Sunday, March 11, 2007

Should the Anglican Communion Concern Us?

The Very Reverend Sam Candler, Dean of Atlanta's St. Philip's Cathedral, entered the "whither goest the Anglican Communion" conversation this week with an excellent piece entitled:

An excerpt from his article:
The reason I have not been eager to respond to every new pronouncement or to every threatened ultimatum is that I have raised a family before. I have had my share of household members —including myself!—who have been all too eager to raise the urgent anxiety of our case in order to get our way. But in order to raise a family, I must realize that not every conflict is momentous. Not every conflict is urgent. Not every conflict is even a conflict.There are really two ways to ask the present question about the Anglican Communion. Should the Anglican Communion concern us? My answer is “Yes.” But: Should the Anglican Communion be perceived as a monolithic institution in momentous conflict? My answer is “No.”
The Episcopal Church in 2003 made some clear decisions. They were made after decades of previous debate and discussion. Most of us knew that others in the Anglican Communion were not in the same place as us; some of our friends in the same pew were not in the same place as us. We had made the same sort of decision when we allowed women to enter the ordination process. We were making decisions and statements “as local circumstances required.”
Now, one easy way to describe present discussions within the wider Anglican Communion is that we continue to debate what is “essential” to the faith and what is “changeable.” This type of discussion does not need to be characterized as momentous conflict. It will continue for a long time, no matter what dates or deadlines or requests are set before us. We have never been a worldwide, universal, and hierarchical church like our faithful friends in Roman Catholicism. We are truly a communion of churches, and we believe God works through that communion.

Meanwhile, I seriously doubt that the Episcopal Church will overturn previous statements on issues of sexuality. In fact, as most of you know, I hope we do not turn back at all. We still have a long way to go in appreciating the gifts and talents of every member of Christ’s body; and we still have a long way to go in blessing wholesome and holy relationships. I have no problem with The Episcopal Church, within Christendom, being in a minority on some issues. In fact, when one includes Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox, it is very much a minority position in Christendom even to ordain women.

Ultimately, despite our political fascination with the majority and the minority, we Christians are not called finally to be either in the “majority” or in the “minority.” We are called to be faithful to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That is the essential of the Christian faith. Though I wish it would, it will never be the role of the mass media to publicize the faith of the Episcopal Church! Indeed, that is our role. Speak faith to one another. In time, in God’s time, the Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ will lead us into all truth (John 16.13).

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