11 February 2010


As passed by the General Synod of the Church of England:
That this Synod
(a) aware of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada;
(b) recognise and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family;
(c) acknowledge that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further; and
(d) invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011.

What does it mean?
(Section A) states that the Synod is “aware of the distress.” Distress is attributed to “recent divisions.” Here in several problems immediately arise.

First several of the founding institutions, especially REC can claim substantially more that 'recent' status. REC is 137 years old, nearly as old as the Lambeth conferences. They have a substantial history and body of intelectual growth outside the Anglican Communion.

AMIA has less history but can make some similar claims. Their effort to recruit membership almost from their beginning without seeking Episcopalians has produced a culture substantially other than the communion.

Second while former Episcopal bishop Duncan was inhibited and deposed (removed) most of the clerics and substantially all of the laity who left TEC did so on their own action. No one, for instance told Bp. Iker to leave. He and his standing committee decided to do so.

Third the formation of AC-NA was publicly a plan to attempt the preemption of Canadian and American standing and property. It never was a division reacting to someone saying “go.”

Section B “affirms” the ”desire” of the founders of AC-NA to “remain” in the “Anglican family.” REC and AMIA both founding institutions have been outside the Anglican communion for years. In the case of REC, 137 years outside the communion have not produced an effort to join. The desire to remain is hard to see. And the Anglican family is a choice of words that explicitly does not mean the Anglican Communion.

Clearly some of the AC-NA founders, those whose stated intent is to supplant AC Canada and TEC do want status within the communion. One has to wonder if they carry the laity with them. Reading the various conservative blogs might lead one to another conclusion.

Section C is a disaster for AC-NA. In the process of noting that there are issues between the Church of England, the Anglican Communion, and AC-NA, the resolution explicitly states for the first time I am aware of, that AC-NA is not within the communion. Given their relationships with some Central African provinces, and their intended supplanting of AC Canada and TEC, that is devastating.

Section D is classic obfuscation. The resolution does not call for any activity. While Section C notes that the issues “need to be explored” it does not assert any authority to even ask the two institutions to do so.

I may think you need to explore a new hairstyle. I may even tell you so if I am illmannered. But it is another matter entire to order, or even formally request that you meet with my preferred stylist. Still you might need to explore a new style.

While I suspect the archbishops won't do this, a report that they assigned staff to investigate the problem would fulfill the request. Section D gives AC-NA no idea when something, anything substantive might happen.

Of course, the leaders of AC-NA, whose strategy is to supplant AC Canada and TEC necessarily will seek to spin this more positively but the fact remains: they lost. The resolution not only explicitly states they are out of communion it offers no road map and does not dismiss the relationships with AC Canada and TEC.

TEC accepts anyone baptized with water and the Trinitarian formula who wants to be a member. Individual members of AC-NA coming to a TEC community either for a single service or membership will be I am confident find a welcome.

Clergy to the extent they do not seek to fulfill what TEC now considers suspended or deposed sacramental roles become laity and would also presumably be welcome as laity. As deacons, priests or bishops however, different and more difficult standards apply.

To obtain fellowship with TEC, AC Canada or the Anglican Communion one must want it. 137 years of history suggest REC dose not, AMIA has never sought fellowship. Most of the rest of the founding institutions were formed precisely to leave TEC and / or AC Canada. Obtaining any sort of fellowship or reconciliation would mean abandoning their raison d'etre. It is difficult for me to imagine that.

An interesting day in the life of the communion. For all of his anti-TEC viewpoint, Dr. Williams presided over this Synod and AC-NA got very little if any encouragement from it. If anything, given his tendency to be a bit kinder towards AC Canada, I think the impact there is less positive.

My own preference is to constitute a sort of version of Dr. Williams' 'two level communion' idea. If I ruled the world, the traditionalists would be allowed, not merely in North America but wherever necessary, to join a something that would be in communion with the archbishops. The only international requirements would be to recognize the communion status of the laity and attend joint meetings at the Lambeth Conference and Primate's Meetings. I suppose that puts me with Dr. Williams' widely decried theory that keeping everyone talking is the first good. Neither he, I nor AC-NA saw ideas advanced yesterday. Of course who joins what is a matter of some discussion. I am not happy with schism. None-the-less we are where we are.


1 comment:

Christal said...

We are all here, divided and together.

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