Friday, 12 February 2010

Brian Lewis writes about the ACNA debate

The following article was written by Brian Lewis for the Preludium blog of Mark Harris.

“We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language” (Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost 1887).

I was alarmed but (bearing in mind Oscar’s witticism) should not have been surprised to hear that some in TEC and ACoC might misunderstand the full significance of the Church of England’s General Synod’s decision to reject the call to “express a desire to be in Communion with ACNA”.

But let us be clear it did just that, not once, but twice or perhaps even three times.

To follow through the sequence of events.

The original motion was:

That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America.

In a background paper circulated in advance of the debate the mover (Lorna Ashworth) made a number of allegations about TEC and the ACoC. This clearly established that though the motion was ostensibly only about ACNA it was intended to invite the CoE to condemn the behaviour of TEC and ACoC.

In response to that briefing paper I circulated to all members of synod two papers.

  • The first was written by Revd Canon Alan T Perry LL M. a lecturer in ecclesiastical polity at the Montreal Diocesan Theological College, and amongst other things former Prolocutor of the Province of Canada and member of the Council of the Canadian General Synod, and specifically rebutting the allegations made against ACoC in Mrs Ashworth’s briefing paper.
  • The second was compiled by Simon Sarmiento (of among other things Thinking Anglicans fame) after consultation with David Booth Beers, Chancellor to the Presiding Bishop and Mary E. Kostel, Special Counsel to the Presiding Bishop for property litigation and discipline, and assistance from the Revd Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG, the Revd Scott Gunn, and Ms Susan Erdey of the Church Pension Group. It rebutted the allegations made against TEC.

All synod members including the Archbishops were sent these papers (I believe they are now online at Thinking Anglicans). Members of TEC and ACoC are indebted to Simon; I know how hard he worked on the production of theses papers. I also know how grateful many members of synod were to receive them.

Mrs Ashworth duly presented her motion to Synod, the further allegations made in her opening address confirmed that this was indeed a motion inviting synod to condemn the actions of TEC and ACoC.

In response to the original motion the Bishop of Bristol put forward an amendment (with the support of the House of Bishops) entirely replacing it.

The amendment reads

That this synod
(a) recognise and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family;
(b) acknowledge that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further; and
(c) invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011.

There are two key and essential things to recognise about this amendment (certainly recognised by everyone in the synod and why it was resisted by those supporting ACNA):

  • The original motion had asked the synod to express OUR desire to be in COMMUNION with ACNA.
  • The replacement recognised and affirmed THEIR desire to remain part of the Anglican FAMILY.

(Other finer questions about “affirm” and “remain” were not key to the understanding of this amendment and to my recollection not brought into the debate, indeed an amendment to leave out “affirm” was withdrawn; we could equally say that by saying the leadership had “formed” ACNA the Bishop was saying ACNA is a new church, but that was also not part of the debate nor probably part of the Bishop’s intention. )

The force of this amendment is in replacing OUR desire to be in COMMUNION with THEIR desire to remain part of the Anglican FAMILY.

Synod accepted this amendment.

Synod declined to express “a desire to be in Communion with ACNA”. That matters. Questions not asked are one thing but when a question is asked and the answer is politely No Thank You that changes where you are.

The No Thank You was polite, of course it was, but it was real. The amendment also asked our Archbishops for a report on the situation, and helpfully recognised the reality of the issues any future possible recognition would raise for the relevant authorities.

I find it difficult to see how ACNA could welcome any of this.

Further In case it was just possible that this was not a rejection of synod “expressing a desire to be in Communion with ACNA” the supporters of ACNA put forward again, as an amendment to the Bishop’s amendment, the original request “that this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America”. Asking the Synod to say both things at once. A very Anglican fudge that would have been!

The Bishop of Winchester and other ACNA supporters spoke for this, needless to say I spoke against it.

This was the critical moment of the debate - you might just possibly maintain we had in the Bishop’s amendment acknowledged proper procedure - the role of the “relevant authorities” the role of the Archbishops etc, now we could add in the support of our persecuted brothers and sisters (as they were presented to us), and say we desired to be in Communion with them.

The synod carefully considered this and voted No.

That is the second time.

Then we were asked to add an amendment that expressed “our desire that in the interim, the orders of ACNA clergy be recognised and accepted by the Archbishops subject to their satisfaction as to such clergy being of good standing, enabling them to exercise their ordained ministry in this country, according to the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967.”

We said No. Recognising orders is a key part of being in Communion.

I’m afraid I consider that is No a third time.

It was hardly surprising however that nobody objected to the final amendment, an acknowledgement of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada - indeed I had referred to it myself when calling on synod members to support those who had remained faithful to their church.

I know the very existence of this debate raises questions about one part of the Anglican Communion interfering with another - and those questions were raised - but before we answer them, what of the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Presidential address expressing “repugnance” of the “infamous” proposed legislation in Uganda, and the efforts he and other CofE bishops have made communicating directly with the Anglican Church in Uganda. It is also not improper for a synod to offer its view of who it hopes we will be in Communion with. But I recognise there are big issues at stake for the Communion generally - I would just reiterate, I see little cause for concern for TEC or ACoC in the outcome of this particular debate, and to be frank it is beyond disingenuous or bizarre for anybody connected with ACNA to pretend this is in anyway an affirmation of ACNA.

Brian Lewis

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Brian Lewis said, "[T]o be frank it is beyond disingenuous or bizarre for anybody connected with ACNA to pretend this is in anyway an affirmation of ACNA."

No matter what Brian Lewis may say, the resolution itself reads, "That this synod (a) recognise and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family."

So the resolution does "affirm" ACNA, to some degree. The word is there. The resolution also "recognises" ACNA, to some degree. That word is there too.

And some of us pointed all this out well before Synod took place.

So no one should be surprised that ACNA is spinning this resolution positively.

The only thing that people who were not at Synod have to go by is . . . the text of the resolution.

Next time, whoever writes the substitute amendment should do so more carefully.

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 1:03am GMT

Thank you Brian for this clarification. Our thanks also go to all those, especially Simon, that spoke out for your sisters and brothers across the pond in this debate.

Posted by: David Bewley on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 1:59am GMT

This is most helpful. Thank you.

Posted by: Michael on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 7:10am GMT

The word "affirm" is there, but it does not refer to "ACNA" but to the "desire" of the people who formed ACNA.

That's simply stating facts without endorsing anything.

I suppose "acknowledge" would have been a little clearer.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 8:59am GMT

Jeremy - What is "recognised" and "affirmed" is the "desire" of those who formed ACNA, not ACNA itself.

I suppose I could recognise and affirm that. They say it, I recognise it. As for affirming, it is laudable that they want to "remain" in the Anglican family - I can affirm that. And I am a staunch opponent of ACNA.

It says nothing about what "those who formed ACNA" would have to do to have their "desire" fulfilled. And as Brian Lewis points out, the synod had the opportunity to express its own desire, and declined to do so.

Posted by: Uriel on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 9:06am GMT

I'm grateful to Brian for setting this out so clearly. I took part in the debate and what he says represents fairly the proceedings. I think however there are a couple of additional points worth noting about the Amendment that +Mike Hill put forward on behalf of the House of Bishops.

Firstly, Mike replaced a phrase about ACNA (an entity) with one about "Those who have formed ACNA" - a collection of individuals and (possibly)groups. The change of wording meant that Synod was not being asked to say anything that might be considered as a view on whether ACNA as a body has any legitimacy, or whether the mechanism by which individuals and groups might remain part of the Anglican family would involve ACNA continuing to exist or not.

Mike's wording was also chosen, I believe, (but I haven't personally checked the archives) because it echoes language used in a Resolution of Lambeth 1998 concerning members of "continuing" Anglican bodies around the world. Some of those bodies are part of what has formed ACNA; we were saying to them exactly what has already been said at a Lambeth Conference and what we should say to any who share our Anglican inheritance but have separated for whatever reason.

Finally, whilst Synod firmly rejected any motion that might suggest aligning itself with ACNA I am pretty sure that it would have equally rejected a motion that sought to endorse the actions of TEC or ACoC. The hurt and anger caused by the insensitive and entirely avoidable treatment of people from our own church whom we know and respect (such as Jim Packer and +Henry Scriven) has damaged the reputation of both the US and Canadian provinces here.

Posted by: David Walker on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 10:31am GMT

A good summary Brian - thank you.

I was very happy to see the Church's response to this motion. And rather amused to see how ACNA has been able to twist it into a ringing endorsement of their activities!

I remember those on Thinking Anglicans who believed that the Church would accept Lorna A's motion and that it would spell the end of our communion with TEC and ACoC. Fortunately those fears were unfounded!

Posted by: Nick Lincoln on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 11:15am GMT

Greetings from Frozen Florida, Nick Lincoln!

Would Lorna Ashcroft's motion have been rejected if some members of the Church of England had not stepped up for TEC and ACoC? I wonder.

I think we have Simon Sarmiento and the others who worked with him to thank for this outcome, which I do not think was a foregone conclusion.

David Walker gives me cause for concern: "The hurt and anger caused by the insensitive and entirely avoidable treatment of people from [the Church of England] whom we know and respect (such as Jim Packer and +Henry Scriven) has damaged the reputation of both the US and Canadian provinces here."

A number of people, including Martin Reynolds and Gregory Cameron, have also brought this up. I think (as a member of TEC) that someone needs to address this issue. It may be that we did stumble in our treatment of Bishop Scriven, and have been stonewalling ever since. If so, there's a better way.

Posted by: Charlotte on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 3:49pm GMT

I was unaware of that third amendment proposed and defeated -- most brief reports I'd read mention it only in passing without describing its content. As it stands it is a very clear rejection of "recognition" in the sense of ministry and order that defines being in communion. Thanks for citing this in full.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 4:18pm GMT

Please, who are Jim Packer and +Henry Scriven and what did we do to them?

Posted by: Lois Keen on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 4:50pm GMT

Odd. Henry Scriven doesn't seem to think he's been mistreated. That doesn't stop a bunch of rogues and liars making absurd claims on his behalf.

Jim Packer declared himself out of communion with the Bishop. Are some people suggesting that declaring yourself out of communion with your bishop merits no response?

(Assuming the David Walker above is the bishop and not the cartoonist) what exactly would happen in your diocese if the vicar of Lesser Woppity Splash declared himself to be out of communion with you and your colleagues in the Diocese of Worcester?

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 6:25pm GMT

Lorna Ashworth is purporting to speak for Canada. I think it's relevant to ask, then, why isn't she doing it with the Canadian accent she was born with. Why is she affecting a British accent? I've spent masses of time in Britain, loads of rellies there, yeah you pick up the lingo, but Canadians see affecting a British accent as beyond silly.

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 7:27pm GMT

If "we" = TEC, then we didn't do anything to the Reverend Mr. J.I. Packer, whose writings are very influential among Evangelicals in North America.

Wikipedia writes: "As of 2008, Packer is a parishioner of St. John's Shaughnessy Anglican church in Vancouver, which in February 2008 voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada because the St. John's church believes that the ACC is no longer teaching in accordance with scripture. So, they joined the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of America. Packer, on 23 April, handed in his licence from the Bishop of New Westminster."

It is the circumstances in which the Rev. Mr. Packer surrendered his license to conduct services in an ACoC church that some in the Church of England find difficult and rather "Laudian." However, I would want someone from Canada to explain the circumstances; I'm TEC.

As for Bishop Henry Scriven: He is a Church of England clergyman who had for some time been resident in the US and served as an assistant bishop in Pittsburgh, while Robert Duncan was still the bishop there. He was supportive of Duncan's breakaway attempts. As for what happened when he returned to the UK, see this website's account:
Scriven himself has characterized the matter as a "tempest in a teacup" but the bitterness lingers.

Posted by: Charlotte on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 7:35pm GMT

The resolution recognizes that a group of individuals wish to continue to be part of the Anglican family. It then recognizes that desire of these people, formed into ACNA, raises questions. It then does what parliamentary bodies of any kind do best -- sends the whole question to a committee to study it.
General Synod handed nothing to ACNA. It simply recognized that people wish to remain part of the Anglican community.
If ACNA likes its celebratory shot of single malt Scotch extremely watered down, I can't help them with that.

Posted by: peterpi on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 7:42pm GMT

Greetings from not-so-frozen England Charlotte (at least it's not so frozen where I am)! You are right to question David Walker's comments here - the treatment of Jim Packer and Henry Scriven was not 'insensitive and entirely avoidable'. Jim Packer was inhibited because the church he belonged to decided to leave the diocese completely - how could he still insist on being a part of ACoC when he had left it behind? As for Henry Scriven - that was the media blowing things up - he was released from his orders in TEC because he had accepted a post in England. Neither TEC nor ACoC did anything wrong in either of these cases.

And you're right that it wasn't a foregone conclusion, but neither was the alternative!

I'd have to say this was a pretty good Synod, on the ACNA front and the Civil Partnership front. Just a little disappointing on the women bishops issue...but we'll get there!!

Posted by: Nick Lincoln on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 9:15pm GMT

Erika and Uriel --

I note your precise and rather fine readings of the resolution. I also note that others are not reading the resolution so precisely or so finely.

ACNA has issued a press release titled, "General Synod Affirms Anglican Church in North America." CANA has issued a press release titled, "CANA Welcomes General Synod Affirmation of ACNA."

In light of these press releases, your careful and principled parsings seem, frankly, rather naive. The word "desire" has fallen out of these headlines. Are you truly surprised at that?

Those who think these press releases are stretches need to understand that the resolution itself opened the door to them. If Synod is going to play cross-provincial politics, then it needs to up its resolution-drafting game.

Instead of "affirms" or "recognises" or even "acknowledges," how about "notes" or "observes" or "takes note of" or "is informed that." All of these phrasings acknowledge facts without conveying judgments about them.

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 9:36pm GMT

" I would just reiterate, I see little cause for concern for TEC or ACoC in the outcome of this particular debate, and to be frank it is beyond disingenuous or bizarre for anybody connected with ACNA to pretend this is in anyway an affirmation of ACNA." - Brian Lewis -

Firstly, Brian, a question: Are you the Brian Lewis who trained at SJC in Auckland, N.Z.?

Secondly, Thank you Brian for making the effort to circulate in General Synod the two documents, from Allan Perry and Simon Sarmiento. Both were made available to us through T.A., and Simon's article especially I remember as being succinct in its defence of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada - against the insinuations of Ms Ashworth.

I have no doubt that these documents helped the members of G.S. to understand the true nature of ACNA's schismatic actions, and to draw back from Ms Ashworth's (and the Bishop of Winchester's) desire that the C.of E. should express any desire to be 'in Communion', per se, with ACNA at this time. Hopefully, the grace period given before any further action can be taken on this matter will allow time for the Church of England to seriously consider whether it wants to be linked to a homophobic entity like ACNA.

Regarding David Walker's comments, having studied the activities of Messrs: Jim Packer and Henry Scriven, and the way in which they have together and separately treated conventional Anglicanism in North America, I must say that both TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada have acted in ways that are consistent with their own polity and theological stance on matters of human sexuality. And those - like ACNA and other dissidents from this polity - who have opted out of communion with TEC and the A.C.of C. on these matters, are
entirely to blame for what has happened to them.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 10:33pm GMT

"It is the circumstances in which the Rev. Mr. Packer surrendered his license to conduct services in an ACoC church that some in the Church of England find difficult and rather "Laudian." However, I would want someone from Canada to explain the circumstances; I'm TEC."

I hope someone explains soon - I find the idea that pulling the license of a priest who by his actions clearly has left the licensing Province might cause people in the UK problems very odd indeed.

Posted by: BillyD/Bill Dilworth on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 11:54pm GMT

"I also note that others are not reading the resolution so precisely or so finely."

But that's the way it is with every piece of writing produced in or by the Church of England (and every other part of the Communion) - look at the 39 Articles! Or the Communion Service, for that matter. People tend to read things to their own advantage.

Posted by: BillyD/Bill Dilworth on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 11:59pm GMT

Given the information revealed by Charlotte, Malcolm, Nick Lincoln, and Fr. Smith, and having done some further research on that part of his post,I do believe that David Walker owes TEC and ACC a rather substantial apology for his maligning both provinces.

I trust it was not willful, and merely careless on his part, and that his comments were badly and insensitively phrased.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 12:15am GMT

I believe the problem is that the word "license" wasn't used in various letters/reports sent out to or about about Packer and Scriven. PB Schori's letter to General Convention,HOB, etc. said she accepted Scriven's "renunciation of Ordained Ministry and that he was removed..released...and deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and authority Ordinations." It didn't specify TEC and sounds to most people like he was defrocked. Same thing with Packer. Both were ordained in England and the Americans and Canadians were defrocking them. Although some of the reports in Canada did make clear Packer was just losing his right to practice in ACoC, others didn't. It also happened to the American priest who became a bishop in Canada for the Indigenous Peoples, can't think of his name right now.

I think TEC needs to change the laws/canons/wording and start using "license" or some other wording that shows a better distinction from being defrocked. To someone who isn't a lawyer, they sound like the same thing.

Posted by: Chris H. on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 1:38am GMT

Thank you Brian Lewis for such a well-detailed and concise analysis!

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 1:42am GMT

Malcolm, I am pretty certain that we will soon get to see how English bishops react to their vicars declaring that they are apostates and parishes formerly under their control now belong to some foreign entity, because there can be little doubt that ACNE will soon set up an English franchise. In fact, there is already such talk on their blogs.

Posted by: JPM on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 5:43am GMT

I sat in the gallery for this debate, and although I very much appreciated Brian’s excellent summary, I don’t agree with his conclusion that TEC and ACoC have little to worry about. I think that Charlotte has it straighter when she argues that the result wasn’t a foregone conclusion, and there are some pointers for TEC and ACOC in that.

First, the dissidents are really stepping up their game. Lorna Ashworth (who to my ears sounded decidedly Canadian) gained them an awful lot of credibility by the way in which she conducted the debate, never exhibiting or provoking outright hostility and by agreeing to vote for the amended motion. Synod as a whole rather warmed to her approach, if they did not agree with her position, and I suspect that we haven’t heard the last from her or seen the last of this style.

Second, yes, as Brian points out, Synod did say ‘no’ three times to the thrust of the original motion, but it also firmly said ‘no’ twice to kicking the whole question into touch. It clearly declined, at the start of the debate, to ‘move to next business’ – the most brutal of all procedural rejections, and the one that would most have comforted TEC and ACoC. And once the debate was near its conclusion Synod again declined to adjourn.

Third, the wording of the amendment may yet prove problematic. Like it or not (and I don’t) the use of the word ‘remain’ is not a finer point; it carries with it the direct implication that the founders of ACNA are still inside the ‘Anglican Family’ even though they have left TEC / ACoC.

So; yes, the debate was not a ringing endorsement for ACNA and the dissidents did not get what they wanted and certainly not what their press release headlines appear to suggest. But on the other side, they are being a lot more skilful and careful in their approach; Synod has resisted the urge to regard this is an internal matter for TEC and ACoC and beyond their concern, and ACNA founders have been treated at least in part as though they’re on the inside. I can’t regard that as a clean sweep for TEC or ACoC ...

Posted by: ordinaryvicar on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 9:33am GMT

Thanks to Chris H for setting the situation out succinctly.

I find it at the least bizarre that TEC can both talk loudly about the Communion and at the same time describe a bishop (or any other minister) who moves to another province (especially one who goes back to the province where he was ordained) as having renounced his ordained ministry. If the language of the General Synod is being criticised here for having left itself open to ACNA spin, how much more does TEC need to choose its words much more carefully?

One comment asked how I would react to a priest in my own patch who was declaring himself or acting out of communion. Without going into details I guess I can say that I wear the T shirt on that one, but never for a moment was there any suggestion that the individual had renounced Holy Orders.

Posted by: David Walker on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 10:35am GMT

Bill Dilworth said, "People tend to read things to their own advantage."

Of course they do. You and I agree on this point.

But perhaps this point should have been considered more carefully, before Synod approved a resolution that contained the words "affirm" and "recognise."

Let me be clear -- Synod can pass whatever resolutions it wants. If it wants to, it can call TEC a den of apostasy -- which might provide a little clarity.

But what is "disingenuous and bizarre" is to point to the text of this resolution and say it doesn't do what CANA and ACNA say it does.

Synod's intent aside, this resolution is susceptible to the interpretation that CANA and ACNA are putting on it.

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 11:53am GMT

Mark MacDonald is the Canadian Bishop for Indigenous Peoples.

Re: Scriven - He himself says this is not an issue. It is only deceitful schismatics looking for a fight. That said, perhaps we should come up with a better process (and name) for transferring clergy between Provinces.

Re: Packer - So far as I know, he was canonically resident in the Diocese of New Westminster, and he certainly held a license from the Bishop of New Westminster. Where he was ordained is completely irrelevant.

If a priest ordained in England but living, licensed and working in Canada is discovered to have committed a crime (ie, the sexual abuse of a child), would the Canadian bishop be constrained from taking action because the priest was ordained in England?

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 3:23pm GMT

Chris H., I think you've made an excellent point here:

"[The PB's letter to +Scriven] didn't specify TEC and sounds to most people like he was defrocked. Same thing with Packer. Both were ordained in England and the Americans and Canadians were defrocking them.[...] I think TEC [and ACoC--ed.] needs to change the laws/canons/wording and start using "license" or some other wording that shows a better distinction from being defrocked. To someone who isn't a lawyer, they sound like the same thing."

Yes, the wording ought to be changed, to make the distinction more clear.

There's a little more to it than that, however. The impression many (most?) in the Church of England appear to have is that the Americans and Canadians have been defrocking Church of England priests for expressing their Evangelical views to North American congregations. This is false, but this false impression has been carefully nurtured and groomed by quite a few prominent non-ACNA Evangelicals in the Church of England. I could name names, but won't, although there are several bishops among them, and yes, the names that come to your minds first will be the right ones.

Although these prominent Evangelicals have had plenty of time to get acquainted with the facts, they continue to spread the "impression" -- for they are clever enough to avoid the outright lie -- that TEC is "persecuting" the "orthodox" (=Evangelicals) for their theological views [only], going so far as to defrock priests ordained in the Church of England.

I note that David Walker was not the only person on this board to believe the story. Martin Reynolds believed it, and he's not exactly what the Americans call a "reasserter." And Gregory Cameron (apparently) believes it, and if he believes it, so does ++Rowan. And where does that leave us? In a very difficult position indeed.

Could the friends of inclusiveness in the Church of England do something more active to counter this Evangelical-spread and Evangelical-nurtured (ahem, shall we call it a) mistaken impression?

Posted by: Charlotte on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 5:50pm GMT

A little more on this -- and yes, ordinaryvicar, I think there is much cause for concern as long as prominent British Evangelicals continue to spread, without contradiction, these (ahem) mistaken impressions about the American and Canadian churches' beliefs and actions. There is a real need for supporters of inclusion in the Church of England to be active in the defense of the American and Canadian churches (and to tell the truth to all parties!).

Below I have posted a comment on Stand Firm! from Michael Howell which (I hope) will drive my point home:

Howell writes "[a]s one of the ACNA representatives and as someone who worked on strategy with Lorna Ashworth, and a host of other CoE delegates this week at General Synod this week […]

"After Bp. Harvey, Fr. Baucum, Cynthia and I gave our presentations at Tuesday’s luncheon, two things were very clear:
1) There are many (non-radical) CoE members who still have doubts that the atrocities of TEC and the ACoC are real. It’s just very hard for them to believe that “churches” could disregard proper procedure and behave in such a manner.
 [Note the use to which ACNA supporters are putting the "cases" of +Scriven and Packer. Note its success among CoE members.]

2) Our presentations had a VERY positive impact on many delegates who had previously thought the ACNA was nothing more than bunch of “homophobic schismatics”, who did not want to play by the “rules”, and were simply looking to rejoin “the club” for ulterior motives. Time and time again, delegates approached me and told me that after listening to us, they had to do a complete 180 degree turn on their previously-held opinions. Our strongest allies in the General Synod felt that this was a major reason why the (albeit) revised resolution passed by such an overwhelming majority.

So there is some reason to say that ACNA made progress at General Synod; it is not simply "spin."

Posted by: Charlotte on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 6:32pm GMT

Charlotte, I think we need to take everything that everyone from ACNA says with a very large grain of salt. Michael Howell says that there were people gushing over ACNA at Synod? Well, +Duncan goes farther, and says that the amended motion is nothing less than a declaration of the desire to see overlapping jurisdictions in North America. I don't think Howell is telling the truth any more than I think +Duncan is accurately interpreting the text of the motion.

These are the same people who were reading whole libraries of intent into the fact that +Duncan was politely addressed as "Most Reverend" in a letter, and that the Queen's secretary politely replied to a letter of theirs. If they are not delusional (which I think is a possibility not to be overlooked), then they are simply liars.

Posted by: BillyD/Bill Dilworth on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 7:30pm GMT

"the atrocities of TEC and the ACoC"?!?!

No comment. I'll let the dead in mass graves all around this fallen world, explain what actual "atrocities" are. Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 8:35pm GMT

I may be wrong here, but I think John Ward had planned to introduce an ammendment to remove the word "approve" and that he then spoke about why he didn't want to insist on having this debated at length wasting time when the motion had already been comprehensively defeated. He received warm applaus.
He may, of course, be regretting this by now.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 8:51pm GMT

@David Walker.

1.) Could you please point to any reliable source material in which it states that the Anglican Church of Canada or the Diocese of New Westminster or Bishop Michael Ingham ever said Packer was no longer in Holy Orders>

A. You can't, because that does not reflect the position of ACoC, DNW or +MI. You'll find a lot of rogues and scoundrels peddling the lie, but a lie it remains.

2. Packer was inhibited because he declared himself out of communion with the bishop, the diocese and the national church.

Do tell, David. What happens in the grand old C of E if a priest declares himself to be out of communion with his bishop, his diocese and the national church? Your previous response implies you've "got the t-shirt." Tell me. Did you buy the priest a pint and assure him that he was immune from any disciplinary action?

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 9:30pm GMT

BillyD, they may very well puff up their collective chests and act important, thinking they've got a blessing from the C of E, and you and I know it doesn't amount to a "hill of beans". The thing of it is, what will the civil courts in this country think of it and what will "continued study" in England result in?

Never underestimate your adversaries. Charlotte's probably very right in watching them very closely and taking their infuriating moves VERY seriously.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 10:06pm GMT

Hi Billy D. You make a good point, and I certainly don't put much credence in +Duncan's claims. If it weren't for two things, I'd have dismissed Michael Howell, too. But those two things give me pause.

One: ordinaryvicar's eyewitness account of the debate at Synod over the Ashworth motion (above).

Two: earlier discussions of the Packer/Scriven depositions and similar issues on this blog and on Grandmere Mimi's Wounded Bird. Martin Reynolds+ (on this blog) and Gregory Cameron+ (on Grandmere Mimi's) had both been persuaded that TEC and Canada were in the wrong. So apparently the stories Michael Howell and his Evangelical friends have been telling have had quite an effect!

Both these things worry me. The portrait ACNA paints, of a "Laudian" Presiding Bishop engaging in high-handed, vindictive, and extra-canonical defrockings of meek, "orthodox" TEC clergy, is utterly false. But does General Synod know that? Does a staunch supporter of full inclusion like Martin Reynolds+ know that, or the former General Secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council? If they don't know it, then we have real problems. The funny thing is that the whole issue wasn't even on my radar screen, and yet it appears to have been of great importance to General Synod.

Posted by: Charlotte on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 10:37pm GMT

"Synod's intent aside, this resolution is susceptible to the interpretation that CANA and ACNA are putting on it." - Jeremy, on Sunday -

I suppose there are as many interpreters of Synod motions as there are of Biblical quotations. And therein lies the problem. We probably all read into thing what we want them to say - and this is the real problem for the ACNA sodality. When push comes to shove at the C.of E. General Synod in 2011, we shall see which entity has done more work in the interim.

I think that both TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada will have to come up with more theological statements to support their prophetic stance on LGBTs and Women in the life and ministry of the Church, just to enable the Church of England and those at present in the Communion who are agnostic (or viciously opposed) to any inclusive understanding of the Gospel; to clearly discern the benefits of the Christian Church as advocate for ALL PEOPLE - regardless of race, ehtnic custom, social status, gender or sexual orientation.

We, who support TEC and the A.C.of C., too, will need to assist them in this proclamation - with our prayers, and whatever practical encouragement we can give. "God is working God's purpose out!"

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 10:39pm GMT

I agree with Fr Ron that much will depend on the next Synods composition. With retirements there will be considerable changes in the bench of Bishops. We have just had a new Peterborough and Portsmouth...Rochester, Southwark,Ely,Salisbury, Bradford, Chelmsford are to come.At least 6 other bishops are 65 or over. In the last 5 yrs I imagine 2000 full time clergy have retired...mostly male.New clergy are, I imagine , 30% female.Clergy tend to vote on churchmanship lines.The House of laity are something of an enigma as relatively few laity are able to stand because of what is entailed in terms of time etc.The House of Laity doesnt seem very representative to me and tends to have a higher conservative evangelical representation which i suppose off sets the H of B. I just hope people vote! I was rather suprised that so many elegible voters clergy and lay dont seem to bother! This makes the whole thing even less representative of C of E congregations

Posted by: Perry Butler on Monday, 15 February 2010 at 12:58pm GMT

Re: Perry Butler's excellent point about voter turnout in the election of lay members of General Synod.

It is certainly understood in secular politics (at least be yeffective political parties) that success or failure has less to do with education and persuasion and more to do with effective organization. In a secular election campaign, the focus of campaign resources in on identifying supporters and likely supporters up until the final few days. Then the focus shifts to ensuring that the definite supporters (and, depending on strategic / tactical considerations, also the likely supporters) get out to vote. This is variously referred to as EDay Organizing ot GOTV (Get Out The Vote) Organizing.

Where "our side" falls down is that we don't approach these ecclesiastical elections like a secular political party. Our opponents do.

Progressives need to start ensuring that there are sufficient progressive candidates in every diocese (but not too many for fear of splitting the vote). In addition, progressive electors need to a) find out who the progressive candidates are and b) GOTV.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 15 February 2010 at 7:04pm GMT

Further to my last point, it isn't just in General Synod elections. I've read in a couple of places (most recently at Mad Priest) that extremists have been working very hard to get themselves selected to the mysterious little ecclesiastical committees that nominate your CofE bishops. Rev. Angus MacLeay and two of his parishioners are all represented on the committee to nominate a new Bishop of Rochester. If half of what Mad Priest and the Telegraph have to say is true, it makes one long for the good old days of pure Prime Ministerial patronage.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 15 February 2010 at 10:16pm GMT

Malcolm, I believe I also mentioned some articles about Packer implying he'd been defrocked. Some articles were clear, others weren't. The local newspapers here in Montana definitely weren't. Many/most of the people around here don't haunt Anglican sites and let's admit that secular news hounds, many just trying to fill a few inches in the local religion page aren't going to spend the time researching fine details. That's one of the biggest reasons I think TEC needs to be more specific about "licensure" rather than "I accepted his resignation of ...orders." --Schori's letter still sounds like Scriven resigned from the priesthood completely. Considering some of the other soundbites she's made maybe she intends it that way and enjoys baiting conservatives.And Lesley Bentley(Spokesperson for Packer's church) released a letter of explanation that implied similar wording in Bishop Ingham's letter to Packer--the word "license" wasn't used, "Orders" was.
Anyway, it doesn't require ACNA to spread these ideas. Packer is very popular in Evangelical circles so news clippings about him get noticed and passed around by word of mouth,twitter,facebook. Next, I fully expect the article from the "Globe and Mail" or, about the ACoC becoming extinct by 2061 will be in next week's Religion page. I'm also quite sure the local editor won't get the story from Titus 1:9 or Stand Firm.

Posted by: Chris H. on Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 5:20am GMT

The Episcopal Church, it seems to me, could use somee effective communications counsel - as could the Anglican Church of Canada.

Certainly the Episcopal Church should come up wwith a better description for releasing a person from the clergy rolls of their own Church to another Church in the Communion. And more precision with language all round would be helpful as well. For example, I know that "reliquishing the exercise of ministry" in Canada is frequently referred to as "relinquishing orders" which it manifestly is not.

Finally, while the "no Anglicans by 2060" stat is useful in gatting people's attention, it is a logical absurdity. The same extrapolation in 1960 would have indicated an ACoC in 2010 20 or 30 times what it actually is. It is (as I saw on another blog earlier today in a different context) like selling a Labrador puppy with a warning that "at present growth rate, may be the size of Japan in 20 years."

Posted by: Malcolm on Friday, 19 February 2010 at 6:25pm GMT

Somebody posted "no Anglicans by 2060 stat is useful in getting people's attention, it is a logical absurdity." I hope it does get people's attention in Canada. The United Church of Canada has recently completed a national demographic study. They expect to lose between one half to two thirds of their current membership in less than a decade. The situation is likely more urgent for the the smaller Anglican Church of Canada. The decline in growth in churches in the States, that do not have a major influx of immigrants, is now beginning to show up on the demographic radar there as well. I doubt if posting bishops in medieval costume outside subway stops is likely to reverse the trends. In Canada, Anglicans should be far less concerned about a proposed "covenant" aimed at policing gay and lesbian members and placating prelates offshore, and much more concerned with talking to The United Church, Disciples of Christ, and Lutherans about pooling infrastructure and resources before the close of the decade so as to provide for the survival of a much leaner liberal protestant tradition in the nation. -Rod Gillis

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Friday, 19 February 2010 at 11:35pm GMT

I'm not sure this is the best thread to talk about the Church's "survival strategy" going forward, but since it came up . . .

I do think the "no Anglicans left by 2060" stat does serve a purpose in making the point to people that the old mission strategy (build a Church and open the doors), which probably never really worked, certainly won't work today.

While the demographics show fewer and fewer people having anything but a "hereditary" affiliation to any religious body, they also show that people are spiritually searching.

Retrenchment is a strategy to slow down our death.

We need a strategy to choose life.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Saturday, 20 February 2010 at 4:56am GMT

I have been meaning to post on this site for some time. And I think I should reply to Erika Baker's point about how I am feeling having withdrawn my amendment to remove 'affirm'.

I am troubled by my decision, of course. But on the day, one has to read the mood of the General Synod, and listen to what is being said. I made my decision in good faith. Had I pushed my amendment to the vote, we would probably have been forced by those opposed to my amendment into a vote by Houses. The electronic voting system was not working and it would have taken about 20 minutes, walking through the voting doors. We had just done this and I was unclear what effect this would have had on the vote. I made it clear in my speech that I am simply affirming a desire of members of ACNA to be faithful Anglicans. To be faithful Anglicans, in my view, they must seek repentance for schism and, like the prodigal son (who I mentioned in my speech), return to the fold. I can affirm that desire. The spinning machine has, of course, done its work and I am deeply sorry if the CoE has caused hurt by what the Synod has done. But Synod has, in fact, not agreed to do anything in relation to ACNA.

I was also sorry that Philip Giddings chose to move his amendment the following day on the debate on pensions for surviving civil partners. This was clearly a policy wrecking amendment. But he lost, decisively. And the motion for civil partner survivor pensions was won, decisively. To my mind, this speaks volumes about the sympathetic and supportive way in which the Church regards civil partnerships, and the special nature of that relationship. That was real progress in witness, in my view. I am most encouraged by this. Ultimately, I believe that General Synod, as a whole, is closer to the theological position of faithful Anglicans in TEC than those people who have joined ACNA.

Posted by: John Ward on Saturday, 20 February 2010 at 5:55pm GMT
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