Monday, March 25, 2024

On Presidency of the Anglican Communion

Look, if you do not want to read another post on the Anglican Communion, that is fine by me. My recommendation is that you read this book review instead. Or as well!

But if you must read on, here as a blast from the past, is an interesting thought by then ABC, Archbishop Rowan Williams, that the role of ABC [England] and ABC [rest of Anglican world] should be split, to some degree or another, in two:

The Anglican Church is planning to hand over some of the global duties of the Archbishop of Canterbury to a "presidential" figure.

Dr Rowan Williams, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, said plans are being drawn up for a role to oversee the day-to-day running of the Anglican Communion and its 77 million members, leaving the Archbishop free to concentrate on leading the Church of England.

The tenure of the Welsh-born Archbishop, who steps down after 10 years in December, has been marked by a bruising war between liberals and traditionalists in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion over the issue of homosexuality, including the ordination of gay bishops.

There has also been a divisive row over female clergy.

Admitting he may not have got it right he told the paper the top job might better be done by two people.

"I don't think I've got it right over the last 10 years, it might have helped a lot if I'd gone sooner to the United States when things began to get difficult about the ordination of gay bishops, and engaged more directly," he told the paper, adding: "I know that I've, at various points, disappointed both conservatives and liberals.

"Most of them are quite willing to say so, quite loudly."

Talking about the new role, he said: "It would be a very different communion, because the history is just bound up with that place, that office (Archbishop).

"So there may be more of a sense of a primacy of honour, and less a sense that the Archbishop is expected to sort everything."

He told the paper the role would be for a "presidential figure who can travel more readily".

We are heading towards a new ABC since the term of ++Justin Welby is coming to an end (not sure when the exact end date is). The role is huge, or HUGE, and there is a lot going on in the CofE (internal challenges, external government/society facing challenges) and in the Communion. It could be attractive again for the powers that be to contemplate a split in the role, as ++Rowan once did.

But would that be the right thing to do? Might it be practical but with unfortunate consequences? Might it be practical for the office of the (currently single person) ABC-and-President of the Communion but unfortunate for the character of our "Communion"? 

The most obvious challenge a split in rule could entail is that a President of the Communion who is not the ABC could be a person who is not in communion with the ABC!

On any reckoning of the "how" a president could be determined and appointed, that "how" surely involves some sense of a majority view of the Anglican Communion. But that majority view is, via GAFCON and Global South developments of networks of influence on the shape, structure and character of the Communion, already arrived at [GAFCON] or heading in a direction [Global South] which is deeply opposed to where the Church of England is heading re human sexuality. In my view the chances of a President of the Communion being in communion with the ABC (i.e. with the Primate of All England) are low, not high and definitely not certain.

That would put the leadership of the Communion in a very odd position of being dysfunctional from day one of the new President being appointed.

Now, perhaps that odd position would also be an honest position - we are, after all, a divided Communion as things currently stand - and it is true that currently not every province (let alone every diocese or bishop) of the Communion values being "in communion with the See of Canterbury."

But the day we give up on being in communion with Canterbury as far as possible, with as many people as possible, including key positions of leadership in the Communion, is the day we should call a spade a spade - we should call ourselves the Anglican Federation and not the Anglican Communion.

For myself, I value communion in the Communion with all who see themselves, individually and corporately (dioceses and provinces), in communion with Canterbury. Such communion acknowledges and values that we are in communion with the body of Christ, past (historic connections), present (our life in the world today) and future (rapprochement with, e.g. Rome, Constantinople and Geneva, will be led by an appropriately leading leader, primus inter pares of the bishops of the Communion).

The human focus of unity in such a communion of the Communion, given our collective history with the mother church status of the Church of England, can only be with one bishop, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

To diminish the historical, and, dare I say it, theological significance of this office, by appointing a separate President of the Communion would be a tragic misstep in the life of our Communion (whose current situation is tragic enough - no need to make it worse).

Our focus as we move towards a new Archbishop of Canterbury being appointed should be on the following:

The support the role can be given, and the delegations the role may itself make in respect of expectations of the ABC within the life of the Church of England.

Ditto, for the role of the ABC within the life of the Anglican Communion. On that score, it could be that there should be a development whereby there is, say, a Deputy President appointed (possibly, even, a "Co-President"), drawn from outside of England, who undertakes - in communion with, in harmony with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary-General of the Communion - some of the work the ABC has been doing (or would have been doing if he had had more time through the period he has been in office).

Stretching things a bit further, there is a province in the Communion which is developing an understanding of a "shared primacy" in which three archbishops share the one primacy of the church (aka the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia) - perhaps that is a direction in which the role of the ABC as primus inter pares of the bishops of the Communion should go, if a greater sharing of the office of the ABC is again in view as a successor to ++Welby is sought.

But let there be no separate "President of the Communion" chosen with risk that this person might not actually be in, or remain in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.


Moya said...

Thanks for helpful book review as well as concern for the Anglican Communion. Maybe you could pick up some of the book’s suggestions?
I did wonder if that is why Brian McLaren’s books are becoming popular? He seems more in tune with current culture.

Anonymous said...

It.zseems to me we are increasingly like the Orthodox world with churches in different jurisdictions in communion or not with different patriarchal sees.Though from the lay "consumer" angle Orthodoxy retains a more family resemblance which since liturgical reforn we have increasingly lost.

Anonymous said...

Not meant to be anonymous. I'm Rev Perry Butler Canterbury England

Liz C. said...

"...Orthodoxy retains a more family resemblance which since liturgical reforn we have increasingly lost"

I'm curious.. just briefly, would someone explain what's meant here by "liturgical reform"? ~Liz

Anonymous said...

Hello, Bishop Peter,
I thought I used to understand the meaning of "communion" or "fellowship" (Greek "koinonia"), but I don't think I do any more. Are you "in communion" with your fellow Bishop Brian Tamaki? Would you stand beside him in the protests against the "blokes-dresed-as-shielas-reading-stories-to-toddlers" at the Gisborne public library? Or would you tel him to clear off?
Would you paint out a rainbow crossing? Or would you arrest them as vandals?
Did you protest last year at the story time at Turaga?
Or is this something the Anglican Church in NZ is cool with? I know Anglicans are very strong on social involvement but I don't know what I should be doing. Should I be protesting the grooming of toddlers or bringing them to hear these wonderful stories?
Yours in confusion,

Anonymous said...

The Book of Common Prayer was a unifying element in Anglicanism creating a particular ethos and spirituality. Since late 60s much change. Here in C of E Series 2 and 3. The alternative services book. Now Common Worship. But with the moving apart of the traditions we seem to have less in common and probably unlike NZ many evangelicals have abandoned liturgical worship altogether and many Anglo catholics used the Roman rite. At 75 and a cradle Anglican it has been in many ways a story of fragmentation.

Peter Carrell said...

Thank you for comments above - we are a family of churches with liturgical resemblances and differences. In some places it is harder to see than in others, for instance, the resemblance between a liturgy used this Sunday and the BCP equivalent; or between a liturgy used last Sunday in NZ and one used in another province.

- I am unhappy about any protests which include illegal acts, whether it is painting out crossings (Gisborne this week) or defacing things (Te Papa, Wellington a while back). Are you happy with breaking the law?
- I cannot imagine the circumstances under which you would be happy to take young children to the readings which concern you so you are wise to stay away from them. I see no reason myself to support them.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Bishop Peter,
You asked if I was happy with breaking the law. I think it would depend on the law and how safely I could get away with it. Corrie Ten Boom broke the law in Holland during the war against sheltering Jews, at great risk to her own personal safety. I would like to think I would have had the same courage but I might be fooling myself.
I know the NZTA has condemned the rainbow ctossings as unsafe. It does seem to me that these are a political gesture, pushing the gay agenda in certain communities. Can you see a good reason for them? Do they compromise public safety and confuse people?
I asked you if you supported your fellow Bishop Brian Tamaki in public protests against the Drag Queen Story Time in the Gisborne Public Library but you didn't answer this. Would you stand with Bishop Brian?


Anonymous said...

Hi James.
We are not currently fighting the Nazis.
If rainbow crossings are not helpful re traffic they should not happen. But that is a matter of transport policy and process.
No, I wouldn’t support BT’s protest. I wouldn’t want to give such promotion of literature oxygen. I also think there are much more important things to get wound up about. Children are dying in Gaza. They are not dying in the Gisborne library.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Anonymous,
So you are in favour of drag queens reading stories to small children in public libraries. That is interesting to know. Then you will support them coming into NZ primary schools as well, maybe read stories in assemblies and lessons. Does the Anglican Church have a policy on drag queens working in state schools - or Anglican schools? I think Christchurch Cathedral has a school. Perhaps Bishop Peter can answer this one.
(I don't live in Israel, so don't have much influence over Israeli policy. Perhaps you do?)


Peter Carrell said...

Dear James,
“Anonymous” above was me, answering from a device I don’t usually make blog comments from.
Your argument seems absurd: to not protest about something is to be in favour of it?
There are not enough hours in a day to protest against everything I am not in favour of!

Of course the Anglican church doesn’t have policies about such things … ditto to protests re not enough meeting time, pages of paper, etc to record all possible policies on all manner of things … does any church in NZ (apart from Destiny) have a policy on such things? Does Destony have a written policy on drag queens and their relationship to public libraries?

Have you been protesting at your nearest library where drag queens read material you find objectionable?

Anonymous said...

Hello, Bishop Peter
It is not the material that drag queens read that I find objectionable, it is thd spectacle of men dressing up as parodies of women with lipstick and makeup and fake breasts and then appearing before small children who will be confused by this. Isn't this sexualising toddlers? I thought that was obvious but you don't seem to have grasped this point. Would Christchurch Cathedral School be happy for drag queens to read to the children there? I can understand that some adults might want to go to R18 drag shows and seek out sexual entertainments but is that a right thing to expose small children to? What did the Lord Jesus say about those who led little ones astray? Something about milestones and the depths of the sea, I seem to recall.
What would Jesus say about the sexualisation of toddlers in New Zealand towns? Keep quiet and cross on the other side?
Many people know that William Wilberforce fought against slavery but not so many know he also fought hard against the sexual exploitation of girls in Georgian England and launched a huge petition to raise the age of consent (to 13, I think), in a time when England was full of child prostitutes.
I don't know your fellow Bishop Brian but he seems to have put his head on the line and many Maori are standing with him. Why don't you stand with Maori? Are Anglicans afraid of challenging transvestites and transgenders (thinking of what happened to Posey Parker last year)?


Liz C. said...

Hi +Peter, I've just read the book review and was delighted by the reviewer's own little bio - which finished with informing us he's "Bass player and singer with the legendary clergy rock band Dogs Without Collars." Fascinating band name! :D

Also, I note the review mentioned Niebuhr. "He writes in the tradition of Niebuhr..." It so happens I was reading about Niebuhr last night in a book I've just got out from Dunedin Library titled The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone. There's a whole chapter that's a "reflection" on Niebuhr...

"Niebuhr had "eyes to see" Black suffering, but I believe he lacked the "heart to feel" it as his own." He then contrasts Niebuhr with Bonhoeffer who "during his year of study at Union (1939-1931), showed an existential interest in blacks..."

In my view the lack of "heart to feel" is right at the core of what needs to be addressed.

A very recent article I've read (which I need to spend more time on) is The Crisis of the Evangelical Heart which, having just gone back to it, I now realise it also discusses Niebuhr (and Tim Keller btw). I think it'd be worth me putting time into taking-in what it says! Dated 12-Mar-24, at Patheos/ Anxious Bench:

Thank you ~Liz

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks for clarity, James.
1. I wouldn't be taking my young children [if I had some - they are rather grown up these days] to hear/see drag queens reading stories at the local library.
2. As far as I can ascertain, the local library - representing the local democracy - is free to invite this one and that one to read stories to children whose parents are happy for this one and that one to read stories there. Just checking, you do believe in a free society?
3. I am not aware of any schoo, of my Anglican acquaintance intending to offer a similar reading event. I would imagine I would be consulted if such plans were afoot.
4. You seem very focused on protesting against such reading by such dressed folk, and give as a reason "the sexualisation of children". Well, many things in our society sexualise children, am I meant to protest against all such influences? (Are you protesting against all such influences?)
5. On the specific matter of protesting against drag queens, I suggest much caution is needed for church leaders who routinely dress up themselves!
6. Even more caution: church leaders these days are leaders of churches which are under great scrutiny for our respective church histories of the sexual ABUSE of children. Perhaps we should only protest against "mere" influence of children when our own houses are cleaned up AND we have, say, twenty year run of no further abuse by church leaders/teachers/etc?
7. You are aware - may readers here presume - that Brian Tamaki was ordained by a man - Eddie Long who is now alleged to be himself an abuser of young men? Even today I have seen a Twitter thread telling the story of these allegations and specifically making the point that this alleged abuser has a strong association with the ministry of Brian Tamaki - the point of the thread not being to allege anything about Brian himself but to bring to people's attention that a bishop busily focused on rainbow crossings and library events seem to not be protesting much about the allegations of his mentor ...
8. I myself, because of the Anglican church's public history of abusers [cf. Royal Commission on Abuse etc - final report due out end of June 2024] am not inclined to protest against events in libraries until and unless I am sure my own church is well sorted on such matters of public interest.

Liz C. said...

PS. please disregard the #comment part of the link I shared, I didn't see or mean for that to creep in! ~Liz Correct version:

Anonymous said...

James, I’m far more concerned with the way Brian Tamaki espouses division and hatred under the guise of a Trumpistan theocracy - than some joker wearing fake boobs and lip stick. This is the guy that serves the Lord of divide and conquer by $$. Set your watch, make a note in your diary, it will only be a matter of time before the good Bishop Brian is involved in some other lurid scandal. Regards Tom.

Moya said...

Thanks for the link Liz. An interesting analysis and final recommendation which has appeal.

An Anglican church I know took to saying the Beatitudes in place of the creed, because the leaders believed they were more necessary in the current culture. But the move was not without controversy!

Anonymous said...

Hello, Tom,
I didn't know transvestites and transgenders reading stories to toddlers had so much support among the readers of this blog! The country certainly has changed - but I guess we knew that, judging from the way Posey Parker was attacked in Auckland. I suppose this is what happens when Christians become a minority as they now are in New Zealand - fair game for unbelievers. We will have to get used to this. A sober thought for Easter.


Mark Murphy said...

O Anglican Church, I so admire your commitment to unity, but an Anglican Communion whose "President" *may* refuse to share bread and wine with Canterbury....I just don't know how this helps anyone.

Doesn't it look like an avoidance of reality - that the marriage is beyond repair, and it is better for the children if church leaders just face this maturely rather than obfuscate?

Wouldnt it be better to go the way of American Methodists, who with grace and a relative lack of acrimony organized to separate their membership, churches, and assets into Traditional/Liberal and "Globalist" Evangelical groupings?

I know it sounds like second prize, but *for now*, in the messy *Not Yet*, perhaps spiritual communion and oneness is what we're given to accept and preserve. I see this evident in the joint Easter letter you, Peter, and (Roman Catholic) Bishop Michael Gielen have written together and recently published in The Press. Powerful that you are doing this together - that very act exemplifies your "Message of hope for a broken world."

When I wrote to Father Thomas Keating, founder of Centering Prayer (years ago, when he was still alive), he wrote back and ended his letter: "We are united in prayer". That didn't seem second prize at all, but opening a door into a deeper, unshakeable, present oneness that is free enough to also truly acknowledge and include our relative, human brokeness.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear James
If you wish to have further comments (on any matter) published here you need to change the manner of your comments.

No commenter here fits your description: "I didn't know transvestites and transgenders reading stories to toddlers had so much support among the readers of this blog!" because no one here has said they support such activity.

An unwillingness to protest an action is not the same as "support"; and reasons for especially not supporting Brian Tamaki/Destiny Church have remained uncommented on by you.

Please do better if you wish to have comments published.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Mark
Thank you for a comment actually focused on the post :).
I am trying to avoid second prize but it may not be unavoidable.

Anonymous said...

Hi James,
1. In what way did I say that I supported transvestites reading to toddlers?
2. How do you know Christians weren’t involved in the attack on Posey Parker? I know of one!
3 What do you mean by non believer? I am a Christian atheist, I follow the teachings of Jesus and believe in them whole heartedly. Am I a non believer because I shun all of the super natural claims?

Anonymous said...

Hello, Tom,
I do not know what a "Christian atheist" is. Is it something like cold fire? I didn't know you can "follow the teachings of Jesus and believe in them wholeheartedly" because belief in God is the foundation. Do you build castles in the air? If so, this is good news for New Zealand, where there is supposed to be a shortage of building land in some places. (There isn't really.)

Moya said...

Picking up Mark’s post, I know a married couple who live in separate houses because they can’t amicably live together. But they visit and still love as best they can.
Of course for a Church split to continue to love as best they can, requires the spirit of the Beatitudes (the conclusion of the article Liz posted) on both sides.
But presumably they are ‘united in prayer’ as all will be praying through the one Saviour to the one God by the one Spirit.
Understandably though, +Peter, you would rather preserve the Communion if possible.
I wonder…

Peter Carrell said...

Dear James
I am unlikely to publish any comments from you in future because you continue to display wilful perversion of the truth in your comments. Unless your comments are 100% fair, accurate, and the like, they will not be published.

And keep bizarre comparisons out of your comments: Kristnacht has nothing whatsoever to do with the situation in NZ.

1. No one here has said they are scared to protest.
2. No one has tainted Brian Tamaki.
3. The accurate issue at hand is whether one should be protesting as you urge when one’s own house needs attention (as assuredly the “House of Long” needs attention, including some NZ connections re the allegations made. Tamaki should focus on such things but it is his choice if he does not.
4. I am concerned that the Anglican house re abuse is not yet in order, and when it is, some years should elapse before protests of the kind you wish us to display are made so we have a track record of being in and not out of order.
5. I object to many things, please do not second guess what I object to or do not object to.

I state my warning above: your comments are unlikely to be published unless you meet my criteria.
(Possible) good bye.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tom, in brief it is like this, to me God is not a being, but being itself.
The world and this universe, is all that there is for us. Through Jesus we experience transcendental being, spiritual alertness, and the power of love. I shun the theistic God and seek the teachings and qualities of this person (Jesus). I see through the metaphors(s) and analogies…I don’t literally believe in talking snakes, seas parting, suns stopping, virgin births, nor dead people rising. I simply cannot reason through this due what we know of science (my training) and evidence. I limit my faith to believing Christianity has something important to say in society. If it turns out I am wrong and I have lived my life as best I can following the Jesus blue print but don’t actually believe he was the son of God….well then I will rely on grace to get me through those pearly gates :-) Yours in Jesus, Tom

Liz C. said...

Dear Moya, I love your 30 Mar 10:00 insight with its illustration. It reminds me of a story I'd saved.. a real-life example of this very thing working in practice - from TEC and ACNA - in spite of the deep divisions they've suffered in the past.

An important aspect covered at the beginning of the article (June 2023) is the support from the very top...

"This agreement" [...] "reflects Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s view that Episcopal congregations may find productive common cause with those of breakaway denominations such as ACNA."

A very encouraging story! from Los Angeles:

I guess both 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' intentions/actions/visions can come together really beautifully - when folk really have the heart for it! ~Liz

Anonymous said...

Hello, Bishop Peter,
I was going to wish you 'Happy Easter' but I see the day has been renamed by a "Catholic" President as "International Day of Transgender Visibility".

I never knew they were invisible, but they are certainly visible now in the
Gisborne Public Library, and Turaga. :)