It was published on the same day that the announcement came from The Living Church online that the Chief Operations Officer of the American Anglican Council (AAC) has resigned to joint the American Mission in America (AMiA) leadership. The Rev. Canon Ellis Brust is now with AMiA, a subsidiary of the Church of Rwanda and less directly of the Church in Singapore. Will this mean that he actually joins AMiA and leaves the Episcopal Church? Who knows?
The Living Church reports too that “His wife, Cynthia, director of communications for the AAC, also will join the AMiA as director of communications.” She has been a shameless promoter of the AAC. TLC reported that the Rev. Dow Sanderson, president of the South Carolina standing committee commented, “We certainly didn’t see this coming.”
Three things to note: (i) Canon Brust was a candidate for bishop in South Carolina. (ii) AMiA is in a protracted law suit with the Diocese of South Carolina, a member diocese of the Network. (iii) AMiA is part of the “Common Cause Partnership.” So we have the strong possibilities for conflicting feelings here.
The AAC has been an instrument on the way to some new configuration of the Anglican Communion and the emergence of a realigned Anglican community to take the place of the Episcopal Church. It operated on the “outside.” The Network operated on the inside. But now, says the Moderator, things are changing. “For all in the Network, the last three years have been monumentally challenging, but, as I said in June, the new day is dawning.” With this new day, like the day star rising, the old light will fade. Perhaps the AAC is slowly giving way to the Network.
The Moderator writes, “The contours are not yet fully clear, but he fearful night is passing. The Global South Primates, writing from Kigali, acknowledge the role the Network has played. The Network remains the domestic key to what lies ahead.”
The inference is that the AAC, that appears to have became more and more a funding agency for directing support to the Network, is receding as the Network moves forward. But perhaps the Moderator is also making a claim at a crucial time. When he states, “The Network remains the domestic key to what lies ahead,” he may indeed be telling it like it is.
On the other hand he may be signaling that the internal struggle for clarity about leadership in the Common Cause Partnership as well as leadership in speaking for the realignment community is now centrally important.
The Moderator has a real job on his hands. The groups that constitute the Partnership are united only in their disengagement with the Episcopal Church. They disagree about all sorts of things:
- the ordination of women,
- the power each head of communion, group, or movement has related to the others,
- the niceties of theological purity, the international links for oversight,
- the oaths of fidelity made by various bishops to various Provinces in the Communion,
- the jurisdictional oddities that makes, for instance, the Diocese of Bolivia decidedly larger than its own constituency in Bolivia would warrant.
The Moderator is claiming that the Network is THE agent in the US. It is the Network that has “come of age.”
The Brusts have gone to AMiA. And AMiA, so they say, is part of the Common Cause Partners. It will be interesting to see Common Cause Partners sue each other. It will be interesting to see if the Bishop of South Carolina or his successor will have the courage to call Canon Brust to account, asking him if he is simply a hireling of AMiA or has actually left the Episcopal Church.
So the Moderator has taken the big gamble: He says, “The Network remains the domestic key to what is ahead.” Perhaps he no longer thinks the Episcopal Church is much of a key to anything, still, lest we forget, it includes the large majority of bishops, clergy and people of the church.
Meanwhile, another front organization has decided to enter the fray again. Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion has written to a wide group of clergy and lay leaders,
“You are cordially invited to take a personal role in a new and vital educational campaign for Episcopalians. The objective is to prepare for a life-changing decision - the choice of (a) remaining in the Anglican Communion or (b) abandoning our faith for that of The Episcopal Church, which has separated itself. That decision and that choice are the theme of a unique, action-oriented training conference: "One Christian Question for Episcopalians." Attendee cadres will be empowered by a strong curriculum and faculty.”
"Cadres" are to go out from this conference to capture the 80% of the Episcopal Church who are not yet caught up in the realignment agenda. Among the goals of the meeting is this: “3.NEW PROVINCE: Together, we can partner with many others to strengthen our church as the Communion moves to charter a new American province.”
The agenda of this gathering involves “cadres trained in Orlando (who) will carry educational models and strategies to the "Middle 80%" in their own and other churches. In too many parishes the essence of the choice before individuals and entire parishes has not been communicated. Many Episcopalians, mostly in the "Middle 80%," struggle to know which path to take.”
So this meeting, sponsored by a lay group is now working to get clergy on board to develop a cadre to take the campaign for a new province to the 80% of Episcopalians who are unaware or don’t believe there is a crisis. The object is to make a crisis, so that the “new American province” looks like a good thing.
My bet is that among the educational models and strategies will be the “40 Days of Discernment” put together in Virginia, a program that begins by claiming the reality of the crisis and moves forward always with the assumption that the Episcopal Church has gone astray. I have written on this HERE.
Who is LEAC leaking for? Who knows. Perhaps it is just the convergence of passing missiles being lobbed by various forces. We will see.
With all the positives possible the Moderator says it is a new day dawning. The Network is the acknowledged leader of realignment forces in the domestic sphere, is recognized by the leader of realignment forces in the Anglican Communion. But there is a skunk in the works:
- The large majority of the Episcopal Church leadership, bishops, clergy and laity, are in that 80% that are so far unconvinced that realignment is necessary.
- The numbers touting that the 20 Primates of the Global South group (never mind that there aren’t those 20) represent 70% of the Anglican Communion is no more true than that the Presiding Bishop’s opinions “represent” the opinions of the 2 million plus members of the Episcopal Church.
- The Global South does not represent the Global South – it represents a select group of Provinces within the Global South.
- The Network is not “the domestic key to what lies ahead.” It just wishes it was.
The Moderator knows that it is crisis time – not for the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion – but for the realignment community. He says, “Orthodox and faithful Anglicans can be divided from one another only if we allow it to be so. The present separations are temporary. When midday comes, the Lord will have put it all back together in the way He intends, if we will but not get in the way.”
When a statement like that is part of a Pastoral letter we know things are in crisis mode. It is only necessary to talk about the divisions when they are real and immediately concerning.
Something is afoot. The Moderator is pulling out the “hang together or be hanged separately” language used by Ben Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. We know things are getting difficult when that word play is pulled. It is a sentiment that looses something in the translation to this particular ecclesial situation. Poor Ben.