ACC-15 has undoubtedly been a roaring success. Let's count the ways. Everyone who came had a good time. Lovely dinners (I have followed their progress on Facebook)! No fracas. Pleasant times across gatherings hosted by our three tikanga. The ABC ended his time as ABC on a good note (contrast the ending of ACC-14). Further, he said some fine things up there and down here (see now his Sunday 9 am sermon). Some upstanding and worthy resolutions were passed. One of which (15.25) includes a job which I could be interested in. What is not to like. Oh, that's right, our mean government. (Did someone forget to tell ACC the stories of people impersonating church officials in order to illegally enter NZ?)
ACC-15 is just as certainly a complete failure. Six days from now, let alone six years from now, no one will remember a thing it has achieved in respect of the development of the life of the Anglican Communion. That is because it achieved nothing. It made 41 resolutions, for instance, but not one says anything substantive about the Covenant. The key to the development of our life is the acceptance (or, but the development will head in another direction, rejection) of the Covenant. Not a resolution even marking its progress. What does that say? I would say it means the Covenant has sunk like a stone into oblivion. 41 resolutions, but not one addresses the crises of the Communion. (Though, utterly intriguingly, have a look at 15.09 and the Charter for the Safety of People within the Churches of the Anglican Communion and match that charter with the treatment of conservative Episcopalians!).
Yet the ACC felt bold enough in 15.34 to amend one of the famous marks of mission. Actually the wording does pertain to our Anglican crises. I wonder if anyone in Auckland saw the irony of agreeing that the fourth mark should now read, "To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation". (I wonder what happened to the attempt to strengthen the set of marks by an explicit statement about the importance of worship for Anglicans?)
Let us, indeed, in our Communion life, pursue peace and reconciliation. To do so would be to engage with our crises.
One shudders, however, to think what will happen if any Kiwi Anglicans take this revised mark seriously when it says "to challenge violence of every kind": rugby, rugby league, even netball, certainly sports stars boxing each other to raise money, all gone by lunchtime. Tiddly-winks and Scrabble may be allowed as sports in our church schools. Likely attempts to fight just wars, and possibly even to supply chaplains to the military will be banned by those who treat these marks like fundamentalists treat the Bible!
Where some real progress could have been made is in how we read the Bible and how we let the Bible read us. But, as already noted here in an earlier post, the report on the Bible in Anglican life is something of a sinking stone because it just does not challenge us as Anglicans to allow the Bible in the life of the church to be a means by which God speaks authoritatively to us. It is descriptive rather than prescriptive. It is weighted towards our reading contexts being as important for determining the message as the message itself. You can download it from here - it is 20 Mb so best to go to that link and choose whether to download or not. (I have more to say about the report in the next post).
Let me know when you have read it! At 674 pages it is a rather heavy stone :)
In the meantime, Anglicanism meanders, oblivious to the ironies within its life but if the reports out of Auckland are anything to go by, there is a certain joi de vivre in the meandering. More wine? Another canape? Aren't these Kiwis splendid hosts!