
I have not been a regular attendee at reunions, but this year marked 50 years since graduation from ETS and because I was additionally being honored as a distinguished alumni, I went to part of the celebration of this year's graduating class and alumni days. It was an emotionally confusing occasion.
I am always struck by the ability of us "older" types to grouse about changes to the way things were. The question is, when are those complaints more than signs of our own calcification of brain pathways and when to they actually provide useful critique? Hard to say. But there was very little to give me hope in the remarks of various elders, or in my own remarks for that matter.
About the only thing I had to offer was in remarks I made at a panel on "Celebrating our History." There I suggested that it seemed to me that real theological education took place in community, and that the three year residential program provided a context in which students and faculty could interact with considerable "contact." While the ways in which community was expressed could and did change, the fact of such community was invaluable to me as a ground for theological inquiry. To lose that immediacy and intimacy of contact makes it easier to be polarized, separated, and isolated. I have no notion if anyone heard.
Meanwhile, at the last graduation days, I heard a surprising amount of "special" language, language that was somehow meant to signal that the speakers were all on the side of justice and the virtues of true inclusiveness. EDS went out with a politically correct bang. But I heard little about how God's sense of both justice and mercy might be so unlike our senses of the same as to make our political correctness seem like the sounds of parrots mouthing right words without content. I heard little about humility, limits of reason, and sin ingrained in the righteous and unrighteous alike.
Frankly, the EDS that spouts the proper politically correct words does not impress me at all. Rather I remember with fondness the EDS / ETS communities that were willing to hear out each of us in all our incorrectness. That aspect of our history of engagement in matters of justice seems more to the point. Any damn fool can believe themselves politically correct. But a community of damn fools, conscious of the limitations of each of its members, might lurch its way forward to do surprising things on the search for God's justice and mercy.
It would be good if some of that seeped into the new EDS at Union thingy... then perhaps the School will live again.
Twenty years ago this year saw the full flowering of an alliance between evangelical Anglicans from the UK, the US and Australia, along with some notables from a UK missionary presence in South America, and the leadership of a number of African Provinces. The Kuala Lumpur meeting provided the opportunity for global north evangelicals to link with global south leaders, using the issues of human sexuality, and notably the matter of homosexuality, as a basis for building a new power base in Anglicanism. The Global South meetings affirmed a new locus of world Anglican influence - central African provinces and their evangelical allies. It is primarily from those beginnings that the current struggles concerning who speaks for Anglicans has arisen.
Heretofore, to the extent that Anglicans had a voice that spoke its mind, that voice was a chorus made up of the mind of the Lambeth Conference, the programs of the Anglican Consultative Council, and the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury in consultation with other primates of the Anglican Communion. All of that is now less clear and more messy.
GAFCON has recently contributed even more to the mess.
The GAFCON Primates met in April and issued a communique in which it becomes clear that GAFCON is interested in painting the world map "GAFCON purple." Or to put it another way, to increase its claim to be the real, true and orthodox Anglican Communion, as opposed to the older and (GAFCON believes) now tired and fallen Anglican Communion under the influence of northern Europe and its western counterparts in the US and Canada.
GAFCON has been working to organize itself as a world wide communion of churches representing true and undefiled Anglicanism. It has for some time claimed to represent the majority of the worlds Anglicans by way of the now nine Anglican Provinces and five "Branches" that make up the GAFCON community of churches. But as GAFCON's own map indicates, these are geographically a bit of a patchwork.
This is the GAFCON world map:
The areas in purple are GAFCON Provinces (not necessarily the same as Anglican Communion Provinces). The areas in blue are "branches"- places where there are GAFCON related organizations or parishes.
Several things to note: All of North American is colored in by virtue of the inclusion of the Anglican Church of North America, which is not a Province of the Anglican Communion, but a new Church formed from a variety of churches historically rooted in several provinces of the Anglican Communion and previous breakaway groups. It covers three Anglican Communion Provinces : Canada, the US and Mexico. Part of Brazil is now included as a extension of the Province of South America (the Southern Cone). The Brazilian component consists of portions of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil that broke away from them. But the core of GAFCON are the Provinces in Africa that make up the bulk of both numbers and provinces: Sudan and South Sudan, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Congo and Rwanda.
We should also note that some members of the Global South Encounters did not become part of GAFCON, and do not have "branches" in their Provinces, but participate in a wider occasional gathering of Global South primates.
The Anglican Communion provides a different map:
The areas in blue do not have area churches part of the communion. In some places (North Africa, for example) the presence of the Anglican Communion is very spotty, but is listed none the less. But there are Anglican Communion jurisdictions in all the areas indicated.
The GAFCON communique of April 29, 2017, works to expand the "map" of GAFCON influence by deciding to "
consecrate a missionary bishop who will be tasked with providing episcopal leadership for those who are outside the structures of any Anglican province, especially in Europe."
Here is what the communique says about this decision:
"A Missionary Bishop
During our meeting, we considered how best to respond to the voice of faithful Anglicans in some parts of the Global North who are in need of biblically faithful episcopal leadership. Of immediate concern is the reality that on 8th June 2017 the Scottish Episcopal Church is likely to formalize their rejection of Jesus’ teaching on marriage. If this were to happen, faithful Anglicans in Scotland will need appropriate pastoral care. In addition, within England there are churches that have, for reasons of conscience, been planted outside of the Church of England by the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE). These churches are growing, and are in need of episcopal leadership. Therefore, we have decided to consecrate a missionary bishop who will be tasked with providing episcopal leadership for those who are outside the structures of any Anglican province, especially in Europe.
A Word of Encouragement to Faithful Anglicans within European Provinces
We wish to reassure all faithful Anglicans in European provinces that they also have our prayers and our support. We are aware that some Christians within these provinces who are contending for the faith may at first perceive the news of a missionary bishop as a threat to their hopes for reform from within.
We believe that the complexity of the current situation in Europe does not admit of a single solution. Faithful Christians may be called to different courses of action. We bless those whose context and conscience have led them to remain and contend for the faith within the current structures. If you are successful, you will not need a missionary bishop; if you are not successful, an alternative is at hand. The only true failure would be to waste time through inaction."
The GAFCON communique is careful not to say that this is a missionary bishop for England, Scotland and Wales, although England and Scotland are the churches critiqued. The bishop is being consecrated especially for "Europe." We might note that the Provinces of the Anglican Communion in Europe are: England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. All the rest of "Anglican" Europe is overseen by the Diocese in Europe, part of the Church of England, by the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, part of The Episcopal Church, or are churches in two extra-provincial churches in Portugal and Spain.
Two things are clear: This is really about the churches in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, not Europe. And it is at the same time about coloring in all of Europe as a new province of GAFCON.
GAFCON is working hard to become a worldwide Communion. And as it does so it is also working to show itself to be the "orthodox Anglican Communion." That is, that it is the communion of churches true to Anglicanism and its theological perspectives, rather than the communion that includes revisionist churches, particularly The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
By consecrating a bishop for Europe GAFCON has determined to establish an "alternative" episcopal presence in England and all of Europe. It views this as a legitimate effort to reconvert the English people from the corrupted gospel of the CofE.
This should raise a stink in Anglican circles, but very little seems to be happening. Where is the objection from the Anglican Communion itself? What hasn't the Archbishop of Canterbury spoken concerning this invasion? Where is the Anglican Consultative Council in all this?
Whatever other agenda there is for all this activity, the decision to consecrate a bishop for those Anglicans in Europe unwilling to be part of dioceses that have been perceived to have departed from "the faith once delivered" is a slap in the face of the Church of England and its jurisdiction as an Anglican Church. More it is somewhat akin to calling your mother a whore.
GAFCON has essentially declared the mother church of the Anglican Communion to be no church at all.
If the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Anglican Consultative Council had the guts to do so, this would be the time to note that by its actions the GAFCON Provinces have ceased to be in communion with the See of Canterbury.
Not to do so simply means that the GAFCON folk can keep coloring the map GAFCON purple unchallenged.
On the other hand, maybe there are wise hands at the wheel. Leaving GAFCON unchallenged and allowing them uncritical access to crayons might keep the current leadership of GAFCON and its northern evangelical allies busy long enough for them all to die out and be replaced by the next generation of leaders who might not share the same need to separate themselves from the North and West.
I believe there will arise new Global South Anglican leadership whose experience in post-colonial Anglican engagement with former colonial powers will lessen the need to distance their churches from the older churches. Perhaps those leaders will see the differences, even on deep matters, as a basis for even deeper exploration of communion and not as a basis for abandonment.
Those of us in Anglican Communion churches (Provinces) need to insist, however, that the Anglican Communion is a "fellowship, within the one holy catholic and apostolic church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional churches in communion with the see of Canterbury." (That being the definition of the Anglican Communion from the 1930 Lambeth Conference.)
Churches that determine to enter the jurisdictions of Anglican dioceses, provinces and regional churches, without the permission of the jurisdiction, with the intent to correct or convert those bodies because they have failed in their gospel mission, have every right to do so. But they have ceased to be part of that fellowship, having determined that the Anglican Communion as represented in the particular jurisdiction they have entered is false, wrong, or evil.
The GAFCON world is real, but it is not in any way The Anglican Communion, and the sooner this is made clear, the better. Otherwise the guys with the crayons will scrawl across their new map "The Anglican Communion" and who will be there to insist otherwise?