Friday, September 18, 2015

Just In Time: ABC Changes Communion to Federation

The Anglican Covenant is completely dead now. It also looks very much like the Anglican Communion is too.

The Covenant is dead because that is a proposal to keep the Communion alive but what is in the news today is the end of the Anglican Communion and the beginning of the Anglican Federation (for want, at this stage, of a better name).

++Justin is to be given full marks for facing the facts of the lack of life in the Communion. The name means that Anglicans share communion together, especially the Instruments of Communion, including the Primates and the Bishops. But that communion has been impaired for sometime, with bishops not turning up for the 2008 Lambeth Conference and Primates refusing to commune with each other. So it has been about time that some responsible Anglican leader moved to pronounce the last rites as well as chart out a possible new style relationship.

I very much hope that the ABC will have the courage to come up with a new name for whatever emerges so that we Anglicans can be honest about federating when we won't be communioning.

The story today is that ++Justin is inviting the Primates to meet together in January 2016. It will be for 'prayer' (no mention of the eucharist). It will include reference to 1998 Lambeth and the statement is couched in conservative language.

Clearly ++Justin has been on the phone or personally visited each Primate and asked, 'What will it take to get you in the same room as everyone else?'

Equally clearly, some Primates have said to the ABC, 'Invite ++Foley Beach and we will come.' So the invitation to ++Foley Beach, Archbishop of the alternative Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to be in attendance is the surest sign that ++Justin has worked overtime to get the best possible attendance. You can bet he consulted with ++Curry, incoming TEC PB, about this and the PB must have said, 'OK. If that is what it takes!'

Read the comments to the link above - Thinking Anglicans - and you will find some commenters commenting as though this is just a bit of thinking by ++Justin which he hopes will work and the commenters know better than him. Read my lips, this is a tightly scripted scenario with careful negotiations leading to a meeting that will work. Not a meeting that will not work.

Before you comment here I invite you to consider whether your comment understands that on this occasion the ABC is entitled to do what it takes to get as many Primates in the one room as possible, even if it doesn't fit with your theory of how pure Anglicanism should work!

What is emerging in considered comments by pundits is that on the table is a move away from pretence to being a Communion defined* by Instruments of Communion (who, keep remembering, are not currently united) towards a something which sounds very much like a Federation which will be minimally defined. The minimum definition might simply be 'So you will relate to the ABC even if you won't relate to the Anglican Church of X - fine, you're in.'

Welcome ACNA. You're in the Federation. By the way, so is TEC and ACofC!

PS: On the possibility that this is indeed a Justinian stroke of genius, read here.

*Acknowledging a comment below, 'defined' raises questions as to who is defining in this way? Our church (ACANZP) does not formally define the Anglican Communion according to the Instruments of Communion. So here I am thinking of 'defined' in the sense of asking the question so when does the Anglican Communion meet as a fellowship? The answer has become - until recently - when its bishops meet, when its primates meet, when the ACC meets. Those meetings have become broken (with the possible exception of the ACC) and the fellowship (i.e. communion) impaired. Functionally, because of the lack of full eucharistic meeting of the bishops and primates, the Communion has ceased to be a communion.

28 comments:

Liturgy said...

I have said it previously, but it seems to need saying again: your definition of the Anglican Communion as “a Communion defined by Instruments of Unity”, sorry Peter, is not the one formally accepted by our church. If you want your definition to be accepted you need to go through the formal synodical processes.

There is no mention of the so-called “Instruments of Communion” nor of the so-called “Instruments of Unity”. The incorrect assumption of the definition of the Anglican Communion stands alongside many other “Anglican” claims, but repeating them often does not make them any truer (argumentum ad nauseam).

Our agreed definition and position as a church, in our Constitution, declares:

“This Church is part of and belongs to the Anglican Communion, which is a fellowship of duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces or Regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, sharing with one another their life and mission in the spirit of mutual responsibility and interdependence” (Constitution Preamble).

There is no requirement for our archbishops to attend the Primates’ Meeting. There is no requirement for our bishops to attend Lambeth Conference. There is no requirement for us to participate in the Anglican Consultative Council. I appreciate that our church does, and I urge us to continue to do so.

There is also no requirement for us to accept any of the decisions made at those meetings.

So nothing has changed. The Anglican Communion became an impaired communion when women were ordained. But as women form the majority of our church, it’s not comfortable to say that. Far better to make the issue of disunity a minority – LGBTs.

Blessings

Bosco

Father Ron Smith said...

THE ANGLICAN COVENANT - R.I.P. - Now that the ill-fated pretence of unity (based on uniformity) is over, many of us can heave a sigh both relief and regret: regret at the climate of intentional schism that occasioned its ill-omened appearance - definitely unAnglican and biased towards puritannical exclusion of 'the unrighteous' from the rest of the Sinners in the Church.

Maybe now we can all relax from pious hypocrisy and get down to the urgent business of preaching the good news of God-in-Christ bringing salvation to all the world - not only to the self righteous. Christ is Risen, Alleluia!

Father Ron Smith said...

Our 'commuioning together', Peter, as you have described it, began with the Gafcon Primates refusing to share Christ's Body and Blood together with member of T.E.C. at Lambeth (or ahywhere else). This a fact, whatever they try to say in mitigation.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
I have appended a comment at the bottom of the post because you rightly highlight what our church's definition of the AC is; and also rightly highlight that it has been an impaired Communion for a longer time than some people think. However it is the recent period of deep dysfunctionality which I see the ABC addressing.

My appended comment is effectively a focus on understanding what 'fellowship' means in our church's definition.

Pageantmaster said...

24 hours to save the Communion.....again? How exciting.

Ah well.

Simon said...

A rather self-righteous response has been issued by GAFCON, but hopefully Foley Beach will persuade his colleagues to attend. They need to be there. It will only get harder for them should the next or next but one ABC is a woman.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Pageantmaster: the point is that he is trying to change the Communion towards reality. I think we could wish him well and hope he achieves that.

Hi Simon: I have found that link!

Father Ron Smith said...

I should have said: "The enf of our 'commuioning together' began with gafcon's refusal to sit at the Table of the Lord with TEC" . I note, from gafcon's hubricious response to the ABC, that nothing has chaned on their side, This may well be the flank movement that spells the end; of both Covenant and Eclusion rights for Gafcon.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I thought the end of communioning together began when TEC destroyed the basis for communion i.e. our common life together with common doctrine and practice.

We must be viewing the same historical facts in different order!

Pageantmaster said...

Hi Peter+

"trying to change the Communion towards reality"

Ah, but whose reality is the question.

One won't really be able to assess what this 'gathering' of Primates is about until the text of the letter sent to Primates is published. Meanwhile, I read a remarkable variation in the assessments of various media outlets, based upon what little has been released officially.

There is also a lot of strange comment upon the GAFCON response. We live not in year zero, but in a situation where Instruments and various groupings [including GAFCON, the Global South Standing Committee and the various Primates' Meetings, as well as TEC, ACoC, Church of England etc] have made decisions and issued statements, and of course that is the perspective from which any new proposals will be considered as a starting point.

It also has to be said that after what has been seen as the manipulative fiasco of the last Primates' Meeting in Dublin in which a Dean Welby was a 'Facilitator' there will be quite a few questions about the nature of this meeting. The first is: What is this animal? Is it an actual Primates Meeting or some sort of 'meeting' of Primates. If the latter, can it make any actual organisational decisions reserved for the Instrument of Communion known as the Primates Meeting, including in its role which it has been authorised in prior Communion decisions to undertake of dealing with situations of conflict within the Communion or indeed making any elections to bodies where Primates are represented?

There is much speculation, little information, and so considerable projection.

Pageantmaster said...

Peter+

"Before you comment here I invite you to consider whether your comment understands that on this occasion the ABC is entitled to do what it takes to get as many Primates in the one room as possible, even if it doesn't fit with your theory of how pure Anglicanism should work!"

Yes and no. One of the powers, arguably the only one, of the Archbishop of Canterbury is the power of invitation to meetings of the Instruments of Communion. He can call, or not call meetings of the Instruments. Privately he may also call others to meet him, including members of the various Instruments, but not as meetings of those Instruments.

The Instrument of Communion known as the Primates Meeting was set up and its structure approved by the other Instruments of Communion in starting in 1978
http://www.anglicancommunion.org/structures/instruments-of-communion/primates-meeting.aspx

The Instrument of Communion known as the Primates Meeting
- operates within the parameters agreed for it when it was constituted
- has its own standing committee and its own rules of order
- has the function delegated to it of dealing with conflicts within the Communion
- has powers delegated to it by resolutions of other Instruments, and a special role under the approvals given by Instruments under the Windsor Report
- has a long history of decision making, recorded in its minutes.

The last meeting of the Instrument of Communion known as the Primates Meeting was in Dublin in 2012. The informal meetings held with some Primates by Justin Welby at his consecration did not constitute a meeting of the Instrument known as the Primates Meeting, and had none of its powers and authorities.

The Archbishop's power of invitation to constitute a meeting of the Instrument of Communion known as the Primates Meeting is constrained by the decisions of both the Meeting itself and the rules of order established for it.

A meeting of Primates, or groups of Primates called other than as a meeting of the Instrument of Communion known as the Primates Meeting does not have the authority, powers or constitute decisions of an Instrument of Communion. Any purported decisions of some other gathering even if all the Primates attending agreed to it, would not transfer such decisions into those of an Instrument of Communion, unless the invitation was issued and the meeting constituted as a formal meeting of the Instrument known as the Primates Meeting.

So the Archbishop of Canterbury is not a Pope, does not exercise a power of invitation or constitution of meetings of Instruments of Communion other than within existing powers, decisions and the order of those Instruments.

So, what is this meeting? What it is will determine what it can do and what authority it has. Justin Welby cannot just invent a new animal and transfer the authority reserved for an Instrument of Communion to it by projection.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Pageantmaster
Yes there is speculation but some journos may also have had 'briefings.'
I think the AC is so broken that it won't matter too much whether it is a Primate Meeting or a meeting of Primates (an important distinction, mind you) which speaks: I am sure both the ABC and the ACC will listen carefully to what is said.

Pageantmaster said...

Well if journos have had 'briefings' they are pretty wildly off mark.

You do not restore institutions with a history by just declaring year zero, but carefully rebuild using what you have. Quite apart from anything else, Archbishop Justin has no authority to just sweep things away by personal fiat and that includes the arrangements he is putting in place.

"I am sure both the ABC and the ACC will listen carefully to what is said". If the Communion is as broken as you say, then in what context would what either the ABC or ACC listening have any authority or consequence. You have to work within the existing instruments of the ABC, ACC, Primates Meeting and Lambeth Conference as presumably is planned, although the constitutionality of the methodology of getting there is unclear.

Personally I am not convinced that the Communion is broken. The vast majority is getting on and working well together. More importantly that majority is getting on with faithfully bringing the Good News. There are two small collapsing liberal provinces who have put themselves out on a limb, and a few smaller ones with a similar profile thinking about joining them, including Justin's own. A few missing or broken spokes does not break a wheel. What does break it is if the spokes are not repaired or replaced in which case the strain on the rest may well lead to complete breakdown.

Kurt said...

“So nothing has changed. The Anglican Communion became an impaired communion when women were ordained. But as women form the majority of our church, it’s not comfortable to say that. Far better to make the issue of disunity a minority – LGBTs.”—Fr. Bosco

Well said! That’s EXACTLY what happened historically.

“THE ANGLICAN COVENANT - R.I.P. - Now that the ill-fated pretence of unity (based on uniformity) is over, many of us can heave a sigh both relief and regret: regret at the climate of intentional schism that occasioned its ill-omened appearance - definitely unAnglican and biased towards puritannical exclusion of 'the unrighteous' from the rest of the Sinners in the Church.”—Fr. Ron

Exactly! And I, for one, am not going to pray for a dead idea whose time was long past, if ever. Let the neo-Puritans in Sydney and elsewhere bury their own…

…If this means that we have to have an inclusionary Mass for liberals at Anglican Communion functions while the fundis pout and stay away, that’s fine with me…

Kurt Hill
Enjoying the last week of summer in beautiful
Brooklyn, NY

Father Ron Smith said...

One of the aspects of the reality about the Provinces of the (former?) ACC, is that the conservatives among them - mostly in the 'Global South' - have already formed their very own 'Primates' Council', under the banner of GAFCON. Having formed its own constition - the 'Jerusalem Statement', one may surely presume this already makes them a separate entity.Oof its very nature, this may have pre-empted any hope of the ABC for formal reconstituion of the former ACC.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron, Kurt and Pageantmaster,
Perhaps I am not making myself clear enough!
The Anglican Communion is dead but a new kind of Anglican Something (Federation?) may be workable.
The key will be when the Primates meet (whether as a Primates Meeting or as a meeting of Primates).
(a. will they turn up?
b. if they turn up, what will they say?
If 90%+ turn up and, e.g., they say that they believe the bishops of their church will turn up to a future Lambeth (in whatever form of conferencing that takes), ++Welby will listen to that and that will guide the future of Lambeth Conferencing.
If less than 90% turn up, and those that do express grave doubts as to whether their fellow bishops will turn up to some form of future LC, that will also be a message ++Welby listens to.
One can even imagine, to note Ron's observation in association with Kurt's, that an outcome could be a Federation in the sense that a series of Anglican smaller federations might agree to be part of a larger Federation. These smaller federations could be GAFCON, Global South, and the 'Western' Anglican churches.

Pageantmaster I think you are quite wrong to say most of the AC is working well with just a couple of churches out on a limb. If by that one inferred that suspending or expelling TEC and ACoC from the AC then the rest could get on with Communion life, we may be assured that at least the following churches would not agree to such exclusionary moves: Scotland, Wales, ACANZP, Australia, Brazil and I am guessing that Ireland, Southern Africa, Japan, to say nothing of the CofE itself would be torn apart in a debate as to whether to support such moves. There is much more going on here than a couple of 'rogue' churches.

Thus I believe ++Welby has one and only one shot at proposing a new form of relating. The only thing we can be quite sure of is that it will not be the present broken and unfixable-in-present-mode Communion.

Pageantmaster said...

Peter+
Pageantmaster I think you are quite wrong to say
[A]most of the AC is working well with just a couple of churches out on a limb. If by that
[B}one inferred that suspending or expelling TEC and ACoC from the AC then the rest could get on with Communion life


B does not follow from A, and it is not something I advocate.

we may be assured that at least the following churches would not agree to such exclusionary moves: Scotland, Wales, ACANZP, Australia, Brazil

Scottish Episcopal Church: Membership: 32,634 down 41,000 in 2007 and reportedly 53,553 in 2005; Average Sunday Attendance is 13,611

Church in Wales: Average Sunday Attendance in 2014 30,468 over 18.

ACANZ: I have no idea how many worshippers you have, and would not be surprised if you didn't either, as I gathered from a post from you a while back that diocesan reporting to the national church is patchy

Igreja Episcopal Anglican do Brasil – 40,000 in 2005 and before the Diocese of Recife separation.

and I am guessing that Ireland, Southern Africa, Japan, to say nothing of the CofE itself would be torn apart in a debate as to whether to support such moves

Ireland: 410,000 (2005) - see comments on CofE below for interest in TEC - I suspect the situation is similar there.

Anglican Church of Southern Africa – 2,000,000 (2005)- plenty of other things to worry about, but joined in the CAPA statement deploring TEC's actions recently.

Nippon Sei Ko Kai – 57,273 in 2005

CofE: overall holding its own, but growth in London and metropolitan areas is disguising aging shrinking congregations and their dioceses elsewhere. Most of are unaware that TEC is Anglican historically, let alone the many who have never even heard of it.

Sadly many of the provinces you quote are tiny and collapsing fast, much as we love them.

Relative to the overall size of the Anglican Communion estimated at say 50+ million, I still think it is fair to say that "most of the AC is working well with just a couple of churches out on a limb". I hope you and others do not join them, but overall I do think most of the Communion carries on and gets on quite well together. Most of it is in GAFCON which if there is an existing new federation is probably it [not that I am a member].

I am not sure how attractive people will find a new Canterbury centered federation, if that is what Welby is proposing, predicated on the lowest common denominator. Not much of a vision to inspire is it?

As I understand it communion is a theological not an organisational concept at base - consisting of mutual recognition and among members of common doctrine, sacramental unity and recognition of orders and episcopal appointments. It is centred not in a man or an office, but in unity in Christ and its doctrine as Anglicans have received it.

Pageantmaster said...

This is quite interesting, if sad on the decline of the Anglican churches in the West.

http://churchgrowthmodelling.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/anglican-church-decline-in-west-data.html

I left out Australia from the figures above inadvertently, but suspect your readers are better informed on the situation there than I am, as well on the well known regard Australians have for America, much as they perhaps have for England.

Perhaps we could build a communion around the Rugby World Cup with more success than this 'federation'.

Father Ron Smith said...

Thanks, Peter, for your last observation at 9.18am. I, too, think Pageantmaster is wrong to assume that the only Provinces who are out of step are those of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. If that were the case, who are they out of step with - except the Gafcon group (including ACNA) who have already declared themselves a 'Church apart'?

The 'new form of relating' (or, perhaps, not relating) will be purely up to the January Meeting of the Primates. ACANZP will probably still remain in Eucharistic Fellowship with the Church of England, TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, and all other Provinces that are not part of the 'Jerusalem Statement' Fraternity. This will ensure that we here in Aotearoa/NZ and probably Polynesia will be continuing in a "Church-as-usual relationship with ALL who want to relate to us - regardless of any new initiatives taken by the Primates of any other Province in the current ACC set-up. SO; no great change for us!

Father Ron Smith said...

At today's celebration of the Eucharist at St. Michael and All Angels, Christchurch, New Zealand, we commemorated the Feast-day of St. Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury in the 7th century of the C.E. (Common Era - not Church of England!). Now Theodore was able to bring together the English (Celtic) and the Roman Churches. Perhaps, in today's Anglican confusion, our best prayer might be that God's Holy Spirit bring new life into our federation of Anglican Churches around the world, to initiate such unity of purpose as is in line with God's wisdom and grace for all concerned. Christ is risen, Alleluia!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Pageantmaster
If one is advocating an Anglican Something which is more or less GAFCON then one certainly has a sizeable group of Anglicans but scarcely a Global Communion because scores of European, North and South Pacific, North American and maybe Asian Anglicans would be missing from it.

If one is then left with an 'official' Anglican Communion which is more or less Africa-less, Middle East-less and a chunk of South America-less, we have an impoverished and tiny Communion which is not going to be able to claim itself to be 'global.'

At this point numbers don't actually matter that much because one Primate of Nigeria coming to the Primates Meeting or meeting of Primates will have the same number of voices at the meeting as the Primate of Wales, i.e. 1 voice. And should any votes be taken, ditto re votes.

I am supporting ++Welby's move because it is a chance that Anglicans around the world will find some kind of forum for continuing talk, even if that forum never celebrates eucharist together. We owe it to our gay and lesbian Anglican brothers and sisters as well as to all other Anglicans to keep talking together. While in some minds talk may not equate to action at least talking is better than chilled silence and no speakies.

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I think you may be talking right past Pageantmaster, who seems to think that security lies in numbers alone. If that were the case, then the Global South Churches have the numbers, but do they have the charism that is the especial character of the'Scripture, Tradition and Sweet Reason' of the Anglican genius? 'Anglicanism' without the Churches of the countries you have mentioned in the Global North, that are striving for justice and inclusion in the modern world, may just not survive any split.

Better to speak of Anglicans and maybe 'Bible-Only Anglicans'. I don't think many Western (Northern?) Provinces would opt for the latter.

(p.s. I remember seeing a notice on a Church building on the north Shore of Auckland which stated its provenance as 'Bible Baptists'. Now that's a very different creature from traditional Anglicanism.)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I think we might wait for Pageantmaster's reply before we draw that particular judgment.
I also think I will not go along with you in distinguishing between 'quantitative' Anglicanism and 'charism' Anglicanism. Once we head down that path we are into defining Anglicanism and we might find less Anglicans emerge successfully from the definition than we would hitherto have imagined!
It is not, this time, about 'Bible-only' Anglicans. It is about the way in which Anglicans are engaging with Scripture in the light of Tradition with the aid of Reason. I think it perfectly possible to support traditional marriage and to reject the blessing of same sex partnerships while having the charism of Scripture, Tradition and Reason!

Bible Baptists are different from Baptists. Very different!

Father Ron Smith said...

" I think it perfectly possible to support traditional marriage and to reject the blessing of same sex partnerships while having the charism of Scripture, Tradition and Reason!" - Dr. Peter Carrell -

Dear Peter, If the 'reason' you speak of is limited to fundamentalist doctrines sans any modern understanding of gender and sexuality, then you may, indeed, have a point.

O;m for a much broader understanding of the breadth of both mission and harvest - traditionally Anglican catholic liberality. To set one's-self up as a paradigm of virtue is virtually a dead-end in today's world - as it was in the days of Jesus, vis-a-vis the humility of the Sinner and the hubristic, sin-free declaration of the Pharisee. Who went away justified? Not the self-righteous. Lord, have mercy of me, a Sinner!

(Today's theme in the Liturgy: Humility in the Gospel! (Don't think of yourself more highly than you should).

Pageantmaster said...

Thanks Peter+

I will revert after Sunday [when I try to avoid substantive commenting].

MichaelA said...

Simon wrote:

"... hopefully Foley Beach will persuade his colleagues (Gafcon Primates) to attend. They need to be there."

Why? I am struggling to see what will be at this meeting that they have any need for. Attending would be nice, but would they miss anything if they don't go?

"It will only get harder for them should the next or next but one ABC is a woman."

Why would that make the slightest difference?

MichaelA said...

"I should have said: "The enf of our 'commuioning together' began with gafcon's refusal to sit at the Table of the Lord with TEC"."

Here we go again - Fr Ron puts his lack of knowledge of the history of the Anglican
Communion on display. Unfortunately, this is not the first time, on the same issue.

I don't think Fr Ron is even aware that Gafcon was formed in 2008, nor which provinces are in it. Many declarations of impaired communion with TEC were made long before Gafcon was even thought of - back around 2003. Furthermore, most of the provinces that are in impaired communion with TEC are not in Gafcon.

Father Ron Smith said...

MichaelA, I will ignore your assertion that I know nothing of the Anglican Communion (than you do?).

I am perfectly aware that there were 'differences of opinion' in 2003 - the point being that its was only after the erection of the Gafcon group in 2008 that definitive separation was declared - by those Primates who refused to share the Eucharist with TEC and the A. C. of Canada. I, myself, was blogging comments on the 'Global South' web-site from a very early stage, so am well aware of what has been going on.

This was when the gravy hit the fan.