On the Covenant…

April 14, 2007

Via Fr. Jake, I found this article by Lionel Deimel on The Kind of Covenant We Do Need interesting.

High points are:

  1. That the Archbishop of Canterbury cannot discriminate in his invitations to the Lambeth Conference. All bishops of a particular kind must be invited or not.
  2. That no primate may be excluded from the Primates’ Meeting.
  3. That diocesan boundaries are inviolable.
  4. That jurisdictions should not overlap.
  5. That breaking communion with one province breaks communion with all.
  6. That Communion-wide rules govern the transfer of ordained persons from a jurisdiction in one province to a jurisdiction in another.

The post goes on to discuss various bishops who have sought transfers from one province or ecclesial boundary to another in order to avoid presentment for various reasons.

Deimel’s concept is an interesting one– it focuses on defining our Anglican borders by making a safe space for all Anglicans in our common discourse as we seek together to discern God’s will, rather than focusing on ways to draw borders around those Anglicans who don’t fit certain characteristics as we move forward together on our journey.  Creating a safe space for Anglican dialogue and dissent is better than creating a “fear zone,” at any rate.

Fr. Jake’s concludes that we should not support any kind of covenant, any codification of the “borders of Anglicanism.” Eric Law would call these borders the “Comfort Zone, ” which attempt to make us feel safe in order to prevent us from being pushed into dialogue with each other and stretch the bonds of affection.  I’m on the fence as to whether I agree or not.  On the one hand, I think it is very difficult to codify rules that govern “safe space” across international, inter-ethnic, inter-cultural borders, if it is in fact possible.  We would forever be talking about the border– where does the border of Anglicanism lie, should it be changed, who is the “new” outsider once we agree that GLBT people are outsiders, etc.  Rather than focusing on inclusion, the rules focus eventually get turned to focus on exclusion.

But what if it wasn’t a “Covenant” in the sense that it has been framed?  What if they were more “ground rules” for conversation?  That I can see as being useful.  If everyone could dialogue with the common understanding that dialogue with dissent could not result in ejection, perhaps that would free up honest and open conversation in a way that the parties are not able to do today.

Today parties are more focused on moving agendas forward than they are forming relationships in Christ.  If all were free to understand themselves and each other within some “ground rules” knowing that neither themselves nor the other would be ejected from the table, would minds, hearts, and ears be opened to hear in a different way?  I don’t know.  I don’t think we’ve ever tried, at least in my history in the church, nor do I see any record of that in my study of the Tradition.  I believe that is one of the failures of the church– working to get people out instead of working to get people in.  Do we have any stories where Jesus worked to get people out?  I don’t know of any.  We have some obscure monologues about judgement, but we do not have any scenes where Jesus actually tells a person that he or she is not welcome that I can think of.

If you can’t tell, I’ve been reading Eric Law’s Inclusion:  Making Room for Grace.  It is all about defining borders.  Its a wonderful book and I highly recommend it.

Inclusion gets a bad rap by conservatives.  It has been construed as “anything goes,” or liberality at its worst.  That isn’t what it means.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t hold people accountable for their actions.  It doesn’t mean that people can do whatever they want.  Eric Law’s definition of inclusion is this:

Inclusion is a discipline of extending our boundary to take into consideration another’s needs, interests, experience, and perspective, which will lead to clearer understanding of ourselves and others, fuller description of the issue at hand, and possibly a newly negotiated boundary of the community to which we belong.

It sounds a lot like listening.  In and of itself, it does not require action.  It requires compassion and understanding.  It does not require, on its face, modification of the listeners beliefs or actions.  It only requires the listener to take the time to understand and listen to ensure that the beliefs and actions hold firm in light of the other’s beliefs and actions.  It holds true for both sides of the conversation, both parties.

Listening does not say “I agree with you” in and of itself.  It only says “I value you.”  Isn’t that a primary Christian responsibility?  Love of neighbor?

I’m not sure if Deimel’s proposed covenant accomplishes inclusion fully.  But I think it might move in the right direction, in trying to come to a common understanding of what “safe space” is, or a “comfort zone” from which we all can ensure that we will not be ejected after sharing freely of our views.  There are issues with this proposed covenant, sure.  The main issue is how to ensure that all parties accept the “ground rules” in the same way– which can only be accomplished through… listening.



23 Responses to “On the Covenant…”

  1. obadiahslope Says:

    “we will not be ejected after sharing freely of our views.”
    Your post makes sad reading when compared to a reading of the lengthy title IV review into charges brought against the bishop of Conecticut. The standing committee of that diocese moved against conservatives on the basis of their strong views ISTM, or their desire to not have their bishop visit. It saying “please don’t come this year” a hanging offense? Because of the canon that was used there was no due process, which appears to embarrass the review committee a little.
    I regard Diemel’s proposal as a little one sided. As you imply, it does not meet the standards of inclusion.

  2. Jeff Says:

    I hear what you are saying.

    Without being familiar with the Connecticut case (and not having time right now to review it), I can only say that I do think there is a difference between intra-province and intra-communion polity.

    I think a lot of this comes down to the way our church was formed. While we now may be a colonial and imperial force ourselves as a nation-state, our province as a church was formed in response to anti-imperial and post-colonial forces in its foundation. We are not at our core, as direct an offshoot of the Church of England as other provinces. The House of Bishops alluded to that in its resolutions.

    Perhaps that explains some of the disconnect as to why you may not share the same belief as me that there is a distinct difference between intra-Communion and intra-Provincial polity.


  3. obadiahslope Says:

    Perhaps I don’t disagree with you on some of these issues as much as you suspect.
    There is a difference between bodies such as provinces, dioceses and local churches which exist as legal entities, incorporated under the laws of various nations, sometimes by special acts of parliament, and the anglican communion, which is essentially a fellowship.
    The difficulty for TEC will be I suspect that it desires to be given a free hand to deal with its dissenters (and in my opinion in a way that contradicts the anti-imperialist ideals of its foundation) while seeking that the communion respect its right to differ or dissent within the communion.
    Another issue that i agree with you (perhaps to your surprise) is that it is unwise to set up a “curia” to centrally direct the communion. My conservative evangelical diocese would be strongly against this.

    (See the comments of Robert Tong, on the ABC – here is the key extract)
    Stephen Crittenden (ABC religion report) : Some people might say that the much more liberal church in the United States, with all of the hoo-ha that’s going on over consecrating gay bishops and so on, is exercising its autonomy to go off in a particular way, and that that autonomy should be respected by the world-wide Anglican communion. What’s your view about the American situation, even though I imagine you don’t agree about the specific points at issue, what’s your view about the autonomy of the American church?

    Robert Tong (Sydney Diocese): I think the Americans are very strong on autonomy and independence, and I would like to feel that we in Australia have similar views on all of that.

    Stephen Crittenden: Would you support their autonomy in fact in this issue?

    Robert Tong: Yes, I think I would, although I understand very strongly the push from Asia and Africa to hold in the Americans by having a covenant, which would be a new initiative in a national Anglicanism. The Anglican international arrangements have never been like Rome, run from the top, or run from the centre, it’s voluntary, it’s consultative, it’s by fellowship rather than rule, and I would not support the option of being run by rule from the centre, I think that’s wrong.

    Please bear in mind as you read Stephen’s “Hoo haa” comment that he is a well-known gay journalist in this country.

    So what would I want if a centralised communion is not the answer? My hearts desire would be for TEC to be converted to evangelicalism. If God does not see fit to cause that to happen i would want some form of relief for the evangelicals in TEC who are finding life difficult. I would wish that TEC would provide this.
    Perhaps that is also something else we might agree on.

    If that is not to happen (and it does not look that way), then the evangelicals in TEC will have to decide if they can stay in difficult circumstances, or leave.
    If they leave, the property questions will be resolved by your courts, but i imagine most will have to find physical shelter – and this has been the pattern to date. and once again, we might agee that those leaving TEC will do so without property in most cases.
    Then it becomes a communion matter, as to what we do about keeping in touch with these brothers and sisters.
    Mr diemel’s suggestion would mean cutting them off. I think that is unlikely to happen now, but it will make things rather complicated in your country.

  4. Jeff Says:


    I do think that the Episcopal Church should work to find a way to make it safe for all within her borders. I don’t think that necessarily needs to happen by making trade-offs between groups when one groups says “we can only stay if another goes,” though. That’s when it gets problematic.

    I don’t like this whole thing about lawsuits over property retention– it is entirely a waste of time and resources in my opinion. If a parish wants to leave, we should let them buy the property and be on their way. Maybe we should even loan them the money. But to try and retain the property isn’t productive for anyone– least of all the people who would have to stay in that facility and try to build a new parish in a building with all the old memories of a very polemic past.

    At the same time, I do think it is a responsibility of the Communion– not a legal responsibility but an ethical responsibility– not to infringe on borders of another province. Most in TEC believes Nigeria is doing a disservice to GLBT people in that country. We have guaranteed that no matter what happens with the relationship between the two provinces or with the Anglican Communion that the availability of funds for Africa will remain unaffected. That is ethical behavior on TEC’s part. But for Nigeria to come to the U.S. and interfere with TEC’s provincial affairs is not appropriate. It isn’t about legalities of orthodoxy in the “Lambeth” sense– it is about ethical responsibility and keeping consistent in their theology that Windsor should be fully followed– they pick and choose what they want to follow based on how it suits their interests.

    As for those who want to leave because they would rather do that than be in a church which allows groups to be included that they don’t like, I think that is their decision– not the decision of any given group which chooses inclusion over exclusion. But to be Anglican in the U.S. at this point necessarily means being Episcopalian, just as being Anglican in Nigeria at this point means being in the Church of Nigeria. That is just how we work. If we want a new structure where TEC and Nigeria have reciprocal relationships to minister to those with theological differences, then that is a different matter altogether– but we have to establish that in our respective identities first, and that has not been so identified (nor do I think it necessarily is a good idea– I’d have to think about it some more).

    For me the very purpose of evangelization is to reach out to those who are outside the defined borders of the church. Each province has a method to handle that geographically. The remaining issues arise around how to reach across doctrinal borders. Do you agree with this as an Evangelical? There aren’t parables about Jesus telling people to go away; there are parables about Jesus bringing people in.

    I’m not sure the folks in TEC identify themselves as Evangelicals? More commonly I hear them refer to themselves as either Orthodox or Anglo-Catholic. In many situations I find those views opposed theologically to Evangelical traditions.


  5. obadiahslope Says:

    As you say making a safe place for all is TEC’s responsibility. What happens when that doesnt happen? Should the communion have something to say?

    You would argue that the communion should disagree with the Nigerian province on issues of human rights. You would agree, I guess that tracking down and disciplining the fugative Rwandan bishops complicit in genocide was right, too.

    My own reaction would be to loosen the ties of the communion to allow TEC to follow its own path. at the same time groups like AMiA should be recognised as being part of the communion.

    We would recognise the brokenness that has brought about the split in the USA.

  6. Jeff Says:

    I think one question may be “what happens when a province doesn’t make a safe place for all” (which can be asked to GLBT people in Nigeria as well as your implication of AMiA folks in the U.S) but I think another question that needs to be asked is “what happens when people claim they are unsafe in an attempt to gain power?”

    I think the TEC has made a safe place in the communion, for the most part.

    The injury felt by those who want to leave is largely a result not of feeling “ejected” but instead wanting to eject others, claiming disagreement as “unsafe” instead of just what it is– disagreement.

    Therein lies the difference.

    They claim ejection because it sounds catchy in sound bites, but in fact nobody has asked any parish nor diocese to leave as a result of inclusion. The “lack of safety” is not genuinely a lack of safety but a lack of agreement and lack of getting their way in the national church– that isn’t truly a lack of safety but a willingness to use this issue to gain power. I truly think that outside the U.S. (with perhaps the exception of Nigeria and Uganda) this may be about same-sex issues. Within the U.S. this has very little to do with same-sex issues, but rather those issues are the lighting rod which has been used to highlight the unhappiness with the theological direction/change in power that has been democratically set for the last 30-40 years.

    To include AMiA and others as valid provinces or sections thereof does not do anyone a service but only reframes the power struggle in a way that does not help anyone. The power struggle will then only continue and deepen at the Communion level– that will deepen divisions at the international level and will ultimately worsen the international crisis, perhaps to the same degree it has been experienced within the U.S.


  7. obadiahslope Says:

    for AMiA to leave TEC is a very odd way to claim power. Rather ISTM is an acknowledgment, that as you put it there has been a “theological’change in power” in TEC, and these people have left.
    As an evangelical I frankly have some sympathy with the refusniks. the key issue is whether an evangelical congregation has a reasonable certainity of continuing in TEC. The key issue is whether or not they will be able to get evangelical clergy, or be allowed to teach what they believe.
    Some evangelicals in TEC have come to the conclusion they cannot stay. those who have left probably number between 100 to 200 congragations. that’s small in your total of 7,000 so part of me finds it hard to see what gets the TEC majority so upset.
    Your difficulty it seems to me is that TEC wants a free hand from the communion to set its own course, which leaves evangelicals unhappty. The communion is majority evangelical, and in turn is unhappy that it sees fellow believers being badly treated in its view.
    Whay is it so difficult for TEC to treat a tiny minority a little better? Beats me.

  8. Jeff Says:

    How do you define “evangelical”?

    Again, I don’t hear most folks in the US who are in the category I think you are referring to use this term. I hear them using “Anglo-Catholic” or “Orthodox”– something I generally think of completely at-odds with “Evangelical.”

    Individual parishes leaving should be allowed to leave, as I have said– and I think those folks have been made safe.

    The “power struggle” I refer to are the large groups– the “Common Cause” partners (which includes AMiA)– who we know from all their leaked memos have sought since the early days not only to leave TEC but to cast it out from the Communion in order to make themselves the only viable Anglican church in the U.S.

    I don’t think you’ve answered either of my questions above about safety– Nigeria nor claiming power, even if you don’t think that is what is going on?


  9. obadiahslope Says:


    I am observing TEC from a distance, and that in itself will make me see somethings differently. The churches I instinctively feel closest to are the New Westminster churches who have withdrawn from participating in diocesan affairs in protest at the introduction of gay blessings but have not left the Anglican Church of Canada. (There are string links with Sydney diocese in the leader of that group, and also the presence of the iconic evangelical writer Dr J I packer.) These churches are clearly evangelical, as are the group of churches that have left the TEC from Virginia, and the AMiA group as well.
    (I would define “evangelical” as the cross centred, word centred christianity of John Stott, Cranmer, Wilberforce or Charles Simeon to give anglican examples).
    Confusingly these dissident churches refer to themselves as small-o orthodox, but they do not mean Orthodox in the Greek or Russian sense. the Anglo-catholic FIF group is a smaller element in the Common Cause.
    “Evangelical” in the Anglican sense does not mean “religious right”, many if not most of the evangelicals in the Anglican Communion would vote for parties of the left, oppose imperialistic wars, and uphold the human rights of gays in their community.
    It is tempting, but wrong to read this group as monolithic. Apart from the anglo-catholic and evangelical tensions, this group is divided on the issue of whether the communion should strengthen its central authority structures.
    The “chapman letter” presents one particular point of view. The AMiA group had already left when it was written and seems to be more set on planting churches than plotting to get property from TEC or taking much part in communion matters.
    In contrast the “Network” group appears more focussed towards TEC and at least until recently contained people who wanted to stay in TEC. The two groups sued each other over All saints, Pawley’s Island in the diocese of South Carolina.
    On the issue of claiming power – I think it is clear that the dissdent groups have very little of it within TEC. there would be some that would like to have power within TEC, even some who would like to use the communion as a club. On the other hand there are those who simply focus on the life of their parish that no longer meets in an ornate church building but in borrowed space, or a rented hall.
    One of the interesting things about the left’s analysis of the dissident groups is that it focusses on those engaged in struggles over property (eg Virginia) and largely ignores those churches that left relatively quietly (eg Ohio). My guess is that this is parly because of the over use of power as a tool for analysing the situation. I would not discount its place in theorising about what is going on, but it does not explain everything – the narrative is broader and more complicated than that.
    One point at which the power analysis is useful is when describing the communion anglican aspect of the splits in/from TEC. It would be a common aim of these groups to ‘repace’ TEC as the US representative in the Anglican Communion. This largely symbolic victory is the only victory that the dissidents can win.
    Up till now the laft view has been that that would not affect the proprty of funds of the TEC, although there has been some wavering on that point of late.
    You do not appear to take a doctrinaire approach to the subject of property, reflecting your californian experience.
    the bit missing from your analysis is where do the congregations leaving TEC go? what has changed since the anglo -catholic departures of the late 1970’s is that evangelical primates want to link with the current wave of departures.
    It must be said that in most of the communion, property bel;ongs to the diocese. ISTM that the US situation reflects your polity – the holding of title deeds by local churches, and the early reluctance in some places to have bishops reflect your national history.
    That is why some African bishops have urged the dissidents to simply leave and not be concerned with buildings.
    in turn they promised to hold out the hand of friendship to the dissident groups.
    This promise, rather than any power machinations by US clerics, is what TEC may find most problematic in the days ahead.
    So in summary: in my view many of the dissidents are indeed evangelicals (in the anglican not North American sense).
    As much of the communion is evangelical, it will be hard to convince them that the dissidents wshould be shut out, especially when the third world primates have offerred friendship and support.

  10. Jeff Says:

    I have to admit I know less about AMiA than I do about the ACN or the AAC.

    We are defining evangelical the same, though, I think.

    I have always found it interesting that the Common Cause covenant wants a return to the more reformed prayer book of 1662 but seems also to want a higher-church polity– namely appealing to the central authority of the Primates instead of local provincial authority.

    Your explanation partially explains that, but I still think more explanation is needed to go the full way.

    In response to “making a place safe for the evangelicals”– what would your criteria be for making it safe? I’ve already said I think they should be allowed to purchase the property. To where should they be able to go? Leave the church and become independent. Staying in the church doesn’t require them to change their theology. That’s the thing that I don’t get about the whole “making it safe” argument.

    Can you help me with that? As opposed to Nigeria– which you still haven’t answered. The church in Nigeria is definitely not making it safe for GLBT Anglicans in Nigeria. That is pretty evident. How is the church in the U.S. not making it safe for Evangelicals when Evangelicals are self-selecting out of the church?


  11. obadiahslope Says:

    Many years ago when i was a student rep on the university governing board I moved a motion to add “sexual orientation” to the anti-discrimination statuite. It was a salutary experience to discoiver that manong those voting it down were some prominent, closeted, gay people.
    I was a card carrying memebr of the campus Evangelical Union (equivilent to your IVF)at the time.
    I have held a consistent view on this civil rights issue, and so my view of the Nigerian church is that they should not have backed the recent motion in parliament.

    As to High Church polity, a guess the old via media approach would have been that Anglicans are both reformed and catholic. The Fulcrum group in the CofE (sometimes called “open evangelicals” because of their desire to engage with the other streams within anglicanism)have published a useful paper that distinguishes between “communion” and “federation” liberals and evangelicals. The communion types want to strengthen the centre and the federation types are happy to loosen it.
    So you will find “communion liberals”, or “federation liberals”, and the same for evangelicals.
    The Fulcrum group tend too like and trust their bishops. The conservative evangelicals in the CofE tend to upset their bishops more and to be upset by them.

    Criteria for a safe place for evangelicals? For them to be able to hold their theology in peace, preach it without restriction and be given the space to thrive, and to train and select sympathetic clergy.
    It is the last one that is the sticking point for TEC, I think, and the Connecticut case makes it clear that this was the real point of disagreement with their bishop (in my view).
    Another difficulty is the need to swear to be loyal to the discipline and worship of the TEC, where that implies a teaching that gays should be clergy, or in the future that SSBs are fine according to the church.
    You might be able to give me a cleareer picture of that.
    Bill Carroll once made the interesting point to me that the 1979 prayerbook mput”the writing on the wall for evangelicals in TEC” because the theology of the prayerbook is inimicable to evangelicals. Bill is an incisive commentator on matters TEC and I suspect he may be right.
    At this point you can point out that all changes in TEC are made democratically, and i can make the point that the 1979 prayerbook is an example of where TEC had little mind for minorities. In most provinces (eg CofE) when a new prayerbook is introduced, the earlier one can still be used. AFAIK the TEC decided to make the use of the 1979 prayerbook mandatory. Have I got that right? it is your church not mine after all.

  12. Jeff Says:

    Well, the move towards an Anglo-Catholic Eucharistic prayer began back with our roots with Seabury and the Church of Scotland in 1789. Certainly the books of 1892 and 1928 were both successively more Anglo-Catholic.

    1979 is a slightly different story, but as far as I know all prayer books in Anglican history have been mandatory once adopted — at least in the shared history of the U.S. and COE through 1662 and in the US since. They have only not been during the periods of revision when trial liturgies are under development.

    Certainly the liturgies in 1662 and prior did little to “have a mind for minorities” as you put it, and were dogmatically enforced. I think we’ve come a long way since then.

    Back on point, being “safe” in Nigeria is not the same as disagreeing about the liturgy. Nobody that I know of has been ejected from church over the 1979 prayer book (although certainly people have left over it).

    Have there been mistakes made in TEC? I’m sure there have. But by no means does the “unsafe zone” extend only to those who disagree with the direction TEC is taking. Look in the Diocese of Ft. Worth, or San Joaquin, or Pittsburgh, or Quincy. I have listened to the stories of the disenfranchised there– folks who have genuine calls to the priesthood but cannot pursue them because their bishops refuse to honor the national canons prohibiting discrimination based on gender, or sexual orientation. Folks who are told that they are not welcome. Folks who cannot have their unions honored in the same way hetersexual unions are honored. Is that a safe place? Is that safer than Connecticut? Who is going to provide an alternative structure for those folks? Who is going to provide an alternative structure for the GLBT folks in Nigeria?

    I see your solution of allowing multiple and overlapping provinces within a geography as very one sided. We may not like each other, but we have to learn to live with each other. That is what Communion is all about.


    (PS – on a side note, I’m not sure where the “federation vs. communion” language came from. I think communion adequately describes “bonds of common affection”. What those who use “federation vs. communion” are really debating is “federation vs. centralization,” but they choose the word “communion” instead in order to soften the blow of the impact. We saw that in the last Primatial communique, I think.

  13. obadiahslope Says:

    I am no expert in anglican histpory, but the prayerbook standard for the CofeE and Australia remains 1662, with the “new” prayerbooks adopted alongside that. I suspect that TEC in adopting a policy of abrogation is the odd one out.
    The pint of 1662 was to provide a liturgy that could be said by both catholics and protestants – it had a mind for minorities – but there were those at either end who could not accept it, recusant catholiccs and lollards i guess.
    i agree that being ‘safe’ in Nigeria and disagreeing about the liturgy are very doifferent. it was you who introduced them as bookends in an argument not me. One is left threatening the other is not.
    I agree with you about “unsafe places” in conservative dioceses. I do not think tshelter for dissidents is something small-e episcopal churches handle very well whether they are conservative or liberal. In many liberal dioceses conservative ordinands get short shrift. In conservative dioceses liberal ordinands get short shrift.
    is there a solution to this – which predates the +NH by decades even centuries?
    In the CofE proprietry chapels, peculiars, royal peculiars, and parallel structures like the Countess of Huntingdon connexion have servede to house dissidents. perhaps it is one aspect of church history we should brush up on.
    (these are various examples of how a church of theology x could exist in a diocese of theology y, appointing its own clergy).
    This might be a practical way forward to living together.

  14. Jeff Says:

    I am definitely a broad church person– I don’t agree with imposing the theology of the majority on the minority view.

    I think the history of the prayer book is relevant because the history of the 1662 and prior books show that the church hasn’t always done a great job of being inclusive. Royal proclamation of “accept it or be arrested” isn’t the greatest way to create a safe space.

    Now the irony is that the evangelicals want to enforce doctrine– which in the Anglican tradition consists primarily of the Prayer Book– but just don’t like the selected doctrine that we have in the U.S., so they go to a different authority to get it.

    So we’re back again to what to do with those who dissent? If AMiA is valid, what happens when they disagree with their mother province? Are they allowed to split again? and again and again until we are all just our own individual provinces?

    I think parallel structures have the same problem. The better solution is to learn how to live together. That takes time. Everybody needs time to sort it out. But God does heal all wounds with time and desire, I firmly believe that. I’m just not sure everybody wants to heal.


  15. obadiahslope Says:

    Ironically enough the imposition of the 1662 prayerbook did create a safe place. It stopped the protestants and catholics from killing each other. It literally saved many lives.
    It did not please everyone, but it produced a settlement that included just about everyone.
    On e the question of just lets learn to live together, how would you have brought that about in +NH, where the Redeemer church people left after +NH was elected? When the bishop is what people are disagreeing about, how can you have unity? Electing the bishop imposed the theology of the majority on the minority ISTM.
    Starting by electing a bishop, rather than working out and adopting a theology of inclusion, or consulting about SSBs appears to be what has caused a lot of our problems.

  16. Jeff Says:

    If somebody doesn’t like the bishop, that is one thing. They are free to leave.

    If the bishop has come after them, then I agree there is a problem, and there is not a safe environment.

    There has been an infringement of “safe space” by both liberal and progressive folks, I believe in TEC.

    My main point, though, is two things: 1) the spotlight has been shining on the “infringement of safe space” of only the conservative folks because they have been screaming the loudest. and 2) the TEC is under a very brighly lit microscope, and I would propose that in any province in the communion there are unhappy people at any given point in time that have grievances and would love the air time that this microscope has given these conservative folks.

    Examples of the two points: First– lesbian women in a conservative diocese in the Episcopal Church are AT LEAST, if NOT MORE unsafe than conservative folks in NJ. In NJ they may not like their bishop, but they are not targeted and ostracized by their bishop. There have certainly been witch-hunts over the past thirty or so years for GLBT folks in conservative places.

    Second, outside of the Episcopal Church, because the microscope is not being held up GLBT people are still not safe. Even forgetting about that for a moment because it is so contentious, can you honestly say that Akinola creates and fosters a “safe-space” for the progressive voices in his province? I don’t think so. Why then are the forces of the Anglican Communion so dedicated to proving a point with the U.S. Church? We need time to heal our wounds, sure. Are we perfect? No. But we are trying. And the added pressure of the microscope does not help those (conservative or progressive) who are in the unsafe zones. It only highlights the polemic nature of the discourse.


  17. Jeff Says:

    (On a side note, in Liturgics today we talked about the 79 prayer book. Just for the record because it has been discussed in this thread, it is not canonically enforced in the way represented; we have a process for alternative liturgies just like COE and others mentioned– a standing committee for liturgics publishes them; the set of alternatives, rather than being a bunch of pamphlets, is collected currently in a book entitled “Enriching Our Worship.” Traditionalists have not been on the committee, however, since the 70s. There are, however, parishes which still use the 1928 prayer book. At General Convention to adopt the 79 book, one hour was alloted for debate. Only 30 minutes was used because the book was so widely embraced. Read into that what you will. I really don’t think the rest of the Communion understands our polity, but our polity does allow for dissent, and there was very little at the time.

    Also, the only traditions which have followed the COEs lead from the 1662 book are Commonwealth provinces. The provinces outside of the Commonwealth all followed a tradition closer to the (at one time nonjuror) Church of Scotland tradition, which was closer to the 1549 liturgy, not the dramatically reformed 1552 book as did the COE and commonwealth provinces leading up to the 1662 book.)

  18. obadiahslope Says:

    “Also, the only traditions which have followed the COEs lead from the 1662 book are Commonwealth provinces. ”
    1) As I understand it the TEC prayerbook followed 1662 for the most part, with the Eucharistic prayer the ommission of the anathasian creed being the most significant diffences. This is canvassed in
    The vast majoirity of the anglican communion is based in the Commonwealth countries of course. Mozambique which was never a british colony has joined the commonwealth as an independent nation, making the whole of the province of Southern Africa an ex commonwealth entity.
    OTOH nations like the Phillipines were missions of TEC – but they are a small minority.

    On the issue of polity “inclusive church blog” a notably progressive source, made an interesting comment recently. I would be interested in your reaction. Here is what they said.

    “Now in all this,[communion relationships and the discussion of a covenant] I also think ECUSA has some homework. We need to justify our positions on biblical and theological grounds, not just those of human rights or justice. We need to realize that the American church is a vastly different animal from other Anglican provinces, even from England. We need to be crystal clear about the reasons why the Anglican Communion is or is not important to our life as a church. We need to stop citing polity as an excuse/justification for our actions. (That last one is especially galling to me. We wouldn’t put up with that Pharisaical approach from other quarters, and we shouldn’t use it ourselves. We could do what we wanted, if we had the mind to do it. If we’re thumbing our noses at the primates, let’s do it for good cause, not just because General Convention doesn’t meet for a couple of years.)”

  19. Jeff Says:

    Yes, I slightly misspoke on following the 1662 tradition. I was speaking more precisely of the Eucharistic Prayer tradition, the Eucharstic Prayer containing much of the essential theology that is important in the tradition (the shift towards Baptism not happening for us until 1979).

    Did you see the prior comment? The liturgy stuff was an aside. The main comment was above that. I’d be interested in your response.

    I don’t know much about “Inclusive Church”. It looks like a UK organization, though, so I’m not surprised that they too do not fully understand our polity.

    But first let me say that I disagree that we haven’t provided theological backing for our position and actions. We have provided sample theologies, ethical frameworks, and other “expert witnesses” at various times throughout this ordeal (“To Set Our Hope On Christ” was one great example.) Susan Russell+ and others have flown to Lambeth to testify for the Anglican Consultative Council. If others disagree with our positions, then that is certainly their perrogative. But it is not fair to say that the evidence hasn’t been presented.

    Honestly, I don’t know much about the polity of the other provinces. I do know that presenting an “official theology of the Episcopal Church” would be completely un-Episcopalean, and I believe anti-Anglican. We simply are not a confessional church. In the Episcopal church, resolutions are put forward to our bicameral General Convention, and Bishops and Deputies vote on it. Each voting person may have completely different theological (and, unfortunately, non-theological) reasons for voting for or against it.

    To try and comprehensively list, then, why we took that action is impossible. It is like trying to ask why the U.S. citizenry is generally against the current war in Iraq (forget about how we got there for a moment). There are as many different reasons for being against the war as there are people against it. To try and create a singular position paper describing it would be a false monolithic document. The Episcopal Church just doesn’t work that way. That kind of monolithic theology is just what creates the kind of unsafe space we have been talking about. It would necessarily alienate and disenfranchise those in the church whom agree with the outcome but don’t agree with the means which are described within it.

    But it is unfair to try and back us into a corner where we have to project viewpoints on our parishioners that they don’t have, or to try and go back and figure out where our parishioners stood in 2003 or in 2006 when they may not be there anymore, and when the views were very diverse to start with. Many different means can yield the same ends.

    I would also argue that we have provided at least as much theological backing as the Primates have in their various communiques.


  20. obadiahslope Says:

    The inclusive church blog is from an American who reporting from Dar es Salaam teaming up with Integrity. he wants to start an american branch of IC.
    “To set our hope on Christ” was a disappointment as far as I was concerned. I would have expected that TEC would provide a longer and more tightly argued document, along the lines of something from ARCIC. the chronology in the back is very revealling though. Detailing 40 years of debate in TEC it shows little evidence of communicating with other provinces on the issue.
    Getting some of the TEC scholars, such as Professor Countryman to write a monograph, or the HoB theology committee to issue a report could have helped. The polity of TEC constantly escapes me, but which ever body is authoratitative could have granted the TEC documents some status to say “this is what we believe” on the issues raised in the communion debate.
    For example is B033 the TEC position? many dioceses – and i think Los angeles was amongst them have repudiated it. Does B033 mean no gay bishops?
    It can be hard working out the TEC position. At least from outside.

  21. Jeff Says:

    But that’s exactly what I mean. You can disagree with “To Set Our Hope On Christ” but you can’t disagree that it was created. If you don’t like the theological opinion that was created, fine, but you can’t say it wasn’t presented.

    B033, in my estimation, will likely be repealed. It was useless and save as a goodwill token towards the communion. The real effect was to alienate GLBT people here in the U.S. while confusing the Communion.

    We are a broad church. We are not confessional. The historical Anglican position is the same. While the Anglican Communion moves towards a Confessional position, we are holding firm to the position of “not creating windows into men’s [sic] souls.”

    Again, going back to my post on 4/19 at 8:38 (which I am still patiently awaiting a response to!!) , what if the other provinces had this microscope turned on them?

    I doubt really that any province knows “exactly where they stand” to the degree you are asking– I would hope not actually. I believe it is un-Anglican to try and force such a Confessional position down our parisioners throats.


  22. obadiahslope Says:

    Jeff, A long time ago in architecture school I learnt that “We shape our buildings and then they shape us”. The classic example given is the (UK)House of Commons where two tiered rows of seats face each other two sword lengths apart. So two parties, government an opposition dominate that parliament.
    This forum is a bit like that, with the back and forth implying adversarial positions. Lets try to avoid this imposition by the medium, not everthing we talk about is constructed with binary positions.
    There is an irony in your saying that there is ONE historical position (“The historical Anglican position is the same”), that of the broad church. I am preety sure, having had several conversations with what I used to call ECUSAns, that the broad church view has been pretty dominant in TEC for some time. Other provinces are mixed, or are dominated by evangelical or catholic traditions. In many cases confessional documents are built into the consitutions of provinces, sometimes being called “fundamental declarations”. Both the evangelical and (Anglo)catholic positions are confessional in a way the broad church position is not.
    Thus to say simply that anglicanism is not confessional is simply to assert the claims of the tradition that has nurtured you.
    It would be true to say that Anglicanism has both confessional and non-confessional streams within it. These streams have been more or less important at various times and in various places. Thus in my city, Sydney anglicanism is both calvinist and aestheticaly casual in a modern Austrlian way. In New york, it tends to be liberal/preogressive, but in a formal catholic liturgical aesthetic. Both are Anglican.
    What other provinces have had the communion microsope turned on them? Hong Kong and the Li Tim Oi saga? Rwanda after the genocide, with Canterbury forcing the resignation of the bishops?
    I should point out that my conservative diocese has turned down requests from Bnorth American churches for alternative episcopal oversight. Our position is that local solutions are preferable to cross boundary interventions. So any communion microscope is a distinct second best. Bishop (Geralyn) Wolfe has shown that she is able to imagine and devise new ways to minister to dissdents. Perhaps Connecticut will be another example with a priest being licensed to work there while being ordained by Pittsburgh in a ceremony in Connecticut. This sort of boundary crossing actually has an ancient history in Anglicanism.
    It may be that this system could work for the points you raise in that post i seem to be taking too long to answer. So a liberal diocese might operate a church with gay clergy inside a conservative diocese. This will not go all the way towards what you want, but it might be mid-way point.

  23. Jeff Says:

    Yes, I think we are saying much of the same thing. While there may be confessional or near confessional provinces, the Communion as a whole does not take on that quality because we have a broad range of provinces, some of whom share those ideas of what church “should” be and some who do not. That definitionally makes the Communion broad, as long as most in “Instruments of Communion” can agree to disagree.

    I also agree that it is revisionist to say that the Church of England has always been a broad church; that was not my point. Much has been made of this point by “my side”, and it is an overstatement I think. The pendulum has swung both ways throughout the ages; at times broad and at times narrow; for either side to claim the tradition is one or the other is not accurate. I think we are better off within TEC as saying simply that we are now a broad church whatever we may have been in the past. Using the times which we have been broad in the tradition as examples of us at our best may be helpful, but it does not serve as evidence that the church has “always” been that way.

    It also does not do good for the “other” side to argue that Tradition prevents a broad church; too often that line of thought argues that tradition binds us to a trajectory that we know not enough about to dare to question because of the millions and billions who have come before us. That line of thinking is dangerous– if we did such a thing and never changed the tradition then things would never improve; we would never know more of the infinite God. I do not believe the Church is the only institution of God, I do believe that it is imperfect, and I do believe that the “Traditionalists” tend to ignore the bad parts of history in favor of selective adoption of those parts of Tradition most in favor of their particular position at this point in history. That isn’t something I can do. I think we have to always discern as best we can using all available resources what God wants us to do, and Tradition is only one of those things. People who are not like us is another– thus the imperative for the broad church.

    As for safe places– I think that we should do our best to ensure within TEC that conservative priests can operate in progressive dioceses and vice-versa. Can we find isolated incidents where that isn’t working? Sure. We are not perfect. But more often we can find instances where it is. Again, under the microscope the instances where it isn’t working will get much more attention than the instances where people of different minds are getting along fine. And we still have more conservatives crying foul without far fewer “real” infractions against their liberties than we do progressives. I hear so many stories where GLBT people in conservative dioceses have either been discriminated against or, more accurately, spiritually abused. If they are healthy, they just leave the church. If they have a long history of self-loathing or are in a vulnerable place, they stay and subject themselves to more. These instances are rarely reported and receive little to no international attention, nor national nor regional attention because the victims are so traumatized. Is one “worse” than the other? I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter. Neither should be happening. But the interference of the Communion does nothing but make everyone involved more defensive and make the ability of TEC to provide safe spaces less of a probability, at least in the short term. All the politics and power grabs associated with the attention prevent that.


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