Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My Thoughts on that Anglican Communion Thing

You may have heard from many of the recent reports in the media that the Episcopal Church has either been “suspended” or “disciplined” by the wider Anglican Communion. In fact, only the Primates (Archbishops and Presiding Bishops) gathered and deliberated. They are not the Roman Catholic Curia. They are, well, a group of bishops taking votes. 

Justin Welby, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, is not an Anglican pope. He is first among equals and has inherited all the history and legacy of the ancient See of Canterbury, but he cannot order, or fire, or discipline his piers – or as some might call them – his unruly children.  The point of disagreement is, on the surface, different views of human sexuality, but really the issue is much broader and vexing. 

Last Sunday parishioners mentioned to me that they were thinking that I might comment, perhaps in the sermon, on what took place. Frankly, I really wanted to preach on the Gospel story – Jesus’ sign of grace in Cana – than I did about Anglican polity. Perhaps that is telling in of itself. 

Our bishop has commented on his blog: http://www.tendingthevine.org/news/

There are a couple of articles I would commend: 

The immediate impact in the life of you and me in the Episcopal Church will be minimal if at all. We are no less nor more Anglican and Episcopalian than we were last week. What we are witnessing though is the worldwide communion of churches wrestling with issues that we have been living with here in New Hampshire for some time. We have held up equality, inclusion and understanding as guiding principles and values.  

Being suspended from high-level meetings for three years will not cause us to go back into time. Many of us who attend the Episcopal Church have already decided that issues of sexuality and faith are matters that have evolved and changed overtime: they do not rise to the status of unmovable dogma and doctrine.

The world is changing. Once fixed positions are changing.  The Anglican Communion as we once knew it, with the English and Americans reigning over their collective cultural and spiritual empires is a thing of the past. Other voices, however far from what we may find just in our context, are speaking out.

I will be traveling on January 25 to Cape Town, South Africa with Community of the Cross of Nails. We will visit with the staff of the Anglican Province of Southern Africa. I will preach at a Eucharist  with their staff. When I do so, I will be present as a Christian, an Episcopalian, a husband and father, an American, and I hope, a sheep of God’s flock and a sinner of Christ’s own redeeming.

We will be OK we Anglicans, or Episcopalians -- or whatever some might want to call us. Have faith.  Keep the faith.