Archive for May, 2010

Ten Years and a New Anglican Congregationalism

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Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

It is ten years since Anglicanism’s current travails were formally inaugurated with the formation of an alternative “Communion” church in North America, the Anglican Mission in America. Not the cause, it was nonetheless the first major sign that “communion” was no longer a given in Anglicanism, but something to be variously asserted, antagonistically claimed, and built up or torn down as the case may be. And after ten years, I think it necessary to say that most of the work thus far has been one of tearing down. Tearing down, but also of exposing new things and clearer lines of calling, so that what had been emerging as a communion might now be seen as demanding deeper commitment for its flourishing than anybody had imagined. The work that many of us have been doing out of a commitment to the traditional Christian faith as Anglicans (and others) had received it has been worth the effort, and continues to be demanded. But what we are seeing, especially as Christian communion is being assaulted not only from within the Church, but more importantly by a rapidly dissolving Christian culture in the West, is that there are deeper roots to put down and nourish than we had perhaps first thought.

The tearing down, in any case, is what is most obvious, perhaps, to outsiders or onlookers from within. One by one, for instance, the so-called “Instruments of Unity” for Anglicans around the world have been eroded in their perceived integrity, and certainly in their effectiveness.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, over the past decade (from Lord Carey through Rowan Williams), has issued pleas, statements, constructive ideas, hopes. But when, last month, a schedule conflict, not to mention in any case the ash of an Icelandic volcano, kept him from the South to South Encounter of non-Western churches in Singapore, the transient and quivering video image of his unfocused greeting was symbolically all that was left of his presence to an increasingly estranged majority of world Anglicans. For whatever reasons – the constraint imposed on Lambeth’s voice by America’s money monopoly on Communion bureaucracy, loyalties divided between Britain and Communion, mixed convictions within his own mind, an under-appreciation of the demanded influence of his own witness? — ten years of people all going their own way has rendered the moral authority of his voice almost inaudible.


May 25 2010 | Articles

ADDENDUM: Bishop Ian Douglas And The ACC Standing Committee

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Monday, May 17th, 2010

In our last post we noted that Bishop Ian Douglas was ineligible under the rules of the Anglican Consultative Council to continue serving on the ACC and its standing committee upon his consecration to the episcopacy in April. In a blog post yesterday, Father Mark Harris, a member of TEC’s Executive Council, discloses that Bishop Douglas in fact resigned from the ACC in February and announced this to the Executive Council at its February meeting. According to Fr. Harris, (then Fr.) Douglas recognized that he would not be permitted to continue to hold his clerical seat on the ACC upon his consecration. The fact of Douglas’s resignation had not been disclosed previously and greatly simplifies the analysis of what the ACC rules require in this situation. The implications of Bishop Douglas’s consecration and his resignation are now plain.

First, from the date of his resignation in February, Bishop Douglas ceased to be a member of the ACC standing committee. Article 2(f) of the ACC bylaws provides:

Elected members of the Standing Committee shall hold office from the end of the Council meeting at which they are appointed until the end of the last ordinary Council meeting which they would be entitled to attend but subject to earlier termination in the event that such elected member shall for any reason cease to be a member of the Council. (Emphasis added.)


May 17 2010 | Articles

Asking The Wrong Question: New Zealand and The Covenant

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Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Reports this week from the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia indicate that it passed a resolution approving in principle the first three sections of the Anglican Covenant, but requesting legal advice on the “appropriateness” of Paragraph 4.2.8. The relevant clause of the resolution as passed reads as follows:

Requests the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion to obtain an opinion from the Legal Advisor to the Anglican Consultative Council and from the Chancellors and Legal Advisors Committee of this church regarding the appropriateness of the provisions of Clause 4.2.8 of the proposed Covenant in relation to decisions regarding membership of the Anglican Consultative Council….

Although this request for legal advice applies only to Paragraph 4.2.8, it is clear from the vote and the debate that the dissatisfaction in New Zealand extends to Section 4 as a whole. The resolution was authored by Dr. Tony Fitchett, who was the chairman of the resolutions committee at ACC-14 in Jamaica that drafted the resolutions on the Covenant debated at that ACC meeting. Since ACC-14, Dr. Fitchett has served on the standing committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, the body that approved the final text of the Covenant last December. Whatever Dr. Fitchett’s views of the Covenant were in December, he is now very much opposed to Section 4:


May 13 2010 | Articles