What‚Äôs going on in the Anglican Communion?
Last week the Primates of the Anglican Communion issued a communiqu√© which has been interpreted by some to mean that the Episcopal Church is no longer part of the Anglican Church. Others say that the communiqu√© implies that we are being put into some sort of ecclesiastical limbo and asked to explain the actions taken by deputies (such as myself) at the 2003 General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
In fact neither is really happening. According the words the Primate of Southern Africa has written, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada are not being removed from the Communion. Nor are they being placed into some sort of ecclesiastical limbo. They are being told that the actions they have taken are troubling to many provinces of the Communion and are being asked to justify the actions.
Part of the confusion about what is happening stems from the fact that when we speak about the church we often use a great deal of coded language. This confuses the secular press because they are unable to keep track of who is saying what to whom.
We say for instance that the ABC has agreed with the Primates that ECUSA should not attend the next ACC meeting (which causes joy among the membership of the AAC) because of the actions taken at GC2003. In addition the PB and the EC along with relevant CCBA‚Äôs must prepare theological papers detailing the thinking behind resolution C051.
(Did you follow all of that? Neither do the secular press reporters. To tell the truth neither do many of the people who actually voted on the questions before us.)
The Anglican Communion as it is presently understood really came into being about 100 years ago. This is the first real test of whether or not the Communion is going to be able to withstand forces that are urging it to break apart. No one wants this to happen, but it is a real possibility. I am certainly very concerned about the possibility, and as deputy to the next General Convention, I am looking for vehicles that will allow us to find a way to stay in a relationship with the churches and congregations of the other provinces.
In the meantime, besides the newspaper articles and the international meetings, not much is going to change. Our parish will remain a part of the Diocese of Bethlehem which will in turn remain a part of the Episcopal Church. We will keep on doing the work that we believe God has given us to do in this place: feeding the hungry, educating the young, worshipping God and being transformed by the action of the Holy Spirit within our hearts.
The Episcopal Church has a new motto. God is still at work. God is still at work in our parishes and in our dioceses. God is still at work in our Church. God is also still at work in our hearts ‚Äì and is leading us into truth. We in this moment are called to be faithful to God‚Äôs voice and to follow where God will lead us.
God is still at work.