Friday, December 05, 2008

Rowan Williams hosts Anglican primates at Canterbury Cathedral for emergency summit

BB NOTE: This is a general overview of early observations of what happened today in Canterbury. Stay tuned for more details. And please keep up the prayers.

Observers now report that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, hosted five other Anglican primates representing the majority of the membership of the Anglican Communion today at the historic Canterbury Cathedral for an emergency summit.

Early reports indicate that The Most Rev'd Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria, The Most Rev'd Gregory Venables, Primate of The Southern Cone, The Most Rev'd Emmanuel Kolini, Primate of Rwanda, The Most Rev'd Benjamin Nzmibi, Primate of Kenya, and The Most Rev'd Henry Orombi, Primate of Uganda (not sure about West Africa and Tanzania) joined the Archbishop of Canterbury for a focused time of prayer, conversation, as well as to share a meal together as they discussed the current state of the Anglican Communion and the establishment of the new Anglican province in North America. Observers report that the prayers and conversations continued into the afternoon and were deliberate, comprehensive, and open.

Other Anglican primates have signaled they will also officially recognize the creation of a new Anglican province in North America, called the Anglican Church in North America, including the primate of the Middle East, The Most Rev'd Mouneer Anis, and the primate of South East Asia, The Most Rev'd John Chew, as well as others. In addition, senior bishops in the Church of England and The Episcopal Church itself, as well as bishops from other provinces from around the world have also indicated their support for the establishment of the new province.

Mouneer Anis will host the Primates Meeting, one of the four official Anglican "instruments of unity" as the primates meet together for the first time in two years in Egypt (Jan. 31-Feb. 5).

Ruth Gledhill has more at her blog here, though not sure why she thinks nothing happened. She's British after all - she should know that British-forms of diplomacy are not like the American-sort, which apparently is one reason why we have new President of the United States. Of course, she does then say her headline is not quite accurate. What's up, Ruth? Rather have Wimpy's than Whoppers?


Anonymous said...

Ya know, I think I like better the picture of Canterbury with the big, red, nuclear cloud in the background like they often have on Get Religion.

Anonymous said...


Um, which American bishop STILL in the Episcopal Church said he was going to recognize the new Province? None that I know of--

Unknown said...

How do you recognize a province? By recognizing their orders, of course.

In many ways, those on the inside are in far tougher spots than anyone else, without all the attention (for better or worse) and it can be mighty lonely and isolating. But the Lord has consistently shown favor to the remnant that walk where even the angels fear to tread. We pray God's blessing on them - the unsung heros.


Malcolm+ said...

A few observationsm BB.

1. How can a meeting planned for several months be considered an "emergency" summit?

2. It is entirely possible to recognize a denominations orders without making that denomination a province of the Anglican Communion. We recognize Roman and Orthodox orders. Benedict XVI would be startled to think that made Rome a part of the Anglican Communion. The four British provinces of the Communion have an agreement with the Scandinavian Lutheran churches that includes mutual recognition of ministries. That doesn't make the Archbishop of Upsalla part of the Primates Meeting.

3. The Anglican Consultative Council has a process to recognize a new province of the Communion. Among other things, it requires the assent of 2/3 of the 39 Primates. (39 vice 38 because the list includes Ceylon, which is usually counted as extra-provincial). That means 14 "no" votes OR ABSTENTIONS are enough to reject a new province. Given that there are 12 virtually assured "no" votes and only a similar number of assured "yesses," the pro-ACNAe would need to carry 13/15 (87%) of the remaining provinces. Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

Malcolm+ - thanks for your analysis. I may be wrong but I thought I read elsewhere that a new Province has to be vetted or approved by the already existing Province within which the proposed new Province finds itself. Since TEC is not going to support the proposed new Province what is the end run" that will get around the need for TEC to sign off on the proposed new Province? Am I wrong in my initial premise?

Unknown said...

The desire to maintain what is even a toxic status quo is very strong in us, isn't it? The reasons why the Anglican church in the West has ceased growing - and it's not growing - is multi-layered - we must know that. The causes continue and when challenged, there is the desire to resist - sometimes to the point of a litigious dagger.

Theology and ideology create structures - and then structures enforce those belief systems. What we see in front of us is a growing resistance to nearly a half a century of spiritual and structural decline that is now being challenged by the only part of the Anglican Church to grow - the Global South.

In my own parish it was recently pointed out that we have been deeply influenced by the East African revival. East Africa brought it to us and the fire caught on for Jesus and for His mission. The relationships for the Gospel have been built over forty years. This isn't just since 2003, but has been decades - decades - in the making, if we had eyes to see it.

For decades, TEC was pleased to leave the growing churches in its structures alone as long as they got their financial offerings. When a now biblically-literate laity awoke and realized what the TEC establishment was doing with that financial support, the rebellion against the influx of secular humanist thought and unitarian/paganistic theology took off.

For a long time, the resistance believed that this influx could either be overcome or contained - but 2003 rocked the Anglican world because it became clear that this was just more chasing the wind. The TEC leadership was infiltrated by this belief system so deep and so wide that even the orthodox could no longer elect leadership that would in any way challenge this new status quo.

Of course, we now see so much evidence to the massive shift in ideology in the Episcopal Church that it almost ceases to be breathtaking. We now know that value is put on the elitist rank TEC has in American society to put gravitas on their unbiblical and immoral pronouncements and activities that to challenge that strategy is to challenge their very souls. Our own loyalty to the church is called into question.

It is, frankly, a warning to us all - the breaking of the First Commandment is what we all are most tempted to do, far beyond perhaps any of the others - in fact, the others are symptoms that we have all ready broken the first commandment. When we are challenged, we find out who or what our god really is.

Again, that being said - this is a significant reason why I continue to pray and have sometimes only a mustard seed sized faith for the witness of those still inside the TEC structures. The deeper one gets into the structure, the deeper one commits to reforming that structure, the clearer it becomes that TEC is dissolving into what is best described as a cultic-style organization in order to survive.

Can that change? Is Jesus Lord? Of course it can change. But how do we get to that place of change? The DNA of TEC is toxic. We do not show our love for this church - and I do love the Episcopal Church - by enabling the structures that have been built to pull it deeper and deeper into spiritual and structural decline. That is not love.

It is comparable, perhaps, to a certain degree, the American auto industry in Detroit who are operating under structures that are in fact destroying their companies. The American people will not buy enough of their cars because they do not stand the test of time, they break, they lose their value, they are not well made, they are not trustworth. How will these auto companies change - their entire structure is founded on what is now quicksand. They are sinking and what it would take for them to survive may mean digging up the very foundations of their companies.

TEC is so like the Detroit auto industry. The leaders in place were elected by more leaders just like them, that are enamored with the prestige of their positions in American society - as the CEOs of Detroit were when they individually flew to Washington on their private jets - but lack the resolve to change.

In fact, TEC officials are convinced that driving the church into the ground, hemorrhaging membership over decades, to require obedience to the belief that "loyalty" is adherence to dysfunctional leadership and theology and somehow your "confirmation" as an Episcopalian can be undone if you go to another Anglican entity (as if that was possible, which of course it's not - anymore that these depostions of bishops have any meaning - even Rowan Williams recognizes that Bishop Duncan is still a bishop - it is God who makes a bishop) will build up the church - it will not. TEC has lost its authority, that was clear at Lambeth.

The Presiding Bishop is a figurehead, put there to maintain the semblance of authority. But she doesn't have it - never did. In fact, one could make the case that her elevation was yet another example of the exploitation of women. It was calculated - she could no more run Chrysler than The Episcopal Church. That there are those who would think she could indicates that she's just a figurehead, a puppet. She was never ready. It's just sad.

We see the loss of commitment to honest and transparent communication by the decimation of the communication budget at 815 - another sign of cultic type decisions. The mission of the organization is no longer to be a church in the traditional sense of the word (where the people are its most important commodity, its resource and its client base - to put it rather crassly) - no, it's the trappings of power that mean far more and the implementing the cultural ideology that is a greater force - again, this became abundantly clear at Lambeth. TEC - as she stands today - did not fit in.

At Truro we have prepared to walk away. We have been in emergency preparations to give up our buildings and rebuilt the church. We are rebuilding our home groups, we've run the entire church - but for the Sunday morning worship - off campus for the entire Lenten season to see if we could do it and how we would need to change things if we had to. Even as it looks very hopeful right now, we still prepare - which would be very interesting if we should find ourselves in a national emergency and lose the ability to worship in our space for other reasons that TEC lawsuits. I wonder about that sometimes.

As it is, it looks as though we will be able to remain in our space. But having laid the buildings down on the altar, it is now our experience that what matters more than anything is the very reason why we exist - for God's people, not the stuff - God's people. In fact, that is our theme, our focus of ministry right now, of being a place where hospitality is practiced as a way of life. The more we walk out in this, the more we find how far we are from it! It's humbling - we so desperately need Jesus. To think that we've somehow "arrived" by creating a new province is foolish - we have only just begun and we have so far to go! Come, Holy Spirit!

There is where the journey goes, the stuff of ministry - and it's tough, no doubt about that. To break through and drive across our cultural impediments to carry out the mandate of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our internal resistance to the very Word that will set us free - that is where our energies should go and with the birth of a new province, then that is where it must go.

If we are wrong, we will have a grand stage to watch how wrong we are. There will be no hiding, no blaming, no pointing, no nothing. Either we will do the stuff of Gospel ministry or go down in flames. No more hiding. No more pointing. It is to the cross we cling.

The problem with working within the structures in place - mostly set up by TEC, by the way and it's lack of funding now for the ACC is quite interesting - is that they are setup for failure. It's like Chrysler being in charge of setting up a new auto company next door. If the auto company is going down the drain, the last thing that company is going to do is help start a new one - and who would want them to? They have all ready made it abundantly clear that they can't run their own company, how are they going to start another one?

The American Revolution didn't happen because England was thrilled to see men and women free. If that kind of partnership had existed, perhaps we would have not had to have that War of Independence. Power is a tricky thing - in fact, that is what we all should be watching, for we still come from the DNA of human sin. The central point of worship - that it is focused on Jesus, that through Him we can be in fellowship with Father through the power of His Holy Spirit - that must remain central to our life. It's what we all have in common - that central Gospel faith. We have many differences - this is truly a diverse province. It is Jesus who must glorified, even if all else fails.

That we've come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord is evident in the miracle of this gathering. There's no other way to explain it - it is a miracle. If this is the hand of the Lord, we need to remain faithful to the Gospel and forgive one another as we walk through these valleys. That has been more and more on my heart these past few weeks - to forgive and to be forgiven. There has been much wounding and to find our way home is a path filled with brambles and strife.

I can think of many ways we could go through this in peace - but it would take great courage and relinquishing of personal power and prestige. Is such a thing possible? God told Abraham it is.

And so even at this hour, I still don't lose hope that the Episcopal Church will recognize that the trajectory she is on is taking her over the cliff. Even at this late hour we could lay down our arms. But even at this time of peace with Russia, for example, our nuclear weapons are still pointed at each other. That is the reality of intense conflict, conflict built over decades. How do we live in peace, but to rebuild structures that encourage the growth of Gospel ministry and at this time, I see no such desire amongst those who inhabit positions of power in 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY.

Come, Holy Spirit. Come, Holy Spirit.


Anonymous said...

Actually, Bishop Katharine has the guts that have been needed in the Church for a long time. I just love her.

Malcolm+ said...

BB, I have no doubt that you believe the things you've said in that extended . . . er . . . comment. The fact that you believe them and that the leaders of your new denomination keep repeating them ad nauseum doesn't make them true. (I'm not sure exactly what it was responding to, but it's your blog and if you want to populate it with unsubstantiated but oft repeated calumnies about your former co-religionists, I guess that's your business.)

It is very simple, of course, to offer up the simplistic syloogism:

- TEC is predominantly liberal theologically.
- TEC's numbers are declining.
- Therefore liberalism causes decline.

Except that correlation is not causality. Rome's numbers are declining. The Southern Baptist numbers are declining. The only religious category whose numbers are not declining is "no religion."

BTW, most of the complaints I've read about the enfeebling of the 815 communications function has been from liberal bloggers. Prioe to those cutbacks, I recall reading the odd conservative blog who dissed the communications from 815 as propaganda. ++KJS can't win for losing with the conservatives.

Finally, B, you've dodged my question. By what dubious standard does a meeting that's been in the work for months get labelled an "emergency meeting?"

Anonymous said...

Amen, Malcolm. Too bad the news has been so heavy and fast that this thread is quickly moving to the dead inside pages.