Comments: Church of England reports on ACNA

The archbishops write: "We would, therefore, encourage an open-ended engagement with ACNA on
the part of the Church of England and the Communion..."

To help me understand what this means, I would be interested to know if there are churches with which the C of E does not have "an open ended engagement." Can anybody help with that?

Posted by Jim Naughton at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 5:35pm GMT

I cannot wait until The Episcopal Church has the opportunity to “encourage an open-ended engagement” when dissidents decide to leave the Church of England. Perhaps the English Archbishops do not think the Communion is in enough chaos and feel the need to stir the pot. Good Lord, preserve us!

Perhaps it is time to divide the Anglican Communion into its three constituents—the liberals, the conservatives, and the clueless.

Posted by Lionel Deimel at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 5:51pm GMT

Para 8 seems disingenuous. I had always believed that the members of the Anglican Communion were those listed in the Appendix the the constitution of the ACC. Therefore it is quite straightforward to determine which churches are members of the Communion: read the list. OCICBW.

So, are the Archbishops looking for wriggle room for their own unstated purposes? Is the ACC (which does have a legal personality)to be marginalised if some new faux-Anglican church walks onto the lawn of Lambeth Palace?

Shall we quietly forget the history of cross-border incursion of many of ACNA's members?

And what about the jibe on core beliefs and canons? Are we to assume that this is desirable (in other words, give us the Covenant)?

Or are we meant to think (in line with the tone of the rest of the document) that the Church of England should retain the right to decide its own criteria for recognising the orders of others?

If we get the Covenant then determining who has valid orders would rapidly become an issue to be determined centrally.

Posted by Paul Bagshaw at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 6:58pm GMT

Enough is enough. It is time for the Episcopal Church to plant a standard on the ground in England. We need bishops and parishes on the ground and active Episcopal Church dioceses throughout England. Obviously, from this report, it is possible to do such a thing and to still be fully committed to being in full communion with the CoE. So let's do it.

Can a delegate in the House of Deputies of General Convention work to get a resolution put together for the next GC? Perhaps authorize a missionary diocese or two in England under the cover of providing for Americans who live in England. We can coyly mention that the open-minded and tolerant English who want to come along would be welcome, of course. And for icing on the cake the new missionary Episcopal Church diocese in England needs women bishops and bishops in committed same sex relationships (minus the humiliating promises to stay asexual at home.)

The Church of England would get the message pretty quickly, I suspect. And so would the rest of the population of England, too.

Posted by Dennis at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 6:59pm GMT

I would suggest that the archbishops read Amanda Foreman's book 'A World on Fire'. When the USA was engaged in a a dire Civil War the British government was sorely tempted to recognise the break-away South ('so much better for both sides, don't you know?'). And there was of course an understandable desire to get the cotton flowing once again into the north of England mills where thousands were out of work. It didn't happen (I'm glad to say, as a Yank) and shouldn't here either. There is a break-away C-of-E too isn't there and of long standing - so if their lordships wish to recognise someone, what about them?

Posted by Sara MacVane at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 7:35pm GMT

the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry
and Ordination) Measure 1967

does not apply to these ministers as they are not in a Church in the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 7:37pm GMT

My first thoughts on reading the report echoed Lionel's comment above. But then it struck me that the authors spend three pages (four if you count the almost blank one at the end) carefully laying out in discretely numbered paragraphs -- well, not much of anything at all.

Still, the calm even-handedness with which they contemplate schism in a sister Province of the Anglican Communion is frustrating.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 7:49pm GMT

It's no good arguing that the church must catch up with society. It only lets people like the Rev'd Rod Thomas, chair of the conservative group Reform, respond, "The question is, at the end of the day, is the Church of England willing to stick ... to the Bible's teaching. . . . There are people who argue that we need to be alongside or ahead of trends in society, but actually that is simply an argument for fitting in and sanctifying what society decides it wants to do. It means the church has lost any kind of distinctive voice." (In today's Guardian, countering Diarmaid MacCulloch's plea for acceptance of gay clergy.) The church must accept sexual orientation and its expressions because it fits the facts, like a round earth and a heliocentric solar system, not because it is trendy or modern. The tradition is silent on sexual orientation, and has maintained this silence by treating evidence for it as individual aberrations. Now gays and lesbians are living openly and constructively -- for themselves and for society -- and can no longer be told to keep it in the confessional.

Posted by Murdoch Matthew at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 7:55pm GMT

"In addition, the Synod motion has given Church of England affirmation to the desire of ACNA to remain in some sense within the Anglican family."

Nobody's suing ACNA for using the term "Anglican": isn't that affirmation enough?

Posted by JCF at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 8:50pm GMT

Point 13 is of interest as it seems to envisage a parallel sort of situation with the Church of England in South Africa..
"Thus, those ordained in other churches which accept the historic episcopate- for example the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church- may be received into the Church of England and authorised to minister, as may clergy from the Church of England in South Africa."

In the current situation with ACNA we have recognition of a quasi province by several of the AC and whose membership/attendance numbers vastly outnumber those Provinces of the "west." We also have several of those provinces in impaired or broken communion with TEC and ACiC. The question is posed in a fractured AC - properly however it is asked of the C of E.

Interesting times.

Posted by Ian Montgomery at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 9:04pm GMT

This is a transparent and rather desperate attempt by the Archbishops to increase pressure on the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church.

Sorry, but it isn't going to work.

The Covenant effort is falling apart. The Covenant will fail of passage in at least half a dozen provinces, and quite possibly in the Church of England itself.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 9:22pm GMT

I thought it was odd when Crockfords 2012 and the current Cof E year book, both list two ACNA Bishops of Forth Worth and Quincy as bishops of TEC and the anglican communion.

Hope they don't use it as courtroom evidence!

Good to see the new Ordinary of the Ordinariate in the US, says "we do not employ the title Anglican..we are Catholics and we make no pretence of being Anglicans" He also praises the kindness of the presiding bishop! He also wisely says bitter ex Anglicans should not join.

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 9:34pm GMT

This is disturbing to Anglicans/Episcopalians in Canada and the U.S., since it seems that the Archbishops have just stopped short of throwing us under the bus. How much farther will they go? In the light of ongoing property issues and the conflict and pain sown by ACNA, it is sad they they will feel that much of their rancour and vindictiveness has been vindicated. In my Canadian diocese, the ACNA people have no shame in accusing other Anglicans of being apostate and saying cruel and untrue things, while wrapping themselves in sanctimony. How painful to see that this reality is being ignored to avoid conflict and appear "fair". If such things were happening to English bishops and dioceses, as they surely will, this response might not have been so blinkered, unrealistic and downright foolish. The visits of the ex-Bishop of Pittsburgh (Duncan) et al to Rowan and the propaganda campaigns of their minions seems to be paying off. Another case in whuch justice and truth are sacrificed. For what? They will vilify Rowan anyway and ACNA will just feel emboldened. Their "spin" will give their smugness and self-righteousness an even nastier edge. Wake up.

Posted by Derek Gagne at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 10:34pm GMT

I would advise their graces the Lords Archbishop to review the history especially the memos detailing all the plotting and conniving. Then they can review all the litigation history. As a priest in a resort location I have spoken to more than a few parishioners from parishes that turned ACNA. They speak of the pain and unanimously say that the dissent was clergy driven. These are the people you want to invite into your house? Be my guest, but you might want to consider exactly which end you might be leaving open.

Posted by Bill Albinger at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 10:49pm GMT

What would the archbishops be saying if the ACNA were the ACUK? Would they want an open-ended relationship with such a group?

Posted by Richard at Friday, 20 January 2012 at 11:21pm GMT

I suppose I see some hope here. The Archbishops do say that "The Church of England remains fully committed ... to being in communion both with the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church (TEC)." They've never really said that before.

Before, they were given to making multiple and increasingly onerous demands on us. They thought that if we did a good enough job of complying with their demands, they might consider not breaking communion, but only if, and they'd be the judges of whether or not we did a satisfactory job of complying.

So now, perhaps, they're trying to call a truce? Who knows? I am not sure how many are left that really care what the Archbishops do.

Posted by Charlotte at Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 3:01am GMT

Perhaps, 150 years ago, Her Majesty's government should have maintained an open-ended engagement with the Confederate States of America? No?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 3:13am GMT

The Roman Catholic Church faces the same issues: Two Churches, one progressive and one backward looking and fearful of anything new or modern. Fearful of change. You have the Vatican II Catholics and the Restorationist Catholics. The divide is already a reality, no different from the Anglican Communion's issues regarding human sexuality and disenfranchisement of the glbt community. Two parallel Churches. It is very important for the Archbishops to be held accountable should they harm the glbt community with words or deeds in order to accommodate the ACNA group. Homophobia must not go unchallenged, be it in the Anglican, Roman, Orthodox or Protestant traditions. To me the ACNA is very much a Fundamentalist movement, straying quite far from what is the traditional and historical Anglican expression of Church.

Posted by Chris Smith at Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 4:07am GMT

This statement by the Archbishops is not too surprising - given the fact that they are probably, even at this moment, trying to think of ways of avoiding the message of the dioceses of the Church of England: that most people do not want 'special provisions' for the opponents of Women Bishops that would not allow them to have due pastoral authority over what happens in their own diocese, episcopally.

I'm all for diversity, but not at the expense of:

(1) the catholic understanding of episcopal authority, with non-sexist qualifications; and

(2)in the case of ACNA, Eucharistic conciliarity without prejudice from them as to the 'orthodoxy' of their parent Churches in North America.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 5:50am GMT

I think there is something of an over reaction here.

I agree with those who note the document says very little. I would not be encouraged if I were an ACNA person - though I note some have fallen for the diplomatic language and are hopeful.

I too thought the comparison with the Church of England in South Africa was an interesting one. North American contributors to TA might already know that the CofE has relatively recently seen Reform organise ordinations through CESA - http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/001400.html . So they are not seen as friendly folk!

The bishops statement on Civil Partnerships that so annoyed the Southwark members of Reform back then is now in the hands of an old colleague of mine who has since become the bishop of Sodor and Man. Suffice it to say that Simon Sarmiento edited out my candid comments about this man from a recent post.

But things are not changing for the better, I remember a time when Rowan Williams would have had trouble asking him to lick a stamp.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 3:50pm GMT

Charlotte said "I suppose I see some hope here. The Archbishops do say that "The Church of England remains fully committed ... to being in communion both with the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church (TEC)." They've never really said that before." Yet why would such a statement even be necessary? Since when is that in doubt? All the conniving of ACNA is because they want to be recognized as the "legitimate" Anglican Church in Canada and the U.S. The Archbishops have not seemingly thrown cold water on such an idea by being "open ended". But it's nice that the historic Churches in Communion with Canterbury have been re-assured for now. (Sarcasm).

Posted by Adam Armstrong at Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 4:02pm GMT

People, if ACNA bishops were invited to Lambeth, and TEC bishops weren't, would it really matter?

The Episcopal Church ought not wrap itself up in knots trying to achieve a modus vivendi with bigotry and intolerance.

York and Canterbury are trying to yank TEC's chain. The proper response to this sort of maneuvering is to politely decline the shackles.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 4:30pm GMT

History repeats itself. Great Britain remained "neutral" during the civil War, but allowed Confederate gunships to be built in British yards, thus prolonging the war.

The Archbishops need to learn that we are no longer a colony, that our internal affairs are our own, and that they have no footing whatever. They need to stay OUT, or they will lose us entirely - which would be unfortunate.

TEC is is playing a prophetic role in accepting GLBTQ people as full members of Christ's body. If this thing is of God, it will go away; if it is not, the Archbishops are on the wrong side. Open-ended dialogues are nothing more, in this case, than prevarication.

Posted by Nat at Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 5:10pm GMT

"Thus, those ordained in other churches which accept the historic episcopate ... may be received into the Church of England and authorised to minister, as may clergy from the Church of England in South Africa."

Contrast this with the situation of clergy in the "old" ACNA (which evolved into the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada) who were deemed some years ago by the Canadian House of Bishops to require conditional ordination if reconciled with Church House. (Whether the issue ever came up, I could not say).

Posted by Geoff at Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 5:31pm GMT

Two thoughts—

ACNA has declared that it is ready to adopt the Anglican Covenant. Could this obsequious drivel be an attempt to advance the Covenant project?

Questions such as how “Anglican” ACNA is are rather beside the point. ACNA is a church that has accumulated most of its assets by theft from The Episcopal Church. Does “biblical Anglicanism” not accept the Ten Commandments? Or is the Anglican Covenant seen as more important?

Posted by Lionel Deimel at Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 5:55pm GMT

So in fact..it means turn your garage into a chapel and register it for public worship...
(in England you could then avoid property tax) use a Book of Common Prayer.. secure ordination from a retired bishop and you are part of the Anglican family.

Nice one!

Maybe the MCC churches should secure Anglican episcopal ordination and become part of the Anglican family!

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 8:07pm GMT

@ Chris Smith on Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 4:07am GMT

There may very well be "the Vatican II Catholics and the Restorationist Catholics. The divide is already a reality, no different from the Anglican Communion's issues regarding human sexuality..." but there is only ONE Magisterium. Therefore there is only ONE of the 'lable' Catholics who is genuine. Unlike Anglicanism there is no room within the Catholic Church for "living together in tension" on theological and moral issues. The old "latae sententia" applies.

Posted by LaVallette at Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 10:01pm GMT

I thought Lionel that despite a much earlier trail that implied other groups might be welcome to adopt the Covenant (spit twice, make rude gesture, cross my fingers and toes) - only those qualified by membership of the communion were now so invited.

You know! You Americans are SO confusing!!!

Ever since I found out about polyamory from David Virtue I have been waiting for it to be upheld as a new social value by a radical episcopalian bishop - instead it is a conservative Roman Catholic Republican Presidential candidate who is promoting it .......

I'll never understand you guys!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 10:37pm GMT

One is never quite sure how to parse such things. That said, the comparison to the schismatic quasi-Anglican body in southern Africa is interesting.

I'd read this as meaning that ACNA is essentially the same as CESA - which is a pretty apt and accurate comparison. If so, this is bad news for ACNA.

ACNA is damned with faint praise while ACoC and TEC are praised with faint damnation.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 4:07am GMT

Careful, MartinR: you stick your tongue THAT far into your cheek, you're liable to put a hole in it. ;-p

Newt Gingrich wins ?Mark Lawrence's diocese: coincidence? :-X

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 4:07am GMT

Just a little light relief you understand JCF ..... but you're right .... my cheek is more than badly bruised!

And Yes, Malcolm that is precisely how I read it.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 8:28am GMT

With the current problems re AMiA and Rwanda lately (2 international Coventions at enormous expense, that still haven't resolved anything - see 'virtueonline's latest report) - not to mention ACNA's intervention on the spat - the climate for schism between the schismatics seem unending.

GAFCON Primates seem to have taken on more than they can chew. Why do the English Primates think they can do any better with the ill-assorted ex-Anglican bitty-groups that are being spawned by the day in North America. Best for the Church of England to keep onside with their traditional partners in TEC and the A.C.of Canada - at least, their jurisdictional structures arer sound. Plus, they are the official Communion Members there.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 8:48am GMT

Did the Phil Ashley piece vanish?

The link doesn't work and I can't find it on their website, just a copy of the document itself.

ED NOTE: Link now repaired, but if it fails again another copy is at
http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/2012/01/20/response-to-archbishops-report-on-acna-from-american-anglican-council/#more-55078

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 11:35am GMT

Is the potential for, not to say likelihood of, ongoing fracture between the already unstable schismatic groups, an aspect of the "unclear outcome" remark? And might the document be intended and timed to sweep the issue under the rug in advance of General Synod?

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 1:48pm GMT

Sooner or later - and probably sooner - the ACNA malcontents will start whining about something else they don't like about the heading of the English archbishops. What then, my Lords? You're making yourselves slaves to small-minded, petty tyrants.

Good luck.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 2:41pm GMT

When you make a deal with the devil you get two things: a deal with the devil and the reputation that you will make deals with the devil.

Is that the choice the English archbishops want to make?

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 2:58pm GMT

Best for the Church of England to keep onside with their traditional partners in TEC and the A.C.of Canada - at least, their jurisdictional structures arer sound. Plus, they are the official Communion Members there.

Not only that, but attendance in all three denominations is continuing its steady decline, so (in the words of the great prophet Billy Joel), 'We can all go down together'.

(This is by way of pointing out the extraordinary disparity in comments between this post and the earlier one about continuing attendance decline in the C of E. Deckchairs on the Titanic, anyone?)

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 3:00pm GMT

Laurence Roberts said much earlier:
"the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry
and Ordination) Measure 1967

does not apply to these ministers as they are not in a Church in the Anglican Communion."

However, this is a clause from the Measure, which qualifies his comment and would appear pertinent...

Application to clergymen episcopally ordained in other Churches..

The foregoing provisions of this Measure shall apply to any person who has been episcopally ordained priest or deacon in a Church not in Communion with the Church of England whose Orders are recognised and accepted by the Church of England and desires to officiate as priest or deacon in the province of Canterbury or York, in like manner as they apply to an overseas clergyman.

Posted by Simon Butler at Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 3:53pm GMT

Continuing Attendance Decline simply isn't News. This might explain the disparity, Tim.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 4:22pm GMT

"but you're right .... my cheek is more than badly bruised!"

Careful, Fr Martin - depending how the "Issues" review goes (and given how stacked the deck it may not be that much of an "if"), bishops may soon be taking the state of our cheeks upon themselves as their business!

Posted by Geoff at Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 6:19pm GMT

Folks should be reminded that CESA was not a schism from CPSA...as it was never part of CPSA. In the nineteenth century some Anglican churches refused to join the Anglo catholic CPSA.

ACNA is a schism from TEC.

CESA orders have been recognised since 1966 and there have been joint consecrations with CPSA, but the two churches are further appart than ever.

They have a revised Prayer Book in which baptismal regeneration has been expunged and the prayer of Humble access re-written. They use grape juice for communion, do not ordain women and, and they are very liberal on divorce.

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 8:22pm GMT

As the ACNA malcontents have been spawned mainly by GAFCON Provinces (who seem to be having a problem currently controlling the Rwanda/AMiA split) - against the No Border-Crossing polity of the A.C. - perhaps the best plan would be for GAFCON to form its own international Church. It could simply be called The GAFCON Church. But please dopn't let it steal the title 'Anglican'; this ought be reserved for churches that are neither homophobic nor misgynous.

Oh dear! Is this why the C.of E. wants to court ACNA! - Because it has its own problems in those areas of openness to the real world?

Posted by Father ron smith at Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 10:10pm GMT

I believe the acceptance of CESA clergy in the Church of England under the Overseas Clergy Measure dates from the time of Archbishop Coggan, probably in relation to one particular case. This policy then seemed to just establish itself probably without any wider implications being thought through. I think about a dozen CESA clergy now minister in the C of E. As a DDO I had to deal with a case about 10 yrs ago..there was then some discrepancy between the advice I received from Lam beth and Church House.

Posted by Perry Butler at Monday, 23 January 2012 at 12:21pm GMT

From a Church of England perspective: TEC is a club with a few members who are counted because they make a pledge, and its concerns are fueled by the American media. The Episcopal Church is theologically and numerically insignificant compared with any other province in the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Church of Canada is more influential in scope and proportion to the population of Canada. It's not about viewing America as a colony, its about naming the Episcopal Church as a theologically and spiritually bankrupt institution that has no sense of what the scope of pastoral responsibility entails. If you think it's a lot of work to take care of a club of 200 members that you call a "parish", try 25,000+ souls who live in your geographical parish whom you have a legal and spiritual imperative to care for and whose concerns go far beyond creating boutique liturgies. The Anglican Communion would be better if it were far shot of TEC!

Posted by Cantabrigian at Monday, 23 January 2012 at 11:46pm GMT

Cantabrigian,
of course! Thanks for referring to that well known verse 1 Cor 21 Footnote that reads:
The eye must say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head is commanded to say to the feet, "I don't need you!"

1 Cor 12:22 Footnote supports this amply:
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are absolutely dispensable.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 24 January 2012 at 8:07am GMT

re 'Cantabridgian's remarks, above; It is to be hope that he comes from Cambridge, Massachusetts, or Cambridge, England, and not Canterbury, N.Z.

I am be very disappointed at his/her scurrilous comment about the value of TEC within the world-wide Anglican Communion. ECUSA, after all, was one of the Founding members of the Communion, and does not deserve these dismissive comments.

TEC has certainly carried more than its own weight of fiscal responsibility for keeping the Anglican Communoion alive. Unlike the dissidents who now spend money like water, on continuing disputation of jurisdictional rights of territory gained by piracy.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 24 January 2012 at 8:23am GMT

If TEC is "theologically . . . insignificant" then why was the proposed Anglican Covenant ever proposed?

Surely it is because some members of the Anglican family cannot abide another member of the family doing anything of which they disapprove.

Rhetoric about "insignificance" aside, the fact that some Anglican provinces have established churches, and that TEC is not established, does make a difference.

The C of E has a local need to carry out a legal mandate. TEC has no such mandate and no such need. Indeed, in the US such a mandate would be unconstitutional.

Surely this difference supports the need for local adaptations of the historic episcopate.

See the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral: "the Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and people called by God into the Unity of his Church."

Obviously England, on the one hand, and the many nations in TEC, on the other, have different needs of their Anglican churches. Why are TEC and ACoC not able to adapt themselves to local needs?

The conservative argument always seems to boil down to: TEC and ACoC, don't do anything liberal, because it affects our mission or ministry here (wherever "here" may be).

Why does this concern run in only one direction?

The Anglican family is just that--a family. Once a son or daughter reaches maturity, other family members usually accept that the new adult has independence of thought and action, cannot be called to account, and will react negatively to attempts at control.

Why is this obvious principle so difficult for some Anglicans to accept?

Why not just think of TEC or ACoC as the very different North American branch of the family?

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 24 January 2012 at 5:52pm GMT

"If you think it's a lot of work to take care of a club of 200 members that you call a "parish", try 25,000+ souls who live in your geographical parish whom you have a legal and spiritual imperative to care for and whose concerns go far beyond creating boutique liturgies."

Oh come off it now. Establishment or none, England is every bit as secularized as Canada and *more* so than the United States. The Church of England may have a national mandate to the unchurched legally and historically - rather as the Episcopal Church has an informal, non-exclusive, and non-legal cultural legacy as a denominational witness in the public sphere - but the Englishwoman in the high street no more identifies with it just because she can vote in its PCC than the average American does with ECUSA just because it hosts the "National Cathedral. "

Playing down the differences in context does nothing to promote harmony in the Communion, but neither does overstating them. Both provinces encompass mission fields of populations largely indifferent to the Church yet hungry (if only unwittingly) for the Gospel - but not if they see it being used as a cloak of respectability for bigotry (whether the heterosexism of ACNA, the misogyny of official Roman Catholicism, or the racism of fundamentalism).

Posted by Geoff at Tuesday, 24 January 2012 at 10:21pm GMT

I'm happy being theologically insignificant. Puts us right in there with Jesus, St. Francis, Mother Jones, soooo many others who were, according to their contemporaries, theologically insignificant.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 25 January 2012 at 4:32am GMT

Thank you, Mark. Kenosis was always a sign of the Gospel presence. Hubris, on the other hand, has only a limited life-span.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 25 January 2012 at 7:03am GMT

"but the Englishwoman in the high street no more identifies with it just because she can vote in its PCC..."

She can only do that if she's on the Electoral Roll and then elected to the PCC.
She can vote in the Annual Parish Church Meeting provided she's on the Electoral Roll.
If she's not a member of the congregation she'll have to become one for 6 months before she can be added to the Roll.

What the average baptised woman can do is ask her parish church (and only her parish church) to marry her and to conduct her funeral. Even then she can't usually just walk in and demand a wedding but may have to go through the marriage preparation classes that particular church may organise.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 25 January 2012 at 8:01am GMT

""If you think it's a lot of work to take care of a club of 200 members that you call a "parish", try 25,000+ souls who live in your geographical parish whom you have a legal and spiritual imperative to care for and whose concerns go far beyond creating boutique liturgies.""

Taking care of a club of 200 members is precisely what presbyters did in the New Testament. And given the declining attendance statistics which everyone seems determined to ignore (approximately 2% of the population is in church on any given week), the continuing legal fiction that the Church of England is the Church of everyone in England should be abandoned for reality as quickly as possible. The people of England have rejected it en masse. The Church of England is a minority denomination in a missionary situation and it needs to accept that fact as soon as possible and act accordingly.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Wednesday, 25 January 2012 at 3:06pm GMT

So, Tim. What's your answer to the problem you here identify? I'm sure we would all like to know.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 25 January 2012 at 8:46pm GMT

"With such rapid change in the 18th century, the Church struggled to adapt. The real reason that the Church struggled to adapt was not so much the rapidity of the change as the underlying malaise in the church. Spiritually and socially, the Church was characterised by a complacency and parochialism which ill equipped it to meet the challenges of the rapid changes in society. The Church of England was spiritually moribund, an institution in thralldom to an aristocratic form of government which pervaded all levels of society. The Dissenting churches, having been exhausted by the struggle to survive in the last quarter of the 17th century, now — enjoyed the luxury of toleration. Toleration also afforded the further luxury of a series of doctrinal disputes, often on mundane matters, which had an enervating effect on dissenting life. The Church in the early part of the 18th century was marked by declining church attendance, spiritual aridity, or organizational inflexibility and the marginalisation of the Church in society."
David Luke, ‘The Church in an Age of Revolution: Society, Church and Technological Change’,Frontiers, 1.2 (Autumn 1996):

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 26 January 2012 at 8:45am GMT

It has to be said Martin that a lot of recent historians writing in the last 20 yrs take a more sympathetic view of the 18th century Church of England than David Luke ( where does he lecture?)See the work of Stephen Taylor / Bill Jacob / Jeremy Gregory / William Gibson.....

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 26 January 2012 at 6:00pm GMT

Ron, I'm sure you know that I don't have a quick fix solution to the issue, although our own parish in south Edmonton is enjoying steady growth right now after a few years of decline in mid-decade. But I do think it's time we faced up to the problem and did the work that's necessary to discover solutions, don't you?

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Thursday, 26 January 2012 at 8:25pm GMT

Just look at the size of Georgian vicarages and any person with commonsense will see why the Church of England lost most English people to indifference or nonconformity.

This is the "national" Church which now baptizes less than 15 per cent of the babies. When I was born in the nineteen sixties it was 70 per cent.

By the way , people love to say TEC is in decline. However if the same percentage of people as in TEC practised in the Church of England, there would be nine million people in Parish Churches on a Sunday ,not less than one million.

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Thursday, 26 January 2012 at 11:31pm GMT
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