David Steinmetz: Episcopalians now face a reunited opposition

Until recently, fragmentation seemed to be the strategy du jour of traditionalists in the current Anglican crisis. This crisis was precipitated by the decision of the Episcopal Church to consecrate a divorced non-celibate gay man as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire and to allow the blessing of same-sex unions. A minority of Episcopalians in the U.S. and a majority of Anglicans worldwide disagreed strongly with this decision and set about to scupper it.

Offshore Anglican archbishops, mainly in Africa, came to the rescue of American traditionalists by offering membership in their own traditionalist provinces. It seemed like an almost perfect solution for American conservatives. Africans provided them with new missionary bishops to oversee their congregations in the United States, while providing a way for former Episcopalians to remain (more or less) in unbroken communion with the archbishop of Canterbury.

But therein lies the rub. The problem was not that American traditionalists lacked friends overseas but rather that they seemed to have far too many of them, including sympathetic archbishops from Bolivia and Singapore. By August, conservatives could choose between missionary bishops from Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya — and many of them did. Once again an Anglican dissenting group seemed headed toward fragmentation and diminished influence.

That is, until Sept. 27-28, when Anglican conservatives made a move toward greater unity among themselves. Bishops and bishops-elect from the Episcopal Church, the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Anglican Mission in America, the Anglican Province of America, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Anglican Network in Canada, as well as missionary bishops from Uganda and Kenya met in Pittsburgh as a Common Cause College of Bishops.

According to a joint statement, the bishops “repented” of the divisions that had existed among them and vowed to meet every six months as a continuing College of Bishops. Their primary agenda was to unite as soon as possible the divided Anglican groups of which they were representatives into one undivided church. Toward that end the participating bishops agreed to share clergy across the lines that still separated them.

Among the supporters in principle of this agreement were several dissenting bishops of the Episcopal Church, who proposed to bring their dioceses with them, including (one assumes) titles to church property. The dioceses present were Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Quincy, Western Kansas, Springfield and Albany.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, TEC Conflicts

17 comments on “David Steinmetz: Episcopalians now face a reunited opposition

  1. mdiebel says:

    Albany was present as an observer only and did not consider himself a supporter of this agreement.

  2. Br_er Rabbit says:

    All is not gloom and doom. Besides noting the newly demonstrated unity of the evanglicals, Steinmentz notes the difference over WO and writes,
    [blockquote] Still, there is no reason to predict failure. There has, for example, been a small but steady stream of evangelicals into Anglican churches in recent years (especially into evangelical parishes). They were drawn by the beauty of the liturgy, the pervasive sense of historical roots that evangelical churches often lack, a deep commitment to a thinking faith, and the satisfying conviction that they were members of a genuinely catholic as well as a lively evangelical church. [/blockquote]

  3. the roman says:

    I know my father-in-law (retired TEC clergy) and my brother-in-law (Episcopal priest who’s already lead his small parish out of TEC) are hopefull there may be a ship to row to someday.

  4. AnglicanFirst says:

    Mdiebel (#1) said “Albany was present as an observer only and did not consider himself a supporter of this agreement.”

    It is true that +Bill Love said that he was an “observer” and it is not true that he “did not consider himself a supporter of this agreement.”

    +Bill sent out a six-page diocesan update regarding the meeting in NOLA and the the meeting in Pittsburgh on 9 Oct 07.

    In it he said a number of things, including the following:
    ** “I will not authorize or permit any Rite of Blessing (public or private) for same-sex unions in this diocese….”
    ** “While interpretation of the Resolution BO33 of the 75th General Convention seems to be somewhat debatable, depending on who you talk to, as the Bishop of Albany, I will not consent to any candidate for Episcopal orders living in a same sex union or anyone involved in sexual relations outside of marriage between a man and a woman, unless some new consensus on these amtters emerges across the Communion.”
    ** “In regard to lawsuits, I believe every effortshould be made by the Church to avoid going to court over property issues.”

    So its very hard to count +Bill either in or out of both the Episcopal Church or Common Cause.

    He has basically told the General Convention and the Presiding Bishop that he will NOT follow their leadership on matters of human sexuality.

    He has also, very politely, reprimanded Schori and Beers for their unChristian concern for holding on to the property of dissenting parishes that have left ECUSA.

    It looks like ‘the ball is in Schori’s court.’ It is also quite possible that the small number of GLBT activists and their supporters within the Diocese of Albany will have to ‘throw the first punch’ in order to advance their cause in the diocese.

    Its hard to read the tea leaves in this situation, but we orthodox must remember that the Diocese of Albany borders on the Dioceses of Vermont, Central New York, and other very pro-GLBT dioceses.

  5. APB says:

    I talked with someone who attended the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas meeting last week. A sober, mature individual, he was very pleased with how well issues and people are coming together. They are being cautious, not secretive, in not making a lot of public statements. My strong impression is that when the time comes, they will be players in the new alignment. Or part of that united opposition, if you will. And of course the patron of FACA is ++Venables.

  6. Br_er Rabbit says:

    What cannot be determined from FACA’s website is that those who do not eschew WO need not apply. This is disappointing for an organization that touts itself as “a vehicle for communication, fellowship, and cooperation”.

  7. John Wilkins says:

    Much depends on intangibles. Splinter groups often raise very authoritarian individuals who seek lots of individual power. On the other hand it is those same individuals who have the ability to inspire and get things done. If some of the bishops could learn to work together and paste over their differences, that would be interesting. TEC could provide the object of hatred, the scapegoat, that would give the new institution energy. Thus, as long as TEC existed, the anti-TEC forms. I don’t know how well it will do in this country, given that the presenting issue (gay stuff) will become irrelevant in this country within the next 20 years.

  8. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Easy to see “two churches” in the “Anglican spinoffs” but no mention of the two churches in the ECUSA/TEC or the Anglican Communion. Is this only a peripheral vision. One would have expected a bit more scope as to why this fragmentation occured initially and currently from David C. Steinmetz is the Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of the History of Christianity at The Divinity School at Duke University in Durham, N.C. But perhaps his longer exposition was edited for the average reader of the newpaper?

  9. Br. Michael says:

    John, I think we will do well as TEC will have embraced a new aspect of pervision.

  10. saj says:

    #6 – “What cannot be determined from FACA’s website is that those who do not eschew WO need not apply. This is disappointing for an organization that touts itself as “a vehicle for communication, fellowship, and cooperation”.” I don’t understand what you are saying here. Who is it exactly who need not apply? And where are you gettng this from? Thanks

  11. anglicanhopeful says:

    #6 I agree with saj (#10) – I don’t see WO mentioned anywhere in FACA’s statements. Not sure if you are one of those drive-by bloggers; or, perhaps, you are trying to sow dissent and conflict to further some personal agenda?

  12. The_Elves says:

    [i] Please don’t turn this into a WO thread. [/i] -Elf Lady

  13. Br_er Rabbit says:

    Sorry, I did not mean to light a firecracker here. I was voicing my discontent that my branch of Anglicans has been (so-far) denied entry into the conversations now taking place about forming a new Anglican Church in America, first by ACN (“it’s not time yet”) and then by FACA, for the reason stated above.

  14. Bob from Boone says:

    It remains to be seen just how “reunited” the opposition to TEC is. In 1977, the “spirit of St. Louis” drew thousands to form the American Episcopal Church, which in a few years split into four bodies because of arguments over one thing or another. Now, CCCP is trying to bring part of that group (APA) plus the REC together. If it works, God bless them; but negative energy is not the best fuel for to keep an opposition united.

  15. Dale Rye says:

    Women’s ordination is, I think, relevant to this thread, because at some point the Common Cause and Network folks are going to have to deal with the reality that some provinces sponsoring American parishes ordain women to the priesthood (Uganda and Kenya, for example), some only to the diaconate (Southern Cone and AMiA), and some not at all (Nigeria and South East Asia). How is it going to be possible for them to form a “reunited opposition” when there is a significantly impaired mutual recognition of ministries?

  16. Br_er Rabbit says:

    Well, Dale, you might check out the three-[i]kitanga[/i] solution that is working for the [url=http://www.anglican.org.nz/]Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia[/url]. They have one archbishop for each of the three [i]kitangas[/i] (cultural groups), and rotate the primate’s chair among them.

    The part that may be relevant to our situation is the [i]kitanga[/i] of the Maori, who are conservative theologicaly, and the [i]kitanga[/i] of the British descendants, who are less so. The dioceses in one of the [i]kitanga[/i] overlap and comingle with the dioceses in another.

    This situation was brought out by Bishop John Guernsey in response to a question Saturday, when someone asked him “Can you show me the organization chart for the new thing that’s being developed?

    His answer was, “No, it hasn’t been figured out yet.” Then he encouraged everyone to think outside the normal structures, and provided the example of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

  17. Irenaeus says:

    Notice how “thinking outside the box” is OK for almost everything except traditional geographic dioceses? We have long outgrown the time when people took the geographic boundaries of parishes seriously. Various other episcopal churches (including the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox) have diocesan boundaries that overlap with ours. So what’s so special about geographic dioceses? That fact is that orthodox Anglicans—whether evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, or charismatic—have more in common these days with Roman Catholics than with ECUSA’s ruling revisionists.