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Reconciliation and the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury

Reconciliation and the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop Justin Welby is well known for his skills and devotion to reconciliation in conflict areas; he has made it a top priority in his role as Archbishop of Canterbury.  Prior to participating in the consecration of the new chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary, he gave an address to the Council on Foreign Relations where he spoke of reconciliation being part of the DNA of Anglicanism (video below)

However, not everyone sees his efforts at reconciliation within the Anglican Communion as helpful.  Mark Harris, writing on his blog, Preludium, says;

So what’s the big deal? It’s hard to say. Perhaps the ABC believes he has to intervene in order to get people talking to each other.  Maybe so. But the backfire is this: The ABC is clearly becoming an activist in the effort to get members of  ACNA and TEC (and the Anglican Church of Canada?) in the same room together. This may be a good idea indeed.  But here’s the rub.  For the ABC to mess about in his own yard is fine. For the ABC to mess about in our yard, for even the best sorts of reasons, is exercising a ministry of uninvited super – primatial oversight.

But others feel that this work is necessary and that a certain amount of “mucking about” is needed to address where the Episcopal Church (and Anglican Church of Canada and the Scottish Episcopal Church) has gone in its discernment of the Spirit to become more inclusive.  Peter Carrell, a priest in New Zealand, has a short response to Harris on his blog, Anglicans Down Under, titled “What Preludium doesn’t get.”  Though, we suspect that Mark Harris is fully aware that many other Anglican provinces view TEC as “Ecclesia non grata.”



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Prof Christopher Seitz

Global South has finished its meeting, +Welby and ACNA’s Archbishop both present. Several Gafcon Primates in attendance, or their reps.

They indicate they will be going to the London meeting in January.

David Allen

I wonder if he was chided for directly bringing TEC kooties!

Mark DePaulo

I agree with Jeremy. The Archbishop’s move is prompted by self-preservation.

Ellen Campbell

I think Mark Harris did an excellent job in his blog posting. I have been concerned about Welby himself and his invitation to the ACNA. I agree with Ann, I was very uncomfortable about Welby’s sermon at VTS. I felt I was being lectured to by a mini Pope, Winnie the Pooh included.

Cynthia Katsarelis

It’s possible that one of the reasons for feeling “lectured to” is that this ABC is an evangelical. He puts a much stronger emphasis on sin than we typically do in TEC. We tend to think more in terms of mission, Justice, community, and an awful lot about personal connection.

We live and worship on England part-time. My sense is that while not all are evangelical, they tend to think more in terms of a God that shows people how to live, setting boundaries and whatnot. They don’t tend to think in terms of mission and justice and inclusion as theological issues. Debates tend to be highly legalistic, while ours tend to be more theological and to include many more voices. Their church is far more hierarchical, so yes, some in the hierarchy are wont to lecture, and the people in the pews do not feel as empowered as we do to speak and act on conscience. They have a college of bishops who prioritize collegiality over justice, and over the views of their members and countrymen.

The ABC comes from a way different view. We are not speaking the same language. It may seem like it, but we aren’t. So there’s a lot of work to do just to really understand where he is coming from. I don’t think he hears us very well, either.

Philip B. Spivey

Oops! My apologies. It should be, Cynthia.

Philip B. Spivey

Christina: This is a very helpful perspective on the ‘life of the mind’ of Archbishop Welby. I think you have deduced correctly that what we are seeing played out here is a clash of word views, some of which are being voiced in their literal interpretations of Scripture and a reticence to acknowledge the third–lived experience–leg of the stool.

There are many, here and abroad, that hold fast to a past of Gloriana. A world view, like Copernicus, that mistakenly sees as us at the center of the ‘civilized’ world. Metaphorically, I think Lambeth still believes that TEC is part of that errant colony that got away.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place….Parthians, Medes and Elamites, residents of Mesoptamia, Judea and Cappadoicia, Pontus and Asia…parts of Lybia near Cyrene….we hear them declaring the wonders of God in their own tongues…Some, however make fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.’ ” Acts 2.

Here, and abroad, the naysayers are still with us. They have barred the entry of the Holy Spirit into their hearts and into these matters. The cling to a world that has gone with the wind.

Ann Fontaine

By the time of the meeting Bp Curry will be the PB.

Jim Boston

David Allen asks, “How or why would questioning motives not be relevant?” I wrote, “…not very relevant.” My point was that the important question is what TEC decides to do, what motivates a choice to show up or not. Discerning the ABC’s motives would be relevant if there might be a secret plan to lock our PB in the Tower of London. Not likely. Perhaps a secret plan to have a photo taken of the PB with the head ACNA. Who knows the secrets of the heart? What might be the PB’s motives is the real issue. To avoid being in the same room with someone who thinks differently, thinks wrongly, who is a sinner? I hope not. She is very smart and I fully expect can take care of herself and the representation of TEC. The various churches can make up any number of different groupings, with any variety of boundaries. The TEC would remain the TEC. My personal hope is that it will be a TEC which is as willing to share conversation with conservative Anglicans as it is with representatives of other faiths and of secular society.

Jeremy Bates

Locking then-PB Curry up in a tower, no.

But making secret plans at TEC’s expense? That has actually happened quite a lot over the past 20 years!

Conversation would be fine. But presenting TEC with a fait accompli would not. Nor would telling the UK press in October that the Communion has to accept a diversity of views, and then knuckling under in January to those who want a central authority to impose uniformity.

Come 2016, we’ll see what happens. In the meantime, we should be watchful.

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