Readers may have noticed that Blogger was in "read only" mode for about twenty-four hours. This post is now a little dated!
Back from clergy conference (at Wainui for local Cantabrians, opposite Akaroa for Kiwis, and an autumnal paradise for overseas readers with no geographical idea of where we were). We had great food, drink, and conversations informal and formal (quite a bit of time talking about the "post quake" situation we face). Bible studies on Community Resilience and Community Resurrection (drawing on Isaiah 40-55). Talks from Charles Waldegrave (Director of the Family Centre, Diocese of Wellington) and a superb "Big Picture" address by Bishop Victoria Matthews (coming soon in text and video). Excellent worship morning and evening including two lovely eucharists.
One helpful point in the prayer life of the conference was the playing of an extraordinary piece of music in which a very brief chorus sung by a homeless man is repeated over and over with the gradual addition of musical accompaniment. The actual CD rendition is some 70 minutes but a shorter version is available on You Tube here. (Stick with listening to it when it starts, initially the man's singing is very, very soft and gradually gets louder).
Some readers here will be interested in comings and goings here in the Diocese of Christchurch. At the conference we learned that the vicar-elect for St John's Latimer Square has been announced: it will be the Reverend James de Costabadie, currently Vicar of Sydenham-Beckenham, a neighbouring parish to St John's. James faces an extraordinary challenge as his new parish is in the process of having all its buildings demolished (church, hall, vicarage, an adjacent house). Still it is a transition to move from a vicarless church to a churchless vicar!
No break from blogging would be complete without something interesting happening elsewhere. In this case it is an announcement from GAFCON of progress towards setting up two international offices and having another global conference. You could link to Thinking Anglicans for the announcement (and follow through the unsurprisingly scratchy comments about it). Or you could read what Fr Ron Smith has to say on his Christchurch-based blog here and here. I wonder if notice of GAFCON's leadership will be taken by Anglican Communion powers and authorities (such as they are; we are constantly reminded that no one has authority in or over the Communion).
Here's the thing: GAFCON's further development through establishment of two international offices and plans for another global conference is sheeted home precisely to the discernment that Communion powers and authorities have done nothing for traditional Anglicans through recent Communion meetings. If something has been done, could the claim be refuted immediately please! Otherwise we are moving further in the direction of the Communion claiming it is Anglican business as usual while watching over half its members disappear into a new organisation.
It is no good claiming that the new organization is a "faux Communion" or that it is being formed by primates who do not consult their members. On what basis do we discern the true and false Anglicanisms of the world? This, surely, is a theological discernment, not a matter of who belongs to a formal institution and who does not. Rather than throw around the term "faux" it would be helpful if we could talk about the character of genuine Anglicanism, with rigorous attention to truth - the kind of attention which avoids sloppy claims about how pluralism and inclusivism have been our hallmarks for centuries. I call the Puritan emigrants to North America as my first witnesses ... Besides it is mighty strange for the formal institution known as 'the Anglican Communion' to espouse values today of pluralism and inclusivism while operating in a manner which leads to the exclusion of more than half its members.
I suggest that fairly soon Anglican leaders are going to wake up to the realisation that the assertion and promotion of agenda re "GLBT inclusion" as currently experienced in some Western Anglican churches is a tail wagging the dog. There has to be another way for Anglicans to respect and honour all people in its midst than the current way in which GLBT inclusion means exclusion of others. The question of GLBT inclusion within global Anglicanism is the question of inclusion in global Anglicanism, not the question of inclusion in less than half of global Anglicanism. One way forward could be for us to reflect on widespread opposition to Ugandan Anglican support for a draconian "anti-gay" bill being considered by Uganda's parliament. If we can find a global ethic both to deny such a local initiative is justified by local context and to condemn such a local initiative, could we not take time to find a global approach to how the Communion can hold both its traditional and progressive wings together?
If Communion stuff does not boil your billy today, an alternative could be to read Ruth Gledhill's commentary on +Richard Chartres' sermon at the recent royal wedding.