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Follow the Money: A Message from Bishop David Anderson

Follow the Money: A Message from Bishop David Anderson

May 9th, 2009

Beloved in Christ,

I have observed that in church life, the decisions reached by the vestry or parish council are often not, strictly speaking, democratic. A person who is influential and viewed as knowledgeable of the church's finances will speak favorably of an idea and say, "there is money for this." Alternatively, if that same person is not favorable to the idea, h/she will say, "we are very short of money and that will have to wait until sometime later," which effectively kills the proposal. The power to say, "Yes, there is money/no, there isn't money," is a form of aggression masked by an affectation of compassion. I want you to hold onto that thought as I discuss what is happening this week in Jamaica at the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting.

Let me lay out a few other seemingly unattached facts before you. There is a financial shortfall from the last Lambeth Conference of Bishops, smaller than once thought, but still hundreds of thousands of dollars. Point to be taken: there are nine years to go and a large deficit to cover before the next Lambeth Conference. Don't count on the Lambeth Conference for anything.

The figures on the Primates' Meeting have come in, and there is bad news there, too: Bishop Kearon noted that the Primates' Meetings are seriously underfunded and it will be a real challenge to fund another one in two years. The message here is, don't count on the Primates' Meeting for anything.

Further financial information from Bishop Kearon shows that the costs of ACC-14 will be 380,000+ GBP and that they have reserves of only 104,000 GBP. The message here is, don't count on the ACC for anything.

And while we are speaking of the ACC, it is interesting to see where the bulk of the support money is coming from. The largest donors for 2008 are England at $405,000 GBP, grants and donations (including Trinity Church Wall Street, NY, the largest contributor in this category) at $371,259 GBP, and The Episcopal Church (TEC) at $363,902 GBP. Compass Rose Society was fourth at $164,040 GBP. It is clear that the influence of TEC money, either directly or indirectly, steers the ship. The provinces who gave nothing in 2008 included Central Africa, Central America, Congo, Indian Ocean, Myanmar, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Cone, Sudan, Uganda, West Africa, Pakistan, South India and the Spanish Reformed EC. What we have is the preponderance of the entire Anglican Communion giving nothing financially to support the ACC, yet their active Sunday attendance would approximate at least 2/3 of the entire Anglican Communion. Why is this? Possibly because they have fewer financial resources, but possibly also because they have a certain distrust of "Western" meetings where pre-cooked agendas are run past them with the outcomes already formulated. The "in group" of liberal Westerners, who from colonial times immemorial are accustomed to running the world, put up the money from their larger resources and manipulate the outcome. Point to be taken: don't count on the ACC.

For example, the ACC in 1999 ruled that the Provinces' rules for delegate selection trumped the ACC's rules, and seated a disqualified TEC Bishop Mark Dyer (he was retired); but now the ACC reverses itself in 2009 when the issue is Uganda's delegate, and rules that the ACC's rules trump the Province's rules in naming and seating a Provincial delegate. Is this fair? Certainly not, but this is how manipulators behave - change the rules as they go along so the right people always get their way and those who are seen to be of lesser value are denied. Primate Orombi referred to this as colonialism, and indeed it is a form of that holdover.

When you gather people together, the danger is that they might talk about the 'wrong' things and come to an agreement on what is 'wrong,' so the Western powers (read Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of TEC) have embraced their own version of "Indaba," where people share their thoughts but no conclusions are allowed. Indaba has now been entrenched in the communion by the Listening Process, indicating that more fundamental areas need to be included: the authority of scripture, the tradition of the church, and culture. I am surprised that the lordship of Jesus Christ wasn't added, but that will come later. The listening process has been extended to 2011 and funded by the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine. A grant of $1.5 million will be used to pay the salary of the ACO-based director and an administrator, employ consultants, fund the movement of people, pay expenses and publish material in "culturally appropriate ways." Canon Dr Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream notes, "This is the largest grant by a factor of two that the ACC has ever received. The continuation of the process was not asked for by the churches, but brought by the officers with the funds to pay for it." The American Anglican Council suspects that, like any other work TEC touches, it will be an attempt to have the results written before the meetings happen. Could this be a quiet struggle over who will be de facto head of the Anglican Communion - Dr. Williams or Dr. Jefferts Schori, and whether a doctorate in theology will prevail over a doctorate in marine biology? The difficulty is that there are times when Dr. Williams doesn't seem to realize there is a struggle and that he could lose. Point to be taken: follow the money, watch TEC and their Morehouse affiliates carefully.

And where is Morehouse College, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, getting that kind of money? From a grant of $2.4 million by the Ford Foundation. How did Morehouse College, a traditionally African-American college and part of the United Negro College Fund group, get involved? TEC has had a long relationship of support for Morehouse, and may well be using the college, perhaps unwittingly, to drive a wedge into the African Provinces. The purpose of Indaba from Dr. Jefferts Schori's point of view is to continue talking about issues and behavior that are repulsive to many orthodox Anglicans, and now, perhaps, to use American black college leaders to help push the sexually permissive agenda of TEC. It is unclear what this seeming manipulation of Morehouse College by TEC will cost the college in financial support from many who have been their donors in the past. Morehouse may find that getting involved in the Anglican "mess" will tarnish their image and align them in unhelpful ways with the sexually permissive TEC non-gospel.

The ACC considered today the addition of a fourth moratorium to the Covenant, a moratorium that was named by the Dar es Salaam Communique, but keeps being "lost" in the paperwork. It is the moratorium on litigation, the litigation which TEC Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori is pursuing with such a vengeance. In late breaking news, the Fourth Moratorium on Litigation was not included nor affirmed. Meanwhile, TEC and its allies are pushing hard to drop Paragraph 4 that would permit others later to join the Covenant, because it is seen as a way that "undesirables" (read Anglican Church in North America) might be able to join at some time in the future, as well as the TEC dioceses which call themselves Communion Partners (CP). TEC doesn't want any of its dioceses signing the Covenant apart from TEC signing or not signing as a Province, since that would strengthen the legal claim that some TEC dioceses (and former dioceses) have been making: that TEC is a voluntary confederation of participating dioceses. The Communion Partners website has posted a Rector's Declaration of Support for the 'Bishops' Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church,' where they note "The authority of the Episcopal Church resides at the diocesan level. This is witnessed to by the structure of the church as "that of a voluntary association of equal dioceses." Also, the Constitution and Canons of the Church make no provision for either a central hierarchy or a Presiding Bishop with metropolitan authority. Furthermore, our General Convention representation is as dioceses and not as communicants, with only an administrative role for the convention leadership, the voting members of the leadership themselves drawn from the diocesan deputations. In addition, the ordinal does not contain any language acknowledging or committing to submit to any metropolitan or central hierarchal authority." The AAC supports the right of these CP bishops, and other bishops who were formerly in TEC, to maintain their rightful autonomy, to be free from unconstitutional and uncanonical TEC assertions and interference in their dioceses, and to be fully able to sign the Anglican Covenant should they wish to do so. The AAC would further argue that these same Communion Partner dioceses, while desiring at this time to stay within TEC, have the fundamental right, if ever they wished or needed to, to leave TEC intact and with all of their assets, both spiritual and temporal.

The current leadership of TEC has asserted their right to lead in a manner that the organizational documents of The Episcopal Church do not sanction nor contemplate. That some state courts have taken the word of TEC and have not examined the history and organizational documents to understand this is causing an incalculable miscarriage of justice. We pray that the civil courts will take the blindfold off long enough to read, study and digest the materials provided to them.

We also pray that the Anglican Communion does not allow itself to journey further into neo-colonialism and post-Christian false gospel. The world is still hungry for the truth about Jesus Christ, a truth that brings life and transformation. Please pray for those at the ACC meeting, that godly decisions would be reached and that all would be held accountable to the disciplines of the faith.

Blessings and peace in Christ Jesus,

The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.
President and CEO,
American Anglican Council

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