Friday, February 12, 2010

Report from the Church of England Synod

Dr. Michael Howell, who was one of the invited representatives to the Church of England General Synod for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), has written a short report on yesterday's vote to affirm the ACNA. Here is an excerpt:
I stand in full agreement with those who take this as a very positive outcome ... I would also point out that the amended resolution even goes a step further than Lorna’s original text, by commending the CoE to work with the Communion’s instruments on the matter of ACNA membership.

After Bp. Harvey, Fr. (Tory) Baucum, Cynthia (Brust) and I gave our presentations at Tuesday’s luncheon, two things were very clear:

1) There are many (non-radical) CoE members who still have doubts that the atrocities of TEC and the ACoC are real. It’s just very hard for them to believe that “churches” could disregard proper procedure and behave in such a manner.

2) Our presentations had a VERY positive impact on many delegates who had previously thought the ACNA was nothing more than bunch of “homophobic schismatics,” who did not want to play by the “rules,” and were simply looking to rejoin “the club” for ulterior motives. Time and time again, delegates approached me and told me that after listening to us, they had to do a complete 180 degree turn on their previously-held opinions. Our strongest allies in the General Synod felt that this was a major reason why the (albeit) revised resolution passed by such an overwhelming majority.
Read it all here at SF. Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church sues again - what the Archbishop of Canterbury described this week as "vicious polemic and stony-faced litigation" goes on. And it seems as though England now gets it.


Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Given all the negative comments here about TEC representatives being at the Synod meeting, I would appreciate knowing who invited the ACNA representatives.

Anam Cara said...

One of the comments on StandFirrm said:

The biggie for me: We (ACNA) are recognized as A “CHURCH”!!! TEC & Co. WILL NOT like that! And will spin it like a merry-go-round in any other direction! On some of the other issues mentioned… do I want to be “in communion” with TEC? No! Otherwise I wouldn’t have left them. Do I wish to be “in communion” with the ABC? Jury is still out on that one but current vibes are negative. Synopsis: A positive event on our journey!

What this writer doesn't understand about being in communion with someone is that if ACNA is in communion with the ABC, it will be "in communion" with TEC!

He knows he doesn't want to be in communion with TEC, isn't sure about being in communion with the ABC - why does he care if any of these he doesn't care about communion with see him as a "church"? It's not like he wants to be recognized as part of their church.....

I didn't believe Bishop McBurney several years ago when he told us that it wasn't just TEC, but the entire Anglican communion that was disintegrating, but I think he was right.

Anonymous said...

Daniel Weir--

Good morning. I don't read all that happens here on BabyBlue, but often do see your name and thoughts. That you stick with this as you do says something important, and I honor that. I wonder if you would ever be interested in an honest conversation?

To what extent do you really defend TEC's theological and ecclesiastical ethos? At my best I see through a glass darkly; perhaps that is true of you too. But try as I do I can't get beyond the imagery of TEC as Hinduism with an Enlightenment face. To say that doesn't mean that that is true of everyone, including you, but it is true of the public face of TEC. Does Nancy Pelosi represent every Democrat? No, just as Karl Rove doesn't represent every Republican. But in the way that we have determined our polity as a people, their commitments have shaped their parties, for good or ill. That the bishops of TEC continually go along with the "Hinduism" of Spong, Chane, Bruno, Schiori, is an important finger-to-the-wind, whatever individuals or congregations might protest to the contrary. The party platform, so to speak, does not represent mere Christianity. Are you ever willing to engage on that level? I hope that this is not "just politics" for you, in that worst of senses. From words you offer, I don't get that impression from you. So what do you think?

Always Hobbits

Anonymous said...

"atrocities"? This takes real chuzpah and is insulting to those who suffer from real atrocities in this world. The "sufferings" of the ACNA do not even come close to that. Get over it.

BabyBlue said...

I have no problem with the ACNA being in communion with dioceses in The Episcopal Church - either directly or through the ABC. This is a separation, not a divorce. The communion may be "impaired" for a while.

What is not clear is whether TEC will or will delay indefinitely signing the Covenant.


Fr. Daniel Weir said...

I think it worth noting that, even though there are for ACNA very positive aspects of the Synod's resolution, that three times The Synod rejected any expression of its desire for the CofE to be in communion with ACNA. The first was when it accepted the amendment that was the heart of the resolutin that was adopted. The secon was when it rejected an amendment thar would have added the desire for the two to be in communion. The third was when it rejected a motion to recognize the orders of clergy in ACNA.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

At the risk of being accused of spin - as far as I know no one in TEC has ever suggested that ACNA isn't a church. Of course it is, just as the Methodist Church or the Baptist Church are. It is also quite clear that it is an Anglican Church in the same way that the many "continuing Churches" that have existed in the US for decades are Anglican. ACNA and many others are clearly worshipping within the Anglican Tradition and have every right to celebrate that and claim the name Anglican. The Synod has simply affirmed what was widely accepted as true by conservatives and liberals alike.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

"Always Hobbit" asked me, "To what extent do you really defend TEC's theological and ecclesiastical ethos?" I decided not to respond, but he persisted and e-mailed me. I responded to his e-mail and here is what I wrote: Like many Epsicopalians I am far from being an ideologue. A progressive, even a revisionist, yes, but Ihope there is more to me than that. What is interesting about TEC - which I suspect is also true about ACNA - is that its members can't fairly be pigeon-holed. There are people like me - and, I would add, the Bishop of NH - who, while believing that same-sex unions cn be holy and should be blessed by the Church, are fairly conservative in our theology. We do not have to cross our fingers while reciting the Creeds. We believe that in Jesus we meet God, the Incarnate Word. We believe that in the Paschal event sinful humans are reconciled to God and freed from slavery to sin. As a cleric I have affirmed twice my belief in the authority of Scripture and reject the assertion that my interpretation of Scripture on the question of same-sex relationships means I don't accept the authority of Scripture. There has been room in the Church for some level of disagreement about interpretation, esp. about ethical questions. I understand that some of the objections to my position on same-sex relationships are not simply about ethics but about our understanding of human nature. The objections have focused on the complementarity of men and women and the lack of complementarity in same-sex unions. I think that argument depends too much upon anatomy and, in the same-sex couples that I am blessed to have as parishioners, I see signs of complentarity and of the mutual submission that I believe to be one of the hallmarks of Christian marriage.

Many of us are unhappy about the continuing litigation over property. However, I am convinced that parties on both sides of the litigation are seeking to be faithful stewards of the gifts that the Church has received and that, with no ecclesiastical court to whish they can appeal, they are forced into civil courts.

I am also unhappy that there was not a mechanism for clergy to leave TEC without being deposed. In my diocese, the Bishop tried to find a way for that to happen,but found that the departing clergy were, for the most part, unwilling to cooperate. What I suspect was true is that some of these clergy were unwilling to accept the authority of the Bishop at all and felt that they couldn't in conscience cooperate.

There have been assertions at BB's blog that the Presiding Bishop and others deny the uniqueness of the Christ. What I see in some of what the PB has said is an affirmation of God's sovereignty. Without denying my faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, I affrim that there are signs of God's revelation in other religious traditions. I believe that in our relationships with people of other faiths we serve no good purpose in making sweeping statements about the truth claims of those faiths.

You are quite right in thinking that my lack of response was in some measure because of the limits of the blog comment format. Another reason was my sense that at least some of those involved in commenting are not at all interested in serious dialog but only in scoring points, even if they have to do that by constructing a parody of my position. I am willing to stand by what I have written and, at times, to change my mind, but I have little patience with those who read into my words things that aren't there.

Thank you for your willingness to perservere in seeking a conversation.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

I got the chance this morning to watch an interview with Lorna Ashworth from the day before the Synod vote. At the end she said, and I am paraphrasing, that she would be unhappy if the affirmation of a desire for the CofE to be in communion with ACNA was not part of the final resolution. I suspect, in spite of all positive interpretations of the resolution as adopted, that Mrs. Ashworth was not at all happy with the result.

Lapinbizarre said...

".....the atrocities of TEC and the ACoC". Something to have a good laugh about over coffee as I relax after walking the dogs. Walk them in the snow, yet - rare hereabouts.

Where do you FIND these people, BB?

Allen said...

Hey everybody.

The real and actual BIG news of the vote at Synod was that the motion wasn't defeated and that the significant majority of Synod wants to keep hearing more from the disenfranchised Anglicans of North America. Looks like the C of E has listening ears to ACNA. Not quite the backhand that TEC wanted, I'm sure. So, forget recognition debates. THE story is that the C of E is listening to ACNA against the wishes of America's decaying Anglican provinces. The next Archbishop of Canterbury will deal with impetuous TEC and AC of C much more harshly than Williams. By then Madame Schori will also be out and TEC will have to explain its ruins to the rest of the Communion. TEC fatique is definitely setting in. THAT's the big news. The rest will naturally follow.

One can start to see the worry lines deepen as sympathy for ACNA will certainly increase due to TEC's losses in Virginia and South Carolina, not to mention 815's recent blunder by calling the Diocese of South Carolina out to the street for a fight.

Allen said...

By the way.

The vote to sympathize with and keep listening to ACNA?

309 in favor, 69 against and 17abstentions.

And now, a year to report back about the virtues of true Anglicanism in America. The proof will be in what Synod sees from TEC in the headlines.

Oh oh.

Robin_G_Jordan said...

I posted this comment in response to another comment on my own blog Anglicans Ablaze. I believe that it is an accurate assessment of what the AC-NA is facing.

"The language of the resolution leaves it entirely to the Archbishops to identify what issues that the ambitions of the AC-NA in respect to relations with the Church of England and membership in the Anglican Communion raise. What has been the attitude of Williams and Sentamu been toward the AC-NA so far? What was the attitude Williams expressed toward the AC-NA in his presidential address to the General Synod?

Did the General Synod send the AC-NA away empty handed? I think that it did. The resolution recognizes the existence of the AC-NA and the desire of AC-NAers to continue to be Anglicans but recognition of its existence and the aspiration of those forming the AC-NA to "remain within the Anglican family" is a far stretch from even tacit recognition that the AC-NA is a part of the Anglican Communion. In thanking the General Synod for hearing the AC-NA's case, I think that Duncan recognized that the General Synod had sent the AC-NA away empty handed--whatever spin he may eventually put on what happened. The talk on the Internet that the recognition of the Church of England does not matter, the ACNA has the recognition of the GAFCON Primates, and their recognition is what really counts suggests that a growing number of AC-NAers are recognizing that too.

What can we expect to see happen between now and the 2011 meeting of the General Synod? After that meeting? The way that the issue of women bishops has been handled in the Church of England offers some clues.

There is sympathy for the AC-NA in the Church of England. However, the divisions of that Church and its absorption with its own problems make it highly unlikely that the AC-NA will gain the kind of recognition that it covets. It is a painful reality that some AC-NAers have yet to accept."

BabyBlue said...

It's a cafe, Lapin. We do try to be inclusive, even if we don't agree. :)

How else will we learn?


Lapinbizarre said...

True. Snow already almost gone, alas and thank G-d.

The Lakeland Two said...

Fr. Weir, commend you for answering Always Hobbit and posting here. While I disagree with you on multiple issues, at least I do know where you stand. Your choice to agree with same-sex issues and still claim adherence to Scripture is contradictory but I have long understood that those who feel this way don't see why people like me find this contradictory. I also comprehend that while there is a desire to convince people like me to agree with your position, there is not a desire to accept that we don't agree and won't without slamming us in the process. In other words, your static position is fine, but if someone disagrees with you, their static position isn't.

The second issue I have with your comments is your label of "in making sweeping statements" re: the PB. This also falls in the same category as a slam. I gave the link on a previous thread of a list of heresies that have been documented. Many of us who post are aware of them, and don't feel we have to document them repeatedly. It falls back to what RalphM said, as some point just number them and throw the number out - we all know them.

Some of us who comment aren't trying to score points. We see comments made and understand that there are new people coming into awareness and reaching the blogs. They need to see all sides and make their mind up for themselves. What tires me is to read that "your" position is so reasonable and the rest of us aren't because we don't agree with the reappraiser side. And then you personally make sweeping comments accusing those you don't agree with of making sweeping comments. The irony needs pointing out.

There was a lot I agree on with you, just as I can with Scout. I wish you well with your trajectory. It is one I don't feel will be successful based on my understanding of Scripture and God. May God guide you with His wisdom, not mine. And I do wish you well.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Lakeland 2-

I accept that you don't agree with me. I share my thinking and read what others have shared in hopes that we will understand one another better. If I have slammed you or others or if I have asserted that your position is unreasonable, I did not mean to. I accept that you and many others believe my position is contrary to Scripture, but just as you are unconvinced by what I have written,I am unconvinced all that I have read here and elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Mr Weir - sorry, most of us do not want an AC which tries to say both that something is a sin and that the same thing is good and holy..... that would be a house divided....and not many would be attracted to join such a compromised, hypocritical organisation ...... because of this, it makes sense that the CofE's archbishops explore a relationship with ACNA given it fits so easily with the CofE given it is not walking apart from the AC, tearing the fabric of the Communion and in dispute with the mind of the Communion......please note, no such exploration is going on with "Anglican churches" in any other part of the world........this is no victory for the revisionist leaders of TEC who tried to walk apart from the AC but brand as schismatic those who remain in line with the mind of the Communion....why did they even try?

Sibyl said...

What's the point of ACNA being recognized by an entity that just voted to give spousal benefits to 'gay' clergy's sexual partners?

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

I think Sibyl's comment is appropriate. Those who think that ACNA and the CofE fit easily are overlooking the reality of the diveristy of convictions on same-sex relationships within the CofE. It has been said that the blessing of same-sex unions is as common - and perhaps even more common - in the CofE than in TEC. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of that statement, but I think the votes at the Synod are indicative of the diversity within CofE. I know of one priest who told his bishop that he would transfer to TEC if the CofE was no longer in communion with TEC. While I acknowledge that TEC's has been rejected by many, there are Churches within the Communion where significant numbers of clergy and laity agree with TEC and would, perhaps, be unwilling to support TEC's removel from the Communion. The Communion is clearly divided over both the blessing of same-sex union and the ordination of women to the episcopate. Are we able to live with diversity of conviction about these issues, as we have about other ethical and theological issues? I hope so. As a pacifist I have been in communion with many people who disagree with me about that ethical question, a question about which Jesus seems, at least to me, to have spoken clearly. As a supporter of women's ordination I have been in communion with many who disagree with me about that theological question.

Anonymous said...

Sibyl - the CofE bishops agreed to civil partnerships on the assumption that they were in line with the teaching of the might think that they were naive - but the pensions issue does not, therefore, give support to the revisionist cause.

Perhaps some in the CofE are not as honest with their bishops as they might be....but the CofE is not supporting a revisionist stance (