Andrew Brown has written a cracking article on the state of the Church of England and, consequently, what kind of man is needed to be the next ABC. With a nip and a tuck and some mirror imaging here and there what he writes could as easily apply to the state of the Anglican church in NZ and (I imagine) Oz, the States, Canada, etc (but not Africa, Asia or South America). Here is his conclusion,
"What keeps the Church of England running is not its leadership nor its structures. It's the clergy's faith in God. Williams, for all his mistakes, was loved around the church because he seemed to share and even to exemplify that faith. The next archbishop will have to get that bit right if he is to inspire his followers. It's not a matter of having the right slogans."
OK, so we are not in the business of recruiting followers of bishops, but the point is not deterred by that faux pas. The church everywhere lives existentially by faith or dies. Leaders are required who inspire faith and win followers to the way of Christ.
Brown is right that ++Rowan has been an inspirer of faith. He has never for one moment failed to be a public witness to the truth of God in the marketplace and coffee shops of the world. Some of his detractors (including commenters here) have been quite uncharitable on that score. In that sense ++Rowan has been a leader not only of the C of E but of the worldwide Anglican church. When he has spoken he has been reported in newspapers Anglicans everywhere read. To the extent that we have acknowledged and been led in faith's journey by his proclamation we have been a worldwide church looking to a single leading figure.
For those of you who do not accept that the Anglican Church is the Anglican Church, I am afraid that you have to reckon with the authority of the Christchurch Press. A paragon of truth and virtue which this morning - anticipating ++Rowan's visit to our fair (but possible wet) city this afternoon - describes him as,
"The leader of the Anglican Church ..." (A6).
But back to faith-filled clergy and the next ABC. The biblical figure that comes to me as I reflect on Andrew Brown's article is Elijah. A mighty man of God with extraordinary faith and a mighty miracle working ministry. There is a lovely song some of us sing these days in church which is apt to the search for the next leader of the Anglican Church ... These are the days of Elijah
ACC: In ACC news this youth steward from Dunedin reports on the opening powhiri ...