Thursday, January 03, 2008

What would be lost if The Episcopal Church pulled out of the Anglican Communion?

Louie Crew has just made public his response to a colleague who asked him the following questions about the Anglican Consultative Council & Lambeth Conference in specific and the Anglican Communion in general:

  • What would be lost if the ACC was taken over by the Primates?
  • What would be lost if these meetings did not happen?
  • What good comes from the ACC meetings?
  • What would be lost if they held Lambeth, and we ignored it?
  • We can still do the work of feeding the poor and taking care of the widow. But why do we need the meetings?
You'll want to read his whole answer, posted to his blog today ... but here are a few of my favorite bits:

We would forfeit our participation as interdependent and autonomous in a world-wide communion. We would set our own course without the benefit of others in the Communion to tell us how they see us.

It is an enormous benefit to have to be accountable to Anglicans outside TEC. I don't want TEC to be insular. I don't want us to demand control as a price of our remaining: that's terribly American but not Christian, whether we do it or whether our adversaries do it. Love does not insist on having its own way.

TEC would lose our ability to tell others in the Communion how we see them. If TEC left, we would lose our influence with other Anglicans regarding ills that we see in their parts of world.

TEC would lose our ability to speak for all whom we see as marginalized by local blinders throughout the Communion. Anglicans elsewhere would lose their ability to call The Episcopal Church to account for the enormous American abuses of power throughout the world.

TEC would lose ready access to the network of personal relationships built and nurtured over decades -- relationships which play an enormous part infacilitating our mutual exchange of gifts and services.

Christianity is about a peace that is no peace, the marvelous peace of God.
The Anglican Communion is a legacy of slavery and colonialism. It's the ecclesiastical infrastructure those great evils left behind. Dare we throw away this marvelous opportunity for connecting merely because of the current unpleasantness?

It would be so much easier to love our neighbors as ourselves if we could just pick and choose them. But that's not the way it works, as the Ghanaian hymn puts it best for me:

Jesu, Jesu,
Fill us with Your love,
show us how to serve
The neighbors we have from You.

Through the Anglican Communion that hymn can be a reality, not just a vision. Let it begin in me.


Unknown said...

It seems to me that the question is the proverbial straw man (person?). The ECUSA has not suggested that it might withdraw from the Anglican Communion, last I knew. The danger is that the primates will force the ECUSA from effective participation in the group. Whatever the point at which that might happen, it's still far over the horizon, so I think it is not useful to speculate about it.

Jim Costich said...

Well I read what Louie Crew said in his Blogg and I've got to say it's pretty weak. We'd lose out on the chance to bitch each other out and have others bitch us out? And he really thinks that's a bad thing? Come on!

Why does it have to follow that if TEC shrugged off the Anglican Communion we'd loose all contact with South Africa, Canada, etc? We don't HAVE to use the Anglican Communion as an intermediary in order to be in relationship with other churches of any denomination. Ecumenicism doesn't require a third party. Neither does charity. What does the Anglican communion provide that we couldn't/wouldn't continue with our friends on our/their own?

It seems to me Louie's inventing and grasping at reasons - nothing really stuck out for him. Well, other than habit what is the compelling reason to keep the Anglican Communion going? Seriously, what's it got that we'd miss enough to put up with all the agitta & agriva? What's it got that we couldn't just do ourselves? Cheaper and better?

If there's nothing more than what he came up with on his blog one has to seriously question why we bother.

Can anyone else come up with something truly worthwhile and unique to being part of the Anglican Communion?

Jim Costich said...

I wrote something last night in reply, but having slept on it and read a little more I've changed my mind.

The question isn't "What would happen if we withdrew from Lambeth?" The question is "What will we do seeing as Lambeth has withdrawn from us?" The Pre-Lambeth meeting of Anti-Gay, Anti-Woman Arch Bishops is their way of dealing with the fact that they couldn't throw us out. They did the same thing last summer. They met for a week while Americans waited for the conference to start.