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Proxy Wars and A Missionary’s Perspective on Lambeth

I just ran across the following blog post from an Episcopal Missionary in Tanzania regarding the recently concluded Lambeth Conference.  In this section we see just one of the many possible ways the debates in the West regarding human sexuality are already affecting life throughout the Communion.  Is there any doubt that, should division continue, such situations with increase and worsen?

As many of you know I am serving as a missionary in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika, which is a very large diocese in the Anglican Church of Tanzania. Now as a missionary I am here at the invitation and under the authority of the diocesan bishop here. This bishop is moderate and believes in dialogue and communicating with the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) and so he is willing to invite missionaries from there. The former Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Tanzania was strongly opposed to the actions of the Episcopal Church USA and he refused to accept money or aide from that Church.

This clear difference between the views of the former Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) and the bishop of the Diocese of Central Tanganyika (DCT) has played out in a very ugly way. A few years ago, very conservative Anglican Americans (formerly Episcopalian) decided to establish an Anglican university in Dodoma. They put together a great deal of money and sent it over here to create and fund a university who would be headed by the former archbishop of ACT who condemned ECUSA as ignoring scripture and being sodomites. One of the main functions of this university was to train leaders for the Anglican Church, but ignores one major fact. In the 1960s DCT established Msalato Bible College (now Msalato Theological College) to train leaders for the Church. Msalato has been raising up and educating leaders for decades in the same place that American Anglicans established this new university, which is called St. John’s. The people who established St. John’s hoped to supplant Msalato forbade cooperation between the two institutions. The backers of St. John’s established huge scholarship funds and were able to successfully lure away all but one of Msalato’s first class of degree students with promises of free education. At the same time many churches and some diocese in the Episcopal Church have increased their support for Msalato and DCT.

Historians would call this a proxy war. One in which two larger powers use local leaders to wage a war against each other without risking any of their own people. Proxy wars were very common during the Cold War and were fought throughout the developing war. This is a sad and tragic development. A perversion of the Church and a bastardization of mission theology. The Church should not look to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the conflict between the Contras and Sandinistas, or the Bay of Pigs invasion to find tactics or ethical support.

Day’s Daze in Dodoma » Blog Archive » A Missionary’s Perspective on Lambeth.

Alan Jacobs | more than 95 theses – Archbishop Rowan

Alan Jacobs is a professor of English at Wheaton College and I often read his contributions to The American Scene and Touchstone.  He attends an Anglican Mission in America Congregation.  I would like to share some of his recent reflections on Archbishop Rowan Williams with you:

Yet I must say that, like many Anglican traditionalists, I have often been frustrated with Rowan in his role as Archbishop. Primarily it is his apparent passivity that has frustrated me: I have wanted him to take action, to do things, to shape events for the cause of orthodoxy, but he has persistently refused to intervene in the life of the Communion, and to some extent in his own Church of England, in clear and overt ways — in political ways. I and many others have wanted him to be a leader and this above all seems what he has refused to be.

But in these past few days I have been wondering whether there might be a method in Rowan’s madness — or rather in God’s. Might it be possible that while Rowan is most certainly not the kind of leader we want, he is precisely the kind we need? That his leadership is not that of a Churchill but rather a Desert Father? We want decision, action, clearly set plans; Rowan offers prayer, meditation, stillness, silence. He models those disciplines for us, and in so doing (silently) commends them.

What if that is what we Anglicans actually need?

{Read it all}

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The Archbishop of Canterbury: Second Presidential Address to the Lambeth Conference 2008

29 July 2008

Archbishop Rowan Williams

Archbishop Rowan Williams

‘What is Lambeth ’08 going to say?’ is the question looming larger all the time as this final week unfolds.  But before trying out any thoughts on that, I want to touch on the prior question, a question that could be expressed as ‘Where is Lambeth ’08 going to speak from?’.  I believe if we can answer that adequately, we shall have laid some firm foundations for whatever content there will be.

And the answer, I hope, is that we speak from the centre.  I don’t mean speaking from the middle point between two extremes — that just creates another sort of political alignment.  I mean that we should try to speak from the heart of our identity as Anglicans; and ultimately from that deepest centre which is our awareness of living in and as the Body of Christ.

We are here at all, surely, because we believe there is an Anglican identity and that it’s worth investing our time and energy in it.  I hope that some of the experience of this Conference will have reinforced that sense.  And I hope too that we all acknowledge that the only responsible and Christian way of going on engaging with those who aren’t here is by speaking from that centre in Jesus Christ where we all see our lives held and focused.

And, as I suggested in my opening address, speaking from the centre requires habits and practices and disciplines that make some demands upon everyone — not because something alien is being imposed, but because we know we shall only keep ourselves focused on the centre by attention and respect for each other — checking the natural instinct on all sides to cling to one dimension of the truth revealed.  I spoke about council and covenant as the shape of the way forward as I see it.  And by this I meant, first, that we needed a bit more of a structure in our international affairs to be able to give clear guidance on what would and would not be a grave and lasting divisive course of action by a local church.  While at the moment the focus of this sort of question is sexual ethics, it could just as well be pressure for a new baptismal formula or the abandonment of formal reference to the Nicene Creed in a local church’s formulations; it could be a degree of variance in sacramental practice — about the elements of the Eucharist or lay presidency; it could be the regular incorporation into liturgy of non-Scriptural or even non-Christian material.

Some of these questions have a pretty clear answer, but others are open for a little more discussion; and it seems obvious that a body which commands real confidence and whose authority is recognised could help us greatly.  But the key points are confidence and authority.  If we do develop such a capacity in our structures, we need as a Communion to agree what sort of weight its decisions will have; hence, again, the desirability of a covenantal agreement.

Some have expressed unhappiness about the ‘legalism’ implied in a covenant.  But we should be clear that good law is about guaranteeing consistence and fairness in a community; and also that in a community like the Anglican family, it can only work when there is free acceptance.  Properly understood, a covenant is an expression of mutual generosity — indeed, ‘generous love’, to borrow the title of the excellent document on Inter-Faith issues which was discussed yesterday.  And we might recall that powerful formulation from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks — ‘Covenant is the redemption of solitude’.

Mutual generosity :  part of what this means is finding out what the other person or group really means and really needs.  The process of this last ten days has been designed to help us to find out something of this — so that when we do address divisive issues, we have created enough of a community for an intelligent generosity to be born.  It is by no means a full agreement, but it will, I hope, have strengthened the sense that we have at least a common language, born out of the conviction that Jesus Christ remains the one unique centre.

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The New Shape of Anglicanism? | Liveblog | Christianity Today

Timothy Morgan offers the following post about Anglican Happenings at Christianity Today’s live blog.  My comments follow.

The New Shape of Anglicanism?

Leaders of 1,300 Anglican/Episcopal churches seek status as new North American Province.

Timothy C. Morgan

Less than 1 week after the official opening of the Lambeth conference in the UK, the conservative Common Cause Partnership has issued a press release, declaring their joint intention to request that leading Anglican primates recognize their 1,300 congregations as the new North American Province.

Granted, this was a widely anticipated move. But this effort puts the fat in the fire on a day when Lambeth attendees are having tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace following their very public march through official London for adoption of the Millennium Development Goals to fight global poverty and improve the standard of living for the world’s 3 billion poor people.

{Read it all}

There are, of course, some practical issues to deal with in the request of the Common Cause Partnership.  For instance, how can GAFCON, which claims to be a fellowship and not a Church unto itself, recognize Common Cause as a “province.”  A province of what exactly, if not the Church of GAFCON?  That, coupled with the issue of the GAFCON leaders being self-appointed smacks of the same sickness that has brought down the American Episcopal Church, i.e. a willful desire to go one’s own way.  The only difference are their opinions.

The second practical issue to clear up is the fact that not all of the various ecclesial bodies within the Common Cause partnership enjoy the same degree of fellowship with one another.  Some members include Dioceses that are still within the structure of The Episcopal Church, various bodies that have left at different times over issues as varied as the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, Women’s Ordination and now the sexuality controversy.  Because of their differences on these matters (save sexuality issues) there is no inter-changeability of ministries within the members of the Common Cause Partnership, which is, of course, one of the first issues to be dealt with on the road to unity.  How can anything calling itself a province of a Church include within it groups that don’t recognize one another’s ordination?  This issue is heightened in the case of the Reformed Episcopal Church, which joined Common Cause while the Anglican Province of America, with whom they are merging, declined to do so for these very reasons (why would you join in fellowship those whom you believe to be wrong in regards to women and the Prayerbook just because you agree on issues of human sexuality, when it was those other issues that drove you to separate from TEC to begin with?)

I’m afraid all this talk of “realignment” within Anglicanism sans Canterbury is little more than the self-deception of conservatives who are doing as much to turn a Church that has been growing and evolving into an international Communion, into little more than a partisan fellowship of the like-minded, as the liberals are on the other end.  What they fail to realize is that unless their is a solution that emerges from an evolution of the Communion, such as many are working toward through the Covenant, the hopeful future establishment of an Anglican Faith and Order Commission etc… then they are doing nothing but establishing sects that may or may not achieve and maintain any recognizable form of unity–and it certainly won’t be recognizable as a global communion.  And if indeed that does happen, and fragmentation continues, it begs the question of what it has all been for.  After all, aren’t there any number of ways to be protestant and use the prayer book liturgy without all the fuss and bother of the current politics in the Anglican Communion?  It boggles my mind.  If one isn’t willing to work for a solution that leaves a stronger international communion, then why wouldn’t you simply form an independent Bible Church that happens to use the BCP (whichever version you prefer)

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The Anglican Communion Institute, Inc. – TEC's Theological Agenda and TEC's Strategy for the Lambeth Conference of Bishops

Shortly before the opening of the Lambeth Conference (now in progress) the Rt. Rev. Clayton Matthews of the office of TEC’s Presiding Bishops circulated a memo to all TEC bishops planning to attend. The memo is entitled “Lambeth Talking Points” and is intended to guide and shape the comments of TEC’s bishops in their discussions with other bishops from other parts of the Anglican Communion. The memo is revealing for several reasons. (1) It is an obvious attempt to give uniform shape and content to the contribution TEC’s bishops have to make; (2) it reveals what TEC’s leadership intends the outcome of the conference to be; and (3) displays what the theology is that lies behind the uniform position TEC’s leadership hopes to establish as that of the Communion as a whole.

It is revealing that the introduction to the memo states that a method of communication is being proposed that “will provide the media with no more “than they want or can use.” It is manifestly also a method designed to keep a large group of people “on message” so that TEC’s bishops will remain on the same page. It is manifest also that the memo signals a hardened position on the part of TEC’s Episcopal leadership that runs counter to the spirit the Archbishop of Canterbury has asked to guide the bishops in their deliberations—a spirit of mutual subjection in Christ that is open to correction.

The Anglican Communion Institute, Inc. – TEC’s Theological Agenda and TEC’s Strategy for the Lambeth Conference of Bishops
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Anglican Communion News Service: Primate of Japan prays for peace and friendship with Korea

[On July 21st] the Primate of the Anglican Church in Japan chose the Eucharist, during which Christians remember that they are part of the one body of Christ, to offer a prayer for reconciliation between Japan and Korea.

The Primate of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai & Bishop of Hokkaido, Most Revd Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu, took part in the intercessory prayers during the Eucharist which was led by the Korean Church.

“Japan and Korea have shared a very sad and tragic history,” he said, acknowledging that the occupation and colonisation of Korea until the end of the second World War had seen many in Korea suffer atrocities at the hands of the occupiers.

“In those years since, there has been a dividing wall of hostility and mistrust between two peoples in these two countries.”

The Presiding Bishop of Seuol, The Most Revd Francis Kyung Jo Park, who invited Archbishop Uematsu to pray in today’s service, said that the process of reconciliation between the two churches had taken place over the last twenty years.

“We have met together, and studied our history together,” he said. “We have sat down to discuss and rebuild our broken relationship. The bishops and priests have visited our churches, and confessed, and we have accepted it.”

Anglican Communion News Service: Primate of Japan prays for peace and friendship with Korea

Anglican Communion News Service: Statement of the Sudanese Bishops to the Lambeth Conference on the Situation in Sudan

Presented by the Most Revd Dr Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop and Primate of the Sudan

Your Grace, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

Your Graces, the Archbishops of our beloved Anglican Communion,

Your Lordships, the Bishops of the Anglican Communion and the clergy,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We greet you all in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

We, the Sudanese Bishops gathering at the Lambeth Conference, would like on behalf of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) and the whole Sudanese people, to acknowledge and appreciate your prayers and support during the 21 years of war in Southern Sudan and in reaching the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement / Army (SPLM/A) on 9th January 2005. The CPA provides the basis for a just and sustainable peace in the Sudan. We give thanks to God for the agreement and express our support for all efforts to ensure its full and timely implementation.

After 21 years of war, in which more than 2 million people lost their lives and more than 4 million people have become refugees or internally displaced, we are greatly encouraged at thenew future offered by the CPA. However, we remain deeply concerned that the conflict in Darfur, in Western Sudan, continues unabated, and at the localized conflict in several places which threatens stability and the sustainability of peace. We therefore wish to share with you thefollowing concerns:

1. Situation in Darfur

Despite the Government of Sudan’s official estimate of not more than 10,000 people killed in the fighting in Darfur, the UN has estimated there to have been some 300,000 war-related deaths since the conflict escalated in 2003. Whatever the exact figures, this continuing loss of life is an affront to all people who value human life and to religious faith in the God of mercy.

Anglican Communion News Service: Statement of the Sudenese Bishops to the Lambeth Conference on the Situation in Sudan

The Living Church Foundation | Sudanese Bishop Explains Release of Letters

The Church of Sudan has shaken things up a bit at Lambeth over the past few days with their call for Gene Robinson to resign his post as Bishop of New Hampshire.  These statements have been reported as coming as a surprise to The delegation from The Episcopal Church because Sudan, unlike other African provinces, has maintained relationships even with more revisionist Dioceses in the US.  I’m especially interested in this development because of the relationship the Church of Sudan has with the Diocese of Tennessee through the wonderful ministry of the Sudanese congregation at St. Bartholomew’s Church.  In fact, I believe Archbishop Bul was in our Diocese not long ago.

As more news comes out about this, the more it seems to me to be a strong Christian stance.  The fact that the Sudanese has continued to meet with the Americans, yet are strong in their statement, and even the wording of their admonition bespeaks Christian charity and concern.

Members of the House of Bishops of The Church of the Sudan knew that The Episcopal Church would attempt to make the exclusion of Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire an issue at the Lambeth Conference, and so they prepared the two letters released yesterday before they departed for the England.

“This was our unanimous position that we agreed to,” said the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Mangar Mamur, Bishop of Yirol. As to the timing of their release, he said the Sudanese bishops left that decision to their primate, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams acknowledged receiving the letters before they were released, but they came as a surprise to a number of other African bishops. Bishop Mangar said the letters, especially the one on human sexuality, were not meant to be hurtful. Instead they were intended as a plea to come back to the fold from one group of Christians to another.

{Read It all}

Archbishop Akinola: Lambeth attendance immaterial

I just read this little tid-bit from Religious Intelligence.  It seems that TEC isn’t the only province of the Anglican Communion enamored with provincial autonomy and perhaps, at some point total independence.  I may be proven wrong (I certainly hope so), but this looks like more evidence that some sections of the GAFCON folks would prescribe a medicine tainted with the same disease that has led to TEC’s downfall and lack of concern for the rest of the Communion.  Opinions differ, and it would be wrong to criticize an individual decision to boycott Lambeth, whether one disagrees with that path or not, but neither can one deny the similar tendency to go it alone.  The opinions may differ but the means of enforcing them look more and more similar.

However, Archbishop Peter Akinola told ReligiousIntelligence.com the whole issue of who was or was not at Lambeth was immaterial. “At this point it is a non-issue for us. After Lambeth, any Nigerian who may have chosen to flout our provincial and collective decision will have to answer to the general synod. It as simple as that.”

{read it all}

HT: George Conger

On the Church of England's General Synod Vote and the Process of Reception

UPDATE: The dialogue is now up on Covenant.

Note: The following is my contribution to an ongoing dialogue among the Covenant Communion authors regarding Women’s Ordination–specifically the vote of the Church of England’s General Synod to allow women Bishops.  Some might well ask why the vote in England has attracted so much attention, after all there are plenty of Churches within the Communion who ordain female priests (and once women were admitted to the Presbyterate it was only a matter of time before they were admitted to the Episcopate–it became a fait accompli at that point)  Not only that, but a majority of provinces now allow for women’s ordination to the Diaconate.  So all the fuss might seem a little strange, lot least to Episcopalians who have moved in a universe where women have been ordained as Priests since the 1970’s and to the Episcopate not long thereafter.  Yet, this *is* a big deal, at least ecumenically because–for example–it has a dramatic impact ecumenically that the decisions to ordain women priests and consecrate women bishops in say, the US or New Zealand did not have.  This impact is related to the fact that the Church of England, as the mother church of the Anglican Communion as a whole, has been seen as the “bell weather” church for the whole communion, especially by Rome.  Some have suggested that this particular concern for the Church of England on the part of the Roman Catholic Church has had a lot to do with the perception in Rome of the Church of England as a wayward province of the Western Catholic Church, and therefore one that could concievably be brought back–whole and entire–into union with the Holy See.  Hence the fact that the Roman Catholic Church in England was very careful not to reproduce sees (the head of the RCC in England is the Archbishop of Westminster, not the “Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury”, for example).  Whatever the underlying reasons are, the Roman Catholic Church (and to a lesser extent the Orthodox) have always taken more heed of what the Church of England has done, noting that until something is done in England the question cannot be said to be settled, and if it is done in England it is a foregone conclusion elsewhere.  So all of this led to a discussion among us of the General Synod vote, women’s ordination as well as the notion of a “process of reception” for changes in practice within the Communion.  I am addressing some particular objections to the idea of a process of reception in the comment below.  The whole dialogue will be posted on Covenant shortly and I hope you all will take time to read it when it is up.

I have a few thoughts I would like to add to the discussion regarding reception and the questions raised by Sam above.  Any discussion of women’s ordination, particularly the ordination of women to the episcopate would seem to be incomplete without some reflection on how the issue of reception can be seen in the evolution of the episcopacy in general.  (Of course part of the issue that has to be raised is whether or not one believes there was a time when the ministry of Bishops, strictly speaking, did not recognizably conform to our contemporary expectations, i.e. one has to allow that there were a diversity of practices locally that eventually developed and coalesced into the three orders of ministry with the mono-episcopate that we recognize today.  Once one has answered that question allowing for development, the next question is whether such development was guided by the Holy Spirit or not.

I agree with those who assert that the biblical record is clear that there was no single definitive way of organizing the early Christian communities that arose from the missionary activities of the Apostles and other disciples but that it emerged and became uniform over the first two centuries especially.  Indeed, the only Church that is spoken of in the New Testament as being under the authority of a single residential leader is the Church of Jerusalem of which James was the single episcopos, perhaps serving as a model upon which later individual episcopacies would be founded (this observation connects, I believe, with +Rowan Williams’ recent observation in his paper–read in his absence–to the Society of St. Alban and St. Sergius, that, with the exception of Jerusalem, all churches are daughter Churches).  In the case of other local churches, it seems that the situation was rather more diverse.  In some instances it appears as though there was indeed a single overseer for the entire community, while in others it appears  as though councils–alternatively referred to collectively either as councils of presbeuteroi or episcopoi–exercised as a collective the authority that would later be ascribed to one of their number as Bishop.  Largely this distinction seems to have been geographic in nature, with the eastern churches developing the episcopate as we now understand it at an earlier date (understandable given their closer proximity to the Mother Church in Jerusalem).

In his book, From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church, Francis A. Sullivan, S.J. argues persuasively that there were differences in the authority structures of local churches.  Specifically he maintains the the mono-episcopate seems to have developed earlier in the churches of the east (think Syria-Palestine and Ignatius).  On the other hand, in comparing the letters of Ignatius and Clement, he shows that the episcopal authority at Corinth in Clement’s day (and, he argues, in Rome as well) seems to have been held collegially by a council of elders, in contrast to, at the risk of using a biased term, the more developed episcopacy evidenced in Ignatius’ writing.

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