Friday, 30 May 2014

Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue

Updated Friday evening

The Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue has just finished its fifth annual meeting. This was held at Coventry Cathedral. Participants came from nine countries in Africa (including four primates), Canada, and the USA.

The full six-page statement that they issued is here: A Testimony of Our Journey toward Reconciliation

Media reports:

ENS Anglican Bishops in Dialogue issue testimony and also African, North American bishops claim ‘foundational call as reconcilers’

ACNS Anglican Communion bishops in dialogue issue testimony

Anglican Journal Coventry meeting ‘providential’

The Anglican Church of Canada hosts this home page for the consultation: The Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 3:46pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion
Comments

'We are family. The Anglican communion is a family of churches. It is not a Church itself....but we remain independent and diverse provinces'.

It would be useful if this statement could be imprinted on the hearts of each and every Primate and Bishop who thinks otherwise. Provinces might then stop interfering in the affirs of other and we might then get somewhere together. Perhaps Gafcon could take note.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 4:13pm BST

Mark Harris writes at Preludium:
http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/anglican-bishops-in-dialogue-agree-with.html

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 6:04pm BST

I will be fascinated to see what the people over at Stand Firm say about this. They are currently somewhat at war with each other, and trying desperately to cover it up but failing, and don't seem to behave anything like a family themselves, let alone see that the Anglican communion is a family. They were critical of this meeting happening in the first place, but now maybe they can be equally scathing about its positive outcome.

Posted by: Sound on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 6:13pm BST

Richard: how would being family stop interfering? :P

Posted by: Dan BD on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 6:16pm BST

National churches are not 'churches', either. In the NT, ekklesia refers either to (1) the local congregation, or (2) the universal Body of Christ. Nothing in between is actually a 'church'. There might be some theological justification for extending this to dioceses in traditional Anglican fashion (you could argue that a diocese is an extended local church, although in dioceses with 450 parishes, that seems a real stretch to me), but calling an entity a 'church' based on national boundaries seems very dodgy to me.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 6:43pm BST

'We are family. The Anglican communion is a family of churches. It is not a Church itself....but we remain independent and diverse provinces.'

I agree with Richard. This is the most important statement in the entire document.

The present Archbishop of Canterbury ('We operate in 160 countries' -- forsooth), and also future Archbishops of Canterbury, might benefit from reciting the above statement daily.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 7:28pm BST

Mr Chesterton, I doubt if confining our usages to NT models is very serviceable. I know it's not very convincing. The word "church,"meanwhile, has proven to be _very_ serviceable in the various ways it has been used. Anglicans have a particular take on it which I think is pretty well represented in the statement under consideration here. The church of Rome calls itself "The Catholic Church" rather arrogantly, as their nomenclature perseveres in the notion that Rome is everybody; and if you're not Rome, you're not church. The Orthodox do not describe themselves as one church in the sense you're arguing for, but are entirely comfortable with the idea of national autocephalous churches - even national churches for obsolete nations! The Egyptian church calls itself "coptic" referring to christians of a particular ethnicity - some in communion with Rome, some orthodox, some neither. So the history of the use of the terms shows that we needn't strain at various applications of a NT word that, after all, is used to designate "our group," i.e., the group of people who believed in Jesus.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 8:33pm BST

From the Testimony statement: "We testify first that we find ourselves to be brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. It seems an obvious point, but it has not always been taken for granted. Some have claimed otherwise. It is a deception. We also testify to our love for one another as brothers and sisters within the family of God."

I confess, this claim would mean MUCH more to me, if I were to see the name "The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool, Diocese of Los Angeles, USA" on the list of participants. Do we who are (openly) LGBT have a seat at the table, or are we (per usual) just talked ABOUT?

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 9:32pm BST

Dan BD
The point about families is that the offspring grow up and become thinking independent adults, no longer tied to mother's apron strings. Parents too, relieved of the burdens of child care can explore new avenues, activities and attitudes. Neither have to be stuck in the old mould. This obviously can cause tensions but by and large parents and children and indeed the extended family find ways of rubbing along. It's not often that family members try to impose their own values and their own world view on the other adults. It is when they do and try to interfere that the break up occurs.

The model of the patriarchal family, dominated by one man, is obsolete. And should be obsolete in the Church.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 10:37pm BST

"The present Archbishop of Canterbury ('We operate in 160 countries' -- forsooth), and also future Archbishops of Canterbury, might benefit from reciting the above statement daily."

Amen. The hurt and strife that Rowan and now Justin have caused in TEC is most unfortunate. And they should stop it immediately. I've always felt that with Rowan there was a large dollop of generic anti-Americanism in his atrocious behaviour. Regardless of what the US government does (often with the UK, but hey), our LGBT teen suicide rate is high. Our LGBT people of all ages experience hate crimes, employment discrimination (and we don't have the social safety net that the UK has), and depression and disillusionment. In short, our vulnerable populations are even more vulnerable than yours. For Rowan, and now Welby, to attack our well-being is not any example of Christian fellowship! To say the very least.

It would be nice if the ABC would just tend his/her own sheep.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 10:54pm BST

The "national church" may be a product of the Reformation, especially in England and Germany, but it is clearly a reality in the West since then, and perhaps earlier, with recognition of large metropolitical areas that functioned as nation-states (Milan, Rome, Gaul, etc.). In the East, although the Orthodox all recognize each other, for practical purposes they are also "national" churches.

In any case, the notion of particular or national churches is very much part of the Anglican way of seeing things.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 11:54pm BST

I agree entirely with Tim Chesterton and would question Daniel Berry's assertion that confining our usage of the term "Church" " to NT models is not very serviceable. Tim is correct in his understanding that the Early Church understood the Church to be both local and universal. It was when we started to drift way from this that troubles arose. So the sooner we return to this dual understanding of the Church the better it will be for all concerned. Isn't that what the ecumenical movement is trying to achieve?

Posted by: Father David on Saturday, 31 May 2014 at 8:27am BST

Stephen Neill, a very fine Anglican scholar and bishop of a past generation, once said that the Anglican approach is, 'Show us anything clearly set forth in Holy Scripture that we do not teach and we will teach it. Show us anything in our teaching or practice is clearly contrary to Holy Scripture, and we will abandon it.'

That being the case, I don't find assurances that the idea of national churches is 'very much a part of the Anglican way of seeing things' particularly persuasive. Surely the Reformation, the Oxford movement, the evangelical revival, and many other movements of transformation in Anglicanism have shown us that 'the Anglican way of seeing things' is very much a moving target?

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Saturday, 31 May 2014 at 3:47pm BST

"It was when we started to drift way from this that troubles arose."

Or did troubles arise, which caused us to drift away from this?

I think your real objection is not to the term "church" as it is used by many, to denote different national or sectarian groups within the church universal.

Your real objection is to the existence of such groups--to the sundered state of the Body of Christ.

Which is a fine objection, although theologically tendentious. But it is hardly one that changing our understanding of the word "church" would address.

As matters now stand, "church" is a countable noun. You may find that sad, but that is the reality--and it is a reality on which Anglicanism was built.

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 31 May 2014 at 4:30pm BST

Tim. Correct.

'National Churches' is a Lutheran idea. It has never been an Anglican idea.

No Lutheran opens his prayer window to Wittenberg. No Presbyterian speaks of Edinburgh as the Reformed center.

Anglicans speak of Canterbury for a reason. Historically distinct from other reformed churches.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 31 May 2014 at 5:59pm BST

There are a great many things besides "national churches" that came into being after the time of the New Testament, some good and some not, but the Church "of England" clearly exists, and it is the real church of which many here are members, as others of us are of other "national churches" (some of them international in fact.)

When I say that this form of polity is a core notion in Anglicanism (not a passing movement such as that of Oxford or the Revival) I mean that it has been part of the Anglican self-understanding from the time of the Reformation until today. Article XXXIV of the 39 refers to the concept, and it is part of the self-description of the Anglican Communion. One may not like or approve of it, but it is far from a "dodgy" notion, clearly exists and authoritatively so.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Saturday, 31 May 2014 at 7:55pm BST

Not sure what happened to my note agreeing with Tim. Lutherans and Presbyterians have no Canterbury and don't want one. Anglicanism has maintained a catholic and non-national claim.


Besides, what is Schori and TEC claiming when it waves its transnational flags and speaks of a TEC beyond the borders of a nation?

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 31 May 2014 at 10:15pm BST

I would have thought a National Church under a Godly Prince was the leading motif of the 16c English Reformation...influenced by Lutheran sources im sure.In the 17th c this erastian paradigm began to give way to a more episcopal paradigm with the Laudians and esp after 1662 when the C of E moved officially from episcopal to episcopalian.......and this culminated in the tractarian claim, "No bishop,no Church". Like Tim, it seems to me there have been several "Anglicanisms"...but then I operate out of a history dept not a theology dept.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Sunday, 1 June 2014 at 9:18am BST

"Anglicanism has maintained a catholic and non-national claim."

Perhaps. But it was always more ideal than real. After all, several different Anglican churches existed for centuries (England, Scotland, Ireland) before the Communion began. Even TEC existed for nearly a century before the first Lambeth Conference, in 1867.

"Lutherans and Presbyterians have no Canterbury and don't want one."

I'm not sure many Anglicans do either.

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 1 June 2014 at 1:29pm BST

"I would have thought a National Church under a Godly Prince was the leading motif of the 16c English Reformation" -- this is one of the problems of freezing a moment in time.

When the CofE sent missionaries to the New World and other places, it did so with an understanding--implicit and explicit--that these were organic extensions of the catholic faith of England. Lutherans have a World Federation because they do not have the same understanding and never did.

When one says the creed in the Lutheran Church, 'catholic' has been replaced by 'christian'.

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 1 June 2014 at 7:14pm BST

". . . this is one of the problems of freezing a moment in time. "

I'm sorry. I usually don't acknowledge this poster, but, coming from a right-winger, this really is too much. LOL!

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Monday, 2 June 2014 at 7:49am BST

For all of those who still rate the Scriptures as the model for the Church in every age - especially today - there is always Paul's concept of 'The care of ALL the Churches'. In Revelation there is the mention of: "The Churches of Asia...etc."

So, Tim, with all due respect, the church in different areas, in Scripture has actually been seen in plurality - as well as a singular entity, in the mode of The Body of Christ.

I guess this is reflected in the natural order of the creation of different nations and ethnicity.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 2 June 2014 at 10:16am BST

I agree with Father Ron's point, even though it first argues from the text, and then from "natural order," both of which are weak reeds.

Let us also note the espistles' historical context. It easy for Paul to communicate as though he were part of a universal church. He was, after all, a Roman citizen, and therefore likely to be conscious of an overarching imperial unity.

Even back then, however, that sense of imperial unity was inaccurate or overstated, given the existence of civilizations wholly unknown to Rome.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 2 June 2014 at 11:54am BST

Tim:
Whatever the Church was in the New Testament, there are a variety of differences now. For example, we have such things as church buldings, stipends, pension plans, sound systems, guitars.... I suppose we could dispense with all of these in the name of New Testament purity, but we won't. The fact is that we Anglicans have "national" churches, some of which are transnational (e.g., West Indies, Southern Cone, C of E...), and the local church is the diocese, individual parishes being creatures of the diocese under the authority of the bishop. That is who we are as Anglicans. Point final.

cseitz:
The Lutherans I know say "catholic" in their creeds. I refer you to "Evangelical Lutheran Worship".

Posted by: Alan T Perry on Monday, 2 June 2014 at 2:04pm BST

Gosh, some of my friends had a diocese that covered a whole country! We Welsh have some legends about what makes a Church going back a long way .........

But this statement is intended to make the federal position the default and to put aside the ambition for a more integrated Communion. This is only stating the facts, the Covenant would not have changed this fact very much, and it is to be regretted that the whole process of closer cooperation, something we should all aspire to, was so badly handled. It was both the wrong tool and at the wrong time.

This group want all that behind them and it is great to see the conversations are flourishing between people who hold such divergent views.
Hard to know if this can have a great deal of impact on the carefully laid plans of Sydney and their allies, but this is definately the long game.
Interesting to see nobody from the ACO gets a mention ...... hard to think they were excluded ....... Anyone know?

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 2 June 2014 at 4:49pm BST

In Germany, Lutherans do not say 'catholic' but 'Christian.' I taught at the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia for 3 years. I assumed the LBW did as Lutherans in Germany. Must be that 'national church' thing!

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 2 June 2014 at 5:22pm BST

Mmm.Prof Seitz.next time you visit Oxford read Judith Pinnngtons DPhil The Anglican Response to a multi cultural society with special reference to British North America... its in Rhodes House... its a complex tale, and she's good on the ecclesiology... or rather the confusions of it. As a result she became a Roman Catholic!

Posted by: Perry Butler on Monday, 2 June 2014 at 8:21pm BST

Thanks.

My own view is that those who want a lutheran like federation of national independent denominations ought to declare that. It is fully protestant and modern to boot.

Those who wish to speak of communion and conciliar and catholic ought also be able to opt for that.

TEC and other member units are now barely viable this ought not cost much. Just let people choose the polity they think is catholic anglicanism or something else. Let us call for cease and desist on the litigation route a la TEC. It costs huge sums and avoids this more obvious desire to inhabit different expressions of anglicanism.

I say this having served in Scotland, Canada, France, Germany and the US.

Let the parting be amicable. Let hose who want an international communion have that, and others be free to have a federation.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 3 June 2014 at 1:30am BST

" It costs huge sums and avoids this more obvious desire to inhabit different expressions of anglicanism." - cseitz -

Couldn't agree more.
GAFCON, ACNA & AMiE, please take note!
However, they seem to find the money somewhere!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 4 June 2014 at 11:21am BST

I believe the total outgo for TEC in litigation--only some of it related to entities Fr Smith mentions--is over 60M.

The expert testimony agent has been paid 1M alone.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 4 June 2014 at 9:44pm BST

cseitz, I am suspicious of the deep pockets of the schismatic groups, as well as the arrogance of thinking they can leave with the property.

Many of the schismatics are coming back. As our society moves towards equal marriage and away from bigotry, the schism makes less sense.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 5 June 2014 at 3:48am BST

"Many of the schismatics are coming back. As our society moves towards equal marriage and away from bigotry, the schism makes less sense."

The schismatic groups are closely associated with--some are part of--Anglican churches that persecute LTBTQ people.

That was, after all, the founding principle of these schismatic groups--discrimination.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 9 June 2014 at 12:07am BST

Yes, Jeremy, and those schismatic groups seem to have unlimited resources for spreading hate. But as for the rank-and-file arch conservative members who left, some are questioning that move and some are coming back to TEC. Alas, I doubt that there will be much impact on the deep pockets fueling the hate.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 9 June 2014 at 4:54pm BST
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