Sunday, November 07, 2004

The Episcopal Church & The Windsor Report

The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church of the USA met in Idaho in the first week of November 2004 and issued this statement. Comment upon it follows it.

From Executive Council / El Consejo Ejecutivo

Friday, November 05, 2004
[Episcopal News Service]

From Executive Council
November 4, 2004

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Episcopal Church:

Meeting in Boise, Idaho, during the first week of November, we on Executive Council have been moved to give thanks for all the saints of God around the world. ….

As the Episcopal Church begins to receive the Windsor Report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion, we invite all congregations, dioceses and provinces of the church to take time to read and discuss the report. The church needs to explore the Commission's vision of how we are called to a deeper communion with one another as a reflection of the inner communion of the triune God. The church also needs to reflect on the Commission's recommendations about how the Anglican Communion might function amid differing views.

Our church's reception of the report will be enhanced as you share your reflections with bishops and members of this Council. The House of Bishops will meet in January, and the Council will meet in February. It is especially important that all orders of ministry, including lay people, contribute to the church's reflection. The Presiding Bishop would like to be informed by these deliberations as he meets with the Primates in February. We affirm his intention to appoint a group to respond to the Windsor Report's invitation that the Episcopal Church explain the rationale for consecrating a bishop living in a same-gender relationship.

The consultations of the coming months are just the beginning of our church's reception of the Windsor Report, for the principal response should be made by the 2006 General Convention. We believe our role as Executive Council is to help prepare deputies, bishops and the church at large for the discussions that will take place at Convention. As we considered the report, we were assisted by Bishop Mark Dyer, the Episcopal Church's representative on the Commission, and Bishop James Tengatenga of Southern Malawi, who shared perspectives as an African church leader.

The Council supports wholeheartedly the wise and articulate leadership that is being offered during this difficult time by Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and Dean George Werner, President of the House of Deputies. We offer our prayerful affirmation to gay and lesbian Anglicans, both here and abroad, who continue to minister faithfully in a time of vulnerability in the life of the Anglican Communion. We believe that receiving the Windsor Report with humility and patience will draw us with renewed zeal and wider vision into God's mission of restoring all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.

In Christ's love,

The Executive Council


This statement shows no sign of any regret for the acceptance and blessing by the ECUSA of novel sexual arrangements between people of the same sex.
It also states and builds upon the false theology of the relation of the Holy Trinity to the Anglican Family of Churches that was articulated in The Virginia Report and repeated in The Windsor Report. Put simply this theology is that even as there is unity and diversity in the Communion of the Triune Godhead so this is reflected in the unity and diversity of the Anglican Family of Churches, enabling the latter to be called “A Communion of Churches”. (One simply needs to state that the Trinity in Unity and the Unity in Trinity is one of utter perfection, purity and beauty and as ineffable is truly beyond our understanding. In contrast the unity of the Anglican Provinces is imperfect, impure, variable and deeply affected by error and sin while its obvious diversity is also deeply affected by error. Controversy and sinfulness.) For the Executive Council part of the diversity appears to be the American pioneering of the gay cause.
It further states that a rationale explaining why the ECUSA went ahead with the consecration of a gay man as bishop will be prepared and offered to other provinces. (This could be done in such a way as to state – this is how we thought then but now we have changed our minds; but, more likely it will be a defense of and apology for the action.) If the Presiding Bishop takes such a document to the Primates’ Meeting it is not only possible but probable that this defense will hasten the action of a majority of Primates in declaring that they regard the ECUSA as no longer within the Anglican Family of Churches. From that moment it will be clear (what is clear now) that there is not an Anglican Communion of 38 Provinces but rather a world-wide denomination in which are various relations and associations.
Also, it encourages Episcopalians to read and consider The Windsor Report. This may be dangerous advice! Why? Because in many liberal congregations there has been little or no education in what it means for the ECUSA to be bound by its Constitution to the See of Canterbury, for the ECUSA to be one of 38 Provinces in communion with Canterbury, and for respect to be given to the “Instruments of Unity” especially when their word is contrary to the desires of a majority in an individual province like ECUSA. Many Episcopalians will be surprised by what they learn if they seriously read this Report and ask questions arising from it. The decent minded perhaps will even begin to question whether the way that the ECUSA has done business recently is wholesome. (Of course, it is also possible that a sense of being the ECUSA being the lone prophet unto the whole Family of Churches will emerge and actions taken will be affirmed – such is the deviousness of inbred sin in all of us.)
Finally, it is stated that the considered authoritative response of the ECUSA concerning The Windsor Report will not be until the summer of 2006 at the General Convention. Thus one finds it difficult to imagine that (a) the majority of the Provinces of the Family will be prepared to wait that long and will not declare a broken relation with the ECUSA in 2005; and (b) many troubled Episcopalians now in The Network will be prepared to remain within the ECUSA, as it now is, until the late summer of 2006 – their departure will lead to the growth of more extra-mural Anglicans in different types of associations and formations (and thus Extra-Mural Anglicanism in the USA will stand in very great need of being unified for it will have many dimensions to it!). From any angle the short-term prospects for the Anglican Way in North America are bleak and depressing.

The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon November 6, 2004

No comments: