Something which I think was common to both our Wellington IDC meeting and to the Christchurch FCANZ Conference, both held on Saturday 7th April 2018 was a particular episcopal yearning.
That yearning is for a stronger association between episcopal oversight and (conservative) theological conviction.
At IDC that yearning, as voiced by some members, was focused on the proposal under Motion 29 for freedom to establish Christian Communities which would have an episcopal visitor who was not the local diocesan bishop.
A stronger episcopal role for that visiting/protecting bishop was requested. That request is fuelled by a sense that when General Synod commissioned the working group to come up with structural change it is has yielded up something which is (at best) a soft structural change. Nothing so hard a structural change as (say) a concrete plan to ordain a "flying bishop," form a new diocese, establish a fourth tikanga, or propose to the Communion that we create an extra-provincial diocese.
Thus something stronger that the Motion 29 proposal envisages for the visitor bishop role for the Christian Communities is sought, although the precise degree of greater strength was not articulated at IDC.
A challenge implicit in what I heard at IDC is that the more robust one seeks an episcopal visitor for a Christian Community to be, the more it looks, quacks and walks like alternative episcopal oversight.
Imagine an episcopal visitor who is free to confirm within parishes of his or her Christian Community: let's call that a few steps away from alternative episcopal oversight. Now imagine the same visitor is able to ordain members of the episcopal community, first, in consultation with the local diocesan bishop; then, secondly, imagine the same episcopal visitor able to ordain without consultation. At the latter point, surely we are within a millimetre or so from alternative episcopal oversight. (So long as the confirmed or ordained person, along with local licensed leaders such as vicars and lay preachers are in allegiance to the local diocesan bishop then we are not quite at full alternative episcopal oversight.)
Thus a question to work on, for this particular episcopal yearning, is what precisely is being yearned for.
My understanding is that at the FCANZ Conferences (Christchurch, 7 April; Auckland, 14 April) some talk there re the future and how it might work out remained consistent with the publicly expressed view of FCANZ, as recently as 3 April 2018, that alternative episcopal oversight remains its wish and the formation of an extra-provincial diocese remains desirable.
Further, it is not rocket science to assume that if alternative episcopal oversight is not worked out within the present governance of our church, FCANZ (which is linked to GAFCON) has other options, including seeking a bishop to be ordained for service in these islands, as recently Andy Lines was ordained for service in the British Isles.
As I hear colleagues talking, this wish is for a "hard" structure with a bishop clearly aligned to a specific theology. That is (in my words) they and their congregations want to feel assured that the bishop who has oversight of them (including ordinations, licensing/appointments, confirmations) is a bishop who is committed to and who will unambiguously teach a traditional Christian understanding of marriage. (That is, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and sexual intercourse is reserved for marriage and is sinful outside of marriage.)
To date, the bishops of our church - as far as we understand - they do not normally publish their decisions! - are at best reluctant to work on providing a means of introducing alternative episcopal oversight and at worst (from FCANZ's perspective) refusing to entertain the possibility.
So, my sense of our situation on 16 April 2018 is this (and tell me in comments if I am wrong):
1. Our bishops are generally against alternative episcopal oversight and even more so against the formation of an extra-provincial diocese.
2. Some in our church are keen for a stronger form of visiting episcopal role via the Christian Community concept.
3.Others in our church are keen for a full alternative episcopal oversight, even for the formation of an extra-provincial diocese.
4. Those seeking (2) are likely not to seek episcopal support from outside of this church.
5. Those seeking (3) have options from outside of this church if this church does not respond to their request.
6. No one knows whether (5) might be put into effect. But it might be. And there are global Anglican precedents.
7. (Therefore) our bishops could reasonably consider whether they would prefer alternative episcopal oversight which they inaugurate or alternative episcopal oversight which they have no say in.