January 28, 2010
The Archbishop of Canterbury was in New York last week for some work related to the Anglican Observer at the United Nations and to serve as a major presenter on economic issues for the Trinity Institute. I was present for some of the early part of the week. The Trustees of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale were led through a strategic review process by Barbara Wheeler of Auburn Seminary. While the realities of reductions in the value of endowments and our requirement that our budgets be balanced provide the usual level of angst and challenge, it seems that among institutions of theology, Berkeley and Yale divinity Schools together are among the strongest and best positioned on the landscape. One day we met at the Tutu Center of the General Theological Seminary in Chelsea and heard from Dean Ewing that they have made great strides in stabilizing their financial situation through the development of the Tutu Center as a hotel and conference site as well as the development of condominiums and shops in the library buildings through the mechanism of a land lease. (This continues to be an interesting model for us at All Saints’ but for the fact that there is still a lot of ‘available’ land in midtown.)
The Berkeley Board sponsored a dinner in support of the Anglican Observer’s office. Over the years a number of clergy and now some of the laity involved in supporting that office have had Berkeley connections. Rowan Williams was the speaker. I had attended the last such dinner about ten years ago or whenever Dr. Williams was newish in his position, and he has come along way in finding the right balance of how to say something of substance in an engaging way after a dinner.
Among other things, he spoke of relationship, and how relationship is not best handled as a juridical matter. I wasn’t sure I had heard correctly as I had shared from the pulpit on the previous Sunday my concern that the last section of the proposed Anglican Covenant was exactly that: a juridical or disciplinary way to handle anxiety in relationship. Others heard the same thing that I did. While he was addressing international relationships that make for justice in the world, he must have realized the connection with what he was saying and tensions in the Communion. His preferred process for dealing with those tensions is currently all about stopping The Episcopal Church moving forward with the confirmation of the election of Mary Glasspool as a Suffragan Bishop for Los Angeles. The fourth section of the proposed Covenant outlines the discipline and consequence for provinces of the church who act in ways of which others do not approve. However much he wishes that this was not ‘juridical’, and however much he recognizes that juridical solutions to tension in relationship are not the way to go, he must also recognize that is exactly what he is proposing and exactly how the fourth section will be used in the name of ‘unity’, however much handwringing and expressions of regret go along with it.