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To Cleave or To Cleave? The Primates' Meeting in Tanzania
VirtueOnline-News ^ | 2/08/2007 | Graham Kings, Fulcrum Newsletter

Posted on 02/09/2007 5:47:27 PM PST by sionnsar

Main Entry: pri'mate
Etymology: Middle English primat, from Old French, from Medieval Latin primat-, primas archbishop, from Latin, leader, from primus
Date: 13th century
1 often capitalized : a bishop who has precedence in a province, group of provinces, or a nation
2 archaic : one first in authority or rank : LEADER

3 [New Latin Primates, from Latin, plural of primat-, primas] : any of an order (Primates) of mammals comprising humans, apes, monkeys, and related forms (as lemurs and tarsiers)
-pri'mate-ship \-*ship\ noun
--pri-ma'tial \pr*-*m*-sh*l\ adjective

Dear Fulcrum Friends,

The traditional English word 'cleave' has two meanings, which are the exact opposite of each other: 'to stick together' and 'to split'. Both are used in the King James Version of the Bible in well known passages in the book of Genesis, which have resounded for centuries.

'Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh' (Hebrew dabaq, Genesis 2:24) and 'Abraham...clave the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.' (Hebrew baqa, Genesis 22:3).

Both meanings are poignant this coming week as the Primates of the Anglican Communion go to the place of their meeting - with each other and with God - near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The context is tense and the discussions intense. Rhetoric from 'left' and 'right' has been ratcheted up, emails have been leaked and reporters will gather and circle. Key decisions are going to be made: there is now no deferring or referring. In the midst of all of this, and surrounding it, has to be prayer.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the Primates that, 'The Episcopal Church is not in any way a monochrome body and we need to be aware of the full range of conviction within it.' It is also not united in purpose. The Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, will attend the meeting, and the Archbishop has invited three other American bishops to an 'extra-curricular' session. Technically, this will not be part of the Primates' Meeting itself, which will go into recess in order to hear the presentations from the three bishops, and reconvene at the close of the hearing.

The choice of the bishops for this session is sensible and significant. Christopher Epting (retired, Iowa) is the Presiding Bishop's deputy for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations; Bob Duncan (Pittsburgh) is Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network; and Bruce MacPherson (Western Louisiana) is President of the Presiding Bishop's Council of Advice.

In general terms, it seems to me that there are not two groups of 'Anglicans' in the USA (ie liberals and conservatives on the issue of sexuality), nor three (as some have suggested), but at least five - and it may be better to use the more fluid word 'streams' than groups.

Firstly, there are people who are liberal on issues of sexuality, who still see Gene Robinson's consecration both as a pioneering, unilateral cause of 'justice' and also as 'right' in terms of autonomous, ecclesial doctrine. They disagree with the Windsor Report's central recommendations, which assume the 'given-ness' of Lambeth 1.10 and which stress the importance of 'interdependence' over autonomy. They would not be unhappy for the Communion to shrink to a 'federation', and sometimes already prefer to use that term, nor, alternatively and ultimately, for The Episcopal Church to set up its own rival structure, trying to draw in other provinces. Ecclesiastical capitalism, perhaps?

Secondly, there are those who, while liberal on sexual issues and who may have supported Gene Robinson's consecration at the time, now see its effect as deleterious on the Communion. Some admit to being surprised by this, even though they were clearly warned by the Primates' Meetings in May and October 2003. So, they are liberal on sexual issues but conservative on 'Communion'.

Streams one and two, it seems to me, may be represented by Christopher Epting, who, himself, may be more in stream two than one.

Thirdly, there are those who are conservative on sexual issues and fully compliant with the Windsor Report eg the group of 'Windsor' bishops who have met twice at Camp Allen, and who were specifically mentioned in the letter of invitation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Primates. These bishops relate closely to the ecclesiology of the Anglican Communion Institute in the USA, as seen in the writings of Ephraim Radner, who is on the Covenant Design Group of the Anglican Communion, and to the Bishops of Durham and Winchester, who have spoken at Camp Allen. This stream, which may well prove to be the most crucial and cohesively central, will be represented, it seems to me, by Bruce MacPherson.

Fourthly, there are those who are conservative on sexual issues and who are still, but only just, awaiting a 'Communion sponsored solution' to the issues in the USA, eg the Anglican Communion Network (ACN). They are 'Windsor compliant' in terms of the assumed 'given-ness' of Lambeth 1.10 and 'interdependence', though there are also some 'Network' parishes which have individually left The Episcopal Church, and are now under various provinces in Africa and the Southern Cone on an ad hoc basis.

Fifthly, there are those who are conservative on sexual issues and who have already opted out of The Episcopal Church as groups, in a unilateralist manner eg Anglican Mission in America (under the Province of Ruanda since 2000) and the Convocation for Anglicans in North America (under the Province of Nigeria, since 2006). These agree with Lambeth 1.10 and parts of the Windsor Report, but not the sections which warn against 'trans-communion interventions'. So, perhaps, these may be seen as partially 'Windsor Compliant'.

Streams four and five, it seems to me, may be represented by Bob Duncan, who himself is clearly more in stream four than five (but, as a committed 'Windsor bishop' he is also to some extent in stream three).

The Global South Anglican movement, unlike The Episcopal Church, is united in purpose but is also, clearly, not monochrome. Some are influential on the Covenant Design Group, eg Drexel Gomez (West Indies), the chair, and John Chew (South-East Asia) while others are more wary of the process and some have gone against the 'trans-communion intervention' warnings of the Windsor Report eg Peter Akinola (Nigeria).

To cleave or to cleave? I, for one, am praying that the Primates will agree to follow the Windsor process of recommending a draft Covenant to the Lambeth Conference in 2008, and that the Covenant be adopted soon thereafter by the Anglican Consultative Council (2009) and by the Provinces (2009-10?). Change is, after all, usually best accomplished when those who are affected by it participate in its design.

I believe that a key part of the way forward is the concept, outlined in the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement in June 2006, of 'constituent' members of the Anglican Communion (those who choose to adopt the covenant) and 'associate' status (for those who do not). However, to prevent more of the current haemorrhaging, there may well need to be some sort of creative interim measure in the USA, as has been suggested by some in stream three outlined above, such as a 'College of Windsor Bishops' to oversee 'Windsor compliant' parishes and dioceses in The Episcopal Church. This may appear to be a form of 'cleaving-apart', in terms of separate distinction, but it would be in order to prevent a deeper 'cleaving-apart' in the whole Anglican Communion. Our goal must always be a 'cleaving-together' in the positive sense of Genesis chapter two.

So, we need to commit ourselves to prayer over this coming week - for the Primates and particularly for Rowan Williams. Perhaps the collect for last Sunday, the third before Lent, may be a resonant focus for us all:

Almighty God, who alone can bring order to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity: give your people grace so to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, among the many changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yours in Christ,

---Graham Kings vicar of St Mary Islington and theological secretary of Fulcrum

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 02/09/2007 5:47:28 PM PST by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; Way4Him; Peach; Zippo44; piperpilot; ex-Texan; ableLight; rogue yam; neodad; Tribemike; ..
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2 posted on 02/09/2007 5:48:11 PM PST by sionnsar (††|Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Nations)
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To: sionnsar

It is interesting that Father Kings named five groups of Anglicans in the USA, but of those who have "opted out" of PECUSA/TEC he has included only those who have aligned with the global south and has omitted the continuing Anglican churches who have not only maintained traditional Anglicanism, but have done so in a Western rather than an African cultural context.

3 posted on 02/10/2007 6:16:07 AM PST by Huber (And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. - John 1:5)
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To: Huber

You are correct, but it was my experience i the late 70s and early 80s that PECUSA was very heavily talking down the Continuing churches, and a lot of people bought into that. (As did I -- until I encountered one of those churches for myself.) The attitude continues.

4 posted on 02/10/2007 8:22:50 AM PST by sionnsar (††|Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Nations)
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