Saturday, January 16, 2016

#Primates2016 Round Up

So the Primates (the head bishops of all the constituent member churches of the world-wide Anglican Communion) have finished their meeting in Canterbury. The meeting was preceded by much speculation on what they would, could and might do -- including who would manage to stay through the whole meeting without walking out in protest of either the presence or actions of a fellow Primate.

[And yes, at this point the reader can certainly be excused for wondering what about any of that makes [a] Jesus look good or [b] the church seem attractive. But I digress.]

At the end of the day, a summary of their words and actions looks something like this: [from their meeting ending Communiqué]
Words:The Primates "condemn homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation."

Actions: A majority of the Primates recommend -- in response to The Episcopal Church making marriage equally available to same and opposite sex couples -- that "for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity."
Headlines screamed things like "Anglican Communion Suspends Episcopal Church" -- which makes a great headline but isn't exactly true. A majority of Primates recommending anything is exactly that: a majority of Primates recommending something. As the brilliant Tobias Haller summarized it:
The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) has its own constitution -- in fact, it is the only legally constituted "instrument" of the whole Communion. As far as I know, the Primates have no authority to remove the representatives of TEC who were elected to that body, short of an action by that body itself through amending the Schedule of Membership. The Primates Meeting has no authority to amend the structure and membership of the ACC. In this regard their action is ultra vires. ["beyond one's legal power or authority"]
Of course the recommendation of a majority of the Primates will have an impact about just how fully or partially The Episcopal Church will participate in the councils of governance of the wider Anglican Communion. And all of that is yet to play out.

But for the moment, here's a round up of some responses to this latest episode of "As The Anglican World Turns." I'll start with mine.

My piece on the Huffington Post -- On Becoming Second Class Anglicans for Treating LGBT People Like First Class Christians -- included this quote:
"What does it mean to Episcopalians to be "sanctioned" by a majority of the Primates of the Anglican Communion for refusing to treat our LGBT members as second class Christians? It means we're willing to pay "the cost of discipleship" as we follow the Jesus who welcomed, blessed, included, empowered and loved absolutely everybody. It means we take seriously our call to be part of the Jesus Movement -- proclaiming the Good News of God's inclusive love to the world. It means we choose inclusion over exclusion, compassion over condemnation, and justice over judgment. And I'm proud and grateful that being considered second class Anglicans is a price we are willing to pay to treat God's beloved LGBT people as first class Christians."
I also offered this comment on Facebook:
So how do I feel about the final "communique" from the Primates meeting wherein they sanction the Episcopal Church for taking steps to fully include the LGBT baptized in all the sacraments and then say they "condemn homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation?" I just told a reporter it was "rank hypocrisy" that does nothing but feed, water and fertilize the narrative of why the institutional church is increasingly and understandably irrelevant.
But enough about me. Here are links to other folks from around the church who weighed in over the last couple of days. Starting with Presiding Bishop Curry (who has been utterly STELLAR!)

This was the quote that turned into a meme making its rounds on social media:

President of the House of Deputies Gay Jennings wrote a brilliant response you can find here ... a response that includes these important words:
I want to assure you that nothing about what the primates have said will change the actions of General Convention that have, over the past four decades, moved us toward full inclusion and equal marriage. And regardless of the primates’ vote, we Episcopalians will continue working with Anglicans across the globe to feed the hungry, care for the sick, educate children, and heal the world. Nothing that happens at a primates’ meeting will change our love for one another or our commitment to serving God together.
The people most likely to suffer from this news are faithful LGBTI Anglicans and their allies, especially in Africa. I count many of them as my friends and colleagues, and today I am especially praying that this new message of exclusion does not fuel more hatred and homophobia and make them even more vulnerable to violence and discrimination than they already are. In their communiqué, the primates: “condemned homophobic prejudice and violence” and “reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.” I was heartened to read these words, but mindful that I have read a similar statement from a previous primates meeting. I hope that this time, the primates mean what they have said.
Other voices of note have included ...

Bishop Tom Ely -- Vermont
Bishop Andy Dietsche -- New York
Bishop Mariann Budde -- Washington
Ed Bacon -- All Saints Church, Pasadena

... just to name and link to a few.

Finally, I want to note this quite amazing piece written by Ruth Gledhill -- longtime Anglican journalist now writing for Christian Today. Ruth has been deep in the thick of the Anglican Inclusion Wars for many, many years now and her observations come from a deep faith and from the evangelical end of the theological spectrum.

It's entitled: The Sacrificial Grace of Bishop Michael Curry.
The holiness in him and in his words is tangible. It is a genuine turning of the other cheek. He is not threatening to walk away, he is pledging his Church to walk together with all the Primates of the Anglican Communion. It is his grace in the face of terrible rejection that shines out from this whole sorry episode.
The only thing left to say is "Amen."


Ricardo Avila said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful compilation, Susan, and for the work you put into it. Some of our parishioners have been asking questions, and I will link your blog post to our FB page so they can read this summation.

Ginge said...

Dear Susan,

I wish we could have met in better circumstances. I, like you, am an Anglican. I live in the UK, and I have a heavy heart and no small amount of confusion over the decision of the Primates to sanction ECUSA for their views on marriage. I am gay, and have been openly gay and active in my Church of England Parish. This recent development has come to me and many of my friends as a bit of a shock, or if not a shock, certainly a disappointment, but what has helped us is loving and gracious response from people like yourself, and Bishop Curry.

We will, regardless of what others say or do, maintain the unity of the body, in the bond of peace .