Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Another Primate Steps Up

At 11:00pm last night, just as I was getting drowsy, Matt said, 'They're going to consecrate another bishop', and then went to sleep before I could find out what he was talking about. Of course this morning all became clear. And I must say, I'm completely delighted. And I will remain delighted, despite all the pessimism and complaining that abounds.

I'm delighted because essentially what's being created, on American soil, is a festive banquet for orthodox Anglicans.

First of all, there are orthodox believing Anglicans in America, just as there are around the world. And they are worshiping God and ordering their lives communally around truth and faithfulness. This truth and faithfulness has led to the organization and creation of various ecclesial structures-the Network, CANA, AMiA, 7th Convocation-each with their own flavor, focus, meatiness, and mission. This latest structure adds to the rich dimension and flavor of Anglicanism in North America.

I have only two other thoughts about this. First, that politically this is such a good move. It takes the heat off of Akinola and spreads it around the Anglican world-all these primates are stepping to pick up the pieces and take responsibility for orthodox believers when they, frankly, don't have to be bothered. Also, the ordaining of bishops for America provides much needed access to the episcopal office, and unity in being under Godly bishops. That they are doing this now is also so excellent. The sheer unmitigated insult of Rowan William's issuing invitations so soon, and to so many bishops who should be under a cloud, has clearly not gone by unnoticed. The premature issue of invitations is being wisely met with structural plans for orthodox Anglicans. There's no reason to wait around until some magic deadline. No more magic, no more deadlines. The global south is getting on with life.

Second, the continual broadening of an evangelically minded, African infused, unencumbered Anglican Christianity is a Good Thing. I don't at all share the pessimistic vision that Anglicans can't evangelize and grow. Why can't they? Christianity is growing everywhere else in the world. Of course, it won't grow if we don't try. It will become fragmented and divided if we don't cooperate.

How hard is it? Just go tell someone about Jesus and invite them to come to church. They might say no, they might say yes. Either way, keep asking. And there is no real impediment to a sensible purpose and vision to coorperate and worship together, other than insisitng over and over that it is impossible. It is not impossible. God is not that small. God is not that merciless. The church is supposed to grow. The church is supposed to seek unity. Otherwise, we wasting our time.

The global south understands this. And part of their work is waking all of us up to the real mission of the church. So far, I get the feeling we're being too snotty and snobbish to accept the lesson. We've wrecked everything else, we might as well buckle down and learn.

So, I say, Amen. Come consecrate some bishops and give us the kick we need. And let the world moan and wail in the face of something Actually Being Done.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Mother Anne,

I'm leaving for two days on a vacation with my students, but I wanted to comment before headin out.

In one sense, I can see what you're sharing. God works through everything, and we should always rejoice for any means to share the gospel.

But, I'm concerned that this whole situation is also going to lead to further schism and division in TEC. I mean why should Christians love each other, hang in together, and work through our differences if there's always going to be this back door.

And, surely we can never have a pure visible church, anyway. The tares will always be mixed with the wheat, until the Lord returns.

Also, what prevents Episcopalians who are having serious problems getting along with their Diocesan bishop from simply seeking alternate oversight from an Episcopal bishop already consecrated here in the states? ALPO, :) I think it's called.

Mother Anne, hope you're feeling ok about my questions. I'm genuinely trying to understand.

Grace.

Alan said...

Anne+,

I have a fairly positive view on this. However, there are two reasons why a reasonable person might be concerned.

First, the history of Continuing Churches is one of endless fracturing, often due to the "Purple Plague." Only recently has there been any significant level of consolidation.

Second, the GS primates themselves have complained about the alphabet soup of American entities, and that "the soup must be consumed." Now, they appear to be doing the same things with CANA, AMiA, FACA, etc. While it all seems to be collegial, one who knows 2000 years of church history may be a bit uneasy.

I am someone who regards the current exodus from TEC as more akin to Dunkirk than a sinking ship. An iceberg is not actively malevolent; TEC, like the Germans approaching Dunkirk, is. The evacuation from Dunkirk was a crazy quilt of ships and boats, but it was very effective, and allowed the British Army to be reconstituted later fairly quickly.

I tend to consider what is happening is something like Dunkirk, but also in the process creating facts on the ground. Putting together this and other events, a faithful successor body to TEC with wide international recognition, bishops, parishes, seminaries, and even a retirement program can be brought into existence at need.

This picture will require a lot of people to behave contrary to human nature and turn over authority, joyfully. But then all of Christianity is contrary to human nature. Praise God!

Alan

Christie said...

This is out of context, but . . . Mary Gray Reeves who was just elected Bishop of El Camino Real is a trained catechist.

She was the first person who welcomed and gave me some initial training at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Fullerton, CA when I came over from the Evangelical Free Church before she left for her training in New Zealand. Unfortunately, from her writing I don't believe her to be all that orthodox any more. sigh

Anne Kennedy said...

Thanks for the various comments.

Grace, I hope you have a great vacation. I don't mind questions at all. I think the big critical issue, for churches like Good Shepherd, is not the particular relationship with the bishop (we have worked very hard to be on good and amicable terms with ours) but questions of succsession. Should we ever leave Good Shepherd, for any reason, it would virtually impossible for them to call an orthodox priest. The bishop wourldn't accept anyone into the diocese they would want to call. Its not so much the people in the pews--most and many believing and faithful--but about clergy and bishops who insist on leading the flock astray. And, I think (as the issues in South Carolina show) it is becoming increasingly hard and impossible to believe and affirm the historic creeds and doctrines of the church, as clergy, in TEC without being in trouble.

But, Alan, I agree, the human person is prone towards division and while I'm optomistic about the future, I do think we have to be really purposeful and careful about the way forward.

Anything new that is created isn't going to be sin free. That's not possible. But I do think it can be Godly and FUNCTIONAL, which at this point TEC is not (as an institution). The Anglican Communion is poised on the brink of the opportunity to be a healthy Chrsitian functioning world wide body. I just hope we don't blink and land back in the mud.

Anne Kennedy said...

Christie, I've heard that too. If only we could have Catechesis friendly people at the top who also affirm historic faith and belief. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

We need to be praying for God's spirit to send renewal, reconciliation, and His insight into all our denominations, that's for certain.

Grace.

Anonymous said...

Someone is pointing to your blog as a woman priest w/out a feminist agenda. Frankly, I don't know what a feminist agenda is. It just seems to me that you're one of the schimatics and you've aligned yourself w/ people who would have never ordained you in the first place or who might possibly depose you. I find that terribly sad. It is horrifying to me that some people are so focused on being "right" that they've forgotten what it means to love. If we can't work through our differences together, if we won't work through our differences together, if we refuse to come to the table with people with whom we disagree then we are not exhibiting the love of Christ. We're not doing anything to heal a broken world.

Anne Kennedy said...

Who is the someone?