Monday, 1 September 2003

ECUSA expulsion threat

This story about the attempt to expel ECUSA from the Anglican Communion (or at least punish it in some way) is growing.
Today’s Telegraph contains two more pieces by Jonathan Petre:
Anglican conservatives fight to expel US liberals over gay issue and
Williams says Church faces disintegration
while Ruth Gledhill in The Times has
Archbishop gives warning of Church split over gays
Part of this comes, it seems, from an article authored by RW in the new issue of New Directions, the monthly Forward in Faith magazine. This issue of ND is not yet on the web.

Do British Anglicans care about this? Or will it be a rerun of the JJ debacle when the majority of English bishops were supportive but kept silent? One bishop who has spoken about this is John Gladwin, whose statement on the New Hampshire election can be found here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 1 September 2003 at 10:26am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: News | Opinion

In Tuesday's Guardian Stephen Bates also reports on this matter, "Archbishop dares to speak its name: the breakup of the Anglican church":,2763,1033724,00.html.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 2 September 2003 at 9:26am BST

I guess the question is not whether the next decade will be messy for the Anglican Communion and its constituent churches but whether we go for a hard mess or a soft mess.

The hard mess route involves setting up alternative jurisdictions that would police their constituencies and (on one side at least) demand tests of orthodoxy that would prevent or significantly delay changes of attitude. Opinions on the subjects of concern become the defining breakpoints. Small minorities could find themselves as significant players in individual jurisdictions and use their influence to force through issues that would further divide and polarise. Lay presidency would rear its head soon enough.

The soft mess involves setting up means whereby a dissenting group can distance themselves from a bishop who represents an offence to them by his lifestyle or her gender. The mess is soft because no separate formal structures are created and groups can move back and forward (as at present with extended episcopal oversight in England) as their ideas develop or change, and as bishops change. It would be important to keep grounds for division down to fact (she is female, he has a gay partner) rather than opinions (he supports this, she does not condemn/publicly repent of that).

Personally i'm a soft mess man. But my views may be influenced because the effect of following the soft mess route over the ordination of women to the priesthood in England has been a steady withering of the number of parishes opposed.

Posted by: David Walker on Tuesday, 2 September 2003 at 9:50am BST

It is, I think, an important part of 'being Church' that we do not seek to split up, but work through our difficulties by being civil to each other, by talking together, thinking together, praying together, and by remaining in communion with each other.

This is not an easy option for any of us, since we may well profoundly disagree about one or more matters. One group or another (or both) may want to distance themselves in some way, but to break communion will only divide and consume our efforts and resources.

(Footnote: a similar sentiment is expressed in an "article": in today's _Atlanta Journal-Constitution_, in Georgia in the USA.)

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 2 September 2003 at 10:11am BST

As a sideline to this, why choose New Directions?

I heard a report of the article on Radio 4's early evening news last night, having missed it anywhere else. I found myself shocked not by RW airing the possibility of institutional division within the Anglican communion, but that he should make these comments, bound to attract attention at least in church circles, in the Forward in Faith house magazine.

Was this some subtle ploy because New Directions in itself represents the fact of division within the Church of England?

There's no question that the archbishop should address Forward in Faith as any other part of the Church of England. And I believe him to be entirely supportive of women's ministry in all its dimensions. Generally, I can set aside the encounters with those for whom my ministry is problematic. In this case, I can only report my personal reaction of hurt, of feeling undermined, when that a factional tool had been used in this way. An irrational response, no doubt,in a Thinking Anglican, but that's how it was.

Posted by: Jane Freeman on Tuesday, 2 September 2003 at 11:09am BST