Friday, February 12, 2010

Former Rapid City priest's take on current Anglican situation

Bishop David Anderson is part of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the traditional Christian movement that has been divided from The Episcopal Church (TEC). He served as Rector of Emmanuel Parish (TEC), Rapid City, from 1978 - 87.

He arrives at a generally positive view of the resolution recently passed by the General Synod of the Church of England. His comments are excerpted from the American Anglican Council's weekly e-update:

On the day of the great debate there was, almost immediately after the placing of the motion for consideration, a motion to "move on." This basically was an attempt (though characterized as avoiding a discussion that might hurt Synod members' interpersonal relationships, etc.), to scuttle any action that might be favorable to the AC-NA, since both the original motion, and Bishop Hill's amendment, although coming from different directions, offered hope and direction to the AC-NA. The scuttling motion was defeated, as was a somewhat similar motion later in the debate. The General Synod wanted to talk about this, argue over the various amendments, and have an opportunity to say something positive, without going further than the moment called for. As the debate and separate votes took place, an amendment to Bishop Hill's amendment was passed and attached, which recognized the division that was taking place in North America. This small passage is of great hope and usefulness in many of the litigation situations since the recognition of the division used no pejorative words, nor did it side with TEC or the ACoC who claim that this is schism on the part of those who departed their structures.

In the end, Mrs. Ashworth's original motion was essentially erased in favor of Bishop Hill's amended amendment, which states, as I copied it from the working leaflet, "That this Synod, aware of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada, recognize and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family; 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 invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011."

For those on the western side of the Pond for whom concise and bold language is the default mode of expression, some doubt may arise as to what was gained. Well, to begin with, this motion wasn't an idea begun in the AC-NA, this was a gift from our friends in the Church of England who do recognize us as being as Anglican in the essentials as any could be. Anything gained is true gain indeed. Furthermore, understanding the nature of English understatement, and noting the direction of the sympathy of a large majority, and the fact that the "division" word was used, we feel we have not only something positive to bring home, but also the establishment of trajectory which will take us further in future years. This is not going to happen suddenly, just as the condition that AC-NA separated from did not happen suddenly. The word division helps the AC-NA. The fact that there was no opprobrium blaming one party over another is important, and also the recognition that our desire is to remain within the Anglican family, rather than implying we are not and would have to become part of it. The motion acknowledges that we are already in the family, if not yet in the formal structured part. It acknowledges that there are ramifications to the process that all of this entails. At this point, many of us within the AC-NA wish to proceed into the formal structure using the proper door at the proper time, and not move crosswise with the process to our own disadvantage. The question being, what door is the right door, and when is the right time? A significant point is that this motion indicates the sentiment expressed is not a static one but a dynamic one which will need a response next year from the Archbishops. The final vote was 309 for, 69 against, with 17 abstentions.


The Archer of the Forest said...

I think the C of E's General Synod actions were largely incoherent theologically.

Synod began by voting in support of ACNA, a group who broke from the American Church over its decision to ordain/consecrate active gays and lesbians. Then the following day it voted to provide full pension rites for the ‘civil partners’ of gay clergy. It is all the more bizarre when you consider that C of E clergy are, in fairness, forbidden from entering the gay relationships for which ‘Civil Partnerships’ were created.

Then the ABC spoke out in a bizarre ramble that actually said nothing, chastising those naughty enough to champion causes ‘with a megaphone’. This from the Archbishop whose been masterful at not doing much of anything while the Communion falls apart… and he then expects people to say nothing. If you do not provide clear leadership then disunity and chaos follow.

I am particularly sensitive, having lived in England for a year and been involved in the Anglo-catholic movement there,that Synod is basically about to revoke the Act of Synod that allowed women priests but allows Anglo-catholic parishes a conscience clause. Anglo-Catholics who can't in good conscience accept women bishops are about to be shown the door, but are expected to "hide the megaphone."

Just bizarre goings on. At least I know where I stand with the General Convention of TEC.

TLF+ said...

Thanks, Archer - it is amazing that in the name of... of... of... well, inclusion, diversity, dialogue, indaba , whatever, the breadth of historic Anglicanism keeps getting diminished.

Catholic and Reformed once formed the generous boundaries of Anglicanism - with expressions and syntheses of both on the field.

Now, both are considered out of bounds and the few left on the field wear their jerseys but have long since lost their playbooks.