The speech is now on the ACN website, and there you can watch the two videos that were shown as part of Bishop Duncan’s remarks.
hat tip to Stand Firm:
ADDRESS of the Right Reverend Robert Duncan, Moderator of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes to the Fourth Annual Council at Bedford, Texas, 30th July, A.D.2007.
I will save my flock, they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them and be their shepherd. [Ezekiel 34:22-23]
David Anderson, John Guernsey, Andy Fairfield, Dave Roseberry, Martyn Minns, Dan Herzog, Alison Barfoot, Bill Cox, John Yates, Bill Attwood, Bill Cobb, Valarie Whitcomb, Dwight Duncan, Ron Jackson, Dave Bena, Bill Murdoch, Don Armstrong”¦ What do these believers all have in common? ”¦Great leaders, all. Yes, of course. One other thing, at least”¦ Each was a priest or bishop (four bishops in fact) of the Episcopal Church at the Network Council one year ago”¦ None is a leader of the Episcopal Church today. This seismic shift is the context in which we meet for this fourth Annual Council of the Anglican Communion Network.
One of the young, creative staffers in our Pittsburgh office, Chad Whittaker (many of you will know his Dad, who teaches New Testament at Trinity Seminary), produced a brief video last Holy Week. It begins with words of a written prophecy I was handed at Hope and a Future (November 2005) and then it shifts to early April 2007. I want to show it to you now.
[Good Friday Video Clip]
Ever so many of us have found ourselves living through an extended Good Friday. None of us, of course, have lived through anything like our Lord’s excruciating and singular Passion, but the emotional and spiritual depths of the present season have, for most of us, been like few other seasons of our lives. I shall never forget the darkness of the days and weeks beginning with last March’s House of Bishops Meeting. It was during those days at and after that Camp Allen meeting that I truly came to grips with the unavoidable fact that the denominational Church that had ”“ from infancy ”“ raised me, captured me, formed me and ordained me, no longer had any room for me, or any like me. How bitter the rejection! How total my failure!
Yes, we are all at different places on the Calvary journey as concerns our ministries in the Episcopal Church. But I suspect I can speak for all when I say that where we are is not where we had hoped to be. God, in His wisdom, has not used us to reform the Episcopal Church, to bring it back to its historic role and identity as a reliable and mainstream way to be a Christian. Instead the Episcopal Church has embraced de-formation ”“ stunning innovation in Faith and Order ”“ rather than reformation.
In whatever way God’s call on our lives is to be lived out in the months and years ahead, few in this hall anticipate that the Episcopal Church will turn around in the last days before September 30th, or that the Episcopal Church has any intention of leaving room for those of us whose commitments to “the Faith once delivered” created the Anglican Communion Network and have sustained its vision and its witness. Because our sense of order is such that we have always sought to be Christian first and Episcopalian next , we find ourselves on this present Way of the Cross. Such is the increasing de-formation of the denomination whose priests and bishops, whose laity and deacons, we have so faithfully been, whose vision once upon a time was like the one we still hold, of a Church that is truly evangelical, truly catholic, and truly pentecostal. This is the context in which we meet for this fourth Annual Council of the Anglican Communion Network.
[Video Clip on Network Mission]
Our Work in This Council
Since the earliest days of the Network, God has given us a clear vision of who we are to be: A biblical, missionary and uniting presence in North America. At last year’s Annual Council in Pittsburgh we focused on the first of the three words of our oft-rehearsed vision: biblical. Our theme was “A Reformation of Behavior,” and we looked at personal holiness as a hallmark that must come to characterize our life as faithful North American Anglicans. At the first Bedford Council two years ago, we focused on the second of the three words of our vision: missionary. We gave most of our time at that meeting to our Anglican Global Mission Partners and to the Anglican Relief and Development Fund, and we accepted a special partnership with the Diocese of Singapore for evangelization of some of the most unreached areas on the globe. This year our work in Council ”“ Bedford II, if you will ”“ has much the same focus as our very first Council at Plano, three and a half years ago. We focus on the third of the three words of the vision our God gave us from the beginning: uniting. Much of the work of this Fourth Annual Council focuses on our call to unity with other orthodox fragments ”“ virtually all of whom were once, like ourselves, mainstream Episcopalians. Proposals are before us to formalize, to ratify, a series of relationships that have come to be known as the Common Cause Partnership.
Three decades of fracture and disintegration characterized the life of orthodox Anglicans up until the Plano Council of January, 2004. None who were present at that organizing Council will ever forget the unity that permeated the decisions of that assembly. Every article of the Charter was unanimously approved. None of us had any expectation that anything like that would be possible. It was all God-given and God-breathed. None will forget the moment when a respectful way forward on the ordination of women emerged ”“ surely the high-point of God’s grace in that Council ”“ and we stood to sing the Doxology.
The charism God bestowed on us in that Plano Council has not departed. Thanks be to God! It has, of course, been sorely tried from time to time, not least in the crisis of Good Friday. But the charism has not been just for us. (God’s gifts never are “just for us.”) Confident that it was central to the vision of the Network ”“ and deeply moved by the blessings of the Council that chartered the Network and encouraged by my Episcopal colleague Ed Salmon ”“ I invited conversations with other jurisdictional and organizational leaders beginning in March of 2004. In June of 2004, six leaders pledged, in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, “to make common cause for a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America.” Initially six in the United States, Common Cause now has ten Partners in the U.S. and Canada. Five leadership roundtables have met and a first-ever Council of Bishops has been called. Key documents have been developed between the partners. Most of the partners have already approved the documents. Now it is our turn. The proposals do not yield jurisdictional autonomy, but they move us into more intentional federation. They move us closer to the longed-for day of a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America, to the kind of “new ecclesiastical structure” called for by the primates of the Global South, and yearned for by the faithful Anglicans of this continent.
Last summer the Pittsburgh Council had a first look at the Theological Statement of the Common Cause Partnership. Here at Bedford II the Steering Committee has placed that document and the Articles of the Common Cause Partnership before us for ratification. I heartily endorse these documents. They are not perfect, but they do take the next step. It has been the particular privilege and challenge of your Moderator to serve as Chair of the Common Cause Partnership since the beginning. A Common Cause Roundtable V in March the partners asked me to continue in that role, and I agreed to do so, with God’s help.
The Articles we are being asked to approve create a federation. None of our jurisdictional autonomy is ceded. The primates of the Anglican Communion have asked the American Episcopal Church to make an answer concerning the Windsor Report and the Dromantine Communique. What the Common Cause Partnership does together is some part of this response. The Episcopal Church is walking apart. We propose to walk together. Little better communicates our message, and the reality that there is a recognizable and uniting partnership of mainstream Anglicans in North America, than the actions we are being asked to take.
In this context a word about the Windsor Bishops Coalition also seems appropriate. Again, in fulfillment of the Network’s vision, I asked Ed Salmon, after last year’s Network Council, to do what he could on the Network’s behalf to build a larger coalition of Episcopal Bishops, in hopes that the Episcopal Church might be turned back at the eleventh hour. During this past year, the Network Bishops have done everything we could to work with a broader Windsor Coalition within the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops. In order not to abandon the wider coalition in its one last stand, the Network Bishops have agreed to take part in the upcoming meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the primates Steering Committee and Anglican Consultative Council. We do so, some of us at least, without any implied recognition of or submission to the American primate, without any diminishment of our appeal for Alternative Primatial Oversight, and without any expectation that the Episcopal House of Bishops will turn from the course so unequivocably embraced at their March meeting.
Achievements and Failures
So where are we?
Anyone reading the minutes of the Pittsburgh Council [included in your packets] will recognize that many of the hopes we expressed for the nature of our work this past year were not realized. Some of what we imagined the Steering Committee might do in peopling committees to look at liturgy and discipleship and such routine matters of normal church life was predicated on a hope for more ordinary times. Transitions in jurisdiction ”“ like those described as I began ”“ were among the factors that made this past year among the most tumultuous for our movement. Financial challenges ”“ largely occasioned as our most generous parish supporters faced their own challenges in transitions, lawsuits and loss of facilities ”“ were constant. Similar financial challenges have affected all our AGMP agencies. Many of us also found ourselves just worn down and worn out by the continuing struggle. As the Deans are fond of quipping: “It is good that we don’t all want to quit on the same day.” But we didn’t quit. As always, we helped each other. God helped us. Even in the darkest times, the work went forward.
A Finance Committee was organized during the course of the year and senior statesman Bill Roemer of Pittsburgh became our Treasurer. At last there are budgets and audits to look at together. Anglican Relief and Development Fund was spun off and has become the Relief and Development agency of most of the Common Cause Partners. Succeeding Dr. Peter Moore, its Chairman is now an Anglican Mission priest, Mike Murphy. Can. Nancy Norton remains its Director.
In the spring, the weekly meeting of the Moderator’s (Network) Cabinet was suspended in favor of a Common Cause Cabinet meeting, necessary to preparations for the September Common Cause Bishops Council. The Steering Committee has continued to meet, though most often without my presence. The stretching for us all is tremendous. Strains, more than ever, affect the workings of the Network Bishops, though we are not divided in our assessment of a failed Episcopal Church. The Network Deans have continued their extraordinary leadership, though as we end this year between Councils only one of the six ”“ the Forward in Faith Dean ”“ remains within the Episcopal Church.
The staff in the Pittsburgh office, like the staff assistants in the Convocations, have done extraordinary service. Can. Daryl Fenton, who has kept me and countless others in good humor and on track in the toughest of times deserves, with all the others, our deep gratitude. The ministry initiatives in Children and Youth, in Evangelism, in International Mission and in Church Planting have been the best of works in the worst of times. New churches continue to be planted. The Children and Youth initiative has developed a cutting edge program for training lay workers on-line with Cambridge University. The evangelism initiative has presented three regional conferences, already helping hundreds to better share the good news in daily life, with seven more conferences ”“ coming to a neighborhood near you ”“ this fall and winter.
The remarkable thing is, we have had the leaders we have needed for the challenges we have faced. One can only conclude that our God has been in this.
One great triumph of this past year is the provision of a domestic episcopate for the clergy and congregations that have left the Episcopal Church and moved into the Network’s International Conference, now numbering well over one hundred congregations across the United States. Bp. Bill Cox was the first. He serves the congregations of Oklahoma under Southern Cone. Bp. Andy Fairfield was next. He became a bishop of the Church of Uganda in June. He serves those ICon congregations that call on him. More significant still are the decisions of Kenya and Uganda to make new bishops for the work in the United States: Bill Attwood, Bill Murdoch, and John Guernsey. These join the AMiA and CANA bishops in service to what are now several hundred Anglican congregations in the U.S. (and Canada), all of whom will be at the September Common Cause Council. To all of this we expect to see our brother Bill Illgenfritz added. Forward in Faith North America has reaffirmed their nomination of Fr. Bill to serve that constituency as a flying bishop, and I have committed myself to working to find a Provincial ally to make it so. In the choice of these bishops we also see some who are clearly in favor of the ordination of women and some who are opposed to it, and the unity and commitments forged at our first Network Council shapes our ongoing life without reduction.
Another significant development since last Annual Council are the deepening Common Cause regional alliances. I have been privileged to meet with four of these regional groupings since last December. Over and over the message is the same: “We all want to be one again.” A biblical, missionary and uniting vision for Anglicans in North America, by God’s grace, is owned by countless believers and fellow-workers, as well as by those who meet in this hall.
I have served as Moderator for three and one-half years. My term ends with this Annual Council. It has been the hardest thing I have ever done. Your efforts and your prayers have sustained me. And our God has been good to us beyond measure.
David Anderson has served as Network Secretary during these same three and one-half years. His term also ends with this Council. None of us will forget, and the history of the movement must record, his leadership in bringing the financial and administrative resources of the American Anglican Council to enable the first eighteen months of the life of the Anglican Communion Network. Few acts of generosity in organizational life have a parallel in this great act of benefaction to birth the Network.
We must also elect a treasurer and one half of our Steering Committee. To all who have served we express our gratitude and appreciation: whether on Cabinet or Steering Committee or in any capacity for the good of the whole. The sacrifice represented in the efforts of those who have served us is remarkable in the extreme. To those who have stood with us as congregations, vestries, dioceses, colleagues, friends, confessors, intercessors, families and especially spouses we express a similarly vast thankfulness.
I began with words from the prophet Ezekiel. God is judging shepherds and is judging between sheep. His promise is to save His flock. His promise is that His sheep will no longer be a “prey,” either to unfaithful shepherds or to fat sheep (or to wolves). His servant David, our Lord Jesus Christ, is the true and trustworthy shepherd. We, in the Anglican Communion Network, propose to follow Him, even through the valley of the shadow of death. For Jesus is our Way, our Truth, our Life. We can do no other.