A number of literary sayings crossed my mind when I saw that the Archbishop of Canterbury has (finally, today) issued a statement in response to the actions of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, which ended ten days ago. The first thought that came to me was a paraphrase of T.S. Eliot’s line, “This is the way the Communion dies, not with a bang but a whimper.” Because, although I pray that I am wrong, there isn’t nearly enough in Rowan Williams’ statement to reassure me that this isn’t the Anglican Communion’s fate. Indeed, the very weakness (and studied ambiguity) of Dr. Williams’ statement may be a factor in pushing the Communion toward that end.
Daily Archives: July 28, 2009
Ten days ago, we elves published two blog entries which gave information about how the bishops voted on the various roll call votes (related to Resolutions D025 and C056) during General Convention.
The first post was an unofficial tally of all three roll call votes (For the record, this was a T19 exclusive, the work of T19 readers (with indispensable help from the Rev. George Conger and the live reporting of bloggers at Stand Firm, BabyBlue Anglican and the Lead), NOT an exclusive by David Virtue, in spite of his claim to the contrary when he published our table without so much as even a link or a thank you.) The second blog post was a look at how the Anaheim Statement signatories voted.
We’re wanting to update both tables, but before doing so we really need to get a copy of the official roll call tally for Resolution C056. If any reader can assist us, we’d be grateful.
The other day, David Virtue published a link which appears to be the official roll call vote for D025 (it is a scan of a 4 page fax) We are happy to report that having compared that tally against our unofficial table, the results match perfectly.
It is perhaps worth noting that the two corrections we had made to George Conger’s tally at the Living Church, appear to be valid. George Conger had reported that Keith Whitmore of Atlanta (formerly the diocesan of Eau Clair) voted no on D025, however our review of the audio indicated a YES vote, and that is what the official tally shows as well. Whitmore is a YES on D025. Conger also had not recorded a vote for Scott Mayer, Diocesan of Northwest Texas (his vote was inaudible on the audio). We’d seen a published source claiming Mayer voted NO and so that was what we published. The official tally does indeed record that Mayer voted NO on D025.
It is also worth noting that the current list of Anaheim Statement signatories is up to at least 34 and perhaps 35 (Virtue adds Charles Jenkins of Louisiana as a signatory – can any reader from Louisiana confirm that?). You can see the full list of 34 names as confirmed by The Living Church here.
Again, please let us know if anyone finds the official tally for C056. Thanks.
The meeting started at 10:30. We are still meeting. The atmosphere is focused, intense, deeply trusting of one another and the bishop, and with a sense that the stakes are very very high.
What, after all of this, is the future for ordinary faithful Anglicans in the United States, whether in the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) or the Episcopal Church? The strong implication of Williams’s argument is that for both groups, the best and brightest future is with the Anglican Covenant. Both ACNA itself and the Communion Partners within the Episcopal Church have expressed their desire to sign on to the covenant, and while difficulties no doubt exist in both situations there is no reason to think that forward progress cannot be made by both parties. Where more serious difficulty exists, at present, is with those elements within ACNA that do not share an interest in the proposed covenant, as well as those places within the Episcopal Church that do not have the oversight of a Communion Partners bishop. Those who do have one or the other, however, can and should be confident in their ability to work from where they are for the good future of the covenanted Anglican Communion.
In my recent article, “Brave New Church,” I expressed a lack of confidence in the direction of the Episcopal Church’s leadership. But I do have confidence in the Communion Partners dioceses, both in where we stand and in where we’re going. In my case, that means the diocese of Dallas, where I’m just now finishing up a summer internship, and my home diocese of North Dakota, where I’m a candidate for holy orders. I have good friends in ACNA too, many of whom recognize just as I do the need to work for the common covenanted future of the Anglican Communion.
We recognize that now is not the time for animosity and division; now is the time to work for the good of the entire Communion, wherever we may stand on the issues. That, I think, is where Rowan Williams is pointing us, and it’s my hope and belief that he’ll be in our corner as we work together for the Anglican future.
Well, it’s outre, I know, but I sort of believe in marriage. I believe in the act of committing for life to another person. I believe in the power and the joy of facing your life as a team. I think you can have a very happy, fulfilled life without being married, and before I met Peter, I was preparing to. But my life is even happier and more fulfilled with him. So naturally, I want to start building that life as Team McSudelman.
There’s a reason for the social role of “spouse”. And there’s a reason for all of the legal and social systems that have grown up around that role: they reinforce and strengthen it. It would be much harder to do many of the things we want and intend to do, for and with each other, without that useless little piece of paper.
But more to the point, once we’d decided to do what spouses do, why wouldn’t we, well, become official spouses?
For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.
“We are frankly tired of being told we ‘haven’t done the theology,'” said Integrity President Susan Russell, “when the truth is that there are those in our wider Anglican family who do not agree with the theology we have done. But what we can do is keep doing it. We can keep reaching out. We can keep working together with our communion partners on mission and ministry all over this Worldwide Anglican Family of ours with those who will work with us. And we can stay in conversation with those who won’t.
Because we recognize that those who have been waiting for the casting-out-of-TEC-into-outer-darkness are not getting what they want. And as we continue to move forward in mission and ministry with those who embrace historic Anglican comprehensiveness, we believe those “outer darkness” threats are going to ring more and more hollow until they fade away altogether.
And meanwhile, we can live into the liberated-for-mission message our General Convention sent home from Anaheim and bless those who come to us asking for the church’s blessing on their already-blessed-by-God relationships and raising up into ALL orders of ministry those who God calls into vocations of deacon, priest and bishop.
Do not underestimate just what a significant moment in the life of the Anglican Communion these opening ten paragraphs are. Rowan has laid out in no uncertain terms that to bless same sex relationships is, at present, an un-Christian thing to do, that to ordain and consecrate such people is completely outside the bounds of catholic ecclesiology and furthermore, arguments in favour of doing so that ultimately simply appeal to the moral stance of modern western society is not acceptable theology.
Blimey! That’s even more blatantly conservative then his speech at the 2005 AAC in Nottingham and marks a clear line in the sand from Rowan. It is an absolutely unequivocal endorsement (for the moment) of the traditional theology on sexual activity and a conservative biblical anthropology. We can expect some pretty annoyed responses to this from the revisionist camp.
To accept without challenge the priority of local and pastoral factors in the case either of sexuality or of sacramental practice would be to abandon the possibility of a global consensus among the Anglican churches such as would continue to make sense of the shape and content of most of our ecumenical activity. It would be to re-conceive the Anglican Communion as essentially a loose federation of local bodies with a cultural history in common, rather than a theologically coherent ”˜community of Christian communities’.
–Archbishop Rowan Williams yesterday
Today, the Bishop, the Standing Committee, and the Deans are having a meeting of real importance. This is a matter of public record and I take the call to pray for such meetings very seriously.
Here is a list of current Standing Committee members (Jeff Miller is the chairman). The current deans are John Barr, John Scott, Ed Kelaher, Peet Dickinson, Craige Borrett, Chuck Owens and John Burwell. I am quite sure Jim Lewis, our new Canon to the Ordinary, will be there and, yes, I have been asked to be present.
You all know we are not gathering to have tea and crumpets. There is no way we as a diocese can function in the way we have before. How to move forward–together–in a truthful, loving and godly way is the issue. This is a considerable challenge, but we worship the God who is able to do far more abundantly than anything we can ask or imagine (Ephesians) and God has brought us together now for such a time as this (Esther).
It would mean a lot to me if you could pray by name for the people in this meeting–KSH.
Here is the subtext: “In other words, +Katharine and Bonnie, your way leads to a federation of autonomous churches. I want no part of that. What I lead is a community of churches in the Anglican tradition, and I am not about to let you hijack it. See those words ‘the possibility of a global consensus among the Anglican churches’? A global consensus, ‘such as would continue to make sense of the shape and content of most of our ecumenical activity’? That is what is driving me. It is spelled ‘C – o – v – e – n – a – n – t.'”
Dr. Williams uses the word “ecumenical” no less than eight times in his response. That is no accident. Remember that he had a “friendly meeting” with the Pope in May 2008, and that he arranged for a deliberately strong ecumenical delegation at Lambeth later that summer, including the Vatican’s Cardinal Dias, whom he invited to speak to the assembled bishops. He has his eye on the main ecumenical prize — a greater unity between Canterbury and Rome (not a complete reversal of the Reformation, but a full recognition of Anglican orders would be a good start). The path of ECUSA leads emphatically away from this prize. (The Church of England itself threatens to derail it as well, if it approves women as bishops; but remember that Dr. Williams weighed against the measure in Synod, reminding everyone about the “heavy and serious ecumenical cost” of going forward.)
He not only says that the path of ECUSA is contra-ecumenical; he suggests that bishops of ECUSA will no longer be appropriate representatives for the Communion in ongoing ecumenical talks….
Still, he foresees a future “not in apocalyptic terms of schism and excommunication, but plainly as what they are: “two styles of being Anglican” pursuing their mission “with greater integrity and consistency,” even as they work out issues.
[Susan] Russell was untroubled by this idea. Ever since the Revolutionary War, when the U.S church broke with the Church of England, “American Anglicans are used to re-inventing structures in order to proclaim the Gospel and move forward,” she said.
And Duncan said Communion divisions already “outpace Williams. The speed at which the Archbishop of Canterbury has dealt with the crisis in the Anglican Communion is something faster than glacial ”” but it’s not too much faster. We’ll see where the whole Communion goes, but we are far more interested in doing the mission of the church in society than occupying ourselves with what the old structures will do.”
The archbishop attended the convention for two days and specifically asked delegates not to approve either of the two measures.
Now he is suggesting in “Communion, Covenant and Our Anglican Future,” that the Anglican Communion might move to a two-tiered structure under which certain of its members, including the Episcopal Church, could not participate in certain ecumenical meetings or official gatherings.
And in a nod to breakaway groups such as the roughly 100,000 former Episcopalians who have joined the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), he wrote that if a province — such as the Episcopal Church, though he did not specify in that paragraph — decides not to adhere to Anglican mores, “any elements within it” can sign on instead, he wrote.
He also criticized the Episcopal Church’s decision to nullify the Anglican Communion’s ban on gay bishops.
“Their chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church’s teaching sanctions,” he wrote, “and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires.”
The adoption of resolutions D025 and C056 by the 76th General Convention speaks to an unhealthy degree of theological ignorance and ecclesiastical incoherence at work within the higher councils of The Episcopal Church [TEC], Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said in a statement released July 27.
While the adoption of resolutions on rites for the blessing of same-sex unions and the consecration of gay clergy to the episcopate have not created a de facto schism, they do signal TEC’s likely removal to the periphery of the life and witness of the Anglican Communion through the creation of a two-tier communion of covenanting and non-covenanting provinces, Archbishop Rowan Williams wrote.
A spokesman for the archbishop said the statement titled “Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future” had been released via the Lambeth Palace website as a “reflection” on the actions of the General Convention.
Williams’ article drew a mixed response in the U.S.
The Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity, the Episcopal gay advocacy group, said she was disappointed that Williams portrayed the U.S. moves toward inclusion for gays and lesbians as “solely a political or rights-based position” when the Episcopal Church has cited a theological basis. But she welcomed keeping the communion together in a way that would not classify branches as superior or inferior.
“What the archbishop is really stating is the reality: that the structures that have served the Anglican Communion historically need some work,” Russell said. “The 21st century is different than the 16th century.”
Canon Kendall Harmon, a traditionalist leader in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, said while there are positives in Williams’ latest attempt to hold the Communion together, the Anglican leader left unanswered key questions about how a two-tiered system would function.
“It’s going to increase the chaos in the province of the American church, and in the Anglican Communion,” Harmon said.