Thursday, June 10, 2010

Talking Points for TEC's Global Mission

With a H/T to lots of sites, I am wondering if this scenario explains the immediate follow up of Kearon's action to ++Williams' Pentecost proposals: Presiding Bishop Schori is embarking on a global mission journey speaking to sympathetic Anglicans in countries with interested media, so in order to cement the proposals before they were undermined by a ++Schori-led media debate, the action-this-day letters were sent out. Cue shock horror on some Anglican sites surprised that ++Williams has found the capacity to turn words into actions.

At stake here is the future shape and size of the Communion. If TEC is not only perceived not to be constrained by reasonable discipline, but also taking up a leading role as bearer of the true Spirit of God, then the Communion, bit by bit, not necessarily with dramatic schism, will shrivel to a less than half its current number of member churches. ++Williams simply had to act to fill a leadership vacuum in respect of the future of the Communion as one still with a chance of remaining more or less the shape and size it currently is. Now that he has acted, I suggest that TEC's global mission led by Presiding Bishop Schori will take on a different tone, but it will continue.

Thus in the past few days we have seen reports of ++Schori addressing the Canadian General Synod. Thinking Anglicans outlines her schedule for the next week or so in Great Britain, including visiting the Scottish Episcopal Church's General Synod and preaching at Southwark Cathedral on Sunday 13th June. I do not know where she will be preaching on Sunday 20th June but I know where she will be preaching on Sunday 27th June and it will not be Milwaukee.

Some commenters have shrewdly noted that TEC, no matter how upset it is by the action letters, is unlikely to walk away from the Communion. To do that would be to cut itself off from the one 'apostolic' global communion which is willing to entertain and tolerate its particular theology of the Spirit. Leaving the Communion would not be followed by the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches wooing TEC into their communions! (Though, as pointed out in a comment below, other, less well known communions could offer welcome). Thus the global mission of TEC is about shoring up support, and, if possible developing that support, perhaps in such a way as to grow a communion within the Communion which could yet force a revision of the actions just taken.

Well, suppose my information is correct, that ++Schori is leading a global TEC mission, seeking to grow support for its theology, ecclesiology, and pneumatology. What advice could be given from this part of the Communion which has a goodly number of Anglicans sympathetic to her cause? Perhaps these talking points could assist:

  • Respect the Archbishop of Canterbury (e.g. do not imply he misrepresents the Communion): in churches such as my own, ACANZP, the present incumbent has a large amount of support, and an even greater amount of support exists for the office itself and its importance as a point of unity in Communion life.
  • Develop a different way of speaking about the leading of the Spirit. It does not play well that TEC's blessed state in respect of the Spirit implies that either elsewhere we are in rebellion against the Spirit, or the Spirit is the author of confusion, saying one thing to one church and another to other churches.
  • Be accurate about the churches of which you speak: to give one (obvious) instance, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia (if these reports are correct) (1) the Anglican Indigenous Network is very important to Maori in our church which is unmentioned in these remarks, "She added that the Anglican Indigenous Network hasn’t really engaged indigenous Anglicans beyond Canada, the U.S., Australia and Hawaii." (2) it is news to me that we Kiwis have a shared understanding of 'baptismal covenant' with TEC as in these remarks, "That baptismal covenant is not shared across much of the rest of the Anglican Communion, aside from churches that have adopted their own version of our Prayer Book. There is something like it only in New Zealand, and in the Alternate Service Book in England". (What we have is 'like' in one respect, but 'unlike' in other respects).
  • Be realistic about the extent of influence TEC is likely to have on churches far away. On the one hand we can have some sympathy for the way certain things, such as episcopal interventions, have played out: no one wants those interventions in our churches either. On the other hand, the litigation re buildings, the deposing of bishops and priests ... that is scary. If that is the best practice model for forwarding a progressive Anglican agenda then we are very wary: what bishop looking at TEC from afar wants to follow down the track of time, energy, and finance expended on court cases; of messy departures played out in the media; of congregations removing attendance numbers and diocesan quota out of the diocese?
  • Tell us lots of good news about TEC's work for mission and justice (as per the address to the Canadian General Synod). Achievements count. Action speaks!


Kurt said...

I suspect that you are correct, Fr. Carrell, and that there is something going on here with the PB’s international trip. It’s also interesting that Father Jake reports that some kind of formal response to Williams from TEC being crafted, and that our House of Bishops had a discussion yesterday which probably had something to do with the attempted Pentecost punishments. “Watch for a statement from the Bishops soon.” is Fr. Jake’s advice.

I think that your suggestions/talking points are generally very good--except that I think you mistakenly believe that Williams has much more respect than he, in fact, does. A bit of projection, perhaps? I can tell you that here in America, most liberals, moderates and conservatives alike are all disgusted with him--for different reasons, of course.

Finally, I believe that you are mistaken when you assert that the AC is “the one 'apostolic' global communion which is willing to entertain and tolerate its [TEC’s] particular theology of the Spirit.” The Old Catholic Union of Utrecht has been mentioned by many here who believe that it is a better match than an AC increasingly dominated by Calvinist-minded evangelical elements.

Kurt Hill
In rainy Brooklyn, NY

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Kurt,
Thanks for prompt and pertinent points. Yes, I stand corrected re the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht. And I will nuance my point about support for the ABC, something like, "outside of North America"!

Anonymous said...

Why is it “news to you” when the Presiding Bishop says “There is something like [TEC’s BCP baptismal covenant] in New Zealand”? The similar statement is on page 390 of your prayer book!

Why are you so furtive about where the Presiding Bishop will be on 27 June. As an “Anglican Down Under” why are you so undisclosed about her presence in your diocese? Why is she having an underground meeting in your cathedral? The lack of transparency in your church, cryptic comments and allusions, again evident in this post, always makes me wonder why so much is being hidden there.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Alison,
In my experience of my church, whatever is said on page 390 of our prayer book, we do not commonly talk of 'the baptismal covenant' in the way TEC does. It is possible, of course, that the circles I move in within my own church are insufficiently small.

I am trying not on Anglican Down Under to make announcements before they are officially made by my church on one of our church's websites. Why announcements have not been yet made (as far as I am aware) concerning a forthcoming distinguished visitor is a question I am unable to answer for I am not one of the bishops arranging the itinerary.

As for the details of the contents of the meetings that make up that itinerary, again, the responsibility is in the hands of the arranging bishops, and questions about those details could be directed to them.

Please be assured that when an official communication is made I will gladly share news here. But I do not think it is the role of this site to make such announcements!

Anonymous said...

Your quote has the Presiding Bishop saying “there is something like it” in New Zealand, it is you who are suggesting New Zealanders do/don’t talk of it in the way TEC does. You made your point as a criticism of the Presiding Bishop not being “accurate”. Please can you quote where the Presiding Bishop is confused or at least acknowledge your own inaccuracy.

Sorry, I was unaware of your church having any websites to make announcements on!

Your cathedral has had the following notice on its website for a week or two:

“Te Pihopatanga o Te Waipounamu will be hosting the Most Reverend Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the The Episcopal Church in the USA at the end of June. We will be joining them in the Powhiri at Ferry Road on Sunday 27th June at 3pm. ++Katharine will be preaching at Evensong at St Michael’s that Sunday evening. On the Monday there is an opportunity to meet her for a conversation here in the Francis Room in the Visitors' Centre from 2pm - 3.30. On the Monday evening an event is being planned at the University, and
on Thursday an evening event at the Canterbury Women's House. Look out for more details in the Cathedral news sheet and on our web site.”

But perhaps you do not regard the cathedral website as a website of your church.

I often see allusions about the inadequacy of communication and information in your church. As a senior minister in your church, not having yet seen this visit announced a fortnight from the event does underscore the gravity of your church’s communications and information issues.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Alison,
(1) Communication: well you have me there! Yes, that notice is on our cathedral's site and I only knew of its existence thanks to you pointing it out to me. (I have rechecked a recent Diocesan e-communication and find no notice there. I hope you might allow me to rely on general diocesan communication and checking on the Taonga website for a sense of what is news and what is not, rather than checking on some 50 plus parish websites on a regular basis)!

(2) Baptism, covenant, and the NZPB: the something like a baptismal covenant on p. 390 of our prayer book is entitled 'Commitment to Christian Service'. It is a part of the service known as 'The Liturgy of Baptism and The Laying on of Hands for Confirmation and Renewal.' It applies to people who are candidates for the laying of hands. This could be adults who have been baptised a few moments beforehand, but also includes hose adults baptised as infants. This act of commitment is a consequence of baptism, it is not a sine qua non of baptism. I wonder if it can be accounted as 'like' the concept of the baptismal covenant in TEC? As I read the 1979 BCP service 'the Baptismal Covenant' is like our 'Commitment to Christian Service' in one way (some similar questions are asked) but unlike it in other ways: the NZ service poses the questions to the candidates, not to the congregation as a whole (as in BCP 1979); the questions are about a commitment of the baptised to serving God, a new and extra dimension of service chosen by them, not about the baptised expressing what their baptism means (which is how I read the 1979 BCP service). So, hmm, will rework what I said in the main post, but not convinced that 'like' does justice to our prayer book.

Anonymous said...

I cannot comment on the communications in your church. It certainly sounds very confused and confusing if you knew “where [the Presiding Bishop] will be preaching on Sunday 27th June” and, with it being two weeks away, you knew it had not been announced yet. And in comments could not bring yourself to refer to her other than “forthcoming distinguished visitor”. All that may appear the normal way that churches work if you have seen nothing differently, but I can assure you it is very, very peculiar.

You will also have to write more plainly rather than reverting to Latin so I can understand why you don’t think yours is “like” TEC’s baptismal covenant. I cannot see why having the congregation make these promises makes such a difference for you, especially when in your Easter Liturgy you do the same as TEC. I also do not understand your point about its relationship solely to confirmation. Page 397 section D has it as part of the “Liturgy of Baptism only”.

Please can you explain why you put Kurt and your name in blue at the top of the comment but not mine.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Alison
If you are not registered with Blogger then your comment is headed 'Anonymous' and is not in blue like Kurt and my comments. That is, your question is about how Blogger does things, not how I do them.

When our church, via Taonga, offers a press release I will announce the visit here too, full name etc. My recent brief, discreet indirect announcement (alerted by you) is respecting the fact that the official national church announcement has not been made. I knew that ++KJS preaching was a pretty certain feature of the visit, other things I had heard were in prospect, but nothing so definite as to warrant publication here, and no indication (until tonight) of anything definite to point people to. (As a matter of fact I have also had an email notice tonight of two events, and I have forwarded that information to our media people). Communication in our church may seem strange, but it is the way it is; and it is the way it is, partly at least, because our church works in three cultural streams with three different approaches to making information known.

I myself cannot see where Commitment to Christian Service is part of "The Liturgy of Baptism only" section (on page 396 in my prayer book; but page numbers may vary a little with reprintings which account for changes made by our General Synod). My point about the unlikeness between NZPB and BCP 1979 is that the baptismal covenant seems intrinsic to baptism in the latter, but not to the former, where it is a choice made by those baptised.