Thursday, March 22, 2007

Episcopal-Anglican Rift Widens

It should come as no surprise that the Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the US have rejected calls from the larger Anglican communion to stop its progress regarding the place of Gays and Lesbians in the church. US bishops meeting in a conclave in the Houston area have released a statement rebuffing the demands made at the recent meeting of Anglican leaders in Tanzania.
Of course, the momentum is moving to much in the other direction for the church to turn back now or even suspend those efforts at inclusion. There is of course another issue on the table, one that riles the bishops I'm sure, and that is the meddling in the inner workings of the American church by forces from the outside. In some ways this is kind of a role reversal -- the mission is now challenging the missionaries.
In the Episcopal Church, indeed, in the Anglican Communion, national and diocesan boundaries are sacrosanct. For a rival bishop to mess around in your diocese is tantamount to sheep steeling. Now, I'm not a part of a hierarchical church, but for Anglicans who value the hierarchy, this is a big deal.
It also seems that Rowan Williams is politically paralyzed. The LA Times reports that his calendar is too full for him to make a visit tot he US this year. I'm sure that if he wanted to, he could do so. From all that I know of Williams, his instincts lie with the American church, but as the church at large splinters, he's left picking up the pieces. It also seems as if things aren't rosy in England either.
Is schism likely? Probably. There is strong opposition in many quarters to the American position, and yet, as with the role of women in the priesthood, the future probably lies with the American church's vision.
Here is an excerpt from the LA Times article :

Though the bishops issued no direct statement on those issues, they overwhelmingly passed three carefully worded resolutions that appeared to send a message.

"We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ, all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's church," one of the resolutions says.

Bishops at Wednesday's news conference said that though there were differences among American church leaders on issues of theology and sexuality, the leaders were largely unified on the question of outside interference in the governance of their church.

The plan for an alternative leadership "is spiritually unsound," says one resolution issued by the bishops, who had met in private at an Episcopal retreat near Houston. It "encourages one of the worst tendencies of our Western culture, which is to break relationships when we find them difficult instead of doing the hard work necessary to repair them and be instruments of reconciliation.

"We cannot accept what would be injurious to this church and could well lead to its permanent division," the resolution says.

The bishops have requested an urgent face-to-face meeting with Williams to discuss their concerns.

The presiding bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, told reporters Wednesday that during the Tanzania meeting, she asked Williams to visit the U.S. this year, but he "indicated at that time that his calendar was too full," she said.

Reaction to news of the bishops' decision included applause from liberal church members and organizations but concern from traditionalists.

3 comments:

Mystical Seeker said...

One interesting consequence of a schims is that kicking the American church out of the Anglican communion will have a devastating financial effect on the worldwide body, since a big chunk fo the funding comes from the.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Therein lies the rub, doesn't it. In what sense is money an issue? In that sense it would seem that the missionary church is saying, money isn't the only thing. That's actually a good sign. On the other hand, the issue itself is problematic!

kwenk said...

I was glad to read this on line last night. Common rigid doctrine has never been what holds the Anglican Communion together,but common worship. In my opinion those who wish to be rigidly doctrinal should go found their own church and leave the Anglican Communion alone. Unfortunately, it probably won't happen that way, especially since the Archbishop of Canterbury seems to be paralyzed and unable to exert what power & influence he has left. And you're right, the "missionized" are definitely pushing out the missionaries.