Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop of Rochester, Church of England, Michael Nazir-Ali

Way too early to tell

Well, apparently the time has come for the Archbishop of Canterbury to consider stepping down. <sarcasm on> I do consider this to be truly reliable and journalism at its finest<sarcasm off>. It does make for entertaining reading though…. Read it all here.

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams set to quit next year

The Archbishop of Canterbury is planning to resign next year, nearly a decade before he is due to step down, it can be revealed.

Dr Rowan Williams is understood to have told friends he is ready to quit the highest office in the Church of England to pursue a life in academia.

The news will trigger intense plotting behind the scenes over who should succeed the 61-year-old archbishop, who is not required to retire until he is 70.

While there may be hope that this is the case, I’d call for caution amongst the conservative minded among us for several reasons. First, I have a hard time believing the Bishop of London saying such a thing. He may have had a personal sentiment similar to the statement. However, Bishop Richard is far to savvy to have let something like this slip. And if he did then someone near and dear has just shown themselves the door. Second, Archbishop Williams has not stepped down throughout the significant controversies so far why should he do so now? The ABC has steered a course through the present travails, whether one agrees the direction or not, and has not shown any hint of retiring to academia. Lastly, IF (and that’s a big if) he does step down as and when  Mr. Wynne-Jones iterates, what is there to show, past or present, that the next ABC will be anything close to ‘orthodox’? I am not trying to be cynical. Yet, there is no reason to believe that someone with even a hint of orthodoxy would be chosen in the present climate of the UK. I hope to be proven wrong on this point. I really do. But there is nothing that leads me to believe that this would be the case. It would take significant political wrangling for a ‘conservative’ to be named. I do hope that the next ABC will be able to stand in a way which will lead this Communion out of such stormy seas. Bishop Michael are you ready to take up the reins?

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ACNA, Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, General Synod, TEC

ACNA PMM at CoE General Synod

Those that have been proclaiming victory for ACNA in regard to the PMM at General Synod are, in my estimation, at best too hopeful and at worst misguided. Read it carefully. In true English fashion, it does not state affirmation of ACNA but of ACNA’s desire. Moreover, it does not say that ACNA is an Anglican church, as some have asserted. Rather it simply notes that there have been divisions in the Anglican churches in Canada and US (this does not mean ACNA!). As much as this American priest in the CoE would like it to say something different, it sadly does not. Another wait and see tactic. Matt Kennedy over at Stand Firm puts it succinctly, whom I quote below.

Some requests and notes about the Synod vote
Thursday, February 11, 2010 • 9:13 am
Five quick notes prefaced by some requests:

Requests: Please Read The Resolution. Do exegesis; not isogesis. Please resist the temptation to read your wishes and desires into the text.

1. The motion does not “affirm” the ACNA.

2. The motion does not “affirm” that the ACNA is part of the Anglican Communion.

3. The motion “affirms” a “desire” . Translation: Ohhh, how sweet that you want to be my boyfriend. I “affirm” your desire.

4. The motion does not refer to the ACNA as a whole but to the desire of “those who formed” the ACNA.

5. The motion does not affirm the desire of “those who formed the ACNA” to remain in “the Anglican Communion”, but rather, it affirms their desire to remain a part of the Anglican “family”. Arguably, anyone who prays with a prayerbook and wears a robe of some kind could be considered a member of the “Anglican Family”

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Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, General Convention, Ruth Gledhill's Blog, TEC, TEC Conflict

ABC responds to GC09

The blogosphere is alive with the sound of typing… The ABC has finally put into words his response. If you haven’t read it all already, read it here.

What has really struck me, as I’ve been wading through the pages upon pages of responses to the ABC, is how the responses have fallen to one side or the other of the Atlantic. It appears that major responses on this side of the pond have ranged from hesitantly hopeful to overtly so. As one might expect, on the other side of the pond, blogs like StandFirm are less than pleased. (And I would tend to agree with them.)

However, I did truly appreciate the translation Peter Ould did of the ABC’s comments, though I believe he is too optimistic in response. There comes a time when words, however well crafted, are simply that – just words. I can sense the pleasure many commentators have gotten deciphering the intent and subtleties of Archbishop Williams’ words. But when will it end? Only God knows… But it appears that there is no impetus by the ABC or TEC to rush or push this forward. Moreover, I tend to agree with a commentor  on Ruth Gledhill’s blog about +Cantuar’s suggestion of a ‘two-tiered’ Communion.

I don’t get this at all. How is it a COMMUNION if there are two tiers? With all do respect, Archbishop Williams, you are a learned theologian and you know that two tiers do not make for one communion in any sense of Christian ecclesiology. You clasp onto TEC and try to keep them in the communion while TEC is delighted in a subdued fashion to see her conservative members leave and offer no such hand of pastoral affection. My Lord, this is not a paradox! This is a contradiction!

Posted by: Richard | 28 Jul 2009 06:06:19

In the end, for me (personally), I do not see how a Covenant or any other possibility short of expulsion from the Communion, will address the actions of TEC sufficiently. As a priest in the CofE who is American, I am bewildered at the lack of understanding on this side of the pond in regard to what is taking place in North America. I am all for reconcilliation and the gospel imperative of forgiveness. I too have read the wheat and the tares, the sheep and the goats, etc. But we are beyond these. We have a church which espouses a ‘doctrine’ which contravines Holy Scripture, and here I am not speaking about sexuality. When does a church cease to be a Christian church?

I had a conversation once with someone on this very issue. We were discussing the whole situation in North America. The argument arose that sexuality was a second order issue, but we could at least agree on the essentials. I responed by asking: ‘What were those essentials?’ The response came, Well, the creeds for instance. ‘But this is the problem.’, I said, ‘We have a church which no longer believes the Creeds as they have been handed down. So where does that leave us?’ And the response to this was: So why haven’t we done anything about this? All I could do was shake my head and say: ‘I don’t know.’

And I still don’t know why we won’t act. The time has come, and some would suggest, that it has gone. Because of this people have acted in their own capacities to address the issue. I am not suggesting one ‘strategy’ over another. I have friends who are in all ‘three camps‘, as Sarah Hey has noted. I am not advocating one over the other. We must all discern our own call and in the process not denegrate each other.

This being said, there comes a point where we must do something. Is this not the acusation leveled at the Christian church today, when people say that the Church is irrelevant to contemporary society? Moreover, is this not the internal critique made by neo-monastic communities/fresh expressions/emerging communities? Are they not trying to overcome this inactivity? By not acting, are we simply caught up in the Enlightenment understanding of propositional theology being the endall/beall of doctrinal significance?

There does come a time to act. And if now is not that time, then when? I have a tendency to agree with David Ould when he states:

…Canterbury is vitally important, evidenced not least by the profoundly negative impact that Williams’ inaction has had on the Communion. So a call now for Williams to go, in the light of his inactivity, is not to undermine Canterbury but, rather, to hold it in a very high place. For the sake of the reputation of his very high office he must vacate Augustine’s Chair.

I would be very hesitant to go as far as David Ould does, but what are the other options? A two-tiered Communion? As already noted, that is no Communion at all. It is a contradiction. I hope and pray that the Communion will come to some sort of conclusion. Yes we do live in tension, in a Kingdom of now but not yet. However, is this what that truly means? Heresy in tension with the gospel? I cannot agree with that assessment. I pray that the ABC is not left behind due to inactivity. It would be a truly sad day if that were to ever be the case. My concern is that the ABC will be left at the table with no one with which to talk. Both sides will have left and the ABC will be left alone sitting at the table. What a sad day that would be….

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Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Communion, Church of England, Ecclesial issues, GAFCON, Lambeth Conference

Is this the end? Bishop Gregory Cameron says: “at this stage of the covenant’s life, it didn’t want to link those two things – participation in the covenant with membership of the Instruments of Communion.”

Anglican Journal: Delegates weigh ‘tighter time frame’ for covenant approval process

Canon Kearon said that the membership and participation in the communion of provinces which decided to opt out of the covenant would not be altered, while Bishop Cameron had said, “at the moment, there is no linkage” but added that if 15 or 20 member churches approve the covenant “it might move quite quickly and give it more gravity.”

Asked to clarify, Bishop Cameron said, “we’re talking about a dynamic process … a process which is evolving and there’s no doubt that in the original vision for the covenant, it was envisaged that all the provinces of the communion would sign up to the covenant and that it would govern the life of the Anglican Communion in participation in the instruments of the communion.”

As the covenant process has evolved, said Bishop Cameron, “some have started to ask questions about what happens if others don’t sign up.” He added that it was the view of the Covenant Design Group that “at this stage of the covenant’s life, it didn’t want to link those two things – participation in the covenant with membership of the Instruments of Communion. It wanted to keep the two distinct.”

You’ve got to be kidding. Does this really say what I think it does? ‘No, no don’t worry. If you don’t like the covenant you can still participate in the Instruments of Communion.’ I don’t understand. To quote Denzel Washington: “Try explaining it to me like I’m a five year old.” If I read this correctly what they are saying is that you don’t have to sign up to the Covenant, but you can still participate in the Instruments of Communion (i.e. ACC, communion with the see of Canterbury, Primates Council and the Lambeth Conference).

Can anyone give me a different interpretation of the statement? I hate to say it, but if this isn’t the beginning of the end I don’t know what is….

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Anglican Communion, Church of England, GAFCON, Lambeth Conference

Lambeth

I don’t know about you, but things seem to be getting stranger all the time. The last couple of weeks on this side of the pond have been interesting after the General Synod vote. People keep saying things will happen and as of yet have not done so. But it is early days… Which leads us to Lambeth which is beginning this week. I don’t really know what to make of it any more. So many conservatives are at each others’ throats that for anything productive to arise is next to impossible. I’ve been dismayed by both ‘sides’ of the evangelical debate. Some of their statements and comments on certain blogs or sites has been less than stellar. It is truly saddening.

All we are left with is prayer. Maybe that is where we should have started…

Kyrie eleison

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