Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The gay church has made it very hard to walk hand in hand with her

I do not think TEC should be expelled from the Anglican Communion now it has approved D025 and cemented into place Gene Robinson's description of TEC as 'the gay church'. I know TEC is flying in the face of all sorts of paper (Windsor Report etc), primatial, and prelatial requests to act differently, but the least the rest of the Communion could do to acknowledge the reality and gay and lesbian Anglicans in our world fellowship is to let TEC be TEC and to see if becoming the "church of the fundamentalist left" is a profitable way forward. Simultaneously we should validate ACNA as a viable and valued Anglican church walking a different pathway in North America. It is, after all, in the great spirit of American democracy and capitalism to offer people real choice!

Nevertheless, only the naive among us could think for more than a nano second that, whatever happens in the next few years, relationships with TEC, especially for Global South provinces, even those not at GAFCON, Australia, and the Church of England are not going to be difficult. Some form of separation is almost certain, even if formal divorce does not take place. (I mention Australia because, even if we remove Sydney from consideration, the Australian Anglican church has generally pursued a line adhering to Windsor, and does not have many bishops on the 'hard-left' of theology).

What of ACANZP? A commenter on my previous post asks this:

"Peter, what Bishop Peter Broadbent says on the 'Fulcrum' website:

"There's no particular point in saying "we told you so"... but it does make the Windsor process look pretty unfit for purpose, as many of us suspected. I know it's going to play out from now on like a slow motion car crash, but I rather hope that we can be a bit more nimble footed from now on in our attempts to rescue the rest of the Anglican Communion. The "let's all wait and see what happens" approach to church brinkmanship has probably had its day. A bit like old style ecumenism, really!"

What way for ACANZP now?"

First, it's always possible that little will change in the short term because we will play a watching and waiting game, paying particular attention to what Archbishop Rowan Williams does in his capacity as leading primate of the Communion, and to how the Church of England responds (especially in February 2010 when it has opportunity to express the desire to be in communion with ACNA).

Secondly, it will require some nimble footwork on the part of our primates to keep focused on the issue of our relationships to other Anglican churches, and not slide into the difficult territory of human sexuality, for which, I suggest, we are ill-prepared to have a public discussion. The issue we need to focus on right now is this: our membership of the Anglican Communion, and the direction that membership would take were an irrevocable split to become formally manifest.

Thirdly, notwithstanding the heroic status Jenny Te Paa has in TEC, my discernment of our church is that, if confronted with the need to choose, the bulk of our membership would support following the direction the Church of England takes, and would not support following TEC against the Church of England. But ...

Fourthly, if not confronted with a choice for or against TEC, Kiwis generally are a fair-minded people, keen to keep the peace, and I think the bulk of our membership would support us remaining in communion with both TEC and England, with Australia and Africa, etc.

I agree with Bishop Pete's imagery: it does look very much like we are now in a slow motion car crash. Are there airbags in the car? Are we crashing into a wall, or flying over a bank into the sea?

Some links worth a squizz:

A Times editorial saying it's all about justice.

Statements from Fulcrum and from the Anglican Communion Institute.

A whole lot of links can be accessed from Thinking Anglicans.

And, last but not least, Ruth Gledhill's Times article, which concludes with her estimation - not shared by me - that TEC's move increases the likelihood of schism in the C of E. I think schism would be averted if the General Synod in February decides to be in communion with ACNA.

In my next post I will attempt to describe why the Communion is justified in not walking hand in hand with TEC on it's approach to homosexuality.

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