Thursday, August 6, 2009

Last November
August 6, 2009

Last November 18 I published a piece that predicted what was going to happen with the formation of a separatist province in the US. Things seems to be playing out much as I suggested then. Here it is again:

November 18, 2008
So December will see the official ‘launching’ of an additional Anglican Province for North America with the deposed Bishop of Pittsburgh (now a bishop of the border crossing province of the Southern Cone) as Archbishop. A number of primates (the usual suspects) have said that they will ‘recognize’ the new province. See the Stand Firm in Faith information here. Cantaur meanwhile maintains his customary and unhelpful silence, although The Washington Times reports that he invited Bishop Duncan to submit an application for a new province in October. If he condemns the new province as a travesty of catholic faith and order he will help formalize the fragmentation of Anglicanism and bring enormous problems upon the Church of England who are deeply divided but hanging together under the law of the land. If he supports the province either overtly or tacitly by his silence (my best bet for his initial response) he will continue the process of the Episcopal Church being cast out of the communion in some formal way for advocating and acting upon the full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons as such in the life of the church. This will be seen as the price of Anglican ‘unity’ and will mean that Anglicanism will be willing to be defined, less by broad, relational, graceful, generous, inviting theology and more, (like Rome in the view of many) by what it is against. At that point the battle over who ‘represents the brand’ or ‘holds the franchise’ would not be worth fighting as we would not want to be associated with the ’brand name of bigotry’ dressed up as gospel in a kind of Orwellian twist.
I would see the recognition of a ‘parallel province’, as an extraordinary innovation, and significantly more destructive of traditional polity than ‘border crossing’. In such a brave new world I hope the Episcopal Church would move swiftly to begin seeking partners throughout the world in order to sustain the possibility of broad, relational graceful, generous, inviting catholicity. One of the first steps would be a move to begin planting churches in England in which our way of living and proclaiming the gospel would be welcomed by many as a breath of fresh air (while doubtless condemned by others as American arrogance).
My question is how we would do such a thing decently and in order. Would England (or elsewhere) become a missionary district established by General Convention? A Suffragan operation akin to the Bishop for the Armed Forces or Bishop in Europe? An extension of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe (although we would be seeking to introduce English Episcopalianism rather than extending an essentially ex-pat operation)? A somewhat random diocesan mission?
I will be writing to some friends seeking response, thoughts and ideas to this bare bones, but quite serious, proposal, and would appreciate, welcome and encourage vigorous debate and response here. (I will even break a rule of this blog and join in the responses if a real conversation gets underway.)

What follows is a comment I posted two days later:

I've had two comments from colleagues. The first basically suggests that we are a long way from people being willing to forgo being Anglican. I think that is probably right but the price of it will wind up being at the expense of our support for GLBT people. It will happen slowly. Some recognition from primates of the new province, silence from Canterbury, some kind of covenant which TEC will reject, some mechanism for some diocese and possibly parishes to 'sign on independently', possibly through joining the new province and voila (or viola as a a friend says)people can remain Anglican as long as they renounce any affirmation of gays. We may not like ti but as long as Canterbury stays silent on this and keeps investing in the covenant what is going to change the picture I am painting?

The second comment was that it will be sad if we become like baptists and we have to ask what kind of Anglican a particular church might be. I think that is pretty well under way and explicitly so in Pittsburgh and elsewhere. I agree that it is sad and have a real sense of loss about it, but don't wan to sit by idly as though nothing is going on. Other suggestions welcome.

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