6/9/10

Episcopalians removed from Anglican dialogues

This morning I ran across this report: members of the US Episcopal Church are being removed from the Anglican Communion's ecumenical dialogue teams. This comes in response to the recent consecration to the episcopal office of an open and practicing lesbian, over against the express teaching and wishes of the wider Anglican Communion, and disregarding previous Episcopal Church promises to "exercise restraint":

The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, has written to those Episcopalians serving on the communion's ecumenical dialogues informing them that their memberships have been discontinued.

The decision is likely to affect five Episcopal Church members serving on Anglican dialogues with the Lutheran, Methodist, Old Catholic and Orthodox churches, as well as one member of the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order, who has been invited to serve as a consultant.

Kearon's announcement came in a June 7 letter outlining the next steps following Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' Pentecost letter.

Williams had proposed in his May 28 letter that representatives currently serving on ecumenical dialogues should resign their membership if they are from a province that has not complied with moratoria on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate. He specifically referred to the May 15 consecration of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Douglas Glasspool and the unauthorized incursions by Anglican leaders into other provinces. Glasspool is the Episcopal Church's second openly gay, partnered bishop.

Jan Butter, communications director for the Anglican Communion, confirmed that the membership change applies to all ecumenical dialogues.

It would seem that the ongoing division between the leaders of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the world-wide Anglican communion is beginning to show up in formal and structural ways. I hope and pray that these first disciplinary moves cause the leftist bishops of the American Church to rethink their own "revisionist" agenda for the church. I fear, however, that the American bishops are more ideologically committed to their own agenda than to the unity of the world-wide church. May the rest of us take a lesson from all this.

As I watch the un-folding of this crisis within Anglicanism, I become all the more hesitant about the plans for The United Methodist Church to enter into full communion with the Episcopal Church in 2012. Surely our aim should be for the world-wide United Methodist Church to enter into full communion with the world-wide Anglican Communion, rather than with a piece of the Communion that seems on its way out into theological and ecumenical isolation.

I suspect that within a few years The Anglican Church in North America just might become the mainstream representative of the Anglican tradition within the US and it may, on the whole, be doctrinally closer to the official teachings of the UMC than will be the Episcopal Church. We shall see.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Todd Stepp said...

Of course the "world-wide Anglican Communion" does not really talk with the "world-wide United Methodist Church," but rather with the World Methodist Council. And the structure/relationships within the Anglican Communion and within the WMC are not quite the same.

I would guess that many are watching the ACNA & TEC, and I wouldn't be surprised if the delegates of the UMC vote to walk away from full communion with TEC (even if it is a very close vote).

On the other hand, I would be surprised if the UMC would vote to pursue dialogue with the ACNA. And I would be equally surprised if the ACNA would be interested in dialogue with the UMC (I would imagine they hear too many loud, liberal voices in the UMC).

Still, I would be excited about such dialogue.

10:22 AM, June 09, 2010  
Anonymous Stephen said...

An interesting thing about full communion especially with a fractured TEC is that it might provide a "way out" for some churches/pastors/parishes.

Could reaching full communion establish the UMC as a place for "moderate" Episcopals? I believe that there are a huge number of moderate Episcopals stuck between the liberal bishops and the conservative ACNA(still no female ordinations which I believe is a sticking point for many moderates)

10:11 AM, June 10, 2010  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Thanks for the comments guys;

Todd,
Globally speaking, The World Methodist Council obviously is the most representative body of Wesleyan Christians, however (as you noted) it does not have a monolithic structure (or even ecclesiology) which would make full communion talks with the Anglicans very difficult.

The UMC is structured closely enough to the Anglican Communion that The Episcopal Church considers full communion realistic (possibly by 2012). So it might not be unreasonable to assume that this could also realistically extend to the broader Anglican Communion - unless of course this full communion agreement is yet another area in which the Episcopal Church has not been consistent with Anglican identity and theology (as some Anglo-Catholics in the ECUSA have asserted).

Stephen,

Unless I'm mistaken (which I may well be) The ACNA has constitutionally mandated that individual dioceses/clusters or other organizational units to decide the issue of female ordination.

This protects Anglo-Catholic groups (like the diocese of Ft. Worth) that don't want any AND moderate evangelical groups that DO favor women's ordination. The ACNA has both within its membership. So I believe some areas only ordain women as deacons, others as elders/priests as well, and others not at all. I think the constitution does prohibit, however, women from serving as bishops.

12:13 PM, June 10, 2010  

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