Check list for a member of the SANCTIONED Episcopal Church

Let's see. The Episcopal Church has been sanctioned for three years.  What does that mean? The Sanction particulars from the Primates statement are as follows:

  1. "It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.
  2. We have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ."
Now as a baptized person in the Church, in the Episcopal Church, and a priest, I certainly would not want to act contrary to the sanctions imposed on my church. No indeed.  Even acknowledging that the Primates of the Anglican Communion have no jurisdiction in this realm, I certainly would not want to act counter to their godly, if distant, admonitions. So what do these sanctions mean in my life?

a. Nothing about my sacramental life changes - I can receive communion wherever I am welcomed, and where my brothers and sisters are not welcomed I can take it as a sign that I am not welcomed either.  I can celebrate the sacraments that I am able to celebrate where ever the local bishop or clergy will allow. There will be a modest extension of my confessional need for self examination, in that I will now have to more clearly identify with those who are or feel unwanted by some churches in the Communion, and will have to confess my laziness in being conscious of their sense of being unwelcomed.  It may be a big ecclesial earthquake out there, but down here there are only tremors.

b. I don't personally have to worry about being kicked off committees and or being a representative of the Episcopal Church to Anglican Communion instruments or Ecumenical conversations. I am not a bishop, lost an election to be ACC clergy from The Episcopal Church, and have never been invited to be part of an inter-Anglican commission or committee. So none of this means much in terms of my calendar. I do know people serving in various capacities, some of whom have been in this sanction business before. 

Since the Primates have no real authority to "require" that people appointed to Anglican Consultative Council committees, consultations or commissions withdraw, the sanctions require that such representatives "not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity."  Good luck with that. I can't imagine Bishop Douglass, President Jennings or Ms. Ballentine withdrawing from decision making votes on matters of doctrine or polity.

Just as a question... if the Lambeth Conference were to take place in 2018, it would appear that the sanction would mean that the Episcopal Church could not send its bishops. Either this means we need to be sure there is no Lambeth Conference in 2018 or that the sanctions do not apply to that particular Anglican activity.  Oh, and BTW, what is going on with ACNA and the Primates gathering / meeting. While they were a gathering, blah blah blah, ACNA could be part of discussion (welcome takes many forms), but when they moved to being a meeting, ACNA should not have been there at all. And just for the record, the work to get a number of Primates to vote for the sanctions must have involved conversations with the Primate of ACNA. So he he was indeed part of the decision making that took place. So much for 'guest' status. 

c. As to "decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity,"  the notion that sanctions could include shutting Episcopalians out of discussions of doctrine and polity on some level or another is just plain silly.  Sanctions can include many things, but where there is no reach, there is no breach.  The Primates cannot shut us up. Only we can do that. So we are left with the question we always have, out here in the land of occasional grace:  When do we care enough to speak out? And why?  The supposed sanction on decision making betrays the hierarchical stupidity of believing that decisions down here do not have effect elsewhere, as in up there in Primate land.

d. The Task Group is possibly a good thing, but it is also a Trojan Horse.  Strangely it is the element of sanction that is unlisted as a sanction but is the most bothersome.  This Task Group... who will be on it and what will it do?  Will it advise the Archbishop of Canterbury as to the good behavior of Episcopal Church types who have been put on the naughty stair or sent to the corner?  Will it begin to describe what it would take for The Episcopal Church to come back into the circle?  Will it raise again the specter of an Anglican Covenant, so that the sanctions already proposed by the Primates have a structure in which sanctions are an assumed right of the Primates?  No, this Task Group is going to be an occasion for long suffering, both for its members and for the churches.

Well, all in all the check list means this: We regular Episcopalians will need to be even more aware of the call to be visible signs of welcome and inclusion, we will have to live lives of deeper self-examination and public commitment, not be content to take no for an answer, and watchful of Task Groups that can become task-masters.

Yep, check.  Even as an ol' fart, not member of any of those high table entities, I have a little list, and I'm checking it twice.  I get a sense of when to be naughty and when to be nice.


  1. Let's do "The Covenant" dance again....

    All this makes absolutely no difference here, either. Except, I too, living neck-deep in the aftermath of colonialism and oppression, have promised to be acutely aware of welcome...

    --and, who is going to pay financially for this Task Force/Trojan Horse?

    I understand that we "should" continue to financially support the Anglican Communion in all the ways that we have... but I am also beginning to find my place in the line that feels that it is continued co-dependence --enabling --staying in an abusive relationship....

    Loving those who hate us, offering our other cheek... yeah. I get it.

    But... Again... I'm seeing Jesus throwing money-changing tables around in the Temple.... and it looks might fine right now...

  2. The full communique issued at the end of the meeting speaks of encouraging ++Welby to continue to plan for a 2020 Lambeth Conference.

  3. The Episcopal Church is already excluded from taking part in ecumenical conversations in the Anglican Communion. Decisions in the primates meeting carry no force, but we shall see what follows from the ACC and various appointments to committees and other actions by Justin Welby.

    If further exclusions follow, then TEC ought to consider whether funds can be more wisely and compassionately distributed, other than funding Anglican Communion bureaucracies. There are great needs within the Episcopal Church that are not being met, such as in Haiti, Native American parishes, and poor parishes throughout the country. The church’s wealth, as well as our own personal wealth, are God-given and not truly ours, and it is our obligation to use the gifts to do good and further the Gospel.

  4. The Reluctant Samizdat
    I enjoyed reading your checklist - amusing and dry humour with a pointed message! There is going to be a lot of debate about the outcomes of the Canterbury meeting of the Primates - it is going to be interesting to see how it is presented in the media (which does tend to present complex issues at times in a rather two dimensional and simplistic way!):


  5. Bob McCloskey16/1/16 9:51 AM

    Mark, as of Friday evening, it is reported that the Primate of ACNA was offered a paper ballot to vote on the 'consequences' to TEC. He gracefully declined - but he shouldn't have been offered in the first place, never mind that he should not have been there to begin with.

  6. The whole of the ¨consequences¨ war dance is a pasted together and shallow act of face saving (heavy on the spew) turning about in circles (spin, spin, spin)...small-minded emotionally twisted ++operators spittling toward TEC (again)! Take that you/you inclusivista lovers! Bah humbug Dancer and Prancers!

    Another huffy-jelly-bellied warning (snit, snit, arch eyebrow, twitch) to ANY Anglican who may wish to marry someone not approved of in Nigeria, Uganda and/or previously sniffed out by the hand-is-quicker-than-the-eye accomplices at the ACNA (grab-a-pair-of-candlesticks-and-run)!

    Now, after the jaw-dropping obvious silliness of it all has passed, I think the Primates ¨gathering¨ was simply another nasty pig in the poke...a poke of a joke that is on them!

  7. "I can't imagine Bishop Douglass, President Jennings or Ms. Ballentine withdrawing from decision making votes on matters of doctrine or polity."

    President Jennings has already said she's going to the next ACC mtg w/ expectation of full participation.

  8. We should be reconsidering funding right now.

  9. I'm sorry, Margaret, but I have to strongly disagree with you. We Episcopalians certainly should continue to fund worthwhile projects anywhere in the world to any group of fellow Christians who ask for and accept our aid. We do not have to do any of this through Anglican Communion agencies. In fact, we should defund these agencies immediately. Actions have consequences for bureaucrats, too.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY


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.