Admiral of Morality: In re: The Anglican Communion

Monday, September 24, 2007

In re: The Anglican Communion

The Anglican Communion is at a crossroads. The Anglican Communion is on the brink of schism. The Anglican Communion is teetering on the brink of schism. The Anglican Communion faces the spectre of schism. Schism looms for the Anglican Communion.

These statements are quite a mouthful. They have been used so often in so many articles over so many years now, that it is quite possible for readers of these articles, to skim past them, and the accompanying paragraphs explaining why and how, knowing fairly well their general point. These articles have been saying the same thing, often using the same "leading" sources, for quite some time. Very little of it is new or useful.

There are other things that these articles, do not say very much if at all.

One of these, is that The Anglican Communion, has grown and developed organically. Most of the news about our Church and our Communion, indeed, some of the shrillest voices arrayed against it for one reason or another, have tended to assume, or act as if, The Anglican Communion on some specific date, came into being, with all its structures, institutions, and bodies, planned out, coordinated, and given briefs.

Obviously this is not the case. The Communion as a body has developed over centuries here and there, as circumstances, personalities, and churches, require and find.

This is perhaps to be expected, for the Communion has its root in the English system where written constitutions are looked at with deep suspicion for the way they can be used to deny flexibility, rights, redress and, most importantly, new situations.

As the Archbishop of Canterbury pointed out in his press briefing last Friday, the Lambeth Conference will proceed next year. Invitations have been sent out. This Lambeth's purpose, not unlike any other, will be to bring together those invited, who look to the conference as a source of nourishment, discussion, and growth.

Viewed in this light it is quite difficult indeed to consider the Lambeth Conference or Anglican Communion, as ceasing to exist, or existing in some weakened state, for both will continue to exist, for all those who look to it as a source of nourishment, growth and strength, and for all those who work together, to make it so.

Both Lambeth and the Communion, have in the past worked and lived out their purposes, in various ways, as--yes--circumstances, personalities, and churches, require and find.

Neither has ever been static, unless we consider one particular point along the continuum of each's existence, as absolutely, irrevocably, defining.

There are some, of course, who might view both the Conference and the Communion as precisely this, urging that one particular point or time in its life, be corked up and then be the lodestone for all other instances and situations thereafter. They are permitted their view, and their voice, within the framework that theirs is but one, and not necessarily, the most compelling or loud.

As the Archbishop said, the focus of the upcoming Conference will be discussion, nourishment, and growth. For those who come, it will be so. For those who do not, it will not be so.

For those Churches that participate, the Communion will be a focus of growth, nourishment, and strength, not only in the persons and churches so connected, but in the work that they do, the cornerstone of the entire thing--spreading the Good News of the Lord.

For those that do not participate, it will not be such.

As the bishops of our Church consider various frameworks and proposals for going forward, they no doubt have one eye cast back towards their own position of last March at Camp Allen, and the subsequent Executive Council statements of June.

Both bodies have already urged our Church to stay on its path of nourishment and growth.

For many, as the Bishop of California eloquently noted to the Archbishop, our Church is the only place of nourishment and growth they have found. Indeed, it is more than this to them, it is a safe haven, the city of refuge, because no other exists.

What else is the Church of the Lord to be, if not the place of certain refuge? And it is not so because we ordain it to be so, it is so because we simply hear and obey, what He has ordained for all time, to be so.

Our church bodies have already recognized this. Now in New Orleans, our bishops have a chance to recognize it yet again, and to call again for our Communion to both recognize it and embrace it--and embrace us, their brothers and sisters in Christ, as we embrace them.

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