Maybe I've been drinking the water at the Hillary Clinton School of Optimism, but I find myself encouraged by today's news that the Ordinary and the Assistant Bishop of Pittsburgh have announced that they will be attending the Lambeth Conference. This comes on top of slightly less recent news that the Bishop of Fort Worth and the Presiding Bishop of the Province of the Southern Cone will also be heading north after GAFCON before going home.
In the cavalcade of events since the 2003 General Convention lit a match to the tinder-dry Anglican forest, the worst-case-scenario-sum-of-all-fears for me and for many others has been the prospect of a monumental schism that cuts to the core of Anglicanism, with a larger chunk, mostly "Global South", spinning off into a theologically orthodox (in an Evangelical sense, with tolerance for some Catholics in their midst) but non-Canterburian post-Anglican body, leaving behind a smaller chunk, mostly European and North American, in a radically downsized but Canterbury-centered Anglicanism dominated by "progressive" theology, with some degree of tolerance for Catholics and Evangelicals who remain with them.
This nightmare scenario remains a clear and present danger. If I were a betting man (which I am so not), I would hedge my bet, but my main money would go with the split. I have long prayed for, and advocated for, an end to the ill-advised boycott of the Lambeth Conference by the Global South bishops and their allies. With a strong united front, it is still possible to consolidate the gains made in 1998 (the statement on sexuality known as Lambeth I.10) and dig a foundation for a strong Anglican Covenant, one that will enable Anglican Christianity to finally come of age for the first time in history. This Lambeth Conference had the potential to be of watershed significance. I think that potential may have been squandered by a series of rash and impatient moves (GAFCON among them) on the part of orthodox Anglicans. But the news that some key voices of mainstream Anglicanism from North America will be at the table in Canterbury this summer is welcome.