Monday, December 8, 2008

Anglican Antics and What Matters

December 6, 2008

I was asked at a dinner party why I had not made a comment about the new ‘Anglican’ province being formed in North America and claiming 100,000 members. I really don’t have anything to add to what I have already said. The Archbishop of Canterbury has met, eaten and prayed with some of the leading schismatics and appears to be open to the process of this new province seeking recognition through formal channels. Martyn Minns, the Nigerian bishop, originally from Nottingham, England, now residing in New Jersey, has made some comments to the effect that the new province really doesn’t need to operate according to the rules of an English charity (under which the Anglican Consultative Council operates), and suggests that the Archbishop of Canterbury would ‘clarify’ things for Anglicans if he would get behind this innovation. I’m tired of it all and continue to suspect that The Episcopal Church will continue to be marginalized, --or at least those parts of the church that are willing to move beyond tolerance of GLBT people to affirmation.

At the same time, I hope that my predictions will not come to pass. At All Saints’ we continue to contribute in tangible ways to the reality of belonging to a worldwide communion that we understand most in terms of relationship. We support the Compass Rose Society http://www.compassrosesociety.org/

And I have just accepted appointment to the board which supports the Anglican Observer to the United Nations http://www.anglicancommunion.org/un/

While I applaud the programmatic concerns of the office, what really excites me about that work is that we are providing a voice for the poor in the councils of the United Nations. All too often the poor are not well represented by their governments, and a voice of a Church that recognizes the generous, abundant grace of God and the special concern of Jesus for the poor can only be a good thing. We continue our informal relationship with the Diocese of Western Tanganyika in Tanzania, supporting Fred Kalibwame at Uganda Christian University and providing a small measure of support to Emmanuel Bwatta studying at Sewanee. We are exploring what relationship with the Diocese of Juba in the Sudan might look like and are excited about moving forward with our relationship with the Cathedral of Sao Paulo in the Diocese of Rio de Janeiro. The Anglican Communion matters. It is an expression of the kind of relationship we talk about when we gather around the table week by week.

At the same time it is around the Lord’s Table that the Catholicity of the Church is most manifest, not in some ecclesiastic form of supra-national Corporation. We will gather this Christmas as we have always done. This year we will do so in the midst of a recession, wondering how to be faithful with the gifts that are released for the work we have been given to do and making sure that we do not reduce our work with the neediest among us. In fact I hope that we may be able to expand that work in time of need. That would be something to celebrate.

2 comments:

Joshua Smith said...

Our world needs communion now just as much as it ever has. It saddens me that those who have theological disagreements with parishes such as ours would go so far as to tell us that they no longer wish to share a table with us (or with those who they wish to marginalize, which is related, but, in a way, a separate issue). No one is asking for an agreement on theology to be made today or tomorrow. Only communion and communication. When have these things ever been harmful?

Ken Deeks said...

All four instruments of the unity of the Anglican Communion have said that blessing same-sex unions is not something that we as a communion of churches can embrace at this time. The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and TEC have decided to go their own way on this issue.

But imagine a congregation of 40 members voting 38 to 2 not to tear down the church and build a new one. And then imagine the 2 who voted lost the vote going ahead with with their innovation anyway. Who are the schismatics?

When the ACC/TEC were pleaded with to not go ahead with blessing same-sex unions, and with consecrating a gay bishop, they were warned that to do so would be to "tear the fabric of the communion." Who can argue that this is anything but a polite reference to schismatic behavior. Tearing = schism. But ACC/TEC didn't care and went ahead doing their own thing (even though as you said, the communion is based on relationship. As someone who has interacted with global south Anglicans, do you have any idea of how hurtful the behaviour of ACC/TEC is? The people I know are not filled with moral outrage, they are hurt in their hearts by what feels like relational betrayal. To be called a schismatic is like putting salt in the wound.