JAMAICA: Truth The Real Casualty at ACC-14
Anglican Communion could dissolve into a Federation. GAFCON the Winner
By David W. Virtue
For all intents and purposes, the Anglican Communion is finished. What really happened in Kingston, Jamaica, this past week was nothing more or less than a deficit of truth.
What took place here had little to do with property, ecclesiology or theology., it It had everything to do with politics and with it the death of truth.
In fact, it was all about politics, Anglican politics, hardball Anglican politics. It was about the chairman of the ACC, John Paterson, and secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council Kenneth Kearon making sure that TEC Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori would not feel the pain of discipline for ordaining a known homogenital bishop to the episcopacy, for continuing its multi-million dollar litigious practices, turning a blind eye to same sex rites now taking place in some 28 dioceses and for pushing the theological and moral boundaries beyond traditional understandings of our Anglican faith.
"Have we manufactured a large stone called 'an Anglican covenant' that will seal off creative, faithful life in the communion?" asked ACC chairman and Diocese of Auckland Bishop John Paterson, referring to the stone closing off Jesus' tomb and the council's work on the proposed Anglican covenant, in his sermon at the ACC's closing Eucharist. "I trust not."
There you have it in a nutshell. The ACC conference here was defined by meetings, documents, resolutions, amendments to resolutions and the parsing of words rather than by a call to be the body of Christ in the world. It was all about using Robert Rules of Order and parliamentary procedure to prevaricate, change and ultimately prevent the Episcopal Church from feeling any ecclesiastical pain for its actions.
They were greatly enabled by the Svengali figure of Geoffrey Cameron, onetime deputy secretary general of the ACC, now a bishop and (less well known) a lawyer who helped the ACC along by using procedures to make sure that TEC never leaves the Anglican Communion table or would be humbled into submission for its actions.
He was enabled in all this by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his use of common room debating tactics to make sure that a "fourth moratorium" on litigation in the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) report would be put on hold so the ACC could manipulate the infamous (and removed) section 4 of the WCG.
It all started when The Rev. Phil Ashey, an Atlanta-based clerical delegate from the Province of Uganda, was denied a seat at the ACC table. It went downhill from there.
No one could explain why the moratorium (section 4)on litigation, unanimously passed by the Primates at the Dar es Salaam meeting, had mysteriously disappeared in the WCG draft resolution. The failure to observe this moratorium is exacerbating the "interventions" in North America.
When VOL challenged Bishop Gregory Cameron directly, he said he could not explain its absence. When a resolution was made to add this fourth moratorium, Mrs. Jefferts Schori, TEC Presiding Bishop, rose to complain, among other things, that such a moratorium would enable congregations leaving TEC to "alienate their property."
As usual, nothing could be further from the truth. One of the key principles set out in the appendix to the Dar es Salaam Statement required both parties "to give assurances that no steps will be taken to alienate property from the Episcopal Church without its consent or to deny use of that property to those congregations." (WCG Report to the Archbishop of Canterbury at paragraph 34, footnote 11, page 7). Dr. Williams then begged for a "standstill" in his presentation of the WCG Recommendations, and called all parties to take a step back from what they were doing - "that we owe it to the Lord of our Church to do so."
Does this have anything to do with the Lord or is it just Anglican politics?
"I can hardly find words to describe the melee of confusing resolutions, amendments and parliamentary procedures that held the Ridley Cambridge Text of the proposed Anglican Covenant hostage for most of the day," wrote Ashey.
"PERFIDY", shouted the Dean and President of Nashotah House, The Rev. Dr. Robert S. Munday at his blog. Indeed it was.
In a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Munday called it "procedural confusion. It is a betrayal of every Anglican who has looked to the Covenant process to bring desperately needed order to our life as a Communion." Munday urged an immediate re-visiting by the ACC and a lawful vote. "The alternative is moving forward with lasting questions as to the legitimacy of the entire process." He urged the Churches of the Communion to begin the process of adopting the Ridley Cambridge Text.
Anglican Communion Institute professors Christopher Seitz, Philip Turner, and Ephraim Radner, along with Attorney Mark McCall called the Friday session of the Anglican Consultative Council "an embarrassment to Anglicans everywhere, and a sad display of procedural confusion." Indeed it was.
Dr. Williams, President of the ACC, talked all week long about the urgent need for a Covenant, and about our the urgent need for "Communion with autonomy and accountability rather than autonomy with communion." It's the autonomy part that most pleases Western pan Anglican provinces. It is communion with accountability that the Global South wants. There is no middle ground.
The Anglican Communion must now wait until "a small working group", appointed by Dr. Williams and Secretary General Kenneth Kearon, considers and consults with the Provinces on Section 4 and its possible revision. The Communion must wait until that group's report to the JSC when it meets next - "sometime before the end of the year," according to Kearon.
No text of the Anglican Covenant will be sent out to the Provinces until this work has been done. This comes at a time when, in the words of Dr Williams, the Anglican Communion is likely to rupture and fly into further chaos and division.
In his concluding address, the Archbishop of Canterbury conceded that ACC-14 in Kingston, Jamaica, was a "failure" that disappointed many Anglicans across the Communion. He said the meeting of the Anglican Communion's fourth 'instrument of unity' was a "glorious failure" that saw the Anglican Communion rise from its "deathbed" to address its own shortcomings. Brilliant double speak.
The failure to pass a Covenant and a fourth moratorium signaled the two opposing sides are irrevocably and irretrievably divided and no compromise will ever be found.
At the end, Williams threw up his hands and said that the Communion might yet turn into a federation. When asked how the process of converting the communion into a federation might evolve, he said, "I have no idea how we may recast ourselves." He did say that the ACC would have a "considerable" role to play if the creation of a federation ever happens. It was not a notion he favored, however. He also reiterated his earlier statement that he believes "you could imagine a federation structure in which the current Instruments of Communion still have a role in it." During his presentation of the Windsor Continuation Group Report and recommendations, Dr Williams spoke about a deficit in Communion life, which he describes as an "ecclesial deficit."
I would like to suggest that a different deficit is at the heart of the Anglican Communion's malaise. The truth is it is a deficit of leadership and truth. The blame for the orgy of words with no concluding resolution must be laid squarely at the feet of Dr. Williams himself. It was a week of missed opportunities for healing and reconciliation resulting in the failure to adopt a text for an Anglican Covenant.
Archbishop Williams addressed the confusion and controversy surrounding the ACC's processes of postponing the covenant in these words,. "As we go back to our provinces thinking about the work we've done, and thinking about the quagmires of detail and procedure that we waded through [May 8], the only thing we can say, I suspect, in defense of all that is something like this: We did it because we hoped that through all these procedures, Christian people would be able to recognize each other a bit more fully, a bit more generously, and a bit more hopefully."
One doubts the Global South will have anything more to do with the devious processes of the Anglican Consultative Council. The Nigerian representatives made that abundantly clear in a private gathering for the handful of orthodox Anglican media.
The integrity of letting your ""Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No'" (Matthew 5:37) was missing.
One observer noted that what took place in Jamaica was a classic family dysfunction created by a parent who refuses to discipline their out-of-control teen. True indeed.
At the end nothing was resolved. Everything was left hanging, much like a hanging chad.
One thing now seems abundantly clear. If indeed the Anglican Communion is broken beyond repair and a federation is in the making, then it is equally clear that GAFCON (and its new-born child ACNA) is the real Anglican Communion. For that, orthodox Anglicans around the world can now rejoice.
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