Monday, November 26, 2018

Turanga viewpoint

Over the weekend Teresa and I had the pleasure of entertaining some friends from the UK. Yesterday we did some exploring in central Christchurch city. That led us to Turanga, our brand new central city library which is spectacular and on the evidence of yesterday, excellently patronised.

Once inside Turanga, there are multiple stairs to climb but the ascent to the highest level is worth it as this gives access to a viewing platform for which the foremost building on display is our Christ Church Cathedral.

I took a photograph ...

As I work my way in to the role of being the Bishop of Christchurch, I am, on an almost daily basis, being brought up to speed with all that is expected of me as bishop in relation to the cathedral. To be honest, this is pretty exciting and I am meeting some very interesting people who are being drawn into the reinstatement project.

I also note that even while the project is getting some steam up and forging ahead, there are continuing arguments in the Christchurch Press letters' page about the cathedral ... well, this past week, cathedrals, since some news about the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch's thinking about their cathedral has prompted a new flurry of letters.

In the midst of these public debates about buildings is a simple-but-complex question: what is the public character of our faith?

Our faith is not in buildings but buildings house faithful Christians. Within such "houses", Christians pray and praise God. Houses of prayer. Bit by bit such spaces, from their design and intentions through to their actual use, become sacred spaces - spaces which attract Christians and non-Christians and people who define themselves somewhere in between those two descriptions. Attachments form. Our faith may not be in buildings such as cathedrals but cathedrals engender some kind of faith, from well articulated, theologically formed faith through to incoate faith - faith in some kind of divine something through to faith in the God of Jesus Christ, whose story is told in Scripture and whose definition is set out in orthodox creeds.

However the future of our cathedrals in Christchurch is worked out, we are privileged to be part of a city where cathedrals matter!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

What is "Anglican heritage"?

Readers here will be familiar with the continuing story of the Diocese of Sydney responding to our GS 2018 decision, referenced in a post or two below. Recently I gather a resolution was passed there supporting the raising of funds for ministers in the emerging new churches here. This week, from our side of the conversation, our Archbishops with the support of our GS Standing Committee wrote a response to Archbishop Glenn Davies. The best set of links is in a Thinking Anglicans post here.

Their post uses the word "overlap" in the heading, meaning that when the ++Sydney proposal is that there might be two recognised Anglican churches in the Blessed Isles of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, it is proposed on the basis of a shared or overlapping Anglican heritage.

In an eLife letter to the Diocese yesterday, I wrote the following:

"In the light of disaffiliations this year and the starting up of new congregations (by my count: 5 to date, 8 by February 2019), some of which are using the word “Anglican” in their names, I encourage readers to read an article published today on Taonga about a letter from our Archbishops to the Archbishop of Sydney (and from that article, there is a link to the whole letter). A particular point made in that letter is this:
“Our General Synod resolution on the blessing of same-sex civil marriages cannot be divorced from this shared history – it was a cross-tikanga resolution, decades in the making. Indeed, had it not been for the extraordinary generosity and patience extended by Tikanga Māori (and Tikanga Polynesia) on this very matter, this province would be in a far less healthy state than it is today. If those disaffiliating want to be committed to that fundamental consequence of being Anglican in Aotearoa New Zealand, then they must stay in these constitutional and Treaty-based relationships. We cannot recognise a Church as Anglican which does not encapsulate this 200 years of relationship and history.”
I want to be clear with you all that I will not now nor when I am Bishop of Christchurch speak or write in ways which disrespect those who are forming new “Anglican” churches – they have been and will remain our brothers and sisters in God’s family. In common law they have the right to use a term which is neither trademarked nor copyrighted. But I completely agree with our Archbishops and the General Synod Standing Committee that we cannot offer formal recognition to a church or network of churches which claim to be Anglican apart from the constitutional and Treaty-based relationships which have evolved in the history of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, often through pain, difficulty, forgiveness and reconciliation. To do otherwise as Pākehā would be to – once again – override and ignore the voice of the first Anglicans of these islands, our Maori brothers and sisters in Te Hāhi Mihinare." END QUOTE

I think it worth a few more lines here on "Anglican heritage".

First, to be clear, if we think of being "Anglican" as working through a checkbox list, then the new churches here tick critically important boxes: having a bishop (from April next year); communion with other Anglican churches (through GAFCON membership); working missionally, liturgically, pastorally, theologically from Anglican roots, articles, prayer books. All ticked.

Also, if we worry about more than one Anglican church within a given territory, that that is somehow a bit "unAnglican", then we can set those worries aside: Europe (as ++Davies has pointed out) has more than one Anglican jurisdiction covering it. (We might, of course, worry that nevertheless such dual jurisdiction has fishhooks - I believe it does - but, hey, it is what it is and it is Anglican.)

So, the critique our Archbishops are making is this: in the specific context of these islands, "Anglican heritage" means more than "the heritage of the 16th century, the heritage of the English Reformation." Anglican heritage here includes and cannot set aside "200 years of relationship and history" between Maori and Pakeha, encapsulated in our "constitutional and Treaty-based relationships."

If there is to be "overlap" it must be an overlap defined by Maori and Pakeha together and not by Pakeha alone. And what Maori are saying through Archbishop Don Tamihere is that the overlap is found within ACANZP and not outside it.

Now, some might say, "the Archbishop's view is important, to be listened to, but, it is only one view of these things."

But, the question before us is not about personal recognitions of other churches, but "formal recognition" - the recognition, in this case, by ACANZP in all its synodical authority, of another church, of the Extra Provincial Diocese which is being formed.

The implication of the Archbishops' letter is that a proposal to formally recognise the new EPD as Anglican would not receive support from Tikanga Maori. (I suspect it wouldn't from the other two Tikanga, either, but I am not predicting that here). Thus it is not going to be forthcoming. The grounds for not formally recognising will be the lack of shared heritage as encapsulated in our constitutional and Treaty-based relationships.

So, the issues before us - when people within ACANZP are concerned about the new churches using the word "Anglican" in their new names, and when it is obviously important for the new churches that they continue to be Anglican in character, ethos and practice - include:

- what role is the voice of Tikanga Maori in discussion about these matters?
- will that voice be heard by Pakeha (within ACANZP and outside it)?
- will Sydney and the wider Anglican world understand the particularity of "Anglican heritage" in these islands?

Finally, with respect to my recent post below, where I proposed that perhaps the wider Communion through a very inclusive Lambeth Conference might give us some direction in respect of ++Davies proposal, I acknowledge that even that body of Anglican resolution-making authority might not be enough to dissuade the Archbishops' from maintaining their response, resting as it does on specific concerns in our particular context.

Monday, November 12, 2018


I am receiving remarkable encouragement and sympathy from many people from all parts of the church as I go deeper into this period of being "bishop-elect" and draw closer to the actual date of taking up the role of Bishop of Christchurch (9 February 2019).

The particular prompt for this encouragement and sympathy is the character of this particular year in the life of our Diocese: (in no particular order of  challenge), making progress on reinstatement of our cathedral, disaffiliations from existing parishes, new Anglican churches being formed in our midst, consequential multiple vacancies in our parishes. Some say this is the most challenging year in our history as a Diocese! (I will let future historians pronounce judgment on that call.)

But also encouraging - very encouraging - is my experience of the continuing congregational life of the Diocese.

Eight days ago, a morning service with a well supported "remaining" congregation in the Parish of Woolston and an afternoon service which filled the brand new All Souls Church in Merivale=St Albans Parish.

Yesterday morning, a very good "remaining" congregation in one of the churches of the rural Parish of Rakaia and then in the afternoon an excellent congregation - full of young families - in the Parish of Woodend-Pegasus.

No one, least of all me, is going to jump to the conclusion that all is well because of these lovely experiences. We who remain in the Diocese will continue to debate and discuss many things - we are still a diverse group of Anglicans. We will continue to struggle with the challenge secularism brings against evangelistic action. And we are on the look out for good, keen vicars to lead parishes forward into what is now a new era for us.

But facing the future is always easier when the present encouragements remind us that God is at work among us.

Monday, November 5, 2018

What to do about Lambeth Conference 2020?

With a H/T to Ron Smith I can alert you to a post by Stephen Parsons exploring "Challenges for Lambeth 2020. The end of the Anglican Communion?"

There is no doubt that the Anglican Communion, in the sense of (my description) "the largest global collective of churches claiming to be authentic heirs and offshoots of the Church of England," is in the fight of its life to date.

The rise since 2008 of GAFCON, notwithstanding its desire to be within and not without the Anglican Communion, is the formation of another large, global collective of churches claiming to be authentic heirs and offshoots of the Church of England. 

GAFCON's particular claim is that its churches' legitimacy as heirs is stronger than the remainder of the Communion because what GAFCON teaches is a doctrine more purely true to the English Reformation.

Just as the English Reformation was a reformation of doctrine (cementing in place the Henrician Reformation in respect of governance of the English church) which resulted in schism from Rome, so we are arguably in another doctrinal reformation, a Communion Reformation which will also result in another schism.

But need that be the result of the present differences and disputes? Can schism be averted? Could Lambeth 2020 be an occasion which holds us together rather than drives us apart (or, just as undesirable, reveals how big the loss of GAFCON-oriented Anglicans is from the Anglican Communion)?

Intriguingly, Parsons offers his own reflection on the state of the play which he sees as a state of warring loyalties within Archbishop Welby himself. I have no idea whether or not this is accurate analysis of ++Justin but it is probably fair speculation in the light of his background:

"Archbishop Welby is faced with a difficult problem in planning for Lambeth 2020. He is caught between two expressions of Anglicanism. The one that he has embraced since ordination is what we would describe as a flexible and even liberal version of the Anglican tradition. At the same time he is still the product of a tradition which is inflexible and strongly into intransigent Church politics.  
The right-wing model of politics in church and state knows only the need to dominate and control. Bodies like GAFCON want to create the whole Communion in their own image – a uniformly monochrome body, affirming the ‘unchangeable’ message of Scripture. The fundamentalism espoused by GAFCON (and the 11 bishops) cannot and will not tolerate differences.  
The problem for Welby is that, while he can claim to belong to a broader form of Anglicanism today, these older strands of thinking still claim part of his loyalty. His major task must be now to try and reconcile the warring factions which exist in the wider church but these rivalries also struggle inside himself. Can he provide the leadership that will hold things together? Will he be tempted to succumb to the intense lobbying and pressure from his old conservative friends?  
The battles being fought before and during Lambeth 2020 will define the nature of the Anglican Communion for ever. Will it become more like a conservative right-wing sect as many desire, or, will it be the place of inclusion and generosity which many of us also long for? The stakes are high, and we must pray that Archbishop Welby rises to the challenge of providing the leadership that Anglican Communion needs at this critical time."
What Parsons puts his finger on is the difficulty of drawing together into one conference (let alone one communion service of bishops) a strand of Anglicanism which "will not tolerate differences" and a strand which will.

The ever hopeful bridge-building optimist in me would be keen to see this explored.

To a degree my optimism can draw on the paper Archbishop Glenn Davies spoke to, at a meeting of ACANZP folk in August this year (which I blogged about here, and the paper is mentioned (with links to it) there).

In that paper ++Glenn talks up the prospect of "distinctive co-existence", proposes that this is worked out in the Blessed Isles (with more than a nod to the model of two overlapping Dioceses of Europe), and offers a working plan for a truly global Lambeth Conference (my bold):

" If the Lambeth Conference is to mean anything it is to be the fellowship of bishops who share our Anglican heritage, not merely those whom the ACC recommend to the Primates to be in ‘fellowship with Canterbury’. If our relationships are not grounded in our belief in the Bible, our practice of the principles of the Book of Common Prayer and our adherence to the Thirty-nine Articles, then it is difficult to say that those who depart from these fundamental provisions are Anglican at all. If, on the other hand, TEC could recognise ACNA as a legitimate expression of Anglicanism; if the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (formerly the Church of the Province of South Africa) could recognise the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church (formerly the Church of England in South Africa); if the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil could recognise the Anglican Church in Brazil; if the ACANZP could recognise an alternative expression of Anglicanism in New Zealand, then we could all gather as bishops of Anglican heritage with the Archbishop of Canterbury. This would necessarily redefine the nature of the Lambeth Conference from its historical role as a resolution-making body. The gathering could celebrate our heritage, our common desire to see Christ glorified, without pretending there are no differences among us. Would that not be a celebration worth having?"

Here I don't want to critique the Davies' paper in its details - save to observe that "recognition" locally involves a specific respect for the Treaty of Waitangi as critical to our understanding of claims to being Anglican - our gospel fellowship between Maori and Pakeha must be just as well as congenial, and the measure of justice - e.g. sharing resources of the church - is the Treaty.

But I offer this reflection which I think is friendly to the intention of the Davies' paper:

Can the ACANZP actually recognise an alternative expression of Anglicanism in these islands without there first being a Lambeth Conference which works out the basis on which we might recognise one another as authentically and faithfully Anglican?

(There are many Anglicanisms around the world. In the Davies' list above there are some notable exceptions such as the Free Church of England. Which Anglicanisms are we going to recognise and which are we not, and how will we know the difference?)

Obviously there is a chicken-and-egg scenario here: a local recognition of alternative Anglicanism could confront the Lambeth Conference with a movement to so recognise which works from the ground up rather than the Conference down; whereas I am proposing the Conference tackles this matter first.

Nevertheless, I suggest a conferencing on what "Anglican heritage" means when there are not only differing but divided claimants to be heirs would be helpful.

Critically, we would need to examine whether mutual recognition that we all have authentic Anglican heritage is a sufficient basis on which to have some local/regional/global meetings of Anglican minds. To say nothing of asking whether "Anglican heritage" is a serious ecclesiological principle when it likely does not mean we can celebrate the eucharist together, even when we are serious about "recognition" of one another.

Is the future of global Anglicanism worth one Lambeth Conference in which we meet to discuss such matters, acknowledging there will be no communion of the whole group and that for the purposes of the conference the invitation list will cohere with the Davies' list above?

What could be lost by doing so? Not much I suggest. Whereas by not doing so we might be facing the Parsons' prophecy that the 2020 Conference will be the last ever.