On Fear and Stupidity in Anglican land.

The past weeks in Anglican - Episcopal Land have been a shambles, not the least because there is massive amounts of fear and stupidity abounding -  and that's my opinion as expressed in my nicer moments.

Fortunately few people seem to care what I think.

Here it some of the mess:

Nashotah House, a Seminary of great historical and current value, issued an invitation to the Presiding Bishop to come to the House. Nashotah House draws its students from a range of churches most of which are self described as Anglican churches. Only half the students are from The Episcopal Church now, but historically the House was distinctly Episcopalian.(this is a correction, thanks to Bp. Martins).

I had always wanted to visit Nashotah House, and finally did so some years ago. I found the House to be a lively center of theological education and loved the liturgical practice of the place. At one time I considered going there for my theological training, but that was then and this is now.

The craziness of these days has caught up with the place. The invitation to the Presiding Bishop was widely criticized by some on the righteous right as pandering to heresy and therefore sinful.The PB has accepted the invitation to Nashotah House. 

Apparently deposed but not forgotten Bishop Iker believes Bishop Jefferts Shori is such poison that her very presence at Nashotah House puts its purity in jeopardy. This says less about his opinion of the PB and more about his opinion of the House. He seems more afraid than protective. At any rate, he put himself on the line and resigned from the Nashotah House board. So there.

And I wonder, since when is invitation to one's house, even of sinners, prima facie sin? And what is there to fear from inviting a sinner to eat and even talk?

The Global South Primates: Meanwhile out there in Global South land, the land of leaders of select Global South provinces (never mind that Brazil is distinctly excluded, South Africa seldom mentioned, and much of the Spanish speaking Anglican world glossed over) a certain clarity of wacko Anglican like thinking has emerged.

The Global South Primates Steering Committee (GSPSC) just published a rousing statement that makes it clear that they are moving forward with the realignment of Anglicanism on a Global level.  Their statement can be read HERE.

Among other things they write this:

"4. However, we trust in God’s promise that the “gates of hades will not overcome” the church. Holding unto this promise, we believe that we have to make every effort in order to restore our beloved Communion. Therefore we took the following decisions:
a) We request and will support the Archbishop of Canterbury to call for a Primates Meeting in 2015 in order to address the increasingly deteriorating situation facing the Anglican Communion. It is important that the  agenda of this Primates Meeting be discussed and agreed upon by the Primates beforehand in order to ensure an effective meeting.
b) We decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council, in following-through the recommendations taken at Dromantine in 2005 and Dar es Salam in 2007, to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to dissenting individuals, parishes, and dioceses in order to keep them within the Communion.
c) We realize that the time has come to address the ecclesial deficit, the mutual accountability and re-shaping the instruments of unity by following through the recommendations mentioned in the Windsor Report (2004), the Primates Meetings in Dromantine (2005) and Dar es Salam (2007), and the Windsor Continuation Group report."

The Executive Committee of Primates, which consists apparently of ten primates, rousted four primates for the occasion. Two were absent, three were represented by stand ins. So the "we" is a bit weak. But never mind. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury came. As far as I can tell he has made no public comment about the meeting's statement. What is that about?

The GSPSC states that there must be a Anglican Communion wide Primates Meeting in 2015 whose agenda is cleared (presumably by the Global South Primates) before hand. Never mind that there is a Primates Standing Committee that presumably looks at matters of agenda. The GSPCS is dictating terms.  Does the Archbishop of Canterbury have any thoughts on the matter?

The GSPSC is establishing a Primatial Oversight Council, whatever that means.  I suppose that Global South Primates propose that by way of their pastoral care individuals, parishes and dioceses who can't stand or are without a church to belong to can find temporary 'connection' with the Anglican Communion through a collection of the primates (the Global South ones).  This is an effort to redefine the connective tissue that makes a church a member church of the Anglican Communion.  

Of course this is a strange sort of process, not Anglican at all, there being no precedence for this in normal Anglican life. 

The Church in South Carolina headed by Mark Lawrence has decided that it will use the GSPSC statement to cover all bases, joining the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and asking for whatever it is that Primatial Oversite Council has to offer. The website for the Lawrence Diocese believes that 

"The Diocese of South Carolina has been formally recognized as a member in good standing of the Global Anglican Communion.

On Saturday, March 15, the Diocese’s 223rd Annual Convention unanimously accepted an invitation to join the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA) and temporarily enter into a formal ecclesiastical relationship known as provisional primatial oversight from bishops in the Global South."

This is oddly stated.  It does not say that "The Diocese of South Carolina has been recognized as a member of The Anglican Communion, but of "the Global Anglican Communion."  If what was meant was "a member of the Anglican Communion" then it is simply false.  If what was meant is "the Global Anglican Communion," it is perhaps a reference to no entity at all (sort of a vague ideal of some sort) or it is a reference to an ALTERNATIVE universe in which "the Global Anglican Communion" refers to a communion or community of churches different from the thing called "the Anglican Communion." 

I think the Lawrence South Carolina crowd had deliberately muddled the issue so that its members will feel as if they continue to be part of the Anglican Communion even though as a diocese they have no connection to a national or regional church (a Province) of which they are a part. "the Global Anglican Communion" sounds really really fine. And they are "recognized."  Oh really?  By whom?

So the Lawrence South Carolina church may feel good about being recognized, but it ain't necessarily so. It is, I suggest, a deception.

Then again, it is not their fault that they might think so. After all the installation of The Rev. Tory Baucum as one of the "six preachers" of Canterbury, an event at which The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Rev. Tory Baucum (not a member of a member church of the Communion) and The Most Rev. Robert Duncan (not an archbishop or bishop in any member church of the Anglican Communion) were photographed together. All was sweetness and light, good smiles, and I am sure a fine day. 

The problem is this too is all about making it look good for ACNA, churches who have no province or regular connection, etc. 

How wonderful that the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America and a priest working in the US unrelated to the diocese of record with oversight in the area were he works can be together with the ABC. 

And wasn't it wonderful that the very same ACNA Archbishop was at the altar with the Primate of Kenya celebrating the Eucharist.  Surely they are all part of the same wonderful Communion, THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION.  

But the fact is, they are not.  Duncan is just plain out. Baucum, being only a priest, can be landed somewhere with enough convoluted relationship with this or that province that he is pretty much accepted as in. The merits of his being named preacher is not in question. In question is why the Archbishop does photo ops with people who desperately want in?  

Well, good for the goose,  good for the gander, I suppose. If Nashotah should be commended for welcoming the stranger, so, I suppose should the Archbishop of Canterbury.  But Bishop Salmon at least distanced himself from the PB, even with the invitation.  Where is the ABC's distance?  No where to be seen.

Well, don't worry the Global South Primates are ready and willing to address the "ecclesial deficit," of a failed Anglican system.  What they mean to do is end the primacy (limited as it is) of the Archbishop of Canterbury. 

I have no idea if they will succeed or not. 

Malcolm French has written a fine article "The Anglican Communion hasn't failed.  It's mostly good. Go read it.

He concludes, "the Anglican Communion as a family of autonomous churches bound by shared history and mutual affection has survived. And that's a good thing"  

What he doesn't say is that shared history and mutual affection only work when there is the sort of sharing and affection that springs from honest engagement. The Global South Primates by one means or another is set to take over what it can, using the politeness of photo ops and the welcoming of westerners who can't stand other westerners as bait. 

And it doesn't help when the Archbishop of Canterbury plays the reconciliation card without teaching to a crowd who don't know that Anglicans are a product of reason as well as scripture and prayer tradition, and says nothing critical to those who play loose with the idea of the Anglican Communion. 

French is right, "the Anglican Communion is a family of autonomous churches."  At least the ABC could have said that. Failing that the mechanisms put in place by the Global South Primates will lead to attempted coups at the highest levels of Anglican family life and the destruction of autonomous churches.  But he will know that when it all comes home. When correcting the ecclesial deficit whacks him along the side of the head, he will know.

The trouble with the critics of the Nashotah House invitation and the GSPSC pronouncements is that they come from a place of hatred and fear - of the Presiding Bishop, and of the west. 

The trouble with the office of the Archbishop is that it seems, well, stupid. Apparently folks in that office don't seem to think that the GSPSC can do anything much to offset the Anglican Communion as a way of being a family of churches.  Well it turns out that hatred and fear is a hard way to make a case for loving care or real welcome,  and that the Anglican Communion has survived SO FAR.  

This is no time, however, to rest easy. Lawrence of South Carolina seems to think that there is a Global Anglican Communion out there, and unless there is some really good teaching from the Archbishop of Canterbury's office to the contrary it's not going to be your local friendly Anglican Communion we know and love. It will be a pure and rarefied world church whose authoritarianism will make Pope's blush.

Keep the doors of welcome open and the powder dry.


  1. Part of the issue with Nashotah is that several TEC bishops don't consider it a TEC seminary and tell people not to attend it. The hatred and fear go both ways. Deacon Terry Star, who recently passed away, was apparently told by the PB herself not to go there.(The story goes that he asked that she come to prove to her the people there were Christians). So apparently she agrees with my bishop and others who hate it too.
    Add her ability, innate or deliberate, to say things that drive conservatives nuts and the Youtube videos of her saying she loves doing it and I can understand them wondering why invite her and asking why she would accept except to put them in their place. Some are no doubt hoping that now that she's giving Terry's eulogy she won't have a chance to give a sermon on something else.

  2. The Anglican Communion as an instrument of unity has failed and is now the focus for disunity and schism, however else can you describe the actions of the GCA, ACA or GAFCON, whatever they choose to call themselves.

    They are schismatics as sure as Elvis lived and died in Memphis. It's time to bin the whole charade and instead of trying to breath life into a decomposing body, form something of a looser alliance of Anglican Churches that welcome the Holy Spirit in their lives and seek to follow it where it takes them.

    I'm afraid that this bigoted stuff is no longer acceptable to me nor to any right thinking Anglican. Those who want to break away, please do as soon as possible, but remember that you can't take the goods and chattels with you?

  3. " and that the Anglican communion has survived SO Far."

    Interesting indeed. I am a member of San Joaquin and "survived" is an interesting term. Apparently being on life support systems is survival. I now sit in the cheap seats and from where I sit survival is a pleasant euphemism for one foot in the grave and one foot on the banana peel. See Real Anglicans for a little update.

  4. I would recommend a new book "Backpacking Through the Anglican Communion: A Search for Unity" by Jesse Zink to see how the Anglican Communion still has great value when experienced at the local, personal level. Let's hope that a bunch of control-freak, princely Primates don't end up ruining what still a good thing in many ways.

  5. Robert Martin18/3/14 9:42 PM

    South Carolina should probably just go ahead and have a special relationship with the Communion that does not implicate TEC. They feel very strongly about being Anglicans and the diocese does predate the church. There have been arguments and counter arguments and handwringing for years about it and other like situations. Let them be, if this is what they vote to be. Let them have the churches, and etc. Going to court is just a waste of money, time, energy, hope--wrapped in the idea that TEC must be of a certain scope to exist.

    --Robert Martin

  6. Robert may your tribe increase.

  7. Yes, always give way, in the obvious (for an audience) of Christian tradition to those who harm YOU and/or others. ALWAYS encourage those who exploit, or gently quietly support those who thieve...makes great sense to stand back and puff-up and perceive ones own Godly/goody passiveness when misery runs riot, when lies are left unchallenged by unhinged greedy bigots at Church.

    The God of my understanding has made it CLEAR to me that I am to say NO to injustice, to exploitation, to those who would force me to believe their fear/hate...being a codependent is dangerous when one starts to say whatever SOUNDS best to sound holy/forgiving and generous with other peoples lives. To self-deceive and others (and to look the other way, wink, deny, pretend that real Christians/others are being demoralized by a religiouslike cult of bigotry and hate).

    Sorry, the answer is NO. Tt is IRRESPONSIBLE to allow the slander and defamation of LGBTI character at Church (under the pretence of letting South Carolina do ¨it´s own thing¨ because they are nice guys).

    Absolutely not. My God says no.

  8. Devon Miller-Duggan19/3/14 2:06 PM

    An ABC with a little spine and vision would be nice. But TEC, for all its faults, is on the right side of history, just as the church in South Africa is and has been. It's heart-rending and infuriating to watch the Global South (which is neither global, nor encompassing of the southern hemisphere) continue to preach hate and fear, but they are dominated by a generation that will die out, and their desperation to maintain the abuses of Patriarchy will come to naught--which is a nice, comfortable historian's view of things that doesn't take into account the extraordinary amount of human suffering these folks are consenting to and fostering. And the ABC needs to re-watch "A Man for All Seasons" (yes, I know More himself was more complex and something of a conservative himself, but Bolt's More is relevant here) and play the part where More reminds his family and friends that, in English Law, "Silence gives consent." But perhaps he intends to consent to the gross inhumanities being perpetrated by Anglican Bishops in Uganda and elsewhere? Duncan certainly seems to.

  9. Many of us -- myself certainly -- are nostalgic for an older "Anglican Communion" -- say, the one I knew in the 1970's and early '80's. There were lots of ugly things going on in churches then around the world, but at least they acted as if they were part of the same thing, more or less welcomed one another, showed up at meetings, and the rest. But that is not the Communion as it is now. And that is not the "real" Communion any longer. The "real" Anglican Communion is one we have today: vying, contested, broken in some ways, vibrant in different ways, at odds and so on. There isn't another one. If we don't like it, then we need to figure out a way to reorder it, reform it, or whatever. And if we don't like how some are doing just that, then we need to figure out how to resolve such directions into better ones. One thing that does NOT make sense, however, is to claim that this condition and set of challenges is not the "real" Communion, but some imaginary or illusory one. No, it is exactly who we are: it is our mirror. If we don't like it, it is we who must change. Or perhaps there is no "communion" at all! But that is another matter.

    Ephraim Radner

  10. That things are broken is clear when one asks +Welby to remain as the gatekeeper for AC life at the same time as most of TECs progressives dont want any Communion interdependence. And certainly not if the ABC exercises any authority vis a vis TEC.

    In such a season one might rightly wonder if we really have any real Communion -- one that this or that group is not a part of by appeal to this or that former understanding. SCM

  11. Robert Martin20/3/14 11:11 PM

    I agree with Mr. Radner, there certainly continues to be quite a lot of vying amongst us. We should not have to vye for what we already have. As a basic principle parishes who want to stay in their churches should be permitted to.

    I don't understand why the leadership of my church continues to want to control and dispose of property that it would not be able to continue to put to good Christian use. In other dioceses where actions have been brought churches have been shuttered and sold off and thriving or at least supporting congregations, have been barred. Why is this a "win" when we put our brothers and sisters out in the street? And this results only after years of legal action and many millions lost.

    Some other accommodation must be possible and we should pursue this as the Scripture encourages us ALL to.

    I am not convinced by arguments that eliminate this idea by essentially stating that churches are held in trust for the benefit of future generations who agree with the current thrust of thinking.

    I pose these thoughts and observations here as an at least somewhat earnest attempt to discern what would be acceptable and possible besides a diocesan firesale and a perpetual martial mentality in our conversations and relationships.

  12. Dear Mark,

    While the work of the Primates of the Anglican Communion is 'way above my pay grade, I disagree with your comment--if I read it right--that the Primates attempt at defining who is in or out, and Mark Lawrence's Diocese of South Carolina's attempt to find a way to be connected to the Anglican Communion, as being un-Anglican.

    You seem to imply that there is a grand scheme that of how the Anglican Communion is put together and a protocol that has always governed our common life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    We have always, it seems to me, made up our ecclesiology as we go along. The first Lambeth Conference was an ad hoc affair. The New Zealand three tikanga could certainly be described as "un-Anglican," but it works for us. The American Episcopal Churches in Europe, along with the CofE Diocese of Europe seems pretty "un-Anglican" to me (sorry, Bishop Whalen; I know you will disagree, but graciously), The Navajo Area Mission doesn't seem to be very normative in Anglicanism, either. Not to mention who gets invited to Lambeth: Gay, partnered bishop: no; Exiting the Door Bishop of Ft. Worth, yes; Deposed but reconstituted South American Bishop, no. PB of TEC: yes, but please don't wear your mitre.

    There are a lot of people saying what is Anglican and what is not Anglican these days. And, I must say, that this flexibility that we Anglicans have in defining our relationships is pretty difficult to get a handle on, I think that the Primates have a lot of room for flexibility in dealing with these unusual situations and can still be reasonably within the orbit of what it means to be Anglican.

  13. If I may respond to the statement above that the "diocese" of South Carolina predates the national church

    The use of the term "diocese" in the history of the Church in the U.S. can be very anachronistically misleading.

    There were colonial churches in South Carolina before and during the American Revolution, which were (as in the other American colonies) not organized into dioceses or really much of anything else. The Revolution resulted in the Anglican churches in all the colonies becoming a mess of disorganized disarray.

    In South Carolina, the first state convention to try organize themselves out of this disarray occurred in May 1785. A second state convention occurred in July 1785, which elected delegates to the first General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which occurred in September-October 1785. Thus, we're talking about a few months at best between the first South Carolina state convention and the first General Convention.

    In addition, the use of the word "diocese" to describe what was going on in South Carolina and elsewhere in the new American states can be very misleading. All that was occuring in South Carolina and elsewhere were occasional meetings of clergy and laity organized on a state-wide basis. No structure initially existed other than these meetings. South Carolina did not even have a bishop until 1795, 10 years after its first state convention.

    The first General Convention looked at itself as being national church made up of "state conventions" and that term was used in the Constitution adopted at the third General Convention in 1789. The term diocese was not used in the TEC Consititution until the 1830s.

  14. Robert Martin31/3/14 10:24 PM

    Dr. Primrose, thanks for the interesting info. Let me tell you in a few words what I admire about SC and TEC overall. It isn't about which one came first, or who can point to the better document or more precise point on this or that issue. We could certainly spend many hours and fine posts doing precisely that, and if you like I am game! It's simply that each is willing to be crucified over its beliefs, practices, hopes and interpretations. At the present time there does not appear to be any change about this. Is this belief I hold Biblical? Is it traditional Biblical or progressive Biblical? I'm not sure.

    In my opinion it would be bold, very bold, for TEC to say to SC, Go with God. Why is TEC afraid or reluctant to do this? Many in our church strongly state, and feel, that there is no place in TEC, for how SC worship and believe. If this is indeed the case, then why are we holding on to them? Why must we tell them as well, There is no place for you here and you will leave hollow? What type of relation does this encourage in us?

    There are many, many families in SC that are devout Christians and loyal Anglicans who feel that their faith and local traditions and practice, are impaired by further relationship with us. They desire to remain connected to other Anglicans throughout the world in a way that continues the distinctive Anglican apostolic tradition.

    Instead of saying, We cannot let them do this, let us ask ourselves, What would we lose by allowing devout Christians to continue praying and living in their churches? To me at least, they are distinctly and clearly Anglican. That is enough for me to let them go in peace.

    That being said there must be accommodation and space made, and spiritual and pastoral protection, for those in SC who wish to remain with TEC. This goes without saying.


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.