Gracious Restraint Turns Out To Be Not So Graciously Requested, Again.

Every once and a while a little consistency is in order.  I used to think that "gracious restraint" was a snotty way of saying "do this or you'll be sorry." I still think that now. And, just to be clear I will think that in the future. So, lets hear it for consistancy.  

Canon Kearon wrote on Thursday concerning the person from the Province of the Southern Cone who serves on the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order, removes that person from membership, inviting him to serve as a consultant.  This he had previously done to members of The Episcopal Church serving on faith and order committees.  He too is consistent.

He and the Archbishop of Canterbury, acting quite on their own as appointing officers of the ACC, have been wrong on this one from the beginning. We should receive the current dismissal with the same concern that we received that of the dismissal of members of TEC.  It was wrong then. It is wrong now.

Canon Kearon writes,
"These decisions are not taken easily or lightly, but relate to the gracious restraint requested by successive meetings of the Instruments of Communion and the implications for Communion bodies when these requests are not honoured." (my emphasis)

I don't suppose there is any way that English might turn out to be a common language across the big waters, but here in the little town on the bay facing right on those same big waters, from the Western side,  a request is an asking.  If it turns out that not doing what was asked is met by threat of "implications" because the requests are not honored, then it was not a request. It was a command.

Now if the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Windsor Report, or the Primates, or whatever, were to command that certain activities be restrained, graciously or otherwise, the whole blinkin' Communion would walk.  So of course one can't say "command."  And there comes the nicety of English as a common language. The head office can say "request" and we will all know they mean "command," but they won't have to say it.

Even common folk here on this side of the big water get that.  They do in South America as well. For a long time up North here and down South there folk who settled in the one or the other place both pushed aside the people living there and in turn got pushed around by distant governments in Europe who seemed to think that command was so much their right that they only needed to request and, behold, it was done.

Out here, however, that prerogative of distant rule was not taken to with much kindness. So, cussed as we all were (and often still are) up and down the Americas settlers demanded that plain language be used. If you command, command and see if we follow orders.  If you request, make it a real request and dump the threats. After a while, of course, we moved to a place of independence from such rule.

If someone believes we in TEC collectively  or even in the small town by the bay from where I write is in any way dishonoring or disgracing the Church, let them not request, let them demand and command and be done with it.  And when they demand let them be prepared themselves to deal with the implications. 

I can safely say that here in Lewes the implications would be considerable, involving as it does folk who believe they are honoring and gracing the Church about as well as any, given that we all fall short. We would not be amused by commands from afar. We  would honor those making requests quite independent of doing what was asked by them. We would certainly invite them to church.  We might invite them for lunch. Who knows?  But we would not take kindly to being ordered around with smooth words and smiles.

Perhaps it is time for this foolishness to be recast.  Throwing people off IASCUFO serves neither the honor of the Church, the Communion or even the Ecumenical community.  If it weren't for the place cards that say where the members are from, one might find the actual Christian presence of one or the other of these persons was of great consequence to the future of ecumenical work. 

Instead of throwing these people off IASCUFO, get honest.  This is about member Church non-compliance. But from what instrument can the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Secretary General remove a member Church?  This business is rapidly reducing the ability of the Archbishop to be a "focus of unity." 
Meanwhile, of course, Bishop Tito Zavala will join the ranks of the rejected. He is in honorable company. Remember Bishop Robinson could not go to Lambeth officially. Professor Grieb has been disinvited from IASCUFO.  The Rev. Thomas Ferguson,  the Rt. Rev. William O. Gregg, the Rt. Rev. C. Franklin Brookhart, Bishop of Montana, and the Very Rev. William H. Petersen are all off ecumenical dialogues. Well that's getting to be a small room full. After a while the rejected might be a large enough group to have coffee somewhere and work out a bit of missionary strategy based on scripture, reason and tradition... you know, like Anglicans muttering their way to the promised land which turns out to be full of people who were there first and might actually inform their efforts. You know, like Anglicans, who live daily the ecumenical future of the whole church.


  1. Thanks for pointing out the real nature of the actions of Lambeth.

    So what are we to do about this growing tyranny (from Dictionary.com: “arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority”)

  2. Lionel -- I guess we could always send a note to +Rowan. Possibly beginning, "When in the course of human events...."

  3. It would be interesting to see the Primates exercise some "gracious restraint". Where do they think the are? Rome?

    Lionel, is the woodshed too outdated a concept? ;-}

  4. I'd like to see a note sent to Lambeth which states something to the effect that we see no authority by which to exclude anyone and therefore graciously decline the invitation to withdraw our presence.

  5. It is strange that the AB of All Anglicanism and his Shire Reeve have said nothing about the reps from the two biggest cattle rustlers on the commission; Nigeria and Uganda.

  6. Wot Dahveed said. [It'd be nice if someone from the Southern Cone made this argument---"What about Uganda & Nigeria?"---but I'm not holding my breath. :-/]

  7. Well what about Uganda and Nigeria (although their primate no longer has jurisdiction over the ACNA churches). And what about Canada (although its general synod motion on blessings is ambiguous)

    John Sandeman (Gafcon if not GS)

  8. Oh come on, John. Mark defends the rights of the Southern Cone and you can’t squeeze out at least a drop of GAFCON charity? Really?

    I admire Mark for his principled stand. I’m too much a sinner to share it but I admire it.

  9. Well what about Uganda and Nigeria (although their primate no longer has jurisdiction over the ACNA churches)

    John, I just copied this from the CANA website;
    CANA Episcopate:
    the Rt. Rev'd Martyn Minns, founding Missionary Bishop
    the Rt. Rev'd Roger Ames, Suffragan Bishop
    the Rt. Rev'd David Anderson, Sr., Suffragan Bishop
    the Right Rev'd David Bena, Suffragan Bishop
    the Rt. Rev'd Amos Fagbamiye, Suffragan Bishop

    Provincial Primatial Archbishop: The Most Rev'd Nicholas Okoh

    Nigeria is poaching!

  10. I'd like to see all the outcasts get together and send a note on the order of what Piskie suggests. All together now!

  11. John, as I read the letters, so far Canterbury and Kearon are acting solely and explicitly toward those churches cited in the Windsor Report. The Windsor Report cites neither Nigeria or Uganda for border crossing, because at that point neither had acted as explicitly as Southern Cone. Now, why Rwanda and Southeast Asia were not cited over AMiA I don't know. Nor was Canada cited, since at that point ACoC had not acted as a whole.

    Yes, in light of subsequent events these are arbitrary and annoying distinctions (in Windsor vs. not in Windsor); and many of us still question the authority that Windsor has gained. However, that is why so far only the Episcopal Church and the Province of the Southern Cone have been chastened.

  12. Marshall,
    I don't think the Southern Cone is specifically mentioned in the Windsor Report, please correct me if I am wrong.

  13. AMiA is unrelated to SE Asia and has been for some time. AJM

  14. John, you're correct. I had thought they were, but rechecked the Report, as well as statements from the past three Primates Meetings, and there is no explicit mention. That then highlights the question of why Southern Cone and not others.

    AJM, I'm aware that Southeast Asia is no longer involved in AMiA. However, I'm not sure that they were not in 2004 when Windsor was produces; and in any case they were involved in what might well be considered boundary issues before 2004, and arguably well before Southern Cone.

  15. "Perhaps it is time for this foolishness to be recast" - YES...actually,that moment came a long time ago.....when principles were set aside for the sake of going to a big jamboree in 08...."gracious restraint" asks all in the AC, TEC and its opponents, to sacrifice principles, to pretend all is well - when it is not.... it is a DEMAND but merely for institutional unity. None of us should be fooled....better to walk apart with integrity.

  16. Let's just go. Let's stop pretending that Canterbury is any longer our home. It abandoned us when we were in the midst of walking forth in the light of God, taking steps that were hard enough and risky enough here at home. They let us take the lead and the heat on the ordination of women (which was a right action)and they're doing the same thing here. I have had it with people who keep trying to create/maintain multiple/hierarchical levels of 'being human.' Either we are equal in the sight of a loving God, or we're not, and it's not different-but-equal, it's different-AND-equal. Let's just go.

  17. The needle on your record's stuck, Observer. Needs moving.

  18. what a useful post, Lapin ...or maybe not.... more interesting if, for example, you disagree and think it is worth sacrificing principles for the sake of institutional unity or playing the "long game" politically....you could say something, anything that adds to the debate.....

  19. Marshall and John,

    Regarding Windsor Report and Southern this will clarify:

    Kearon wrote "At the same time I have written to the Primate of the Southern Cone, whose interventions in other provinces are referred to in the Windsor Continuation Group Report asking him for clarification as to the current state of his interventions into other provinces."



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.