Friday, December 15, 2006

The Anglican News Day

This is not a news blog. I don't attempt to scoop anyone. And I try to avoid fomenting what seems to me much of the time to be a highly cannibalistic Anglican blogsphere. So, since I neither originate news nor, except incidentally, spread news, I depend on the worthiness of my reflections and comments. Or, from time to time, the worthiness of others' comments, i.e. those that are not generally accessible to the public.

I spoke on the phone today with a good friend of mine, a priest of another diocese, and he read me an eMail message to another, mutual, presbyteral friend, and I thought it so incisive and apposite with respect to the present Anglican angst, that I asked him to send it to me as well, for the express purpose of doing what I'm doing now--that is, sharing it.

But first, the digest. Two items came out today that are of broad interest to Anglicans. The primate of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, issued a statement re-affirming an earlier declaration that his province is not in communion with the Episcopal Church, that they will take no more money from TEC or entities thereto related, save for those bishops, dioceses, parishes, and institutions that are related to the Anglican Communion Network, that they will send no students to Episcopal seminaries, except for TESM and Nashotah, and--here's the important part--he will join in a request to Canterbury that the Presiding Bishop of TEC not be seated at the Primates' Meeting set for February in Tanzania, and that a bishop representative of the Network be seated in her stead. This gives some further traction to the Kigali Statement issued by the Global South Primates last September.

We also heard today of a meeting between representatives of a large contingent of Church of England evangelicals and Archbishop Williams, wherein His Grace was presented with a list of what amount to demands that British evangelical Anglicans be freed from some of the political and bureaucratic procedures that they feel shackle them in their work and witness and deprive them of a level of power that would be commensurate with their numerical strength. Their demands were articulated in the form of a proposed "Covenant," upon which it is that my friend comments:

I'd grabbed the "covenant" off of the "Mainstream" website before I got your forward and was enthusiastic at the thought that something significant had begun. Maybe it has. Unfortunately, it is in a direction that I cannot go. I've come to realize that all the talk of restoration, reformation, and renewal contrasts deeply with my own conviction that what Anglicanism needs is renunciation, repentance, and return. I could almost say "romanization," but that would imply a dismissal of the Orthodox that I neither intend or believe. It would also suggest a contentment with the way our latin fellowship manages being the church, and that too would be incorrect. RCism is a mess. At least it is Church.

Like all of our protestant kin, we have inherited the tendency of perpetual division and fragmentation. Calls for renewal and reform always mean some form of overthrow of tradition and its divine authority. It always tends to exclusive fellowship centered in the local (formerly congregational). And it always spawns further fragmentation in the next generation. I grew up in what was then seen as an extreme offshoot of that tendency. Now it is rather mainstream, and the newer megachurches have taken over its former market.
Either of today's developments would have noticeably raised the heat under Dr Williams. Together, they cannot be contributing to his peace of mind. Neither do they contribute to my own! Anglicanism is in a high stakes poker game at the moment. Nobody knows exactly who's holding what cards, or who's got the best poker face. In the dead of the night, my blood runs cold with premonitions of the sort of escalating fragmentation that my friend describes. He is a conservative Anglo-Catholic; I dare say, more conservative than I am. So he's no Episcopal Church corporatist trying to get everyone to "stay at the table."

Jesu, mercy. Mary, pray.

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