Monday, 11 April 2016

ACC-16 opens

The Anglican Consultative Council’s 16th meeting opened in Lusaka on Friday.

Madeleine Davies is in Lusaka for the Church Times and has so far sent these reports.

Discussion of ‘consequences’ as ACC sessions begin in Lusaka
Be united in joy, Welby exhorts his Zambian congregation

The Anglican Communion website has this page devoted to ACC-16. It includes links to ACC-16 Documents and to relevant items from the Anglican Communion News Service.

One such item is Archbishop Welby briefs ACC members on the Primates’ gathering and meeting.
[This is also on the Archbishop’s own website here.]

Mary Frances Schjonberg is reporting from Lusaka for the Episcopal News Service, including this item on yesterday’s Eucharist: ACC gets African Anglican liturgical welcome to Zambia.

There are photographs of the service here.

The ACC standing committee met earlier in the week and issued this report of its meeting. Included is this sentence, “The Standing Committee considered the Communiqué from the Primates and affirmed the relational links between the Instruments of Communion in which each Instrument, including the Anglican Consultative Council, forms its own views and has its own responsibilities.”

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From the Madeleine Davies report, "He [Welby] also reiterated the Primates' condemnation of homophobia and opposition to criminal sanctions for LGBT people."

Hmm, perhaps the ACC will have something to say about the discriminatory laws in Mississippi and North Carolina? (see link from BBC). If so, it is a good thing TEC is at the table. Looks like musicians and business types have more prophetic insight, when it comes to wedge politics, than religious leaders.

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-36013468

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 11 April 2016 at 2:40pm BST

Thoughts on the 'Discussions on Consequences' article.

ABC: "Primates’ meetings, Lambeth Conferences and ACCs are not a question of winning and losing, but of discerning together in love."

Nevertheless, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people were losers in the outcome of the Primate's Meeting. If we want to talk about impaired relationships, one could do worse than to reflect on the impaired relationships that exist between LGBT people and the Church. Countless people write off the Church, appalled by its discrimination and marginalisation of these minorities. Those are impaired relationships that really need repairing.

It may not be 'about winning or losing' but LGBT is not some kind of theory or talking point: it is people's lives. And when the Church repudiates gay relationships and sexuality, as less than ideal... when it discriminates about which people can marry the partners they love... when it marginalises openly gay priests... or fires them for getting married... when it still suggests gay sex is a sin... or uses airbrush and erasure to kind of 'don't ask, don't tell' on its diocesan websites... then, yes, Justin, there are losers in this process. And it damages and wounds profoundly. And alienates a generation.

A theology debate may not need winners and losers, but people's lives... and deep, most precious love... there can be great loss there, for sure.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 11 April 2016 at 3:18pm BST

'Interdependence': it is used as an argument and byword for NOT affirming gay sex and gay marriage (and to tell TEC to kindly stop doing it). But actually, it's possible to have interdependence without doctrinal uniformity. What harms interdependence is if one group tells another group what they *must* do, against their own conscience, as a condition for membership and togetherness.

We could have interdependence, right here in the Church of England, without just one uniform view on human sexuality and gender. Local churches could stand by their conscience on the issue, and vary, and be diverse - yet providing there was love and affirmation of one another, instead of judgment, interdependence (or what I'd call Unity in Diversity) could still flourish.

We need to stop trying to dominate one another. We don't need attempts to bulldoze the Primates' decisions through. Or suggest ACC must conform to the Primates in the name of unity. Or to threaten walkout if TEC is allowed to follow its conscience. We don't need people trying to 'manage' and 'manipulate' the agenda either, as if the Church was some kind of corporation with decisions being made by managing directors. We don't need MBA mentality, we badly need grace.

We are One in Christ. That's where our interdependence begins and ends. In between, there's a whole lot of mission to get on with... mission and service to our diverse communities, including those in impaired relationship with the Church. Each local church should do that in their own way, in the context of the people they share their lives with. Churches and the communities round about them need to grow in shared service.

Interdependence is not just a catchphrase to rein in diverse opinion or assert uniformity... it is lives shared, right at our local levels, where conscience and Spirit catch fire, and love breaks through.

ALL of us in the Church can do that, where we are, in our own (and diverse) contexts. That way, interdependence is a patchwork quilt of local communities and initiatives. It is born through service. It is substance not rhetoric. The substance of love catching fire, right across the Communion, in practical action and the self-giving and sharing of lives.

In practice, the Spirit is not that easily ‘managed’. But yet, God sends the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 11 April 2016 at 3:20pm BST

From the Church Times article:

"Speaking after the Archbishop’s presentation, the Vice Chair of the ACC, Canon Elizabeth Paver. referred to this comment as a “direct request from the Primates to us”.

"She said that the leaders of the ACC were now asking members if they were “individually and collectively willing to work together for mutual flourishing relationships”. Votes were “divisive”, she said, but “we would like, in Christian love and friendship, in our Anglican way, to be able to say to our Archbishop – to affirm our beliefs as a body to work together with our Primates on these difficult issues – if that be your will, would you just affirm it in an applause. If it is not, don’t.”

"There was some applause, but it was not unanimous. Later comments by members suggested that it was unclear what applause would signify."

This sounds absolutely ridiculous. The Archbishop and the Vice Chair, hesitant to call for any vote on anything meaningful, instead ask for applause?

"Put your hands together if you want to work with the Primates on these difficult issues!"

Really? Is this what the Communion has come to?

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 11 April 2016 at 4:03pm BST

"This sounds absolutely ridiculous. The Archbishop and the Vice Chair, hesitant to call for any vote on anything meaningful, instead ask for applause?

"Put your hands together if you want to work with the Primates on these difficult issues!"

Really? Is this what the Communion has come to?"

""Do you believe in fairies? … If you believe," he [Peter] shouted to them, "clap your hands; don't let Tink die." "

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 11 April 2016 at 9:12pm BST

Jeremy, for me it brought to mind the clap for Tinkerbell piece from Peter Pan.

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Monday, 11 April 2016 at 10:53pm BST

One lovely thing about this Meeting of ACC16 is the joyful presence of two African Anglican Leaders - both high-ranking in the Communion:

A.C. Secretary-General Idowu-Fearon, and
A.C.C. Chair Bishop Tenga-tenga

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 12:44am BST

I read this report with great interest. The possiblity of the next chair of the ACC coming from the Episcopal Church is intriguing. http://www.deputynews.org/douglas-will-not-stand/

Posted by: Hugh James on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 6:22pm BST

Regardless of the ACC, I think the American pew-sitter is pretty much *done* with the Anglican Communion - at least, I hope so.

Enough with pharaoh and his hard heart. The sea is opened, move on.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 at 4:58am BST

Susannah: 'And when the Church repudiates gay relationships and sexuality, as less than ideal... when it discriminates about which people can marry the partners they love... when it marginalises openly gay priests... or fires them for getting married... when it still suggests gay sex is a sin... or uses airbrush and erasure to kind of 'don't ask, don't tell' on its diocesan websites... then, yes, Justin, there are losers in this process. And it damages and wounds profoundly. And alienates a generation.'

You're not wrong there. And it occurs to me that, if we want to put a stop to these harmful activities in the long run, it's important to cut away their scriptural and liturgical support.

What do I have in mind? Well, dealing with scripture first, some translations of the Bible have epistles that are much more or less homophobic than others, with the Good News Bible being the least homophobic (in fact, its epistles don't distinguish between gay and straight at all), the English Standard Version being about the most homophobic, and the good old King James Version being towards the less homophobic end of the spectrum.

So, any time one gets to be in charge of which translation is distributed or used in any particular context, one can make sure to choose one of the less homophobic versions - it helps to set God's elect people on a path towards behaving decently. (Always assuming, of course, that all of the widely-available versions are honest attempts at an accurate translation - I certainly wouldn't want to condone deliberate mistranslation.)

Secondly, with respect to liturgy: opponents of same-sex marriage in church like to quote the many mentions of phrases like "one man and one woman" in the Common Worship marriage liturgy. In the Book of Common Prayer, many (sadly not all) of the equivalent passages are either absent, or say "two persons". So, where one has influence over the liturgy chosen for a given marriage, one can recommend the BCP over CW.

Posted by: Feria on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 at 12:18pm BST
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