It has not ejected my church for casting tradition aside in the early nineties when we established our Three Tikanga Church (breaching the tradition of one episcopal rule per territory), nor more recently when we established that the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki would have two "co-equal" bishops (and two cathedrals).
The Communion is also able to episcopally relate to churches with weird names such as the Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church but not because it appreciates weird names. That church is an "Extra Provincial Diocese" which typically refers to a small church which is under the metropolitan oversight of the ABC. But only "typically" because one of these churches, Ceylon/Sri Lanka, has two dioceses and one, Cuba, is under the oversight of a metropolitan council.
Of course the Communion does not welcome all dry and sundry dioceses to its midst. Readers here will know that ACNA (a whole province of dioceses) is kept at arms length and the Diocese of South Carolina, while separate from TEC and not joined (as it now is) to ACNA, was not welcomed into the fold.
But that refusal to welcome has stiffened the resolve of GAFCON (representing the numerical majority of Anglicans in the world) to recognise ACNA. So ACNA is not without reason to continue to retain "Anglican" in its title.
Here in the Blessed Isles, as we work our way through our dilemma over same-sex blessings, we may have to consider the possibility of having an Extra Provincial Diocese created. Before we get to that, a few observations about what I am hearing these days
(1) Concern that the attempt of our church to steer away from doing the solid theological work which should undergird a momentous decision is a mistake. That theological work needs to be done and should be done, if we are to have a semblance of a chance of holding together what otherwise continue to be irreconcilable convictions.
(2) There are seemingly unbridgeable differences which the current interim proposal does not seem to offer a bridge over (despite some, er, at least me, thinking it is a beautiful proposal!); and thus we find this sentence describing our situation:
"... there are two irreconcilable convictions present in the national church; those who see the blessedness of same-sex marriages, and those who believe such relationships should be repented of." (see larger citation below for source).(3) Related to (2) is the concern that it is impossible to teach in a responsible manner what one believes if that is directly contradicted by the neighbouring parish.
Whether you share these concerns or not, whether you think they have weight or not, they do weigh on the minds of people I am hearing from who are doing careful reflection on the situation we are in. They will, I believe, be part of the discussion which Pakeha reps from the seven NZ Dioceses to next year's General Synod will take to a meeting on Saturday in Wellington. A kind of pre-General Synod round up of views and where we are ats.
Why raise the question of talking about an extra provincial diocese? It is because last Thursday, 2 November, Dave Clancey, one of my clerical colleagues here in Christchurch, wrote an article for the GAFCON website, entitled, "Remaining faithful to the gospel in New Zealand - a response to Motion 29."
I understand this article to update global Anglicans on the final views from FCANZ on the Motion 29 Working Group's Interim Report. FCA NZ's initial response, a couple of months back, was published here.
In that initial response there was a response to the Interim Report as it offered a way forward for those dissatisfied with the proposal which was "additional episcopal oversight": FCANZ then wanted "alternative episcopal oversight."
In Dave Clancey's article that request has shifted, as seen in the following excerpt (my bold):
"While the proposals by the Working Group state that the Constitution and the Formularies of the Church are not changing, the change to the Canon allowing services which are inconsistent with the Constitution and Formularies is simply circumventing them. The provision of protection for conservatives through Religious Orders or Communities may be a good start, but FCANZ has said that at a minimum the provision of alternative episcopal oversight (rather than the additional oversight that an Order/Community would provide) would be required. Even then, many feel that this will not be enough.
Ultimately FCANZ sees that the best way forward for the Province of New Zealand is the formation of an Extra-Provincial Diocese. This was FCANZ’s suggestion to the Working Group prior to the release of their Interim Report. Extra-Provincial Dioceses exist in a number of places in the world, and the creation of one in New Zealand would allow faithful Anglicans to remain faithfully Anglican, while at the same time being distinct from the Provincial church. It would also honestly acknowledge that there are two irreconcilable convictions present in the national church; those who see the blessedness of same-sex marriages, and those who believe such relationships should be repented of. An Extra-Provincial Diocese would be the best way for the Provincial church to give expression to this reality.
Should the Provincial church choose not to pursue this proposal, and continue on its stated course of blessing same-sex marriages, many associated with FCANZ will be left with no alternative than to seek new ways of being Anglican."No pressure then, for our meeting in Wellington, for the Motion 29 Working Group as it works soon on its Final Report, and ultimately for General Synod in May 2018!
- we need to find a way forward
- if possible, a way forward through "irreconcilable convictions"
- could that way incorporate Alternative Episcopal Oversight?
- if not possible, and even if it is possible, could we see our way to an Extra Provincial Diocese?
- and if that is not possible ...
I urge Kiwi and other Anglicans here not to reject anything out of hand. See my opening sentences: creativity in modern Anglicanism, especially Down Under, has few constraints.
I ask Kiwi Anglicans to ask ourselves whether we are seeing these matters too much in "black and white" or binary terms. Yes, there are irreconcilable convictions, but there are those who cannot live in a church with irreconcilable convictions, and there are those that can. I think that is at least three groups, not two groups of Anglicans!
Is it whistling in the wind to point out to faithful Anglicans that we already live with contradictions? Just because we do not talk about them much does not change the fact that we live with them.
Right inside Scripture, there are contradictions between the histories we know as 1 Samuel - 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles. Not just contradictions of narrated facts (compare the respective stories of Manasseh; or ask why the story of Bathsheba figures heavily in one of the histories and not at all in the other) but also contradictions in theologies (Mosaic covenant perspective v. Davidic covenant perspective). These two histories God has seen fit to include in our one Holy Scripture, even though they were composed by different groups of Jews with "irreconcilable convictions."
On what basis do we live with contradictions inside Scripture but not within our church?
Warning: I will not post comments which speculate on or otherwise discuss specific individuals or groups of people in ACANZP in respect of departure. Do not mix such speculation with comment on the concept of (say) AEO or EPD because your comment will not be published. Focus, please, on concepts and ideas and leave views of people out. This post is also not an opportunity to further canvas the much canvassed issues and questions which typically arise when discussing human sexuality. If you want to comment on the situation our church is in, please focus comment on that. There is no need to drift over into comment on human sexuality issues. Constructively speaking, I am looking for comment about whether we can or cannot live with irreconcilable convictions and what a way forward might be as a consequence.