As regards the latter, I'm going to reserve extensive comment at this time, not so much out of caution as out of recognition that Bishop Lawrence's letter does a masterful job nailing the crux of the matter. The bullseye quote is this:
[Thomas Tisdale] may be an attorney retained by the Chancellor for the Presiding Bishop, but it is hardly accurate in regards to the polity of this Church to claim to be an attorney of The Episcopal Church, as if the parishes, Standing Committee and Bishop of South Carolina are somehow something other than The Episcopal Church...
The polity of the Episcopal Church, demonstrably different from that of most other Anglican provinces, has been a much-vaunted notion over the last several years, generally in the context of TEC "progressives" lamenting that "they just don't understand our polity" when "they" make certain requests of the Presiding Bishop, or the House of Bishops, or the Executive Council, or whomever. What we see shaping up now, however, is a conflict in which the purveyors of this line of thinking are the ones themselves who do not understand our polity. To suggest that "the Episcopal Church" can be reified, separated somehow from its concrete local expression in parishes and dioceses, is ludicrous on its face.
The motion passed by the C of E's General Synod is kind of a mess, but it's a pretty interesting mess, all of which is to say that it's quintessentially Anglican, as fine a batch of fudge as has ever been confected! Here it is:
This Synod, aware of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada, recognise 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.
This is an amended version of a resolution that originally contained this language:
‘That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America’
Let's look first to the starboard side of the Anglican barque, including those who are part of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). In this company, there are those who are utterly thrilled by the motion just as it carried (by a large majority). See examples of that attitude here and here. These folks see what happened as a giant leap in a trajectory that ends with the ACNA as a full constituent member in the worldwide Anglican Communion. Others, however, have a diametrically opposite assessment; see here for the most concisely articulate example. From this perspective, the amendment took all the teeth out of the original motion, reducing it to a gesture of politeness, a mere acknowledgement of an aspiration.
Eyes left now. Of course, no one on this side of the vessel can have anything positive to say about the phrase "Anglican Church in North America" even appearing in print on the legislative agenda of General Synod. So, watered down or not, they find it troubling--more troubling than they are generally willing to say publicly, I would suspect. Look here for a fine dose of liberal erudition, and here for an honest and generally charitable attempt at even-handedness by a prominent "progressive." Because the very subject is anathema to them, liberals are necessarily disposed toward spin over substance, as this headline exemplifies.
As far as I can tell, everybody is pretty much correct in what they're saying. So were each of proverbial blind men whose collective task was to describe an elephant. As long as we can be selective about a word here and phrase there, the Synod's action can mean whatever we want it to mean. Its eventual significance will be revealed in its interplay with subsequent events. It is now a "fact on the ground," another data point, another thread in the narrative. For example, if Mary Glasspool is eventually consecrated Bishop Suffragan of Los Angeles, or if the 2012 General Convention declines to adopt the Anglican Covenant (or, more tellingly, if the former occurs but the covenant is adopted), the significance of this week's action will loom large as Anglicanism collectively takes stock of its North American operations. On the other hand, if Canon Glasspool falls short in her consents (an unlikely eventuality, in my opinion), then the Lorna Ashworth motion will be yesterday's news.
As always, time will tell.