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Scenarios [GC2006]
Midwest Conservative Journal ^ | 3/29/2006 | Christopher Johnson

Posted on 03/29/2006 6:27:44 PM PST by sionnsar

GenCon 2006 looks to be a bloodbath.  Rio Grande Bishop Jeffrey Steenson weighs in on the recent ECUSA House of Bishops meeting:

We also heard a report from the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, appointed by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies, whose task is to help the General Convention formulate a response to the Windsor Report. When this commission was appointed last autumn, I for one had few expectations that there would be a genuinely honest engagement with the Windsor Report. But under the leadership of its co-chairs, Bishop Mark Sisk of New York and Prof. Ian Douglas of the Episcopal Divinity School, the commission appears to have reached a consensus that our continued membership in the Anglican Communion can no longer be taken for granted.

The commission will propose several resolutions that will make clear the Episcopal Church’s desire to remain a part of the Communion, specifically by declining to authorize same sex blessings and by discouraging the consecration of bishops who are in “same-gender relationships.” It is an interim approach, to be sure, intended to get us to the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in July 2008. It does not adopt the Windsor Report’s “moratorium” language, but it is certainly a step in that direction. There is now evidence that a majority of bishops are beginning to rethink the position staked out by the General Convention 2003 when it approved the election of the Bishop of New Hampshire.

Perhaps some context may be helpful here. The Churches of the Anglican Communion have been struggling with the question of homosexuality for a number of years. This led to Resolution I.10 from the Lambeth Conference of 1998, which declared that homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture. Many in the Episcopal Church insist that this resolution has no binding force, and they argue that the legitimization of homosexuality is a moral imperative more important than Anglican unity. The actions of General Convention 2003 provoked strong reactions throughout the Anglican Communion, culminating in the Windsor Report from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lambeth Commission in October 2004. The Windsor Report sharply criticized the Episcopal Church’s actions and raised the possibility that it might have to “walk apart.” This would severely erode the Episcopal Church’s constitutional foundation as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, and almost certainly would lead to schism. The Archbishop of Canterbury has recently declared that Resolution I.10 “continues to represent the general mind of the Communion,” and he has cautioned the Episcopal Church that its actions could precipitate the breakup of the Communion.

In everyone’s mind is the May 6 episcopal election in the Diocese of California, where three candidates have identified themselves as having same-gender partners. If one of these persons is elected, the consent process at General Convention will in effect become an up or down vote on Windsor, and the special commission’s efforts to find a solution to hold things together until Lambeth will be for naught. The Bishop of Exeter, England, the Rt. Rev. Michael Langrish, brought an extraordinary message to the House of Bishops (no doubt from the Archbishop himself) that must have served as a wake-up call to many: the Anglican Communion will not permit the Episcopal Church have it both ways, blessing the homosexual lifestyle and enjoying the benefits of full communion. “’I suppose one of the major challenges for the Episcopal Church now has to do with whether there are enough of you to stand broadly on the same ground, holding a range of opinions on Lambeth I.10 but firm in carrying forward the Windsor vision of a strengthened and enabling communion life,” he observed.

It appears that this common ground is now emerging. In order for us to get to the Lambeth Conference 2008, the only body which can bring some clarity and resolve to these divisive matters, we in the Episcopal Church must demonstrate restraint. At least amongst the bishops, I sense this is indeed happening, and so I left Kanuga hopeful. I want to urge our clergy and laity to continue to follow these developments but also not to lose perspective. By focusing so much of our energy on this, it is inevitable that we will neglect the work of God’s Kingdom, and ultimately (ironically) this is to lose faith with Jesus Christ. People are not much interested in churches overly preoccupied with their internal difficulties. The principal decisions affecting the Communion will be taken at higher levels, and rightly so, for Anglican parish life becomes dysfunctional when it loses its pastoral identity.

And from the Episcopal left, this from Diocese of Washington, DC:

So far, within my own limited feedback loop, it has had the effect of engendering a type of discussion I had not heard previously. A conversation in which the word "sellout" is being used, in which resistance to the bishops’ by the House of Deputies is being discussed, and in which the pros and cons of getting out of Dodge (leaving the Anglican Communion) are being evaluated. I don’t know that anything will come of these conversations, but until this week, I wasn’t even hearing this kind of talk, and that strikes me as significant. My hunch is that this is not what Bishop Smith intended.

It is, of course, way too soon to say for sure but given Steenson's letter and Kirk Smith's statement of the other day, a significant number of ECUSA bishops may be having serious second thoughts about the last three years.  Many of these bishops, some who may have approved Robinson's election on strictly canonical grounds and others who this would all blow over, may now realize that they are going to have to make a choice they can no longer finesse.  Homosexual bishops and same-sex marriages or Anglicanism.

As was already indicated by Exeter Bishop Michael Langrish, the proposals outlined by Smith are a step in the right direction but don't go far enough.  So what happens if the bishops do go far enough?  As Jim Naughton suggests, open rebellion in the House of Deputies seems to be a real possibility which would mean that the issue wouldn't be resolved this June at all, if ever.  ECUSA's suspension from the Anglican world continues and the chances of its bishops attending Lambeth 2008 become nonexistent.

At that point, possibilities become almost endless.  Perhaps the Anglican Communion Network bishops meet during GenCon or shortly after, declare their complete and unreserved adherence to the Windsor Report and Bob Duncan is invited to the next Anglican primates meeting.  Perhaps individual dioceses who don't wish to affiliate with the Network but who do want to remain Anglican will officially declare their adherence to Windsor as well and also be recognized by Lambeth. 

Perhaps by this time next year, there won't be one official United States Anglican church but five, six, seven or even more. 

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 03/29/2006 6:27:45 PM PST by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; axegrinder; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; Condor 63; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 03/29/2006 6:28:14 PM PST by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006)
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To: sionnsar

I'm curious, are the House of Deputies more pro-orthodox or pro-revisionist than the House of Bishops? What is meant by a rebellion of the HOD?

3 posted on 03/29/2006 7:54:36 PM PST by Unam Sanctam
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To: Unam Sanctam

I have to say, I really don't know about the HOD. Following what I've seen on Drell's Descants, they're about the same as the bishops. A rebellion in this case would be in the revisionist direction.

4 posted on 03/30/2006 4:59:38 AM PST by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006)
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