Saturday, April 24, 2010

Conception or gleam in the eye

Does the GSE4 meeting, now concluded in Singapore, amount to the conception of an embryonic new Anglican structure? Not necessarily one which breaks away from the existing Anglican Communion, but potentially one which reformulates the current draft of the Covenant, and imposes a decisive condition on those signing up to it ('decisive' in the sense that it would not permit a church signing to it that was playing with the meaning of the Covenant). Or is it too early to tell?

Christopher Johnson of Midwest Conservative Journal has a thoughtful post around the implications of GSE4's communique.

The future of world Anglicanism is, I suggest, a little complicated to predict. I think we can now be clear that communion has broken down between TEC (and, probably, ACCan) and Global South (except that communion with Communion Partners within TEC is intact). But I cannot see two new Anglican communions (for want of better terms, let's call them Global South and Global North Communions) forming any time soon. That would mean the C of E making a choice and such a choice would split it down the middle. No. I think we will see the Anglican Communion continue, formally undiminished, but practically diminished as primates, bishops and delegates do not turn up for meetings, but also strained internally among those taking part, because the C of E will never be happy to be out of communion with most of Global South, yet neither will it be comfortable being out of communion with TEC.

Thus the C of E will be the link between TEC and Global South. Meantime Anglican churches in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand will also be torn between wishing to be in communion with TEC as well as with Asian and African churches of the Global South. Gradually Global South could construct an alternative, and very sizeable Global South Communion but there will be various ways in which communion will take place between Global South churches and Anglican Communion churches, to say nothing of some Anglican churches trying to retain seats at both eucharistic tables. Yet, in the end, some choices will be made, because there will be too many meetings to attend for those trying to be fully part of both.


MargaretG said...

And some changes will happen anyway. The way attendance is imploding both in the TEC and ACCan, and numbers growing in the Global South, the balance between the two "sides" may look totally different in twenty -- ten -- or even five years.

Also it is clear that the TEC has used its available funds in line with Matt 10:16 "as wise as serpents" to maximize their influence on the instruments of unity. However, it is equally clear that the demands of legal fees,combined with the fall in investments and declining pledges are all combining to mean that they will not have the same resources to do this in the future.

Tim Harris said...

I suspect (although I have no specific knowledge) that this public communiqué will be backed up by some pretty clear and candid private communication to ++Rowan by individual or groups of GS primates.

The communiqué as released was unanimous - pretty significant when you look at the diversity of the Provinces involved. A stronger statement still would have been agreed by the vast majority. As some comments elsewhere have observed, a meeting such as this is not in a position to declare the agreed mind of any particular Province (the wording is careful here), but individual Primates may choose to act as they deem appropriate when engaging with events or forums where TEC leadership may be present.

One very real action that should not be overlooked is the determination to become financially independent from any funding from TEC or Anglican Church of Canada.

Peter Carrell said...

That last paragraph, Tim, is significant in the overall scheme of things!