Friday, 26 January 2007

primates meeting in Tanzania

Updated Saturday morning
Several recent items relating to this meeting next month.

First, the Living Church reports that two American bishops who have been invited by Archbishop Rowan Williams to come to Tanzania, as mentioned here, are: Robert Duncan and Bruce MacPherson. See:
Bishop Duncan, Another Bishop Will Attend Primates’ Meeting
Details on Tanzania Meeting Few For Western Louisiana Bishop

Second, the Church Times today published a news report, Secretary-general hints at ‘difficulties’ with Dr Williams, about which the Living Church has published this: Louie Crew: Publication of Private Email a Betrayal.

American views of Rowan Williams, as previously summarised by Bishop Paul Marshall, will not be improved by the report in the Anglican Journal saying Archbishop of Canterbury to meet with Canadian bishops. For a further expression of American opinion on the archbishop, read Jim Naughton …and starring Rowan Williams as Dale Carnegie (for an explanation of this title: see here).

Episcopal News Service has a report that Design group to give draft covenant to Primates.

The Anglican Communion’s Covenant Design Group’s report to the February meeting of the Communion’s Primates will include a draft covenant, according to one of the two Episcopal Church members of the group.

Both the Rev. Dr. Katherine Grieb, associate professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary, and the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, rector of Church of the Ascension in Pueblo, Colorado, adhered to the group’s agreement to keep the details of its report confidential. Grieb said the report contains a draft of a proposed covenant.

However, both spoke to the Episcopal News Service about the covenant-design process and discussed their thoughts about the idea of a covenant for the Communion, which originated in the Windsor Report (paragraphs 113-120). The Archbishop of Canterbury appointed the group at the request of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates’ Meeting and of the Anglican Consultative Council…

Do read this report in full.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 26 January 2007 at 11:18pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

The Living Church article says the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to the Primates 18th December “There is much to build upon here. There are many in TEC who are deeply concerned as to how they should secure their relationships with the rest of the Communion; I hope we can listen patiently to these anxieties.””

For an outsider, it is very strange to see how something which does not actually exist (The Episcopal Church of the Americas is not a “member” but a Founder of the 1867 Anglican Communion) is used as a pawn in a political game to d e s t r o y both TEC a n d the Communion.

And that this is aided and abetted by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 8:39am GMT

On the subject of the Anglican Communion's Covenant Design Group's report, while Drs Greib and Radner have agreed to keep details of the Covenant Design Group's recommendations confidential, the following observations by Dr. Greib sound very ominous indeed":

"Grieb said the fact that the group's members from Ireland, South Africa and Ceylon could not be at the meeting was "unfortunate [because] it meant that the representation was unbalanced."

"Ceylon has just ordained women. South Africa has been through the whole apartheid experience and Ireland has struggled with religious conflict," Grieb said. "We could have used their experienced voices."

"There weren't very many of us to speak for the use of the covenant as binding the whole Communion together with different points of view represented in it," she said.

"The most-well-represented view was that the purpose of the covenant is preventative."

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 1:43pm GMT

“The most-well-represented view was that the purpose of the covenant is preventative.”
It’s worrisome that the dominant view in this process appears to be one that regards an Anglican covenant as a sort of prophylactic. Those using it might certainly believe that such a thing would guard the communion against insidious diseases (which I suppose is what some consider the present movement towards full inclusion of LGBT persons in the life of the church), but a prophylactic also prevents conception. Thus, a covenant designed as a preventative would effectively suffocate new life, which doesn’t strike me as a good idea. In addition, these things often break, or have holes in them. Even a prophylactic covenant isn’t going to be entirely safe, you know.

Posted by: Julian on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 2:45pm GMT

Lapinbizarre --

True, but surely these remarks are more encouraging!

*For Grieb the issue comes down, in part, to recognizing that there are two traditional approaches to biblical interpretation that are continually in "tension and conversation."

One tradition she described as that "understands faithfulness to the text as being a non-complicated reproduction of what was said in the past without embroidery, without modification, taking those great, ancient -- some might even say eternal truths -- and applying them in out life today, no matter how difficult that is. It intends to preserve ‘the faith once delivered to the saints.'"

The other tradition "understands the Bible in closer continuity with Judaism that sees the Torah as a living, breathing word, like a tree that has new leaves."

"The Bible itself has participated in the dynamic process of re-hearing the Word of God in each generation," Grieb said. "This view sees the biblical text itself as a growing thing -- a growing text. It assumes that God actually plants new insights in the text, new questions in our hearts, new interactions between reader and text."

The on-going conversation about an Anglican covenant, Grieb said, recognizes that these two traditions live side-by-side in our congregations.

"What we need right now are for biblical interpreters and theologians and all the people living in our churches hearing the Word every Sunday, living it out in their lives all the days of the week, to reflect on these traditions of biblical interpretation," she said. "As we reflect also on our present context, we can recommit ourselves to welcome those who share another understanding of Scripture and therefore another interpretation of doctrine or ethics than we do."

"It is the time for the Anglican Communion at every level to renew its commitment to conversation about the Anglican Communion and about the history of biblical interpretation in Anglicanism," she said. "We're up to that; we can do this."*

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 2:57pm GMT

Dr Grieb said in the interview: "... the purpose of the covenant is preventative." "... a covenant would prevent any significant change from happening in Church's doctrine and practice".

"Proponents ... are eager to have a covenant in place as quickly as possible so that there will be procedures available to prevent any unwelcome innovations from their point of view."

I thought we were against voluntary Euthanasia.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 3:38pm GMT

All these reasons point to the absolute logic of a new global network free of the malign influence of conservative evangelicalism

The AC is simply not worth being part of: indeed, it is an instrument of bigotry and oppression dominated by people who are certainly not those one would wish to claim 'communion' with - you have seen them for yourselves on here.

TEC, be bold - tell Williams where to stuff his communion and reach out to those of us who won't go to church any longer until we have a genuine alternative.

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 3:39pm GMT

Grieb's comment that Ireland, South Africa and Ceylon were not represented and that covenant details are to be kept hidden until Tanzania is indeed ominous. With the Americans kept in the dark, they will have no way of preparing a response. And the PB will be alone. It could be alleged that the extracted promise to keep the details confidential was made to insure this eventuality. The English Conservatives have prepared their "covenant" and N.T. Wright's comments on it on the Fulcrum website are quite telling. Theology was ignored. David Virtue has reported that the Global South has planned to "act together" and has worked on their edition. And, given the lack of representation of the more centrist and liberal "factions" on the hastily appointed and convened ABC "development team", it would appear that Tanzania may be a done deal. Yes, the PB will be invited. No, whatever the agenda prepared by the ABC is, it will be overridden and the agenda will be provided by the others. The ACC may require a 2/3 majority to rule on issues of membership, but a 50%+ will likely be the decision of this group and its concepts of "communion" as proscriptive and "preventative" vs. descriptive likely to prevail +Duncan, who has waited so long for this showdown will be in attendance waiting in the wings to be acknowledged as the true leader of the Anglican Church in the US, at least by the 50% at Tanzania if not the US Courts.

How poorly used has the ABC been.

Posted by: EPfizH on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 4:55pm GMT

This report has both intriguing and disturbing aspects. I'm not all that encouraged at Dr. Radner's enthusiasm. That's somewhat relieved by Dr. Grieb's statements.

But, then, this will only be a draft. As has been noted, there are other "drafts" in circulation, if lacking in the offical status of this one. This draft did at least include American scholars and of different perspectives. So, there are two points to remember:

1. What will matter is the final draft, which could possibly be presented at Lambeth, and at the next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. Until we've seen a final draft, we're not faced with decision. Should others choose before a final draft, that is their responsibility.

2. If a final draft is presented next year to Lambeth and ACC, no response from The Episcopal Church will come before the 2009 General Convention. If Lambeth and/or ACC were to take the final draft "for study" rather than for official reception, TEC's official response could be delayed even longer.

Now, point 2 will concern some folks. For them yesterday was too late to have this resolved, so 2009 (much less, say, 2012) is unbearably late. It may lead, as I've suggested, to precipitate decisions. It will certainly lead to calls for precipitate decisions from both poles of the division. However, it's not something I have to commit to until both Lambeth and ACC have spoken and TEC has responded. By then we will at least be certain what we're accepting or declining.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 5:18pm GMT

Having read the "Design group to give draft covenant to Primates" piece in full:

Where Dr. Greib says "The covenant process is moving at a great speed,"

I have to ask: Highway to Hell???

["The most-well-represented view was that the purpose of the covenant is preventative." Prevent that bothersome HOLY SPIRIT from working anything new within the Church! >:-( ]

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 7:53pm GMT

A Convenant that can "be considered and potentially embraced by all" is not one that will satisfy the need for having one in the first place. Producing one that does satisfy that need will mean producing others. The issue will be how not to be pressurised into accepting the one, and also how to embrace an alternative.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 10:33pm GMT

Since the ABC is ignoring the polity of TEC by inviting American bishops who not agree with the decisions of General Convention to the Primates Meeting, what if the primates of TEC & the ACinC boycotted the meeting unless the Tanzanian Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo is invited to give a point of view that differs from that of the Tanzanian primate, etc., etc.?

Of course I am not serious, just posing a topic for thought.

BTW -- IIUC, Pluralist seems to be on to something -- the persons most in favor of having a covenant want one precisely so they can exclude people (that's the way the puritan mindset always works & why it is ultimately self destructive).

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 11:49pm GMT

Just a short question:

Do the representatives on this Ark of a Committée come in Pairs too, jointly representing their Provinces?

Or is this the case only for TEC?

For if so it seems to me that the outcome has been decided on even before the first meeting.

(might this explain why Ireland, South Africa and Sri Lanka didn't show up?)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 28 January 2007 at 10:03am GMT

Clearly there is a head of steam building on this, and a lot of speculation too (a BBC 2 programme called Newsnight is a bit like this, often living in the future asking "what will happen" as an alternative to analysis and the answer is always "wait and see").

Nevertheless planners need to know the options, and there is quite a possibility of ambush while Rowan Williams carries out his (comment free?) chairing of the disaster. If there is a ganging up, and TEC is shown the door of this over-important Anglican Communion, mixed up with producing a Covenant to exclude TEC and the like minded, followed by an encroachment on its territory, then it will be important for many other Anglican Churches to reject such a Covenant that will in effect be used to support these actions. We can all guess which Churches may well reject it - but most important would be that the Church of England rejects it too. It might be harder to pass through its tricameral Synod than the Chairman thinks, and even if it did that might not be enough to gain acceptance.

Then it would be beneficial if there is, produced by a badly treated TEC, (at least) another Covenant. It probably would not get through the C of E either, but, given the shattered glass everywhere, some bits of the glass might well take up something more suitable. It would give an opportunity at last to recognise that people are important whoever they are, that theology has changed, and that we live in this century and not somewhere back in magical mystery times or of clenched fists with bolts of lightning coming out of the sky.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 28 January 2007 at 3:52pm GMT
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