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One Commenter answers why the Communion might be important

One Commenter answers why the Communion might be important

Mark Harris, who blogs at Preludium, has a new post up that looks at some possible outcomes of next week’s gathering of Anglican Communion Primates and also offers a defense of the idea of the Communion itself.

Mark acknowledges a certain apathy, or at least fatigue with the issue;

There has been considerable “yawn” here in Episcopal Church land concerning the meeting and what might transpire.  I suspect being tired of all this foolishness is pretty well the case in many parts of the Anglican world.

But he still seeks to rally us enough to care

Well, dear friends, it is important because in spite of all the hard feelings and anathemas being hurled at various churches, in spite of colonial history, there are residual feelings of real companionship in the Gospel and real hopes for engagement in common mission. We have been a community of considerable depth and mutual respect.In all the wringing of hands and lamenting of this or that deep hurt this fact is likely to get lost.

I believe his analysis of the specter of colonialism and its affects is pretty astute and worthy of engagement if we really want to understand the underlying issues that trouble the Anglican Communion.  There are multiple imbalances, assumptions and a troubling history underlying the Communion that need to see the light of day if Christian unity is really important to us.

What is desperately needed is a combination of (i) theological work, driven by work in the newer churches, about what to do with the reality that the Gospel was brought in colonial and imperialistic containers and (ii) good solid on the ground building of deep friendships that cannot be contained by any cultural expectations.

What is needed is post-colonial paradigms for the Gospel and its containers, and renewed deep companionship.

Read it all here


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Elizabeth Kaeton

The article, by the always well-informed Andrew Brown begins,

The Church of England is braced for a de facto split in the worldwide Anglican communion next week over the issues of gay rights and same-sex marriage. Church leaders from six African countries are expected to walk out of a pivotal summit called by the archbishop of Canterbury.

In an earlier, entirely dispassionate, article ( Brown writes:

it’s worth asking whether they have any larger message for the world. Apparently they do. It’s that genocide is more biblical than sodomy.

The hardline African churches preparing to walk out of next week’s meeting are disproportionately involved in wars and in immense civilian suffering. In northern Nigeria and northern Kenya, the fighting is with Islamist militias; in South Sudan and Congo the truly dreadful civil war is fought between largely Christian ethnic groupings. In Rwanda, the war is over, but the genocide was committed by Christians against other Christians, and Uganda, while itself at peace, is involved in both Rwanda and Congo.

Yet for the leaders of all these churches, it is apparently more important to make a stand against American sexual liberalism than to accept such help as the supposedly decadent north can offer. It’s an extraordinary spectacle.

And, referring to the Covenant,

In any case, the conservatives overplayed their hand in the early part of this century when they were faced with a weak archbishop of Canterbury in Rowan Williams. They tried to force the complete expulsion of the American church, and when it turned out that there was actually no organisation from which it could be expelled, Williams tried to invent one in order to make sense of the situation.

David Allen

The first link is not an article written by Andrew Brown, it is written by Harriet Sherwood.

Doug Desper

Another important reason that the Anglican Communion is important is that it prevents our small (and ever-shrinking) Province in the U.S. from being a “hall of mirrors” or echo chamber. It prevents a cultural mindset from becoming “faith once delivered” doctrine. It challenges our General Convention “slam dunks” that often occur without meaningful opposition.

Being stood up to by others is healthy by any measure of psychological — and spiritual health.

Considering that we can’t even muster 1/2 of our people to support or attend our churches I think that it’s time for a different kind of health.

Jeremy Bates

Perhaps it depends on what you mean by “a different kind of health.”

It is extremely unhealthy, not to mention unjust, to accede to demands from other provinces that The Episcopal Church discriminate.

Kurt Hill

Frankly, I am indeed “tired of all this foolishness.” The only aceptable outcome is Mark’s possibility (ii) as outlined. If the GAFCON provinces want to leave, let them–and good riddance!

The only GAFCON affiliate which I have any interest in at all is the Church of the Province of West Africa’s Episcopal Church of Liberia. Folks may know that Liberia was amalgamated from America’s only African colonies, and the Church there was initiated by American missionaries in 1836. They signed a Covenant Agreement with TEC in 1979, and have made it clear that they remain in communion with both TEC and ACofC, even though they have certain disagreements with us.

As I have said before, I am struck by the lack of self-awareness and self-reflection by many of these GAFCON provinces, who seem to think that schisms are only for Churches in the West. They all have their own fracture lines which very likely will lead to splits in their own unity should they leave the Communion. Thus far, both TEC and ACofC have practiced restraint, but things could get very interesting for the Con Evos in the near future…

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Ann Fontaine

Because they are on the ground in areas where we want to make a difference. And sometimes working together helps each party to see new ways of looking at divisions and how to overcome them.
Also we have many links besides the primates. Women’s networks, diocesan companion relationships, etc — much of the communion does not find the sexuality issues a deal breaker – and even some of the bishops in the Provinces that are led by Archbishops who make the most noise – are quietly forming partnerships across the Communion. I think we pay way too much attention to some blustering bishops and not enough to what is really happening on the ground.

Jeremy Bates

I’m not asking why other provinces are important. Relationships are important, unless they are harmful or abusive.

My question is, why is the Anglican Communion important? What about the Communion makes it necessary to the continued work and functioning of relationships on the ground?

Elizabeth Kaeton

Well said, Ann. Thank you.

Nan Cobbey

Thank you, Ann.

Jeremy Bates

Companionship and engagement in common mission…. Sounds nice. But why is the Communion necessary for either of those things?

Especially when some primates want to make the Anglican Communion an instrument of oppression?

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