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Two Communions?
Midwest Conservative Journal ^ | 5/19/2006 | Christopher Johnson

Posted on 05/19/2006 12:10:03 PM PDT by sionnsar

Rowan Williams may have just accepted the inevitable:

An audacious plan to save the worldwide Anglican Church by allowing it to divide into two tracks, one fast and the other slow, is being backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

The proposals, which have parallels with the idea of a two-speed European Union, could permit liberals from North America to push ahead with divisive reforms such as homosexual bishops without destroying the Church.

But they could also allow conservatives from Africa and Asia to form an influential inner core that would edge out the liberals from positions of power and reduce them to a second-class status.

The blueprint, which has been seen by The Daily Telegraph, was drawn up by senior advisers and approved by Dr Williams and Church leaders at a private meeting in March.
It is expected to form the basis of a "covenant" aimed at averting future crises over issues such as homosexuality, which has brought the 77 million-strong worldwide Church to the brink of schism.

Dr Williams hopes that it may help to dilute some of the acrimony and distrust that has grown up between the rival factions in the Church.

The idea will, however, be greeted with huge suspicion by liberals who will fear that it could be used to marginalise them and hand control to the conservative majority.

Conservatives, meanwhile, may see the plans as an attempt to buy their compliance at a time when they are demanding the expulsion of the liberal American Church for consecrating Anglicanism’s first openly homosexual bishop.

Tensions are rising in the run-up to a crucial meeting next month of the United States Church’s general convention, its equivalent of the General Synod, at which it will come under huge pressure to "repent".

Under Dr Williams’s plan, all Anglican provinces - the 38 autonomous Churches that make up the worldwide Communion - will be asked to sign the covenant, an agreement that will prevent them from acting unilaterally over contentious issues.

The covenant would effectively be the Anglican Communion’s first constitution, a notion strongly resisted by liberals who dislike the idea of centralised power or of the Archbishop of Canterbury becoming an Anglican pope.

Those who refuse to sign up because they want to retain their freedom - possibly up to a third of the provinces -would not necessarily be seen as less Anglican, but they could find themselves pushed to the fringes.

The document develops the Windsor Report, which was commissioned by Dr Williams and published in 2004, a year after the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

It was adopted by the joint standing committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, two of the Communion’s ruling bodies, at a meeting in London. A 10-strong group will be appointed by Dr Williams to flesh out the proposals before they are debated at the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops.

I'm not at all sure what to make of this.  Has Dr. Williams conceded defeat?  Does he finally realize that the Africans have the numbers, that the two sides can't be reconciled and that the best he can hope for is to be the ceremonial head of both factions?

What does this do for orthodox Anglican individuals or parishes in liberal dioceses or liberal Anglican individuals or parishes in orthodox dioceses?  Will ECUSA sign on?  Will it matter if they do? 

If this is approved, would it get me back into my old parish?  Probably not.  But this is an interesting development that bears watching.  If you have any ideas as to what this means, please leave them in the comments.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
Submitted by Timothy at 5/19/2006 12:39:27 AM

This is not good news for those that were hoping against hope that the AOC would kick ECUSA out. It offers nothing for the orthodox in the US except perhaps for some a reason to wait a few more years while this is discussed. The only thing that will change the status quo is if the Network leadership walks. If they do, an accomidation will be reached in the US and Communion. If they don't, noting will change. It would be interesting to see if Akinola and Orombi were on the committee that worked on this. I bet they werent.

Submitted by JM at 5/19/2006 12:44:55 AM

They're fast, we're slow? We ride the short bus? We're all going in the same direction, but some of just take longer to get there?

I have a hard time conceiving that two communions could exist, each looking to the ABC for leadership, and not have one or the other (or even both) feel slighted. And how would one write up the covenant that would bind the core churches? On the other hand, the current structure does not appear capable of holding when unity cannot be achieved even on those matters where Scripture is clear.

Perhaps the ABC would take the advanced placement students and let Akinola++ take the slow learners?

Submitted by J. Scott at 5/19/2006 3:21:49 AM

They're fast, we're slow? We ride the short bus? We're all going in the same direction, but some of just take longer to get there?

Yeah, and "repent" is in sarcasm quotes. But then we all know where the Telegraph stands on the political spectrum.

Submitted by Milton Finch at 5/19/2006 4:54:05 AM

This is over at Stand Firm. I believe it may be on target!

Submitted by GB at 5/19/2006 8:09:24 AM

It reminds me of King Solomon's decision to chop the baby in half and give one half to each woman claiming to be the real mother. Only the real mother objected to this since she wanted to save the baby's life. It is a pity the Anglican Communion has been pushed to this since the proposed Anglican Covenant will likely be much more restrictive and coercive than anyone--especially traditionalists would have ever wanted.

Submitted by Ed the Roman at 5/19/2006 8:18:02 AM

Hmm. A "Commonwealth of Churches."

J.Scott, I'm not sure what you mean about the Telegraph. They're the most conservative British paper I think I've ever read.

Submitted by alfonso at 5/19/2006 8:30:54 AM

Matt & Milton may be right. The "two tracks" might well be seen from the perspective of the Global South as: 1. Full Communion; and 2. Some state of discipline-pending-repentance.

Of course, from ECUSA's perspective, these would likely be seen as: 1. Not-yet-enlightened Traditionalism; and 2. Courageous (oppressed) speakers of truth-to-power.

So we need to know more, but this could be a significant victory for global orthodox Anglicans, but not necessarily (depending on their goals) for the Anglican Communion Network and the comparative traditionalists within ECUSA.

The compromise for ++Williams on this (unclear as it still is) seems to be: I'm not going to tell ECUSA they can't call themselves Anglicans; but I'm willing to allow an Anglican Covenant to proceed that ECUSA probably won't sign onto.

Thus ECUSA, akin to the demotion of the 39 Articles in the '79 BCP, will become an entity of noteworthy historical interest for Anglicanism, but no longer of the Anglican essence.

We'll see....Lord, have mercy.

Submitted by David+ at 5/19/2006 8:46:23 AM

Just another effort at avoiding the inevitable which does nothing but drag the crisis into yet another year while ECUSA continues to bleed communicants. If the Archbishop can not end up saying good bye to ECUSA as such, the outflow will continue until there are none left to say hello to anyway! The gay agenda folk can not fund ECUSA forever with dead men's money.

Submitted by Iowa Boy at 5/19/2006 8:49:45 AM

This does nothing for the Orthodox in ECUSA who have been persecuted and marginalized for years. Would this keep me from walking away from Anglicanism?...NO! Why should it? It clearly indicates that for ++Williams unity is more important that defending the faith, and highlights the appalling lack of leadership in the Anglican Church outside of the Global South. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

Submitted by Tom at 5/19/2006 9:21:35 AM

I agree with those above who have observed that this plan is just further marginalization of conservatives. Stall until conservatives concede. Show me some plan that will defend the Faith by robust teaching of the True Faith and disciplining those who err and you might hold my attention.

Submitted by alfonso at 5/19/2006 9:27:43 AM

The "fast track" refers to the European Communion Constitution and the embryonic Anglican Covenant. "Fast track" countries/provinces (full adopters) are simply first adopters, and get a seat on the core committees; "slow track" adopters do not. The reason for this phraseology is because it comes across as non-judgmental: "slow track" is not "bad", just "not yet fully in step."

It won't be hard to spin, though, that exclusion from core committees is a type of discipline. A rose by any other name...

Submitted by anthills at 5/19/2006 10:48:42 AM

If "fast/slow tracks" is toward a substantial Anglican Covenant, then there may be something here worth looking at. But we need to see something, before General Convention, even a sketch. It better allow separate tracks inside ECUSA. I see "Anglican Covenant Congregation" on a church sign. More at

Submitted by Jon at 5/19/2006 11:17:55 AM

could permit liberals from North America to push ahead with divisive reforms such as homosexual bishops without destroying the Church. Now there's an oxymoron. Submitted by Cutting the Baby at 5/19/2006 11:40:20 AM ECUSA will never sign. Can individual parishes sign? Or, if a parish affiliates with the ACN, and the ACN signs, what does that mean if the Diocese the parish is in does not sign? What if ECUSA does not sign, a Diocese signs, but a parish does not sign? My head hurts...

Submitted by alfonso at 5/19/2006 12:44:52 PM

My guess is that ++Williams has no intention of letting non-provinces sign. That's not what this is about. It's about keeping the provinces as much together as possible, even if in name only. Letting the ACN sign is not necessary to keep Nigeria, and it might lose ECUSA and its ilk; so I strongly suspect the ABC is against it. That could change if the Global South insists, but I doubt it forms any part of the current plan.

Submitted by J. Scott at 5/19/2006 12:45:27 PM

Ed - the Telegraph used to be conservative but now its writers seem to be all over the place. I was trying to be tongue-in-cheek but it obviously didn't work. Submitted by J. Scott at 5/19/2006 12:52:01 PM Isn't it likely the Covenant would easily be interpreted however anybody wants to spin it? I mean, look how the Lib-Prots read the Windsor Report. To post-modern liberals, words don't mean what the author(s) intended; they mean whatever the reader wants them to. Also, remember Griz's bait-&-switch action when he signed that document against ordaining sodomites (or whatever it was exactly; I forget now) and then went ahead and gave the Queen Vic a pointy hat anyway. So ECUSA could sign.

1 posted on 05/19/2006 12:10:03 PM PDT by sionnsar
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2 posted on 05/19/2006 12:11:23 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0urs)
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