Saturday, January 16, 2016

Episcopal Church: In or Out?

From "Long Way Home"

What's going on with the Anglican Communion? In case you haven't noticed, the primates from each autonomous province of the Anglican Communion have been meeting in Canterbury at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABoC) to discuss the future of our shared relationships. Provinces from the "global south" are upset that provinces like the Episcopal Church in the USA (TEC) have continued to advance the cause of LGBTQ equality despite requests to stop. Actually, it's more complicated than that. There's more to it than to say that we disagree about issues of human sexuality. That's true, of course, but the presenting issue that threatens to splinter the Anglican Communion is a disagreement on how we move forward despite those differences.

Previously, groups from across the Anglican Communion have met to try to hold us together. Called "Instruments of Unity," these different entities (ABoC, primates' meeting, Anglican Consultative Council, and Lambeth Conference) have "agreed" on the steps we can take to prevent schism. For example, the Windsor Report called on provinces to stop intervening in other provinces (e.g. African bishops' continued efforts to establish a presence in TEC) and called on provinces to stop ordaining non-celibate homosexual bishops and adopting liturgies for blessing same-sex marriages (e.g. TEC's actions ever since 2003). Like all complex international arrangements, what it actually means to agree is murky. Did TEC agree to stop all ordinations that would seem controversial to others in the Anglican Communion? Did provinces from the global south agree not to accept the requests for oversight from bishops, clergy, and dioceses in TEC? About that, no one seems to agree.

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