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Primates Do Not Suspend TEC

Anglican Primates 2016

[Update 22 January 2016: The point I made in this post, that the Anglican Primates overreached their authority, has now been almost universally spotted and expressed, without any significant rejoinder. The Archbishop of Canterbury has now posted his understanding of what transpired. How different the conversations might have been by now if his words had been the ones in the final Communiqué. He says: “we ASKED that TEC, while attending and playing a full part in our meetings and all discussions, will not represent the Anglican Communion to other churches and should not be involved in standing committees for a period of three years. During this time we also ASKED that they not vote on matters of doctrine or how we organise ourselves.” Cf. The wording in the actual Communiqué:”we formally acknowledge … by REQUIRING that for a period of three years TEC no longer represent [an unclear] us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, SHOULD not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they WILL not…”] Original post:

Contrary to attention-grabbing, click-baiting headlines, last week’s meeting of Anglican Primates did not suspend The Episcopal Church (TEC). That’s what a lot of people hoped would happen, and many predicted would happen, but it didn’t. It is not even something that the Primates can do. Even what the Primates claim to have done overreaches what they have authority to do. What they actually claim to have done may be realised, but not automatically by virtue of their decision. They just do not have that power.

After hearing very little from the official news presence of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP), suddenly our church’s news site had the heading: “PRIMATES VOTE TO SUSPEND TEC”. I thought this was over-egged – unhelpful at the least; at worst, untrue. In the (twitter) conversation that ensued I discovered that the Washington Post (not a formal Anglican news source) had an expanded version: “Anglican Communion suspends the Episcopal Church after years of gay rights debates”. I was referred to the post by Andrew McGowan of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale who makes similar points to my own.

I had not given much credence to the predictions of walkout of (ten) Anglican Primates on day one (or any other day). I see Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, as being a particularly skilled diplomat. He visited every Primate individually, and rang each one the week before the meeting.

The final communiqué stated what would be obvious: a majority of primates affirm “marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union”. [Don’t mention polygamy, divorce-and-remarriage for heterosexuals, sequential polygamy – this was never about tradition, scripture, or marriage – let’s be plainly honest, it was about LGBT people.]

Thereafter the communiqué states: [we formally require] “that for a period of three years TEC no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

This section deserves reflection. Who is the “us” that the Primates see TEC as “representing on ecumenical and interfaith bodies”? Do they see TEC representing the Primates on such bodies? Surely not! Or are the Primates here taking it upon themselves to speak for the whole Anglican Communion – that by “us” here they mean “Anglicanism”? If so, when and where, exactly, do they think they have received this mandate? Is a convenient crypto-papal ecclesiology at work here?

Furthermore, although I would be extremely surprised if TEC uses a vote in the next three years on international Anglican bodies, that will be out of respect for the Primates, rather than automatically – the Primates do not control these bodies. I would understand that not even the Primate of TEC can require this. Nor do the Primates control the ecumenical and interfaith bodies they mention. How did the Primates come to so patently overreach themselves?

Anglican bishops can sometimes (often?) sound like their Roman Catholic homonyms (or even like the pope!), giving the impression that they, rather than synods, govern the church. Primates, with double the plus-power of bishops, can sound even more so. But Primates are primus inter pares, first among equals on the bench of bishops. The primate of ACANZP is as subject to the church’s synodical governance as anyone else.

ACANZP has a unique polity (warned against in a previous Primates Meeting! – but hey, we’ve moved onto far more important matters – LGBTs). We have a team of three men sharing our primacy. Two of our sharing primates went to this meeting. Did ACANZP get one vote or two in this strange world where (not in the Anglican Communion) ACNA’s archbishop was offered a vote but did not take it (respect!), and if the former how did they proceed? How did our ACANZP Primate team vote for Addendum A 4?

Reminder 1 The Constitution of ACANZP makes no mention of The Primates Meeting, nor of the called-by-many “Instruments of Communion”. Our church’s Constitution simply declares:

the Anglican Communion, … is a fellowship of duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces or Regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury

Reminder 1a Not that it makes any difference (see Reminder 1), apparently this was not a Primates Meeting but a meeting of the Primates.

Reminder 2 The Primatial team of ACANZP can in no way impose their decision, or any decisions made at Primates’ Meetings (or of meetings of Primates) on our church. They (as anyone) can attempt to persuade, but our church is governed by synodical processes, not by primates, nor by bishops.

It's a Communion JimReminder 3 The Episcopal Church is and remains a member of the Anglican Communion. I would posit that in many ways ACANZP is more in communion with TEC than it is with other parts of the Anglican Communion. All bishops in ACANZP can preside, preach, and share in ordinations in TEC, while some of our bishops, because of their gender, cannot function as bishops in, for example Central Africa, Melanesia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia, our neighbouring Sydney archdiocese, and even, until recently, in the mother Church of England itself. I am not aware that all Primates gathered at communion together last week.

Reminder 4 TEC retains representation in any committees, and can, even in the next three years, be asked to send representatives to various bodies “for a period of three years TEC …while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion”; in such cases it would have a voice but may choose to not vote “on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity” until 2019 (the year before the 2020 planned Lambeth Conference).

Reminder 5 There was a leak – If even Primates cannot hold to an agreed embargo, our so-last-year culture of secrecy is patently over. It is time for the church to move into the 20th century (sic). Knowledge must cease being power. Transparency must become the new black (and the new purple).

Reminder 6 The Primates’ statement uses language like “all of us” and “unanimous” but makes no mention that the Primate of Uganda walked out of the meeting on the second day after getting no traction for his resolution for “the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to voluntarily withdraw from the meeting and other Anglican Communion activities until they repented”. At the Friday press conference (video below), the Archbishop of Canterbury indicated, in the penultimate topic, that he had no idea why the Primate of Uganda left, and he had not been spoken to about this. Archbishop Stanley Ntagali’s statement on his leaving is here. It is also notable that other GAFCON primates did not follow Archbishop Stanley Ntagali’s example. This will not be lost on GAFCON supporters.

Reminder 7 The Archbishop of Canterbury concluded the press conference by expressing as his fears for Lambeth 2020 that he “hopes to get the money to do it”. He went on to stress the point so that it won’t be lost on many with ears to hear: TEC is a most significant financer in the Anglican Communion, especially of the Lambeth Conference. The “three years” (without mention of needing to change anything or possibility of extension), concluding a year before Lambeth 2020 , is strategic.

Your comments, as usual are very welcome, and, also as usual, I will not allow ad hominem or anonymous comments. This is a website which encourages light rather than heat. If that restricts you, there are plenty of other places where you can participate on this topic without these guidelines.

The Presiding Bishop of TEC:

A statement on the Primates Meeting from Presiding Bishop Michael Bruce Curry.

Posted by The Episcopal Church on Friday, 15 January 2016

The Press Conference at the end of the meeting:

For a TEC perspective, Tobias Haller is succinct in his 19 January blog post The Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politicks

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42 Responses to Primates Do Not Suspend TEC

  1. I suggest a key question to ask of the gathering is whether the primates voted according to what their provinces are thinking, or not. My answer is, Yes they did. Starting with Uganda: he left because a resolution of his GS required him to. Then the voting on the Addendum re sanctions was, according to ACNA, 27 for, 3 against, 6 abstentions (and ACNA refusing to vote). 3 against would almost certainly be TEC, Canada, and one of Mexico, Brazil or Scotland (since in my understanding, all those provinces are either heading towards approval of SSM and/or would be against sanctioning TEC). 6 abstentions: likely they were the provinces most divided on the possibility of approving SSM or SSB, as well as most concerned not to have a formal schism at this time: England, Australia, ACANZP (x2), Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Brazil, Mexico, Southern Africa are 10 potential candidates for the 6 abstentions. The 27 votes for are then drawn from the GAFCON and Global South provinces plus, I wonder, one of the two England votes because there are “political” reasons for at least one of those two votes to support that bloc at this time.

    If I might demur, consequentially, from your post on one point, it is that while the primates in themselves do not have much formal power though they have power of persuasion and influence (as you rightly point out), if the voting reflects provincial views, then those views are likely to carry over into other Communion voting forums such as ACC. That is, we could expect a similar two thirds majority to prevail in ACC.

  2. Thanks for this exhaustive examination of the issue. Although I have read everything I can get my hands on (or eyeballs on), your post enlightened me in a variety of ways about things that others had overlooked or failed to mention.

    As a member of the LGBT tribe myself, I’m pleased that the Episcopal church in my home country is working towards a solution grounded in God’s love. Our presiding bishop, in particular, has made some masterfully respectful and loving statements about how we will move forward.

  3. Thanks for this. It does seem to be more symbolic than real but the only Primate who has come out well from this is Bishop Michael Curry. His comments are superb. I should have learnt now to expect disappointment from the Anglican church but one lives in hope.

    We will never know how the Primates voted. I hope ours, along with those of Scotland and Canada did not vote for this measure. It would have been nice if those Primates at least had declared they would voluntarily side with TEC. I never had much faith in Welby. He is more interested in remaining head of a world wide organisation than in any semblance of morality. He is fast losing any esteem he may have held within his own province. I had already decided that on a trip to the UlK this year I would not worship in any English church but wait until I was in Glasgow where the Provost is proudly gay (though not married) .

    Having lived nearly all my life in Sydney, I have no regard for anyone who calls themselves Evangelical as I have experienced first hand the “shunning” that rectors in that diocese display as soon as one comes out to them. I know it is not true of all but for me evangelical has always meant homophobic. As a young man it caused self-hatred but unlike several in my position in those dark days I did not take my own life and have thankfully lived to see society reject the infuence of the church
    I have decided to write Episcopalian next time I am asked for my religion. It does not happen much these days. When is the next census? Here in New Zealand the only time I feel I am a 2nd class citizen is when I enter an Anglican church. Within a month or so I will become a proud Kiwi and try to forget my Australian birth where I am also 2nd class.
    I did not feel I could participate in the Eucharist yesterday. Even in my 70’s I feel much more comfortable with my secular friends who never darken the door of a church except for funerals (less and less now) and they are all “straight” and I think are bemused that I still regularly go to church.
    The church can only blame itself as the world sees it as more and more irrelevant.

    • Thanks, Brian. I think we may find out how many of the Primates voted. Peter, in a previous comment hazards a guess. I think provinces will also apply pressure to their respective primates to find out. Blessings.

  4. Thanks for posting this. It is by far the most informative piece that I’ve seen posted on this issue.

    Not being a member of the clergy, my opinion on this matter may not hold much weight, but as an Episcopalian, I hope:

    1. That even though there is a chance that the ACC can rule that the primates meeting didn’t have the authority to exclude TEC, that TEC doesn’t attempt this route. It will just create a war between the primates and the ACC, which will do no-one any real good.

    2. That TEC uses the same language and reasoning shown in the press conference video in its interactions with those provinces who voted to exclude TEC from participation over the next three years. During these three years of exclusion, TEC needs to stop sending funds to the Anglican Communion making it clear that these are not sanctions, but consequences for how they failed to treat TEC in a loving manner by inviting ACNA (and giving them a vote) and then deciding to take away their voice and participation in the Anglican Communion for 3 years. TEC needs to stop sending money and missionaries to the provinces that voted for this exclusion, making it clear that these are not sanctions but are instead consequences for failing to act in a loving manner. Perhaps they can get replacement funding from ACNA or their GAFCON peers? TEC also needs to stop providing seminary scholarships for (I don’t know correct terminology to use here, sorry) students looking to become Anglican priests in these provinces.

    When the Episcopal Church is allowed to fully participate in the Anglican Communion again, the general convention could look at reestablishing financial ties on a province by province basis.
    It seems that actions speak louder than words, and these are the actions that will actually accomplish something.

    thanks,

    Vicki Kelsey

  5. I love the Star Trek comic!

    1. Father Jon White has put up reference to your story here on the Episcopal Cafe, so you should get double the notice.

    2. I have put up a story at Episcopal Cafe pointing out who the current TEC participants are of said bodies from which TEC is “suspended.”

    3. The Lambeth “Curia” have today put up a disclaimer to the truth of all the stories about Foley Beach having vote.

    4. My personal take, Mexico was likely a fence rider, as it is in so many things! However, +Francisco had abdominal surgery about the same time as +Michael’s brain surgery and I haven’t heard that his doctors had cleared him so go to the meeting. There is no current news about anything on the church’s website.

  6. Thanks for stating the issues so clearly Bosco. Very helpful.

    I endorse the comments about Bishop Curry. He spoke with honesty & humility.

    I wonder if ++Welby’s comments about being able to afford Lambeth signify that he might be expecting TEC to suspend financial support for the duration? It seems a valid response to me.

    • Thanks, Glenda. There has been much interest in this post – the server couldn’t cope with the strain! Back up now (YAY!) TEC and finance is certainly a space to watch, as a previous comment also indicated. Blessings.

  7. Hi Bosco,
    thanks for the post above.
    With regards to what Jonathan has said above, that TEC is acting out of God’s Love towards the LGBTQIX community – this often implies that the GAFCON Primates or Global South Primates are acting from some other motivation, I disagree.

    ‘If Christ is the only way of salvation, what are we to feel about many people in the world? I believe that many persons would go with me so far as I have gone, and no further. They think it uncharitable to condemn others. For my part I cannot understand such charity. it seems to me the kind of charity which would see a neighbour drinking slow poison, but never interfere to stop him;- which would see a blind man walking near a precipice, and think it wrong to cry out and tell him there was danger. The greatest charity is to tell the greatest quantity of truth.’ J.C Ryle, p.26, Knots Untied

    • Thanks, Zane, for your encouragement. I didn’t read Jonathan’s point in the manner you did. I have often repeated here that we try to read the best motivation etc. into people’s actions and statements. Blessings.

    • Saying my innermost identity and being is akin to ‘poison’ and ‘walking near a precipice’ is not charitable to me and I am sad that Bosco allowed you to make that spurious claim without challenge.

      Just yesterday I received news again of a fellow LGBTI who took her own life at the age of 29 rather than endure the kind of charity that you speak of here Zane Elliot.

      I have walked this Earth for 54 years now, always in fear and danger because of who and what I am and that danger arises solely from the church and its claims to a truth that makes me inhuman and less than and that requires I be ‘saved’ and ‘cured’ of who and what I am.

      There is no love for me or my kind in GAFCON. The proof will be seeing how quickly the member primates move to end discrimination, legal sanctions, beatings, and murders of my kind in their provinces.

      I know that it will be a long wait, indeed.

      • Thanks, Brian.

        It is not that long ago that homosexual acts were criminal in NZ, and friends of mine in committed same-sex relationships kept separate bedrooms to appear flatmates if necessary. Churches, whole denominations, spearheaded opposition to decriminalisation. I did not as directly connect Zane’s quote in the manner you did – but I can see how one does. A lot of Christians hold that it is the action rather than the innermost identity that is at issue. That logic can, of course, lead to a desire for recriminalisation.

        Zane and I disagree. I treasure the culture here that allows disagreement. Comments are not just a place for dialogue with me – as with your reply, Brian, they enable and encourage the possibility of a conversation between readers here. I have not allowed Zane’s comment without the possibility of a challenge, and I am pleased that you have picked up how you understand his points and responded.

        Blessings.

    • “With regards to what Jonathan has said above, that TEC is acting out of God’s Love towards the LGBTQIX community – this often implies that the GAFCON Primates or Global South Primates are acting from some other motivation, I disagree.” – Zane Elliot –

      You may well disagree, but that does not change the fact – that the Gafcon Primates actually ARE acting out of lack of love, and a basic disrespect for LGBT people.

      Jesus was particularly annoyed with the tendency of the Pharisees to judge those they regarded as less than pure than themselves. The story of the adulterous woman was one just such instance.

  8. Look forward to hearing how our NZ bishops voted. the most exciting thing about it all was Foley’s statements about the Episcopal Church standing firm in their journey of inclusiveness. Hopefully the NZ church will also join it on that journey.

    • Yes, Rosemary, there is already more information about the inner life of the meeting becoming available. In the end, a point of my post is that, influential as the Primates are, we are a synodical church, and this year’s General Synod meeting will be one more step in this discussion. Blessings.

    • I appreciate your encouragement, Janet. And I also appreciate that we have a culture here, in comments, of light rather than heat. Blessings.

  9. Dear Bosco, Thanks for this overview. I’ll make a few points in response.

    1) Who does have the power to impose consequences on Provinces who act contrary to Anglican doctrine if the Primates meeting doesn’t? The ABC has power to not invite provinces to particular gatherings, but would face accusations of popery if he decided that on his own. The ACC has power to change the membership of the Communion, but only with the agreement of a super-majority of Primates. Lambeth can state the opinion of the Bishops on certain matters but doesn’t have any operational authority. If the Primates meeting can’t impose consequences, then we are not a Communion but a network or association with no common belief holding us together.

    2) In terms of who is in communion with who, I think you’ll find dioceses like Sydney that don’t ordain and/or consecrate women are still in communion with you. They may not agree with your decision to have women as bishops but would still be happy to partner with you in every other way.

    3) On your points re polygamy and remarriage of divorcees I would suggest you research the practice of many of the Anglican provinces in Africa, which do not perform polygamous marriages and impose consequences on those who participate in them. Your inference is that African Anglicans have a double standard, which I believe is unfair. On remarriage of divorcees, I agree with you that this an area we have not discussed sufficiently and have trusted individual bishops to apply a scriptural standard to each individual couple, which has become a rubber stamp. I guess the difference here is that a Province has not taken a stand that remarriage of divorcees is ok like TEC did with same sex marriage. Rather, we have left it to the discretion of individual bishops. I would like to see that issue put back on the table, but I fear the horse has bolted.

    • Thanks, Andrew. You seem unaware that Bishop Gene Robinson was not invited by the ABC to Lambeth 2008. “Partnering” is not “being in communion”. If the Archbishop of Sydney would not receive communion and listen to a sermon preached by the Bishop of Christchurch – then that cannot be construed as “being in communion”. Blessings.

  10. I live in WDC, the National Cathedral is our national church and we have a black archbishop, so those tribalists specially from Uganda cannot say much. Eventually someone from this side of the pond will stand up and tell everybody to stop it or else. When they made the Truro thing and joined the Uganda church, ALL of those seceding churches lost their buildings. They want to have a faracho, que les de, it will be a NUNCA JAMAS moment, Truro will be revisited and they will lose hacha, calabaza y miel but in an expanded version.

  11. Wales was not represented at this meeting.
    Barry Morgan was with his wife who died as the meeting concluded.
    So, is Wales committed to walk together or have any part in the conclusions announced?
    I have heard it said to Barry many times that he has no authority to make decisions like this on our behalf.
    The gathering of Primates has no standing here in Wales, no authority and no place in our governance.
    That has not stopped these men ….. trying to seize this authority, but it is not legitimate, it is not well done.

    • Thanks, Martin. This underlines my point strongly – that “us”, “we”, “unanimous” is being misused. As I indicated, like your province, in our province the gathering of primates has no authority and no place in our governance. Blessings.

  12. Bosco,
    Thank you so much for this informative piece on ecclesiastical polity in the Anglican Communion. Like you, I believe that there is now nor has there ever been any such thing as “The Anglican Church”. Also, like you, I fear that this usurpation of authority by the various Primates of the various churches within the Anglican Communion may be a back door into the creation of such an entity as “The Anglican Church” a la Rome.
    I think it ironic that one of the primary causes leading to the very concept of “Anglican Communion” was the creation of The Episcopal Church in the former American colonies. Prior to our political separation from England there was the Church of England in the colonies. Following the American Revolution we could not send back any English Bishops along with the English governors for the only reason is that the Church of England had never sent a bishop to our shores. It seems the CoE very much ignored mission in the former colonies.
    The continuation of the Anglican form of worship and doing church was largely due to a few American clergy and some very devoted laymen and the help of some friends in England and the Anglican Church in Scotland. Our polity is very different from and much more “bottom up” than the polity of the CofE and other Churches within the Anglican Communion.
    The Constitution of the Episcopal Church resembles that of the United States because we were figuring out how to be a nation without a King at the same time how to be a Church without a King.More tha a few people were authoring both documents at the same time in Philadelphia.
    I served as rector of a small Episcopal Church in Hawaii (recently retired) and as a result had many worshipers from all over the U.S. and Canada. I got to see and hear the pain and tears caused by the ACNA movement in small parishes where families worshiped for generations. Almost always the dissension in these parishes was clergy led. That made their stories even sadder. It is even sadder to see what was done on the parish level now being done on the level of the Anglican Communion. Again, clergy led.

  13. Continuing prayers for all of our sibs in the Anglican Communion, from many of us in The United Church of Canada. We know that trying to understand the place of all God’s children in the body of Christ can be a painful process.

    I know that the congregation with whom I serve will be here to offer support and love as you continue your journey.

  14. One question still remains, now that the dust of Canterbury appears to be settling; Was there a full attendance and participation in a Eucharistic Celebration of all the Primates who signed the Communique? If some Primates are still resisting this act of Communion with one another ‘en Christo’, how can we say the Communion has been held together? And if so, by Whom?

    • Thanks, Fr Ron. I don’t think that the dust appears to be settling yet, in fact the “formally” opposing accounts about whether the ACNA primate could vote or not seems to be stirring up more dust. I ask your question myself in my “Reminder 3”. There are not many other “communions” to which we can compare the Anglican Communion. Certainly, I have long held that our communion is impaired if we cannot all recognise each other’s ordinations, and (have even our bishops and/or primates) share together around one altar. Blessings.

  15. I was quite amused, Bosco, by the conversation between Kevin Colson of Anglican TV and George Conger (who cannot forbear to boast that he has become -in absentia – a Dean in his home diocese in the U.S.).

    Mr. Colson has a baby-faced naivety that can be deceptively acrimonious about TEC and the previous Presiding Bishop. They were talking on the Second day of the Primates’ Meeting, about the need of repentance, in order for anything to come out of it. However, it doesn’t take long to understand that they are both talking about the need for reprentance on the part of TEC for its inclusivity. They both seem not to understand that the ABC, whom they both treat dismissively, had spoken more about the repentance needed from those in the Anglican Communion who have vilified and persecuted LGBTI people (Gafcon?)! – talk about the wilfully blind!

    Viewing the ‘Presser Conference’ – hosted only by the ABC and the Archbishops of HongKong, Southern Africa and the Sec.Gen of the A.C. (all the Gafcon Primates had scooted off before the P.C.) – it became obvious at the end of the Conference, that the ABC had played his cards well. Not only that, he still speaks of the fact that TEC has not been ‘sanctioned’, it has only been subject to the ‘consequences’ of its actions. As has been pointed out already, by himself and others, the ABC has no power to apply sanctions to anyone.

    I guess that, for the sake of the ‘Unity’ of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Curry of TEC has very graciously accepted the fact that his Church will not be part of any Communion-wide decision-making for the next 3 years. However, God bless him, he unequivocally states that there cannot be any resiling from the gains made for the LGBTI community in the Episcopal Church, expressing the hope that TEC may still perform a ministry of leadership in matters of justice for LGBTI people within the world-wide Communion. Deo gratias!

    • Thanks, Bradley. I’m presuming you are talking about Presiding Bishop Michael Curry? I’m not sure what rules you see him has not following, who is not buying what “this”, and who the “we” is that is looking for what leadership. Nor am I sure how this connects with the thread of this post. Blessings.

  16. I pray that the Episcopal Church will once again embrace Christ and Biblical Moral Teachings.

    Given the number of people who walk away from the Episcopal and other liberal mainline churches each year, it’s hard to imagine that their respective leaderships do not take a hard look at the connection between rejection of Christ and His Teachings and the people’s rejection of them. I often wonder what the bishops think when they look at Africa, the orthodoxy and faithfulness there, and the resultant growth.

    • Thanks, Jeff. I think things are more complex than this. TEC understands what it is doing precisely as embracing Christ and following Biblical Moral Teachings.I am not convinced that increasing numbers indicate fidelity to Christ. Nor is church shrinking and ageing in the West simply able to be correlated to a more open approach to LGBT persons. Perhaps your prayer is already being answered. Blessings.

      • I understand, Bosco. But there is really no way one can find justification in what TEC or any of the mainline churches are doing in Scripture.

        I do agree that there is more to the losses. In general there is a lack of faithfulness, and even a lack of an ability to believe that God exists, that Jesus is His Son and that he died to save us. Issues like acceptance of what is wrong (abortion, sexual permissiveness, homosexual activity, etc.) are symptoms of a greater lack of faithfulness. It affects the West more than anywhere else.

    • If you’re using Bean-Counting Arguments, Jeff, you have to do so accurately.

      ALL churches in the developed world have been losing members (not just “Episcopal and other liberal mainline churches”). “Africa…the resultant growth” has no independent confirmation (besides overall population growth, obviously). African people pass through various churches (all sorts of religious communities, really, many of a highly indigenous/syncretized quality: that’s no criticism, BTW), but how many stay? For a year, decade, generation?

      If you believe in GAFCONian “orthodoxy and faithfulness” (I don’t—not to Jesus Christ and his GOOD News anyway!), it behooves you to prove it in a way that is persuasive, and not on suspect demographics.

  17. Bosco, we now have the man who wrote the book on Communion Law supporting our view that the Primates have no authority and that the idea they could “require” anything is slight of hand. Indeed the whole phrase “formally require” implying this was following proper order or “form” is blown out of the water.

    Professor Norman Doe was the man who produced the “fifth instrument” of the Anglican Communion.

    It’s also important to recall that the last Lambeth Conference, in its Indaba process, looked critically at the idea of government by Primates and firmly rejected that development. Indeed, Prof Doe reminds us that the Covenant process was an attempt to close down that road and create a sound framework to the Communion that would prevent the usurpation of power that had evolved and continues to develop.

    Although not aagainst closer working of the Communion I was firmly opposed to the Covenant process as a solution to the Communion ills some years ago. I understood then its intention to stop the takeover we see here. Barry Morgan pointed out there was a power vacuum at the heart of Anglicanism and the struggle was on to fill it. I must say that I had never imagined that with the Lambeth Conference so set against this type of action we would see an ABC try to revive the fortunes of he Communion by succumbing to this process.

    So, we have the worst possible outcome.

    The Primates are making law. The protests from member Churches about “form” are so far, nonexistent …. Has this coup worked and the Primates taken control ?

    Those against a Covenant as a matter of principle and who have made something of a career advocating ecclesiastical isolationism have some questions to answer.

  18. For a moment, let’s set aside “gay marriage”, which many gay men, myself included, oppose for a variety of reasons. Where does The Episcopal Church and where do the Anglican Primates stand on the Holiness Code of Leviticus? — which ordains death by stoning for males who have sex with each other. Do they stand with a superstitions taboo morality or with rational ethics? Also, where do the Anglican Primates stand on the African churches, which are literally enforcing the Levitical taboo. Shouldn’t these African churches be at least reprimanded, if not dropped from the communion?

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