17 April 2007

+Rowan to visit ECUSA

As others have reported, +Rowan Williams will visit the regular autumn meeting of the ECUSA House of Bishops. It's a bit mind-boggling that with all the talk about ECUSA, this hadn't happened until now, but better late than never.

Rowan was quoted saying this in a Toronto press conference: "I'm still waiting to see what the Episcopal Church will come up with as an alternative [to the recommendations of the primates' communique]. The reaction was a very strongly worded protest against what they see as interference, but if not that, then what?"

Was Rowan surprised by this reaction from American bishops? Surely there were other possibilities beyond primatial babysitting, and there still are. Let me suggest a few:
  • Convene the Communion-wide hermeneutics study that was discussed in Dar es Salaam, and let's see how our reading of scripture might inform future conversation.
  • Begin the listening process called for in the Windsor Report. With a few exceptions, including ECUSA, this process has not really begun. Surely we can learn from GLBT Anglicans in all this?
  • Gather all the bishops, not just primates, for a conversation at Lambeth 2008.
  • Talk about the proposed Covenant and our understanding of the essence of the Anglican Communion? Is our essence shared doctrine? Shared belief? Shared practice? Shared loyalty? Something else?
Now in all this, I also think ECUSA has some homework. We need to justify our positions on biblical and theological grounds, not just those of human rights or justice. We need to realize that the American church is a vastly different animal from other Anglican provinces, even from England. We need to be crystal clear about the reasons why the Anglican Communion is or is not important to our life as a church. We need to stop citing polity as an excuse/justification for our actions. (That last one is especially galling to me. We wouldn't put up with that Pharisaical approach from other quarters, and we shouldn't use it ourselves. We could do what we wanted, if we had the mind to do it. If we're thumbing our noses at the primates, let's do it for good cause, not just because General Convention doesn't meet for a couple of years.)

Anyway, I'm glad Rowan is coming. I hope he can see what we're a vibrant church, alive in the Spirit. I hope we can see that he is trying his level best to keep the Communion together. Above all, I hope we'll all see one another as members of the Body of Christ, acting as people of good faith -- sometimes stumbling in our earthly pilgrimage, but always seeking to be God's people.

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