Monday, July 13, 2009

The plot thickens (Updated)

Archbishop Rowan goes to the TEC convention and pleads with TEC not to make the cracks in the Communion any bigger. He goes home directly into his General Synod and finds one of his senior bishops (Tom Wright, Durham) is saying that the canons and constitutions of ACNA are being assessed for their theological validity, and a motion is being proposed for the next session of General Synod which would, if passed, recognise ACNA [UPDATE: that motion has now been accepted for consideration later this year]. So Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori warns the Church of England 'not to foment schism in America'. Read the Washington Times report by George Conger here (H/T Baby Blue Online. Note also Ruth Gledhill's blog post on this latest twist).

Read the above paragraph very slowly. Count how many times you see the names "David Virtue", "Peter Akinola", "Bob Duncan", "Peter Jensen" or "J.I. Packer". ... My count comes to zip.

In other words, the situation may be growing beyond the machinations of the (so called) extremists. It sounds like, if the C of E recognises at the General Synod level the Anglican validity of ACNA, then TEC may itself move out of communion with the Communion. Conversely, were moves currently being made at the Anaheim Convention to succeed in removing any sense of obstacle to the ordination of another gay bishop (also reported in the Washington Times report), then much of the Communion may move further away from TEC. Note, however, that these moves may not succeed because the House of Bishops of TEC may hold the line by not agreeing with the House of Deputies (=clergy+laity).

In my estimation a TEC decision to remove any obstacles to ordaining another gay bishop would strengthen the cause of ACNA in English eyes: they would see that ACNA's essential claim, that it is a faithful representative of ordinary Anglicanism, shared by millions in many provinces the world over, was a true claim, highlighted by the difference between ordinary Anglicanism and the extraordinary form at work in TEC. Indeed a strong thrust is emerging through other resolutions and proposed resolutions at the Convention which will bury traditional understanding of marriage once and for all in TEC, and make the description true that TEC is 'the gay church' - read, for instance, this report at Episcopal Life Online.

Intriguing is this note in the ELO post, which (in words I have italicised) underlines the extra-ordinary path TEC is moving along as an ostensibly 'Anglican' church:

"The Very Rev. Kate Moorehead, (Kansas), asked for clarity on the distinction between a sacred union and a marriage. "I would be honored to bless a gay union," she said. But walking the halls at convention, she said, she is "afraid that we are becoming a church of the fundamentalist left" and neglecting appropriate theological reflection in moving forward."

(H/T to More than a Via Media for drawing attention to this quote).

Readers of this blog should by now know that my general position on North American Anglicanism is that TEC, ACCan and ACNA should all be recognised as valid members of the Anglican Communion. Such recognition would require some humbling on the part of each church, but it is - I suggest - the only way forward if schism is to be averted.

Funnily enough, according to the Washington Times article, schism is something the Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury are both keen to avoid. But will they be able to do so? Are the forces at work in each of their churches now unstoppable? As Ruth Gledhill observes, "This is all pretty scarily serious and it is difficult to see where else it is going to end apart from in schism."

Talk to me. I will help you find the way forward!

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