Tanzania Bishops put out the unwelcome mat.

ENS as published the story that “the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Tanzania hereby declares that its communion with the Episcopal Church (USA) is severely impaired but the Anglican Church of Tanzania remains in communion with those who are faithful to Biblical Christianity and authority of Scripture who remain in the Episcopal Church (USA) or have left or are considering leaving that church body for the same reasons that we have stated above.”

The ENS account gives the full text of the resolution. It touches on several notable matters: (i) a list of those specific Bishops and Priests it is not in communion with, and who therefore cannot act sacramentally in Tanzania, (ii) severely impaired communion with The Episcopal Church, (ii) it will not knowingly receive monies from Episcopal Church official organizations or from anyone in the church who is from the list provided.

This series of statements certainly does two things: it pulls back the welcome mat for anyone in any official capacity with the Episcopal Church and it continues the needless rejection of relief and development monies on the odd understanding that the money is so tainted that accepting it would make ACT party to that which they consider anathema.

About the money complications abound, and money is an notoriously difficult gift to give or receive. Part of the long standing work of Anglican agencies has been to free funding from the immediate control of giving agencies and at the same time require accountability for its use. In that the agencies have been quite successful. But the development of counter-agencies – Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) and Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF) – has occurred as a result of the “doctrine of tainted gifts.” The generosity of donors to either agency is not in dispute, nor is the hope that the funding will do good work. But the notion that ARDF monies are “cleaner” that ERD monies, or less tainted, borders on the absurd, except, of course that the poor are not laughing.

About the welcome mat: The Primates are meeting next February in Dar Es Salaam (Abode of Peace). While the meeting promises to be anything but peaceful, the assumption, one would think, is that meetings of Primates would take place where all member Primates would be welcome. The Archbishop of Canterbury presides, so it is in some way his meeting. But the meeting takes place in the Province of the Anglican Church of Tanzania.

The Province has effectively pulled the mat out from under the Presiding Bishop, who in one way or another is clearly a person “out of communion” and unacceptable the House of Bishops in Tanzania. Her welcome there is isolated to the distinctly closed meeting halls of the Primates, and even there she is a person some will not be willing to recognize as Primate. Outside those meetings, however, it appears that she will not be welcome at all.

The venue for these Primate Meetings is set long in advance, but assumedly always with a check that the Province where they are meeting is willing to welcome all the Primates. Now it appears that one of their member Primates is unwelcome.

The Archbishop of Canterbury needs to clarify the situation by stressing that the Primate’s Meeting is space ‘apart’ from the Province in which its meeting takes place, and that Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori is welcome and will take her part in the sacramental life of that meeting. In this case it is he who is the host, not the Provincial Archbishop and his welcome that is extended.

If because of the “realities on the ground” the ABC cannot do this he should, even at this late date, propose an alternative place of meeting, one in which the welcome mat has not been pulled.

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori is the Primate of this Church. That fact means that the welcome given to all must be accorded her. If that welcome is not possible then the Primates must be called to account. Ungracious refusal of gifts is one thing, manifest lack of hospitality is another.


  1. Forget about our Presiding Bishop couldn't that list:

    "i. Bishops who consecrate homosexuals to the episcopate and those Bishops who ordain such persons to the priesthood and the deaconate or license them to minister in their dioceses;

    ii. Bishops who permit the blessing of same sex unions in their dioceses;

    iii. Gay priests and deacons;

    iv. Priests who bless same sex unions;"

    also exclude The Archbishop of Canterbury who has licensed gay persons to minister in his diocese?? If it is just ECUSA who is next?

    What about Canada, Scotland, Wales, South Africa, etc.?

  2. This is particularly sad to me. At our recent Diocesan Convention one Tanzanian bishop attended and addressed the Convention. An assisting bishop of Tanzania served in a parish of this diocese for a year just after his election. That parish has supported a medical mission in Tanzania for some time, and also has made significant contributions for the mission of the Tanzanian diocese.

    Perhaps the argument will be made for continuing communion through the "impairment" (the bishop did not participate in the consecration of Bishop Robinson, and has not ordained admitted gay clergy in relationships, and has not permitted blessing of non-marital relationships), but it will be thin. More likely, as has been happening, some sub rosa connections will remain, and not mentioned in public.

    I certainly agree that Canterbury needs to address this. The opportunity for Archbishop Williams to pursue patience in hope of reconciliation seems to be shrinking.

  3. Why would you expect to give birth to a new religon and not suffer some birthing pains?

  4. Nothing simpler: If Tanzania takes itself out of communion with TEC, then ipso facto the border-crossing constraints of the Windsor Report no longer apply to ++KJS vis à vis that province.

  5. LOL @ D.C.

    The Episcopal church has trouble evangelizing New Jersey, you think they are going to be able to do so in Tanzania? LOL

  6. Whatever happened to the Province of Tanzania and the wonderful hospitality of the church that I experienced at a Partners-in-Mission Consultation in 1985. This is very sad stuff. One thing I learned though is that the Bishops may speak but they don't consult the laity. We often hung out with the women and spoke with them in Swahili - discovered that they wanted ordination of women but the bishops told us, in English, "the women" did not want it.

  7. ++Rowan liscensed the openly gay (& partnered, even if celibate) Jeffery John to function as a priest in Canterbury Province (& as Dean of St. Albans), so I guess he can't attend the primates' meeting in Tanzania, right?

    Now what? (So much for wondering what was going to happen at Lambeth!)

  8. If they're going to ban me from coming to their diocese/province, I wish that they could spell 'diaconate' properly. (That is one of my pet peeves, that so many people get that pesky 'i' and 'e' mixed up.) Sigh. It's all so sad. I keep wondering when the whole thing is going to implode.

  9. Well, here is my issue with what the Tanzanian bishops have done, and it's a bit different from the comments I have seen so far, I think.

    What the Tanzanian bishops have done is foreclosed on the possibility of an Anglican Covenant.

    If the Covenant process had been allowed to work itself out, a number of resolutions to the current crisis might have been reached.

    1) The Communion as a whole might have agreed that ordinations of gay and lesbian persons could take place on a "local option" basis -- some provinces would allow it, while others wouldn't. [This is the outcome I myself would have preferred.]

    2) The Communion as a whole might have agreed that no province which permits gay and lesbian persons to be ordained can be a [full] member of the Communion. [This outcome I would NOT have liked at all, but I would have been willing to wait for the process to work itself out, arguing as strongly as possible against this proposal in the meantime.]

    3) [Insert the Anglican fudge recipe of your choice, for the sake of perserving unity.]

    Instead, the Tanzanian bishops have decided on their own that they cannot be in Communion with any province that allows gay or lesbian persons to be ordained.

    They have asserted their jurisdiction over the American Church, though no Communion structures are in place which allow them to do so of right.

    They have done these things just before a meeting of the Primates scheduled to take place in their country, for maximum impact.

    If the Primates of the Anglican Communion are now limited to those Primates the Tanzanians are willing to accept, it is not clear that ++Rowan Williams will be among their number. Certainly there are quite a few of the "Old Anglican" Primates who will not be admitted to the councils of Dar es Salaam. Anyone who thinks this is a problem for the American and Canadian Churches only is quite mistaken.

    Thus, the decision of the Tanzanian Primates has made any further talk of an Anglican Covenant superfluous. They have split the Communion rather than participate in the Covenant process. The Covenant is as dead as the Windsor Report.

  10. It is probably true that the issue is not "taint" per se; but to suggest bribery or coercion begs the question of bribery towards what? I mean, we work with Methodists and Presbyterians in the WCC and NCC and other faiths even further removed on joint efforts, and never suggest that these other religious bodies need to approve of TEC policies or practices.

    If the Tanzanians and Ugandans are "being bought" then one should aski if one is getting what one paid for! The funds from TEC have never had such "strings" attached, in a quid pro quo for support of internal decisions of TEC.

    The only real "string" is "communion" -- binding us together: that is, UTO and ERD work through the ecclesial structures of the Anglican Communion, and require the approval of the diocesan bishop (for the grant, not the grantor!) to make an international grant. By severing (or "impairing") communion these bishops are cutting off the lifeline -- to others. An objectively immoral act in itself, and hardly likely to help us carry out any movement towards a future covenant, or listening process.

  11. Please don't forget that the Archbishop of Canterbury has publicly said (in an interview in the UK) that a gay lifestyle is not compatible with being a priest. It appears that he has, thankfully, repented of his former views.


  12. From the Kiswahili Habari Njema, our reading today: 'But if you act like wild animals, hurting and harming each other (biting and devouring), then watch out, or you will completely destroy one another.'- Gal 5.15
    Living and working w/ the Dio of Dar es Salaam, ACT ('05-present), one learns survival depends on fitness, cunning and competition. Our applicable definition and understanding of those words are different...and so would be the outcome.
    Magi, VFM-ECUSA


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