Timothy Morgan offers the following post about Anglican Happenings at Christianity Today’s live blog.Â 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.
There are, of course, some practical issues to deal with in the request of the Common Cause Partnership.Â For instance, how can GAFCON, which claims to be a fellowship and not a Church unto itself, recognize Common Cause as a “province.”Â A province of what exactly, if not the Church of GAFCON?Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â How can anything calling itself a province of a Church include within it groups that don’t recognize one another’s ordination?Â 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.Â 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.Â And if indeed that does happen, and fragmentation continues, it begs the question of what it has all been for.Â 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?Â It boggles my mind.Â 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)