Wednesday, October 23, 2013

GAFCON 2: Calling the Leadership of the Anglican Communion to Faithfulness

It has been a busy couple of weeks, during which I have not had much time for blogging. But for those who are interested in developments in Anglicanism, especially as they relate to faithfulness to the Gospel, I want to call your attention to David Ould's posts from the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) currently going on in Nairobi, Kenya.

In particular, I want to call your attention to his post from Day 2. To set the stage, the tone for Day 1 of GAFCON was set by reflection on the Archbishop of Canterbury's meeting with the Primates just prior to the official beginning of GAFCON. On Day 3 of GAFCON, the attendees were shown an address by Archbishop Welby on video prepared especially for them and designed to convey greetings and support. It is a gross understatement to say that attendees were underwhelmed by Abp. Welby's remarks and dubious about Canterbury's ability to lead the Anglican Communion in an orthodox, faithful, and missional future.

But the address by GAFCON Chairman, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala on Day 2 was critical, in my opinion, in demonstrating what GAFCON means and where it is headed. As David Ould reports, this is the crucial paragraph from that address:
Five years on [since the first GAFCON conference], the paralysis of which we spoke has intensified. And it has become clear that the Communion now needs new wineskins, a new way of ordering its affairs to fulfill the world wide scope of the Great Commission. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury has now come to this conclusion and I am grateful for His Grace’s honesty in acknowledging that the Anglican Communion’s neo-colonial leadership structures need to be replaced when he preached here at All Saints Cathedral last Sunday. However, it is difficult to see how stable and effective leadership can be developed unless the depth of the spiritual crisis we face is acknowledged. Organisational change on its own will not be enough. Even the very weak theological discipline of the Anglican Covenant has failed to win consent despite years of negotiation and the Archbishop of Canterbury is no longer able to gather the Communion.
Or, as David Ould summarizes:’s not enough for Welby to visit GAFCON and tell them that he recognises that the current structures are failing. If he will not deal with the real issues (the apostasy of the American and Canadian churches) then GAFCON will continue on without him. He no longer commands any leadership amongst them.
When I am able to do some original blogging, these are the questions I want to explore: What will happen to God and the Gospel as people pursue the various avenues that are open toward an Anglican future? And are the current structures of the Anglican Communion and its various provinces capable of demonstrating the kind of faithfulness that pleases God and carrying out the authentic mission of the Church that Jesus gave us (Matt. 28:18-20)?

These are the questions being asked by those attending GAFCON and by many Anglicans in both the Global North and South who have been affected by the tearing of the Anglican Communion's fabric in recent decades. As the final conference Communique emerges, I have no doubt that we will gain further clarity as to how these leaders, representing the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide, see the answers to these questions.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Wal-Mart worker: Fired for helping assaulted woman

I'll get back to Anglican and Gospel related matters shortly. But, in the meantime, here's a story that made my blood boil this morning:

From here:
Wal-Mart worker: Fired for helping assaulted woman

A Michigan man says he was fired from his job at Wal-Mart after he tried to help a woman being assaulted in the parking lot of one of the retail giant's stores and ended up fighting with her attacker.

Kristopher Oswald, 30, said he was in his car on his break about 2:30 a.m. Sunday when he saw a man grabbing a woman. He said he asked her if she needed help and the man started punching him in the head and yelling that he was going to kill him. Oswald said he was able to get on top of the man, but then two other men jumped him from behind.

A spokeswoman for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. told The Associated Press on Thursday that while the company understood Oswald's intentions, his actions violated company policy.

"We had to make a tough decision, one that we don't take lightly, and he's no longer with the company," company spokeswoman Ashley Hardie said.
If the story is true (and we'll know from the police reports whether it is true or not), this man should get a medal, not lose his job. As in so many cases, zero tolerance means zero intelligence. I thought Wal-Mart was a smarter company than this. But apparently not.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

A Response to Christopher Seitz' "Why Encouragement for North American Parishes and Dioceses Matters?"

 The Rev. Professor Christopher Seitz has posted a piece on the Anglican Communion Institute website entitled, "Why Encouragement for North American Parishes and Dioceses Matters?"  In it he raises the possibility (or hope) that the established structures in those parts of the Anglican Communion that are following a new theological agenda might make some accommodation for traditional Anglicans.

The thing that mystifies me when I read Seitz' piece is that he seems not to take into account much of recent Anglican history.  The American Anglican Council, Forward in Faith, and others asked the same questions for twenty years about accommodation of traditional Anglicans that Seitz is asking now—to no avail.

The Anglican Communion Network of Dioceses and Parishes was formed in 2004 with ten dioceses and twelve bishops and asked repeatedly for some accommodation for traditional Anglicans, or even that the TEC leadership would take the concerns of traditionalists seriously.  No accommodation was forthcoming.  TEC continued its wayward direction and Canterbury did nothing to rein them in—in fact, Canterbury aided or acquiesced in the demotion of the Primates' meeting, the elevation of the Anglican Consultative Council, and the creation of a Joint Standing Committee to make sure the orthodox voices among the "instruments of unity" were marginalized. 

The Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON), which first met in Jerusalem in 2009 and will meet again this month in Nairobi, is precisely the result of this history.  Orthodox Anglicans learned that they could not trust the existing Communion structures and set about creating their own.

Seitz' piece is well worth reading, if only to get that delightful sense of déjà vu.  When he asks, "Can Bishops be given oversight of parishes, if they exist in dioceses which wish to inhabit the new trails and new maps?"  I can't help but wonder where he was during the whole chapter on Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO).  We've been down that road.  A number of parishes expressed precisely that desire.  But in only a few cases, where there was a particularly charitable Episcopal bishop, was alternative oversight granted.  Read the Anglican Communion Institute's own proposal from 2004.  It went nowhere.

Seitz asks, "If a new liturgical rite, a new metro-political PB, and probably a new constitution (in the case of TEC, reinforcing a new polity) are now part of the agenda of the new season, will dioceses and parishes be permitted to do what has been done up until this new time, as the church inhabited this time and space previously?"  I think the recent history of the Diocese of South Carolina, as well as several other dioceses, has already given us an answer to that question.

When I read Seitz' statement, "Let justice and mercy kiss each other, as conservatives are permitted to remain on familiar trails, while the larger Episcopal and Anglican bodies in North America forge ahead where they believe God is calling them.  If in time they part ways, at least it could happen in a spirit of charity and loving-kindness," I feel as though I am reading something written in 1998, not 2013.

If in time they part ways???  Hello?  There is already a parting of the ways.  Several provinces in CAPA and the Global South have already declared themselves out of fellowship with TEC and have recognized the ACNA.  In 2008, more than 200 bishops boycotted the once-in-a-decade Lambeth Conference. When the Global South Primates met in Singapore, in April 2010, they invited Abp. Duncan to preside at the Eucharist.  When the Convocation of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) met in August 2010, the four primates at the head table were the current and outgoing heads of CAPA (Ian Ernest and Henry Luke Orombi), the Archbishop of Canterbury (Rowan Williams) and the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America (Robert Duncan).  How much stronger an indication could one look for that a parting of the ways has happened and that a realignment in Anglicanism is underway?  Now, the question going into GAFCON 2 is whether this parting of the ways is going to be a formal and permanent break

So my final question is, in light of all this, when is the Anglican Communion Institute going to stop dismissing the ACNA and GAFCON and recognize that a major and lasting realignment in Anglicanism (I would say the most significant development in Anglicanism since the Reformation) has already begun?