At stake here is the future shape and size of the Communion. If TEC is not only perceived not to be constrained by reasonable discipline, but also taking up a leading role as bearer of the true Spirit of God, then the Communion, bit by bit, not necessarily with dramatic schism, will shrivel to a less than half its current number of member churches. ++Williams simply had to act to fill a leadership vacuum in respect of the future of the Communion as one still with a chance of remaining more or less the shape and size it currently is. Now that he has acted, I suggest that TEC's global mission led by Presiding Bishop Schori will take on a different tone, but it will continue.
Thus in the past few days we have seen reports of ++Schori addressing the Canadian General Synod. Thinking Anglicans outlines her schedule for the next week or so in Great Britain, including visiting the Scottish Episcopal Church's General Synod and preaching at Southwark Cathedral on Sunday 13th June. I do not know where she will be preaching on Sunday 20th June but I know where she will be preaching on Sunday 27th June and it will not be Milwaukee.
Some commenters have shrewdly noted that TEC, no matter how upset it is by the action letters, is unlikely to walk away from the Communion. To do that would be to cut itself off from the one 'apostolic' global communion which is willing to entertain and tolerate its particular theology of the Spirit. Leaving the Communion would not be followed by the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches wooing TEC into their communions! (Though, as pointed out in a comment below, other, less well known communions could offer welcome). Thus the global mission of TEC is about shoring up support, and, if possible developing that support, perhaps in such a way as to grow a communion within the Communion which could yet force a revision of the actions just taken.
Well, suppose my information is correct, that ++Schori is leading a global TEC mission, seeking to grow support for its theology, ecclesiology, and pneumatology. What advice could be given from this part of the Communion which has a goodly number of Anglicans sympathetic to her cause? Perhaps these talking points could assist:
- Respect the Archbishop of Canterbury (e.g. do not imply he misrepresents the Communion): in churches such as my own, ACANZP, the present incumbent has a large amount of support, and an even greater amount of support exists for the office itself and its importance as a point of unity in Communion life.
- Develop a different way of speaking about the leading of the Spirit. It does not play well that TEC's blessed state in respect of the Spirit implies that either elsewhere we are in rebellion against the Spirit, or the Spirit is the author of confusion, saying one thing to one church and another to other churches.
- Be accurate about the churches of which you speak: to give one (obvious) instance, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia (if these reports are correct) (1) the Anglican Indigenous Network is very important to Maori in our church which is unmentioned in these remarks, "She added that the Anglican Indigenous Network hasn’t really engaged indigenous Anglicans beyond Canada, the U.S., Australia and Hawaii." (2) it is news to me that we Kiwis have a shared understanding of 'baptismal covenant' with TEC as in these remarks, "That baptismal covenant is not shared across much of the rest of the Anglican Communion, aside from churches that have adopted their own version of our Prayer Book. There is something like it only in New Zealand, and in the Alternate Service Book in England". (What we have is 'like' in one respect, but 'unlike' in other respects).
- Be realistic about the extent of influence TEC is likely to have on churches far away. On the one hand we can have some sympathy for the way certain things, such as episcopal interventions, have played out: no one wants those interventions in our churches either. On the other hand, the litigation re buildings, the deposing of bishops and priests ... that is scary. If that is the best practice model for forwarding a progressive Anglican agenda then we are very wary: what bishop looking at TEC from afar wants to follow down the track of time, energy, and finance expended on court cases; of messy departures played out in the media; of congregations removing attendance numbers and diocesan quota out of the diocese?
- Tell us lots of good news about TEC's work for mission and justice (as per the address to the Canadian General Synod). Achievements count. Action speaks!