Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Canterbury - Two Province Solution in North America?

Matt Kennedy's Initial Response to the ABC's Reflection

Quick read: This does not look good for ECUSA. It looks like a two province solution, one in full communion one in association, may be where we are headed..

Okay, here are my first impressions:

Three money quotes:

First this:

The recent resolutions of the General Convention have not produced a complete response to the challenges of the Windsor Report, but on this specific question there is at the very least an acknowledgement of the gravity of the situation in the extremely hard work that went into shaping the wording of the final formula.

This is an explicit recognition that ECUSA has not responded adequately to Windsor.

Second money quote:

This leaves many unanswered questions, I know, given that lines of division run within local Churches as well as between them - and not only on one issue (we might note the continuing debates on the legitimacy of lay presidency at the Eucharist). It could mean the need for local Churches to work at ordered and mutually respectful separation between ‘constituent’ and ‘associated’ elements; but it could also mean a positive challenge for Churches to work out what they believed to be involved in belonging in a global sacramental fellowship, a chance to rediscover a positive common obedience to the mystery of God’s gift that was not a matter of coercion from above but of that ‘waiting for each other’ that St Paul commends to the Corinthians.

Which opens the door to two provinces one more Anglican than the other

And the third money quote is here:

That is why the process currently going forward of assessing our situation in the wake of the General Convention is a shared one. But it is nonetheless possible for the Churches of the Communion to decide that this is indeed the identity, the living tradition – and by God’s grace, the gift - we want to share with the rest of the Christian world in the coming generation; more importantly still, that this is a valid and vital way of presenting the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. My hope is that the period ahead - of detailed response to the work of General Convention, exploration of new structures, and further refinement of the covenant model - will renew our positive appreciation of the possibilities of our heritage so that we can pursue our mission with deeper confidence and harmony.

This seems to indicate that we should expect the ABC to make whatever decision is made in concert with the primates.

Quick read: This does not look good for ECUSA. It looks like a two province solution, one in full communion one in association, may be where we are headed, similar to my first scenario. The ABC has not faltered.

UPDATE: There is a growing confusion reflected in some of the comments and in some of the reaction articles that have been posted here (Ould's and Gledhill's to be specific). There are two distinct processes. First, there is the process of responding to GC2006 that will begin with the next gathering of the primates. Second, there is the covenant creation process.

ECUSA’s participation in the second depends upon a positive outcome of the first.

Remember when the first news of the covenant came out about a month or two ago?

Everyone thought that this might be Lambeth's answer to ECUSAn intransigence.

This was quickly clarified and the two processes (response to Windsor and the Covenant) were distinguished.

You can also see some evidence of this distinction in the ABC's letter to the primates three months ago where he clearly delineates the "practical issues to be addressed first" from the more macro issues that he wants to address at Lambeth.

So from the very beginning there has always been a distinction between the two. The only reason to blend them together now is to read this completely out of context with everything that has come before

The best way to understand the interplay between the two processes is that ECUSA, having already provided a response deemed incomplete by the ABC, will likely be judged to have walked away from the Commununion in some manner or form. Perhaps ECUSA will be considered an associate under discipline?

However, this does not mean that once the covenant process is underway and the structures in place, ECUSA won’t be invited to participate in some manner. ECUSA might be invited to send observers who are, at best, granted voice but no vote. Or, if she is willing to repent of her past actions (I mean in a real way) and submit to an Anglican Covenant she could be given full participation.

The point is, the Windsor response and the Covenant process are two distinct mechanisms. Gledhill and Ould flatten both into one and end up throwing this rather clear letter from the ABC into confusion.

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