Friday, May 8, 2009

Why head East when You can head North?

Amidst the news reports emanating from Jamaica, from which I cannot get a clear sense yet which way ACC is turning the good ship 'Anglican Communion', Kendall Harmon has posted a report on the conversion from Anglicanism to Eastern Orthodoxy of a notable North American Anglican theologian, Edith Humphrey. Here is an excerpt:

"I am writing to you with news that may not be surprising to some, but may require some explanation for others. After over 13 years of discernment, I will be chrismated and received into the Eastern Orthodox Church on Orthodox Pentecost, June 7th. I will be making my church home at St. George Antiochian Cathedral in Oakland (Pittsburgh) along with my husband Chris, who was received in November 2007, my oldest daughter Meredith, my son-in-law Josh, my grand-daughter Katherine, and the child soon to be born into their family. Though my husband and my daughter became Orthodox before me, our attraction together to the Orthodox Church began several years before our move to Pittsburgh.

I understand that some will not understand why I am doing this, since we have worked together for the health of the Anglican communion, and since many Anglicans are now realigned and looking towards the recognition of a newly formed North American province. Please be assured that my efforts for our communion have always been wholehearted, and hopeful. Once the leaders of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada made it clear that they were not prepared to walk with the historic Church and the rest of the Anglican communion in areas of ethics and doctrine, the Realignment seemed to me the most authentic response for faithful Anglicans: unrepentant heterodoxy must be given a clear answer. While in Jerusalem and Jordan I was very encouraged by the ability of leaders with different expressions of Anglicanism to listen and to learn from each other, and was optimistic that the interplay between evangelicals, charismatics and anglo-catholics would bring about something very good. I pray that God will continue to guide Anglicans who care about orthodoxy and right practice in the Anglican communion."

I first came across this news a couple of days ago. About the same time I was in Auckland for a day at the College of St John the Evangelist - the same day which, according to our NZ calendar, we deem to be St John's feast day. Thus some special effort was made to honour St John the Evangelist at the College eucharist. A highlight was the placement of an icon painted according to a famous theme, "St John the Evangelist dictates the Gospel to his disciple", in front of the Table. I found the presence of this icon immensely evocative, inspiring various reflections about the distinguished role of this Evangelist, his role in the development of Trinitarian theology, and his major role (as I best understand it) in the shaping of Eastern Orthodox theology so that it is both orthodox and never the same as Western orthodoxy in either its Roman or Protestant or Anglican forms.

I make no comment on Edith Humphrey's move. Who knows what any of us would do were we embedded in North America? But I was pleased on Wednesday to move North and find myself in the East!

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