Seven diocesans meeting with Rowan Williams

Update. Martins confesses, in the comments to his post: "My knowledge is second-hand, but as nearly as I can recall, the bishops in attendance are Little, Lawrence, McPherson, Stanton, Lillibridge, Smith (N.D.), and Love."

* * * * * * * * * *


The Rev. Dan Martins writes at his blog, Confessions of a Carioca:

I have had this information for some time, and was never asked to embargo it. Nonetheless, it seemed best to wait until the event was actually in progress. It now is.

Seven diocesan bishops of the Episcopal Church are presently at Lambeth Palace for a brief--but, I'm sure, intense--consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury. All seven are members of the Communion Partners, and all seven are signatories to the Anaheim Statement.

I have no inside knowledge of the subjects under discussion, but it doesn't require any eavesdropping equipment to figure out that they're talking about how Dr Williams' "two tier/two track" plan might actually get implemented. More specifically, it is a safe bet that each of the seven is interested in what steps a diocese might have to take to remain on Tier/Track One even as TEC per se is assigned (consigned?) to Tier/Track Two.

Martins gives no names. However, he serves in the Diocese of Northern Indiana which is led by Bishop Edward Little. Little was amongst those bishops who signed the Anaheim Statement.

Little had this to say about that statement:

After the vote on C056 [at General Convention], a group of bishops, about twelve of them, gathered to write a statement in which we could together affirm our dual commitment: to remain loyal members of the Episcopal Church, obedient to its constitution and canons; and to remain at the same time loyal members of the Anglican Communion, in communion with the historic See of Canterbury. Together we drafted the Anaheim Statement, and one of our number - Bishop Gary Lillibridge of West Texas - read it to the whole House of Bishops on behalf of all of us. Our statement was received by our colleagues, particularly those who had voted in favor of D025 and C056, with respect and appreciation. So far, about 34 bishops have joined us in signing the statement. I’ve appended it to the conclusion of this report.
Several of the 34 voted for one or both of the resolutions.

Following General Convention Archbishop Rowan Williams issued a reflection including some ruminations on a two track system:

22. It is possible that some will not choose this way of intensifying relationships, though I pray that it will be persuasive. It would be a mistake to act or speak now as if those decisions had already been made – and of course approval of the final Covenant text is still awaited. For those whose vision is not shaped by the desire to intensify relationships in this particular way, or whose vision of the Communion is different, there is no threat of being cast into outer darkness – existing relationships will not be destroyed that easily. But it means that there is at least the possibility of a twofold ecclesial reality in view in the middle distance: that is, a 'covenanted' Anglican global body, fully sharing certain aspects of a vision of how the Church should be and behave, able to take part as a body in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue; and, related to this body, but in less formal ways with fewer formal expectations, there may be associated local churches in various kinds of mutual partnership and solidarity with one another and with 'covenanted' provinces.

23. This has been called a 'two-tier' model, or, more disparagingly, a first- and second-class structure. But perhaps we are faced with the possibility rather of a 'two-track' model, two ways of witnessing to the Anglican heritage, one of which had decided that local autonomy had to be the prevailing value and so had in good faith declined a covenantal structure. If those who elect this model do not take official roles in the ecumenical interchanges and processes in which the 'covenanted' body participates, this is simply because within these processes there has to be clarity about who has the authority to speak for whom.

[24. ...]

25. It is my strong hope that all the provinces will respond favourably to the invitation to Covenant. But in the current context, the question is becoming more sharply defined of whether, if a province declines such an invitation, any elements within it will be free (granted the explicit provision that the Covenant does not purport to alter the Constitution or internal polity of any province) to adopt the Covenant as a sign of their wish to act in a certain level of mutuality with other parts of the Communion. It is important that there should be a clear answer to this question.

Emphasis added.

Comments (5)

Dan's certainty does not constitute evidence.

I'm of the opinion that this Covenant thing is just never going to happen. Polls show that the English people -- and consequently Parliament, which is a lot more responsive to public opinion than, say, Congress -- would rather disestablish than have the C of E beholden to the retrograde bishops. And if you think the litigation in the TEC over property has been shameful, you ain't seen nuthin' till you see the litigation and financial chaos that would ensue in England. So this Covenant, frankly, is never going to happen.

On the other hand, I don't think anyone in a disestablished church would have trouble signing the Covenant in its current form. In short, the "second track" would be composed mostly of the C of E.

Little and Lillibridge are attending. Other most likely suspects: - Howe, Stanton, MacPherson, Lawrence, maybe Smith?

If the speculation is accurate, how can these bishops claim, by their actions, greater loyalty to the Anglican Communion than to the polity of this church and to the Will of God as it is discerned by our General Convention?

According to Martins in a note on his blog -
the bishops in attendance are Little, Lawrence, McPherson, Stanton, Lillibridge, Smith (N.D.), and Love.

Add your comments

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Reminder: At Episcopal Café, we hope to establish an ethic of transparency by requiring all contributors and commentators to make submissions under their real names. For more details see our Feedback Policy.

Advertising Space