Monday, February 23, 2009

This was posted by Mark Harris, a member of the Executive Board of the Episcopal Church. It is a good reminder for those of us who have to come up against those who have left the Episcopal Church. It reminds me that we do have a Constitution and a set of Canons that describe what the Episcopal Church is and has always been. Those bishops who schemed to have their own way attempted to change the Constitution of TEC in order to prove that TEC is wearing the "black hat." While I was in Ft. Worth, I heard some of the lies that were passed around about what TEC was about. It is important for us to be clear about who we are and what we are in the face of their criticism. At the same time, I think it is about time for us to quit responding to the folk at Stand Firm, Baby Blue, VirtureOnLine, etc. They have left to be their own churches. We need to let them go and make their own church if they can. They can no longer be the grist for our comments or their critique be something of enough importance for us to comment on it. We too need to be about creating the new Jerusalem.

Things I wish we could get right:

The Rev. Mark Harris

In Anglican Land, where words flow like water, we have gotten into bad habits. I wish we could get clear about several things:

(i) The member churches of the Anglican Communion are properly "national or regional churches." "Province" reeks of the very "sub" of "subsidiarity" that has been driving us all crazy since the Windsor Report. It assumes that the churches are parts or provinces of something else. They are not. (Thanks to Daniel Weir for his comments.)

(ii) In Episcopal Church land, the meeting of bishops between General Conventions is not a meeting of The House of Bishops, as if one house of General Convention met as a separate body with the right to speak for the Church. These meetings are more properly Bishops Conferences, during which they can indeed do those things that pertain to the office of bishops alone (such as acting in final determination that a member bishop is deposed, or electing a missionary bishop subject to consent by standing committees, etc.). The role of the House of Bishops extends beyond General Convention only in the limited ways allowed by canon. Otherwise they can meet and do things useful to them later when they do come together at General Convention, converse among themselves, write papers, urge actions from Executive Council, etc. But that is not the House of Bishops speaking, that is a Bishop's Conference speaking.

(iii) Resolutions of ANY body of the Anglican Communion have no juridical weight in any church in the Communion unless adopted as such by the governing body of that Church. So Lambeth 1998, res 1.10 can be touted as "the mind of the Communion" until the end of time, but no church in the Communion who has not assented to it is bound to it. That is why the Windsor Report is a report, the Lambeth resolution is couched in language of the gathered bishops with recommendations and urging of restraint rather than command, and the Anglican Covenant is not the Covenant until it is affirmed by churches. Everything else is politics.

(iv) The desire to be a world wide Anglican Church is the desire to be a little version of Rome or Constantinople. It's not worth it. The world does not need, and for that matter we Christians do not need, another Patriarchy.

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