The Time is Near

And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evil-doer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” Revelation 22:10-11

John had a sense that it would all play out, and indeed it will.

That is the sense I have of the past few days. The bits and pieces of the puzzle concerning the struggles in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion are beginning to fall into place. I begin to have a sense that it will all become clear soon. Here are a few pieces of the puzzle:

(i) The President of the House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson, wrote a gentle but firm letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Panel of Reference to put them on the right path and to urge them to reconsider the findings on the Diocese of Fort Worth. This letter was the practical slam dunk on the broader comments of the Bishop of Bethlehem and my own article of last week. It is time for the powers that be in the Communion to remember that The Episcopal Church is ordered in a way that includes the leadership of lay and ordained persons. The vision of purple people eaters in the form of crocodiles coming ashore from overseas has been around for a long time and it is time to stop putting up with this mess.

(ii) The Bishop of Virginia, Peter Lee and the Executive Committee of the Diocese seem finally to have reached their limit. The church members who have left the Episcopal Church now are being made to realize that their vestries have abandoned the Episcopal Church and therefore they have no standing as vestries, and the churches, far from being “theirs” are still part of the missionary resources of the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church. The churches have been abandoned, says the Bishop, and the time has come to establish new leadership, gather the remaining Episcopal Church congregants and get on with the mission of the church. The Diocese wrote on the matter, he wrote on the matter, and damn near everyone else in the blogsphere wrote. The Daily Episcopalian had THIS to say about the release from the Diocese of Virginia, and this to say in praise of Peter Lee. Now there are two, a lay person and a bishop, to join the third, the Presiding Bishop and Primate, who has begun letting bishops know the limits of their office as well.

(iii) David Virtue has posted the Archbishop attendees at the American Mission in America meeting in Florida. He claims eight Anglican Primates were present, but he lists seven, and of those two are retired: Kolini of Rwanda, Yong of South East Asia (ret.), Tay of South East Asia (ret.), Diropka of the Congo, Malango of Central Africa, Nzimbi of Kenya, Mtetemela of Tanzania. So there were five. Still a respectable number. But one wonders about the numbers…

(update from first comment below: the list seems now to be Nizimbi - Kenya, Kolini - Rwanda, Mtetemela - Tanzania, Dirokpa -Congo,Yong - S.E. Asia (retired primate),Tay - S.E. Asia (retired primate), Akrofi - West Africa, Ernest - Indian Ocean, Malango - Central Africa, Ntahoturi - Burundi. That being the case there are eight active Primates in attendance.

The only comment in Virtue’s article that drew my real interest, aside from his odd way of counting, was this: “One U.S. conservative leader present at the Winter Conference suggested that conservative global South Primates believe they have been "played" on this issue and that a head of steam is building which he believes will boil over at the Dar es Salaam, Tanzanian meeting.” Again, The Primates Meeting.

(iv) Perhaps the prize for putting the skunk on the table goes to The Rev. Penelope Duckworth who wrote for the San Jose Mercury News, and said, “With the consecration of The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, there was suddenly no man who had more authority, and so sexism was flushed from its cover. Like many schismatics, the authors (of a Jan. 10 opinion piece - the Rev. John Yates and Os Guinness) claim to represent the true church. But, in fact, they are objecting to decisions made democratically by duly elected representatives.” The men who gather in Tanzania now are meeting with a woman. They have no more authority than she does. If they don’t live with it now, they will have to one day. If the Archbishop of Canterbury can’t hold the line there he can’t hold it at all.

In 1999 I wrote an article for Louie Crew’s Anglican Pages titled, “No Jurisdiction in this realm: On the matter of intervention and autonomy in the Anglican Communion.” In it I said, “If those in our Church who cannot reconcile themselves to a polity that does or will make decisions contrary to their own best sense of God’s will, then they have every business leaving. There is an honorable history of convinced Christians doing so. But it must be clearly understood that any effort by them to wrest from this church its mission, people, name, churches, funds or agencies will be met with authoritative, clear and resounding resistance.”

Well, now in 2007, only eight years later, the “authoritative, clear and resounding resistance” is at last being heard.

At the Primates Meeting everyone will come and live out their parts. Special guests will perhaps be heard, some Primates will posture, the Committee will report to whoever is still at the table. No matter who is there the Primates will ultimately have to deal with the reality that they have no mandate except to share with one another. In this the Archbishop of Nigeria was right. He said, “We are going to Tanzania because we are Primates of the Church and we have many things to talk about and to pray about. We come together primarily for fellowship as Primates, we come together to study the word of God and to think together on various matters that concerns our provinces.” When they get finished talking and praying and being in fellowship and studying and thinking together, they will go home, home to Churches (Provinces) in the Anglican Communion where they will live the confines of their own canons and rules for decision making. There they will be heads of churches. In Tanzania they will be a fellowship.

I cannot imagine it will be a good time, this fellowship. But perhaps the book is not sealed yet.


  1. I would not want to make to much of the numbers of archbishops at the AMIA conference, but here is what a blogger present at the conference has listed:
    ++Nizimbi - Kenya
    ++Kolini - Rwanda
    ++Mtetemela - Tanzania
    ++Dirokpa -Congo
    ++Yong - S.E. Asia (retired primate)
    ++Tay - S.E. Asia (retired primate)
    ++Akrofi - West Africa
    ++Ernest - Indian Ocean
    ++Malango - Central Africa
    ++Ntahoturi - Burundi
    The conference is still in progress; this may be an incomplete list.

  2. Thanks obadiahslope....useful info. I corrected post.

  3. One more item to add to the mix: The attorneys for +Duncan had resisted a demand for discovery regarding, among other things, what pledges of fealty the Network bishops may have made to the Global South primates. Yesterday, the court delivered a short but sweet smackdown to +Duncan's team, requiring them to deliver all the requested materials by January 31 (that is, well in advance of the Tanzania meeting).


  4. The blog, Lent (with a number after it, ???, it's a prayer blog) has a list for people to sign up to pray for the primates and their meeting. While there's a good solid bunch of Network folks who have signed up, there are also folks from TEC. If one of you can remember the URL, it would be good to get ALL of us praying. I have special intentions for our PB, Katharine, and for the Archbishop of Central America, Martín Barahona.


  5. Yes, the so-called Global South primates have indeed been played, but not in the way they imagine.

    They have been viewed by their alleged allies as a useful resource to be "activated" at the whim of Duncan & Co.

    Can these people not tell that they have been used and insulted?

  6. obadiahslope's list tracks the primates who refused to attend the Dromantine Eucharist presided over by ++Rowan (which I still see as the beginning of the schism) -- add about ten more from Africa, the Caribbean and the Southern Cone & I think you will see the basic outline of the continuing Anglican entity which will be exist almost entirely by the Global South (which I think unfortunate, but perhaps a post-colonial necessity, at least for the time being).

    As obadiahslope pointed out years ago, Archbishop Jensen has been working on this for a long time -- even before ++Rowan was moved the Canterbury.

    BTW -- since comment moderation is being used, might it be possible to dispense with the word verification? The time constraint makes it extremely difficult for us on dial-up to post.

  7. To clarify the Priors, prior comment.
    Peter Jensen (and his predessor Harry Goodhew) has been concerned for those churches being forced (in our view) to leave the ACoC and TEC. The concern has been to not leave our fellow evangelicals friendless.
    We have had a long history of fellowship with the Church of England in South Africa (a group of anglicans shunned by the Anglican Communion, during the long period of Liberal domination of the AC). St John's Shaunessy, the largest anglican Church in canada, and one of the churches affected by the split in New westminster happens to be led by a Sydneysider.
    Sydney has historic links through the CMS to the provinces of east Africa.
    So bonds of affection cause us to be concerned for the welfare of evagelicals throughout the communion.
    Sydney believes that the problems should be solved locally as far as is possible. We are not trying to take over parishes or run anything from here. but we want to support our brothers and sisters.

  8. Prior Aelred...Hi. You asked about turning off the word verification. I'm sorry, I can't do it. The problem is word verification is so that machines can't spew spam onto the blog. Having proved the writer is a real human being is only part of the problem. Now I have to moderate because (as you well know) not all human beings are able to manage their own crankiness. Sorry to make you suffer through all this.

    But keep writing. You are a voice of considerable sanity in this little world of ours.

  9. Thanks Mark -- maybe things will work out for the monastery to get DSL next month & change things greatly!

    A word about the Church of England in South Africa (which is sort of like Voltaire's comment about The Holy Roman Empire). Curiously, it has its beginnings in the excommunication of Bishop Colenso, the Spong of his day & the cause of the first Lambeth Conference (which failed to resolve the issue, obviously). By a strange quirk of the law of unintended consequences, the continuing body morphed into a fundamentalist sect (which would have appalled both Bishop Colenso & the high church Archbishop Grey who excommunicated him). Even stranger is the fact that one of the most comprehensive descriptions of the case (down to the stereotype of a high church clergyman fleeing after an accusation of pedophilia), is in Donald Morris's "The Washing of the Spears," which began as a monograph on the Battle of Rorke's Drift (see the movie "Zulu") and grew into a history of the Zulu people from the arrival of the Dutch to the Zulu War of 1879 (written by an American naval officer stationed in Berlin while he worked for the CIA).

  10. Prior,
    I agree. The evolution of CESA is one of the great ironies of anglican history. I think "fundamentalist sect" is a bit harsh. But i forgive you ;>)

  11. This seems encouraging; ENS reports on the visit of Archbishop Dirokpa Fidèle, Primate of the Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo (Anglican Church of Congo), to the Episcopal Church Center:

    [begin quote]... Affirming the ongoing relationships between the Anglican Church of Congo and the Episcopal Church, Fidèle said, "We are not for division, we are for discussion and sharing ideas."

    He explained that his province had previously released a statement in response to the Episcopal Church that "upholds biblical truth." But, he said, "if we have a brother here in America who is willing to help our people, I as archbishop cannot let people die. We will continue to collaborate with the Episcopal Church, especially around the issues of development."

    He acknowledged that he looks forward to sitting at the table with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for the February 15-19 Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, despite indications from some African Primates that they would boycott the meeting because of her presence. [end quote]

    cheers from Boston - Joan R


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, 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.