Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Nearly two weeks have passed since the primates' gathering in Canterbury. One of my favorite games in history is to pick out the glaringly ironic events, that is, the ones that seem to be one way but are really just the opposite, e.g. the Confederacy fighting for freedom while keeping 4m people in slavery.

Just yesterday came news of another strikingly ironic event. Months ago, videos hit the news purportedly showing Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal parts. Conservatives exploded in anti-PP acts. The conservative authorities in Texas decided to punish PP and took legal action. The DA in Houston took the case to a grand jury expecting to charge PP with crimes. Well, guess what. The grand jury not only cleared PP of any wrongdoing but turned around and charged the video makers with felonies. Turns out the videos were all fraudulent and made while violating numerous laws. The video makers will now go to jail. Now that is irony.

And, so we have irony in Canterbury. A meeting that was supposed to bring unity and order actually produced disunity and disorder. In trying to make sense of this mess, I am going to put down what I see as the main elements in this chaos:

1. What was the event?
The Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) insisted on calling it a "gathering." This was to keep it from being called a "meeting." A primates' meeting would be one of the Four Instruments of Communion of the Anglican Communion. Some of the GAFCON primates would not attend a "meeting" since the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) would be present, but they would attend a "gathering" (I know, I am scratching my head too).

It should be recalled that the Anglican Communion is a friendship circle of 38 independent churches claiming heritage from the Church of England. It has no central government of any kind.  

2. Who was present, and when?
We were told all but one of the primates showed up on Monday the 11th. That would be 37 counting ABC. Another report said 36 were present. 
Primate Ntagali of Uganda said he left at the end of the second day (Tuesday the 12th) after his motion to expel TEC and ACC was voted down. ABC said in his press conference that Ntagali left on Wed.
Foley Beach, archbishop of Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) said the majority of GAFCON primates left on Thursday evening ( ).
All we know for sure is that two primates (Hong Kong and Southern Africa) were present with ABC for the press conference on Friday the 15th, neither from GAFCON.

3. What role did Foley Beach play in the gathering?
We know that ABC invited him for one reason only: to get the GAFCON primates to attend. Without Beach, most of the GAFCON primates would have stayed away.
Exactly what Beach did in the gathering is highly controversial. He reported that he was treated very well ( ). Paul Handley of Church Times reported: "Dr. Foley Beach was a full voting participant in the Primates' gathering in Canterbury." ( ). Lambeth Palace refuted that in a statement of 17 January: "Apart from when the meeting agreed the agenda at the start, it was made clear to Archbishop Foley Beach that it would not be appropriate for him to take part and he was not invited to do so." (
 ). Beach himself issued a cryptic statement: "with the exception of voting on the consequences for the Episcopal Church, Archbishop Beach participated fully in those parts of the meeting that he chose to attend." ( ).
Bottom line: I suppose we should take the "official" word of Lambeth Palace. I wish they had defined what "take part" meant. We still do not know exactly what role Beach played in the gathering.

4. What did the primates agree upon, and who took part in the agreements?
Apparently, the statement issued on the 14th was agreed to first. ( ). This was a list of eight items spelling out the wrongdoing and the "consequences" for TEC. TEC was found guilty of violating the majority view of marriage. Thus, it was given "consequences" of restrictions in the AC for three years. ABC refused to tell the votes, but Jack Iker reported the vote as 26 for, 3 against, and 6 abstentions ( ).
The final communiqué appeared on the 15th as a much longer document covering numerous topics ( ). It is not clear whether the GAFCON primates were present for this part of the agreement.
One important item said that the gathering refused to consider the admission of ACNA to the AC. Instead, the primates agreed that any such issue belonged before the Anglican Consultative Council. They did not recommend it be sent to ACC. In fact, they discouraged ACNA's admission because of problems of polity and jurisdiction.
Another point dealt with homosexuality. The primates said they rejected criminal sanctions against homosexual people. It is important to note that they did not say they opposed the criminalization of homosexual acts (thanks Jeremy Bates for pointing that out).
The inclusion of the items on ACNA and homosexuality suggest that the GAFCON primates may not have been present to vote on this part of the agreement. Or, perhaps this was the trade off for imposing punishment on TEC. All the communiqué says is "adopted by the majority of the Primates present." So, who was present? We do not know.

5. Is the Communiqué binding?
The AC does not have a central government of any kind. The 4 Instruments of Communion do not constitute a government. There is no constitution, charter, or any other document establishing authority. One of the 4 Instruments, the Anglican Consultative Council has a charter, but this does not give it power over the 38 individual churches of the AC. Besides, there would be no way to enforce any agreement.
In the past, the primates meetings have suggested restrictions on individual churches but these were only voluntary and could not be enforced.
The difference with this communiqué is that it specified punishment for one church that is not voluntary. Still, there is no way to enforce this punishment.
Norman Doe, a specialist in canon law, said that no primates' meeting had any right to impose consequences on any body ( ). He dismissed the communiqué as meaningless.
The problem is that ABC has allowed a new process to be formed in the AC by which a majority of primates can make decisions for the whole and mete out "consequences"(punishments). Even thought this is non-constitutional and unprecedented, there is nothing to stop this from developing into something more in the future. It is changing the traditional nature of the AC.

6. Will TEC comply?
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies president Gay Jennings have said emphatically that TEC will go on as usual. Curry said TEC will not change its policies on inclusion of all people. Jennings said she will go to the Anglican Consultative Council and participate fully.
I think we can conclude TEC will ignore the "consequences" and dare anyone to challenge it. As we said, AC has no way to enforce punishment on TEC since TEC is an independent church.

7. What was the point of the "consequences"?
ABC threw TEC "under the bus" to appease GAFCON. The hardliners' original demand on Tues. to expel TEC failed after which Ntagali withdrew leaving everyone to wonder whether the rest of GAFCON would follow. ABC must have been frantic. It is not clear, but there may have been a second vote on Wed. morning to expel TEC for three years and this failed 15-20. Immediately afterwards, a majority formed to impose some sanction on TEC and the group came up with limited punishment for three years. My take is that if ABC had not agreed to something against TEC, GAFCON would have walked out on the spot. Thus, ABC sacrificed TEC to appease GAFCON and keep them in AC. The point of the consequences was to impose some sort of punishment on TEC to keep GAFCON in AC. It did not really matter that it was unenforceable.

Were the "consequences" punishment?
Yes. If there were not punishment they would have no meaning.

Why does ABC insist on calling them "consequences"?
To soften the blow to TEC. He is not fooling anyone. If all the world knows X is X and ABC insists X is Y, he is only demeaning and diminishing himself.

8. What is to happen in the future?
When asked what was to happen at the end of the three-year period of "consequences" ABC said he did not know. When asked whether Beach would be invited to the Lambeth Conference in 2020, ABC said he did not know. ABC did not seem to know much in his press conference.
We do know that two meetings of the primates have been scheduled, one before the end of the three years and one after. The precedent has just been set that the primates can take virtually any action by majority vote. I see nothing to stop them from voting to expel TEC from AC. It should be recalled that the agenda for the Canterbury "gathering" was drawn up by the primates themselves on the first day. ABC allowed the primates to draw up the agenda and to make decisions by majority vote. This is a dangerous precedent that, left unchecked, will inevitable lead to the dissolution of the AC.
Foley Beach had a different take on the future. In his interview with David Virtue (see above) he indicated TEC was on parole for three years and could face stiffer sanctions if it does not change its policy on same-sex marriage. Moreover, he said ABC had promised to follow up on this.
The Communiqué itself says nothing about what happens after three years. However, the process that ABC has set up for majority rule could easily lead to new, and more punitive, actions in three years.

If a province of AC is to be punished for going against the majority of AC, in future is it supposed to check with the majority before changing another canon? How is it supposed to do that if there is no central authority with which to check?

9. Winners and Losers?
The big winner was Michael Curry. His powerful orations for human rights during the gathering and afterwards prove why he was chosen as presiding bishop. He made it clear that whatever the cost, TEC will never retreat on freedom, equality, and justice. He was the man standing head and shoulders above the rest on the moral high ground, even diminishing ABC.

Another winner was GAFCON. They intimidated ABC into forcing punishment on TEC. They proved that the balance of power in AC has shifted to Africa. ABC in effect recognized that in order to keep some semblance of AC. In the future, there is nothing to stop GAFCON/Global South from controlling the agreements of the AC. Too, GAFCON can use its new power to intimidate the nine Anglican provinces that are moving to extend equality to homosexuals.

A loser was Foley Beach. He loitered about pretending to be important when he was not. It appears that his "friends" threw him "under the bus" in order to get sanctions against TEC. He was not accepted as a primate of AC. He was not allowed to vote on the important issues. His church, ACNA, was not even allowed to be considered for admission to AC. The primates dismissed it by saying that if it should want to apply, it must go to the Anglican Consultative Council, but they discouraged ACC from considering it. In effect, admission of ACNA is a dead letter, at least for the next few years.

The biggest loser was ABC. As I said before, he made a faustian bargain by selling the soul of the old AC for a fleeting image of unity, an image that is bound to fade away.

10. Unity.
"Walking together" surely looks a lot like walking apart to me. Instead of unity, there is plenty of the opposite. Right-wing and left-wing have criticized the gathering and Communiqué equally. Somehow, I do not think that is the unity ABC had in mind. I have yet to see a person who really likes the agreement of 15 January, other than ABC, of course.

If you are confused about all this, do not worry. You are not alone.

It seems to me the Canterbury Communiqué of 15 Jan. is another of those striking ironies of history. On the surface it made unity and peace while producing the opposite.       


Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Andrew C. Pearson, Jr. is the dean of the cathedral church of the Advent in Birmingham and has been for the last two years. As I see it, he has embarrassed his bishop. He has embarrassed the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama.

The embarrassment came in response to the primates' meeting two weeks ago. As we all know, many American bishops sent out pastoral letters to their dioceses giving their thoughts about the gathering and its infamous statement punishing the Episcopal Church. Bishop John McKee Sloan (Kee Sloan) of Alabama issued a letter to the clergy of his diocese on January 14, 2016. It was immediately posted on the Internet and was included in Episcopal Cafe's round-up of bishops' responses ( ). Sloan's key phrase was:

it is discouraging that the Primates have decided that they      need to essentially put The Episcopal Church on a sort of probation for three years, as described in the next to last paragraph.

Sloan went on to say he had no idea where all this was leading.

The next day, January 15, Pearson issued "Letter to the Parish on the Primates' Statement 2016." This was posted on the Advent's website for all to see ( ). Pearson wrote:

Our bishop, Kee Sloan, has released a statement in response to the primates' press release (see below). His statement does not represent my position. It must be said that the primates have not placed the Episcopal Church in this position; we have placed ourselves there. We are the cause of disunity, not the rest of the Communion.

Thus, Pearson directly contradicted his bishop.

Pearson went on:

I have written our bishop stating clearly our position at the Advent and our need to differentiate ourselves from the decisions and actions of the Episcopal Church. I have called on Bishop Sloan to take a position of leadership in this process. I pray that he leads us in acts of repentance for following unbiblical teaching and causing deep disunity in the Body of Christ. That is what is required for reconciliation to occur in the Anglican Communion.

Pearson knows very well Bishop Sloan's positions. After General Convention approved the blessing of same-sex unions, Sloan set up a committee to carry that out in the diocese. After the 2015 approval of same-sex marriage, Sloan announced Alabama would have the same. Pearson is entitled to his opinions, but he knows very well what the policies of the diocese are.

Some of Pearson's language is eerily reminiscent of South Carolina. For instance, "differentiate" was a code word for schism. Earlier in his letter, Pearson had reiterated the ultra-conservative talking point that TEC's approval of Gene Robinson caused all the trouble:

In truth, communion was broken in 2003 with the election and consecration of Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire (Bishop Robinson was the first openly practicing homosexual to be made a bishop in the Communion). In 2003, the Episcopal Church made the decision to walk apart and has reinforced that decision when given the opportunity.

Nonsense. In the first place, the primate of Rwanda had invaded the US (Anglican Mission in America) before Robinson. In the second place the "walking apart" was done by the equatorial African bishops who cut off communion with TEC and then formed GAFCON in 2008 and recognized an anti-TEC proxy in the US in the form of the Anglican Church in North America. To say that Robinson caused all this is like saying the election of Lincoln forced the South to start the Civil War. In fact, the secession convention in SC cut off ties to the US, the Confederacy formed, and their forces attacked Ft. Sumter starting the War. It is absurd to say that Lincoln's election caused the Civil War just as it is ridiculous to say Robinson forced the schism in the Anglican Communion. In fact, GAFCON made the schism in the Anglican Communion.

Turns out that Pearson has quite a record of criticism of the reforms of the Episcopal Church himself. In my manuscript I first encountered him in January of 2004 when he was about 22 years old. Here is that paragraph from my manuscript of Ch. 2 (minus the footnotes):

Energized by the roaring success of its 7-9 October Plano/Dallas conference, AAC [American Anglican Council] pressed ahead its right-wing counter-revolution in new landmark rallies in January of 2004. On January 9-10, it held "Plano East," or, a near replay of the first Plano meeting in October. Once again, the faithful poured out in force as some 2,000 conservatives converged on Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge, Virginia, a megachurch located 20 miles south of Washington, D.C. The theme was, as before, to prepare for the coming "realignment" of Anglicanism in America. As to be expected, the tireless Kendall Harmon was front and center. And, this time, one got to hear him expound all morning long on the main day, the 10th. At 9:15 a.m., he gave a talk "Anglican Essentials." At 10:00, he joined an hour and a half panel on "Latest Developments & The Emerging Realignment." With him were other important AAC voices Martyn Minns, Diane Knippers, Hugo Blankenship, and Andrew Pearson.[footnote: Pearson was "Director of AAC's Affiliates Ministry.]

The American Anglican Council, of which Pearson was a "Director," played a central role in coordinating the counter-revolution against TEC following the Robinson affirmation of 2003. AAC had been incorporated in 1996 by Diane Knippers and two others. Knippers was head of a right-wing PAC called the Institute for Religion and Democracy. IRD had been formed in 1981 in order to promote President Reagan's anti-communist foreign policy and other right-wing political agendas. It was funded by right-wing foundations and individuals. After the end of the cold war, IRD turned its focus on defeating liberalism in American life and zeroed in on three denominations: Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal. If they could defeat liberal movements in those denominations they could diminish the influence of liberalism in American life. AAC was set up for TEC on the eve of a big vote in the General Convention on rights for homosexuals. In 1997 it brought together African bishops and ultra-conservative Episcopalians to form an anti-homosexual coalition for the Anglican Communion. The next year this coalition pushed through the Lambeth Conference of 1998 a statement condemning homosexuality. By the time of Robinson in 2003 this coalition had cemented. AAC also led to the creation of the Anglican Communion Network in 2003/04 to pull together the Episcopalian ultra-conservatives (ones who refused to accept the reforms for homosexuals). 10 TEC dioceses joined; and 5 of them went on to vote to break away from TEC. SC was one of the five.

After Pearson finished seminary at Oxford, he was hired as an assistant at St. Helena's in Beaufort (2007-2011). His mentor there was the rector, Jeff Miller, one of the most influential clergy in DSC in the run-up to the schism. In the circuit court trial of 2014, Dow Sanderson gave testimony that Miller had said the diocese had chosen Mark Lawrence as bishop in order to lead the diocese out of the Episcopal Church. While in SC, Pearson played no small part in the life of DSC. He sat on the Diocesan Council from 2008 to 2011. In 2009, he was chair of the resolutions committee for the diocesan convention. The committee presented resolutions that were passed favoring the Anglican Covenant and the "uniqueness of Christ" (thinly disguised strike against the Presiding Bishop who had given an interview supposedly questioning that concept). Even more importantly, Pearson was a member of the 2011 diocesan convention's Committee of Constitution and Canons. That convention voted to remove DSC's accession to the canons of TEC. This, in effect, was schism against TEC, but TEC took no action at the time. All dioceses of TEC are specifically required to accede to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

Pearson went on to become an assistant to the Dean, Frank Limehouse, at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham in 2011. Since he transferred out of DSC a year before the schism, he was not suspended from Holy Orders the way 103 other clergy of DSC were after the schism of 2012. Limehouse had been another SC transplant to AL. By the time Pearson arrived, Advent had moved from the mainstream to the Evangelical edge of TEC. Pearson was named dean in January of 2014. (see resume: ).

We know that the post-schism DSC sees itself as on a mission to save true Anglicanism from the heretical Episcopal Church. At last year's diocesan convention, Lawrence talked of expanding into nearby areas. Since DSC has refused to join any larger group, as a province of the AC, it is free to do as it pleases. A state supreme court ruling favorable to DSC would certainly be a big boost to any idea of expansionism. The Episcopal bishops of the southeast had better be paying attention. Another evidence for this theory of expansionism is the fact that last year, DSC flatly turned down TEC's offer to give the local parishes their independence and property free and clear in return for the legal rights of the diocese. This deal would have severely diminished DSC's institutional power.

Everyone should understand that the Diocese of Alabama is solidly in the Episcopal Church, thanks to the great leadership it has had for many years. Sloan's revered predecessor, Henry Parsley, was a model of judicious and loyal churchmanship. Too, Alabama is committed to the whole Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church including the Dennis Canon. Thus, no one should have any illusions about creating schism in Alabama or leading any parish out of the diocese. 

In my opinion, Pearson owes Sloan an humble apology. He, as all clergy, owes the diocese of Alabama allegiance. He, as all clergy, owes the Episcopal Church loyalty. Ordination oaths are binding.

Having studied SC, I can tell the people of Alabama, schism is the last thing you should want. It would destroy the great diocese of Alabama just as it has the grand old diocese of South Carolina.            

Saturday, January 16, 2016


On Jan. 14, the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) released the primates' statement concerning the Episcopal Church. I wrote a blog entry about it, "The Archbishop's Faustian Bargain." This blog has had a thousand "views" since then. In the last couple of days new information has appeared. ABC released a full and lengthy "Communique" on 15 January ( . ABC also held a press conference on 15 Jan. in addition, Episcopal Church (TEC) figures have released numerous responses as has the GAFCON side.

The Final Communique

The full Communique of 15 January has several points that should be noted:

---the treatment for TEC is called "consequences," rather than sanctions, punishments etc. This is just semantics.

---the statement was adopted by a "majority" of the primates present. This means there was no unanimity. How many voted in favor? Who were they?

---the primates rejected criminal sanctions against homosexual people (they did not reject the criminalization of homosexual acts). This is interesting considering that most middle African nations have strong laws criminalizing homosexual behavior, in some places the death penalty. Just how hard have the primates of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and the like worked to repeal these laws? Or, have they really worked for the opposite? Look up LGBT rights in Africa, in Wikipedia.

---What to do about the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) came up in the meeting. The primates rejected ACNA admission and sent the matter down to the Anglican Consultative Council with discouragement citing "significant questions of polity and jurisdiction." Meaning: ACNA's admission as a province of the Anglican Communion is a dead issue.

---A Lambeth Conference will be held in 2020.

---Two formal meetings of the primates are scheduled for 2017 and 2019, the first before the expiration of TEC's "consequences," the other after. The way the gathering was conducted this week, there is nothing to stop the primates from voting to kick TEC out of AC. This week's meeting set the precedent that any standard can be applied to the whole AC and punishment can be meted out to enforce it.

The Primates' Statement

The Primates' statement on TEC (Jan. 14) deserves a new look.

---The two main points raised more questions than answers. TEC was given "consequences" for three years. What then?

---a "Task Group" is to promote unity. How would it function? What powers would it have? How long would it last?

---The statement does not mention homosexuality. It does not declare a position on homosexuality for the AC. Instead, it says the "majority" of Anglican churches hold the traditional view of marriage and that TEC has departed from the "majority" understanding of marriage. In other words, it recognizes minority views, but will punish the minority for their views, not because of their views, but because their divergent views have weakened the unity of the AC.  If it is a matter of unity, this means AC sees homosexuality as an institutional and not a moral issue. (If I am understanding this correctly, this is a major victory for TEC and Anglican Church of Canada (ACC). Conservatives have always insisted homosexuality was a moral issue, sin that must be condemned by the Church. This statement moves away from the conservative view.

---TEC is to have "consequences" because it damaged the unity of AC not because it adopted immoral or sinful positions.

---Since TEC is not charged with moral or sinful wrongdoing, only with disturbing the unity of AC, it does not have to make any repentance.

---The ACC was not included in the statement even though one of its dioceses established the first liturgy for the blessing of same-sex unions. Apparently the primates were most disturbed by TEC's 2015 decision to alter its canons to allow same-sex marriage, not so much by the ordinations of open homosexuals or the blessings of same-sex marriage. Since ACC has not yet adopted same-sex marriage (which it probably will this summer) it was let off the hook. TEC was left alone to twist in the wind.

---Let's face it, the "consequences" prescribed to TEC do not amount to a hill of beans. Any self-respecting nun would have meted out more punishment than that to a third grader.

---Bottom line: The statement was inconsequential but the way in which it arrived was not. It set a dangerous precedent.

Other curious signs:

---There were no signatures on the statement or communique, only that it was adopted by the "majority." This indicates there was significant opposition and the ABC would have been embarrassed at the absence of so many signatures.

---As soon as possible, most primates fled Canterbury. At the press conference, on 15 January, exactly two primates sat with ABC, neither from GAFCON.

---In the press conference, ABC apologized to gays for the Church's treatment of them over the years. This did nothing to hide the fact that the day before he supported a statement punishing TEC for actually making amends to gays. ABC was disingenuous.

---At the press conference ABC appeared to be the only person in the world who liked the primates' statement. His boast of unity seemed a bit hollow with only two bishops with him.


The reactions to the primates' statement have been, interestingly enough, quite similar: condemnation. On various websites I have seen no one who really likes the statement (other than ABC). The right wing and the left wing hate it equally. The closest to support that I have seen is from numerous American bishops who are trying to spin the best and calm American anger. The statement has made a lot of people mad and almost no one glad (except the ABC). And this is the unity that ABC longs for so much?

The reactions in TEC have been a mixture of disdain and anger. Presiding Bishop Curry said he told the primates before the vote that TEC absolutely would not change its policies on homosexuality, period. He reiterated that to the press afterwards. So, what's the point of the "consequences"? Moreover, House of Deputies president Gay Jennings, who sits on the Anglican Consultative Council along with two other Americans, said right out she had no intention of changing her participation in the ACC. The leadership of TEC is essentially disregarding the statement.

The right wing is not happy either. Kendall Harmon, the quasi-official voice of the schismatic DSC called the primates' statement "thin," "limp," and "disappointing."

Foley Beach, the ACNA archbishop who attended but did not vote in the gathering, had a notable spin in his remarks to David Virtue ( . Beach gave a backhanded compliment to Curry: "Curry said there is no way he would voluntarily withdraw TEC from participating in the structures of the Anglican Communion." As for the primates' meetings: "Curry flatly refused to voluntarily withdraw." Beach also said the ABC "stood up and gave his word" that he would enforce the "consequences" on TEC, and that the matter would be revisited after TEC's 2018 General Convention. It seemed to me Beach implied that TEC is required to revoke its policies for homosexuals or face more consequences after 2018. Well, as we have seen TEC officials have said very clearly there will be no change.

The GAFCON chairman issued a statement on 14 January ( ). He was not happy either. He astutely pointed out the fact that the primates' statement criticized TEC for harming the unity of AC, not for promoting immoral or sinful behavior. He also bemoaned the fact that ACC got off free. Too, he belittled the "effectiveness of the sanctions." He had little good to say.


---I still regard the deal as the Archbishop's faustian bargain. I have seen nothing in the aftermath to change my mind. ABC succeeded in creating an illusion of unity in the AC, but did so by subverting the historic nature of the AC. To keep the GAFCON/Global South firebrands in the AC he allowed them to establish a new principle of declaring an ideological imperative and forcing it on the whole AC with the power of punishment. This has never happened in the history of the AC. It sets a very dangerous model for the future. In future primates' meetings, there will be nothing to stop a majority of primates from imposing any imperative on the whole and enforcing it with sanctions or expulsion. I still believe ABC sold out the soul of the AC for momentary "unity" and ironically, in so doing, set up a platform of the eventual disintegration of the AC.

---The primates' gathering and statement settled nothing. Outside of the ABC, no one is happy. "Unity" is a thinly disguised illusion.

---Should TEC stay in the AC? Some angry Americans think we should pull out of the AC rather than suffering unjust humiliation. The Anglican Communion is a relic of nineteenth century colonialism. The British Empire is long gone. Some people think it is time to pull the plug on its by-product. Maybe. One does have to wonder what use AC has any more in the twenty-first century world. There are thirty-eight independent churches. What is the point of pretending anything more? Before we pull out, however, I think it is important to consider the influence of TEC in the AC and in the world. It has become a powerful beacon of equal rights for homosexual persons throughout the globe. TEC's enemies would not be so resolved to fight back if it were not important. I keep thinking of the countless millions of  LGBT people out there in every country of the world who are counting on TEC. We must not abandon them. We must not hand them over to the likes of GAFCON. For their sake, I think we should probably "suck it up," in street parlance, and go right on bravely doing what we know in our hearts is the right thing to do. We know we are in a historical tidal wave of democracy expanding human rights around the world. GAFCON cannot stop that regardless of whatever "limp" "consequences" they force ABC to foist on TEC. And, if they get to the point of forcing TEC out of AC, then so be it.
Being punished for doing the right thing is certainly nothing new. Historically, it puts us in very good company. And, it is not always a bad thing. At least it gives all of us a taste of what LGBT people have endured forever. We get a little better understanding of what being persecuted for no good reason feels like. My wife Sandy learned a snippet of that a long time ago. In the late 50's, when she was a teenager, she decided to drive her (black) maid to McDonalds for lunch. Jim Crow still ruled the South. The maid did not say a word although she must have known what was going to happen. After they parked, the manager came out and told them they would have to leave. Sandy was embarrassed and apologetic to the maid who said, "Oh, I'm used to it." That is all the maid needed to say. With that, Sandy got a tiny taste of institutionalized and hateful discrimination that had no good reason, but it was enough to stick with her for the rest of her life. So, maybe we TEC people were given our own little bit of unjust pain in order to feel the unjust pain of others. This could be a good thing.         

Friday, January 15, 2016

(with update)

A faustian bargain may be defined as an agreement in which a person abandons his spiritual values or moral principles in order to gain worldly benefits. I think that is what we got yesterday. The Archbishop of Canterbury bargained away the soul of the Anglican Communion in order to keep the form of the Anglican Communion.

The Deal

The Primates' Statement, 14 January 2016, is a list of eight points. It was adopted by majority vote of the primates present.

1-The Episcopal Church is to be excluded for three years from representing the AC in ecumenical and interfaith bodies, being appointed or elected to standing committees, and from decision making on doctrine and policy in AC bodies.

2-Creation of a Task Group "with the intention of restoration of relationship."

3-The majority of the provinces of AC recognize marriage as between a man and a woman.

1-That the Episcopal Church was expelled from the AC.

2-That the Episcopal Church repent of its sins.

3-What is to happen after the three year imposed term; and how long the Task Group is to function.

4-Declaration that the AC adopted heterosexual marriage only.

The Background of the Canterbury Gathering

---In 1976 the Episcopal Church took up equal rights for homosexuals in the Church as its fourth great reform movement in the post-Second World War age.

---Gradually rights were extended to homosexuals. By 1997 TEC had adopted virtual equality for homosexuals.

---Ultra-conservatives in TEC refused to accept TEC's pro-homosexual reforms.

---In 1997-98, American ultra-conservatives led by the American Anglican Council and Ekklesia joined equatorial African Anglican primates to organize a rejection of homosexual rights in the church.

---In 1998, the above coalition pushed through the Lambeth Conference a statement condemning homosexual behavior.

---In 2003, TEC affirmed a non-celibate homosexual man as a bishop. A diocese in Canada earlier adopted a blessing of same-sex unions. The Ultra-conservative/African alliance started a twelve year campaign to punish or remove TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada from the AC.

---In the Windsor Report of 2004, the AC primates asked for a voluntary moratorium on the ordination of homosexuals and the blessings of same-sex unions.

---In the Dromontine statement of 2005, AC primates asked TEC and ACC to withdraw voluntarily from participating in AC until 2008.

---In July of 2008, on the eve of the Lambeth Conference, Third World bishops formed GAFCON as a conservative (i.e. anti-homosexual) Anglican union. This, in effect split the AC into First World and Third World parts with the majority in the latter.

---In 2009 the Anglican Church in North America was created to present an anti-homosexual replacement church for TEC. It was supported by GAFCON and Global South which recognized ACNA's archbishop as the only legitimate Anglican primate in the U.S.

---After a temporary pause, TEC continued its pro-homosexual movement. In 2010, a second openly homosexual person was consecrated a bishop in TEC.

---In 2012 TEC adopted liturgy for blessing of same-sex unions.

---In 2015 TEC adopted same-sex marriage in the church.

---In view of impending failure of the presumptive Lambeth Conference of 2018, ABC called a "gathering" of the primates in Canterbury on 11 January 2016, to salvage some semblance of a Communion. In recognition of the power of the Third World primates, ABC invited their anti-TEC proxy, the archbishop of ACNA to the meeting.

The Gathering

The ABC refused to call the assembly an official meeting of the primates (one of the 4 "Instruments of Communion" of AC). He used the non-constitutional term "gathering."

37 primates attended (the 92 year old primate of New Zealand was absent). The archbishop of ACNA attended the gathering but apparently was not allowed to vote since he was not a primate of the AC.

On the second day (Tues.), Primate Ntagali of Uganda, moved that TEC be asked to leave the gathering, in effect expelled from AC. His motion failed whereupon he bolted the meeting sending a letter to his church. This showed that the majority of primates were not in favor of expelling TEC from AC, a disappointment to the hard right. Ntagali was the only primate to walk out of the gathering.

According to the ENS report, on the third day (Wed.), a motion was made to ask TEC to withdraw from the AC for three years. This failed by a vote of 15 to 20 (a shift of three votes would have carried this motion). Again, this proved that a majority of primates opposed expelling TEC from AC.

The result on Wed. was a "compromise" statement in which TEC was allowed to stay in AC but was declared in error, chastised and given a limited punishment for what the majority judged as its sin of promoting rights for homosexuals. (There cannot be a person left in the world who thinks this fight is not about homosexuality.)

According to the ENS report, just before the Wednesday vote, TEC's primate, Michael Curry, gave an eloquent and moving speech to the assembly. It was an address for the ages. Read long excepts at . I would have given almost anything to have been present to hear it. If anyone has any doubt about why he was chosen as presiding bishop, that should be banished. He is God's gift to TEC. It is not possible that anyone could have represented all of us Americans better.


Here are some of my thoughts about the gathering. I am writing this before the Fri. press conference, so I reserve the right to change my mind.

The gathering allowed the Third World to define a moral imperative to be enforced in the whole AC: homosexual behavior is immoral. Therefore, TEC must be punished for promoting this kind of immorality. This means what TEC has done for equal rights for homosexuals is wrong. If it is wrong, it must be corrected. The majority decided that its view alone is right and the minority must be punished for refusing to adhere to the moral imperative of the  majority.

The gathering and its statement have altered the institutional structure of the Anglican Communion. This was not an official meeting of the primates which is one of the four "Instruments of Communion." The gathering had no legal right to make any statement that is binding on the AC. By allowing an informal gathering of primates to rule over one province and to impose sanctions on it changes the nature of the AC. This has never occurred before. It sets the precedence that informal gatherings of the primates in the future can make any judgment for any reason on any issue against any one province of the AC. This is installing a process in which rigid ideology can be imposed on constituent churches of the AC with the consequence of punishment. Under this process, a province could easily be expelled in the future for any reason. It is simply done by majority vote of the primates. This is a vehicle for enforcing uniformity over a system of independent churches. It is a dangerous precedence. It is fundamentally foreign to the historical nature of Anglicanism which is characterized by toleration, reason, tradition, and common liturgy rather than exclusive ideology. Thus, the ABC has given up the historic soul of Anglicanism for the sake of continuation of some form of unified structure. In short, substance was overthrown for form.

This gathering and statement validate the shift in the balance of power in the AC from the First World to the Third. This shift has been going on for at least twelve years in the wake of the homosexuality issue. Global South brought together 23 of the 38 provinces of the AC. GAFCON, created in 2008, galvanized the Third World into a shadow government of the AC and a direct threat to the continuation of the old AC. The meeting this week only confirms the reality that the Third World primates now dominate the AC.

The precedence has been set that any decision can be imposed on all 38 provinces by a majority vote of the primates. The decision can be enforced by threat of expulsion from the AC. This is a recipe for disaster.

The meeting and decision this week also set the principle that the AC can impose policies beyond the dogma and doctrine of Christianity on its constituent members. Homosexuality is a social issue. It is not a matter of the dogma and doctrine of the church. It was never mentioned in the four gospels, never a word about it from our Lord. Church fathers throughout the centuries have all but ignored it. Homosexuality did not become an issue in the church until the late twentieth century. The Canterbury statement is imposing a social policy as if it were a religious policy and trying to do so on all parts of the AC.

In the meeting/statement, western democracy surrendered to Third World fundamentalism. The AC is now dominated by Global South/GAFCON. If they can do this to TEC, they can do virtually anything to any church of the AC.

I suspect that the meeting/statement of this week is more about the future than the past. In fact, equal rights for homosexuals is sweeping the contemporary world. Freedom for homosexuals and same-sex marriage is the new social norm in the First World and even in parts of the Third World. In the last dozen years, many countries have moved to marriage for same-sex couples. In the Anglican Communion, nine provinces may well be following the path of TEC on the issue of homosexuality: England, Scotland, Ireland, South India, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Canada, and Southern Africa. Every one of these has shown definite signs of moving toward equal rights for homosexuals in the church. It may well be that this week's statement and its punishment of TEC is mainly a shot across the bow of these and other Anglican churches that may be thinking of reforms for homosexuals. If this is the case, it is absurd. The democratic progress of history will most certainly not be stopped by majority votes of Anglican bishops.

What does all this mean for the future? My first question is: What happens after the three year "time out"? I read the statement as implying that TEC has three years to revoke its pro-homosexual policies or it will be ejected from AC. It may not mean that, but that is surely how it sounds to me. If GAFCON thinks TEC is going to revoke anything they are living in never-never land.

My next question is: What is this "Task Group" all about? This was almost completely undefined in the statement.

My biggest concern is the precedence this has set for the future. What is to keep the majority of primates from making any decision, or throwing any province out of the AC? Nothing.

The ball is now in the court of the First World primates. Will they accept the new de facto government of the AC? Will they allow the Third World to govern their actions? Power has shifted to GAFCON/Global South. Exactly what this means for the AC remains to be seen, but I fear it cannot be good.

So, the ABC made a last-ditch effort to "save" the AC. He saved the form but lost the substance.

UPDATE, Jan. 15, p.m.:

---Presiding Bishop Curry said he told the primates in Canterbury that TEC will not reverse its reforms for homosexuals. Since then, he has reiterated the point that TEC has no intention of changing any policy on homosexuality.

---At the news conference today, ABC Welby apologized to homosexuals on behalf of the church.

---Welby announced the next Lambeth Conference will be in 2020. ).

---Gay Jennings, the president of the TEC House of Deputies, is a member of the Anglican Consultative Council, one of the 4 Anglican Communion "Instruments of Communion" in which the Americans will be restricted under the Jan. 14 statement. The statement bans TEC from participating in decision making on doctrine and policy. Jennings says she is going to the ACC meeting in Zambia in April "to participate fully." Jennings also said TEC would continue its policies on homosexuality without change  ( ).  

Thursday, January 14, 2016


The primates meeting at Canterbury released an official statement, today January 14 ( ). It makes it official that the Episcopal Church has been put into a half-way house of the Anglican Communion. The statement has eight points. #7: "requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity."

This is a historic step. No province of the Anglican Communion has ever been subjected to this kind of treatment.

Why three years? Presumably this gives TEC time to make amends during its next General Convention (2018). The implication I see in the statement is that TEC is in error and must correct this in order to remain in the Anglican Communion. The error would be ordination of open homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions. There is no chance the Episcopal Church will revoke these any more than Lincoln would have revoked the Emancipation Proclamation. Once given, it must not be taken back. So it remains to be seen just what the Anglican Communion would do after three years.

The GAFCON stalwarts, particularly Uganda, did not get their demand to expel TEC from the AC. So, what we have here is a "compromise" where TEC gets to stay in the game but has to sit on the bench being lectured by the A-team. This makes as much sense as the Confederates lecturing Lincoln on race.

The way this came about is that the Archbishop of Canterbury decided to settle questions by majority vote of the thirty eight primates. There are thirty-eight provinces, the big majority in the Third World. Global South counts well more than half of the thirty eight provinces. The voting was not proportional. Some of the provinces are tiny in membership, yet got a full vote. Using this system, the Third World will control the Anglican Communion from now on and the time-honored nature of Anglicanism: toleration, comprehensiveness, and collegiality will be replaced by rigid ideology and exclusion.

Classical Anglicanism, one of the great religious traditions of modern history, is in mortal danger of becoming a casualty in the contemporary war between western secular democracy and Third World fundamentalism. I believe the original Anglicanism will live on, even if mother England and her loving children are the only ones left keeping the faith.

I will have more reflections on this historic event later. 


Anglican Ink is reporting that Stanley Ntagali, archbishop and primate of the Anglican church in Uganda has withdrawn from the primates' "gathering" in Canterbury. Ntagali posted a letter, reproduced in the article ( ) explaining his behavior. He said that on the second day (Tues.) he "moved a resolution" that the Episcopal Church of the U.S. and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw from the Anglican Communion. TEC and ACC refused. The Archbishop of Canterbury remained neutral. Therefore, Ntagali said he withdrew at the end of the second day. One should recall that on Jan. 6 Ntagali issued a letter saying he would withdraw from the primates' meeting if TEC and ACC were not "disciplined" or removed. Apparently, he kept his word.

We do not know yet whether other primates will follow. Other reports indicate Third World primates met Tuesday evening to discuss whether to leave. Uganda has been the Anglican province most critical of homosexual rights lately. This ties in with internal politics in the country. It cut off communion with TEC in 2003.

In another article, Anglican Ink is passing along rumors that TEC is to be "sanctioned" for three years. ( ).

Thus, it appears that GAFCON did not get its pre-gathering demand that TEC and ACC be expelled from the Anglican Communion, and the most vocal critic of TEC and ACC has quit the meeting.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


What in the world is going on in the Anglican Communion? The thirty eight primates, or heads, of the independent churches that make up the AC are meeting this week in Canterbury. Internet reports of the "gathering" indicate things are not going well. After the first pleasantries, the GAFCON faction has refused to participate in the corporate worship services. They have demanded the punishment of or removal of the American and Canadian primates from the meeting. This is simply pointing out what has been going on in the AC for years. The AC has split into two parts, the First World and the Third World, or the North and the South. Here is a summary of my take on what is going on in the Anglican Communion.

The old Anglican Communion was a victim of a worldwide war, the clash between modern western democracy and fundamentalism. Let me explain.

Modern western democracy slowly developed in Europe and its extensions, as in America, after the middle ages. The Old Regime in Europe reached its height in the seventeenth century. It was an interlocking alliance of monarch-aristocracy-church. It claimed its justification from God (Divine Right). Religion was an integral part of this establishment with state churches almost everywhere. Early on, cracks began forming in this system. In the 1640's, the representatives of the propertied classes in England executed the divine-right monarch. A few decades later, in the 1680's, they booted out the "legitimate" monarch and replaced him with another. The big break against the Old Regime, however, came in the eighteenth century as a rising middle class and Enlightenment ideas directly challenged the underpinnings of the Old Regime. In the 1770's and after, two great political revolutions, the American and the French, overthrew the structure of the Old Regime. Gone were monarchy, rights of the aristocrats, and the state church. In came the principles of democracy: liberty, equal rights, justice, rule of the people, and separation of church and state. When religion was removed from its privileged position, society became more and more secular. In Great Britain, the ruling classes kept the formalities of the Old Regime, but gradually incorporated the principles of the great revolutions. France-US-Britain soon formed a western democratic alliance. 

The twentieth century was the final war for western democracy. In the First World War, the remnants of monarchy and aristocracy were crushed (Pres. Wilson: Make the World Safe for Democracy). However, out of the turmoil of this colossal war and its drastic changes came totalitarian backlashes: Nazism, Fascism, and Communism. The Second World War was democracy's fight that destroyed fascism. Communism survived temporarily only to collapse of its own internal contradictions in the 1980's. Western democracy was completely triumphant in the twentieth century. This meant western secularism triumphed too.

In the western world, some religious people objected to the secularism and longed for a return to the predominance of religion in public life. In the early twentieth century, groups called "fundamentalists" called for a return to the fundamentals of Christianity. Karen Armstrong has written: "Fundamentalism represents a kind of revolt or rebellion against the secular hegemony of the modern world. Fundamentalists typically want to see God, or religion, reflected more centrally in public life. They want to drag religion from the sidelines, to which it had been relegated in a secular culture, and back to center stage." ( ).

After the Second World War, the Episcopal Church responded to the tidal wave of democracy sweeping the country and resolved to become part of it. Four great reform movements came from this starting in the 1950's: civil rights, women's ordination, a new prayer book, and equality for homosexuals. Not everyone in the Church agreed with this turn to horizontal religion. The Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic factions resisted the changes longing for the continuation of a vertical religion. Through the first three reforms, the loss to the Church was minimal. However, with the fourth one, resistance changed and became much more threatening to the institutional integrity of the Episcopal Church. Why did the fourth, homosexuality, turn out so differently for the Church? Two fundamental reasons: 1-conservative activist groups, and 2-support from foreign bishops.

All great revolutions in history have following smaller counter-revolutions. They are backlashes against the unsettling changes that came from the revolutions. In the late twentieth century there was a worldwide fundamentalist revival that occurred in almost all great religions. These fundamentalists formed a backlash against western democratic values, particularly the secularism, and called for a return of the predominance of religion in public life. This was perhaps most noticeable first in the Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution in Iran in the 1970's that established an Islamic theocracy. Other Islamic fundamentalist groups such as al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS grabbed headlines too. They too aimed to defeat western culture and establish theocracies. 

In Africa, there was likewise a backlash against western democracy. Many traditional cultures in Africa and south Asia resented outside influence they saw as threatening to their way of life. In the 1990's, the equatorial African Anglican primates began pushing back against the reforms made by their Anglican cousins in America. In 1997-98, the ultra-conservative activist groups in America, as the American Anglican Council and Ekklesia, linked up with certain African primates to force the Anglican Communion's Lambeth Conference of 1998 to pass a resolution condemning homosexuality. Between 1998 and 2004, the alliance between the American ultra-conservatives and the African primates cemented. Some primates cut off all communion with the Episcopal Church. For the Africans it was a fight against not just homosexuality but the whole culture of western secular democracy. As the head of GAFCON said recently, "The issue was not homosexuality, per se, but the corrosive culture of the West." ( ).

With strong support from certain Third World primates, five ultra-conservative dioceses in America voted to leave the Episcopal Church. 

So, it seems to me what we are seeing now is the break between the western democratic provinces of the AC and the more traditionalist Third World provinces (aided by their ultra-conservative American allies). The fight is not just about homosexuality, the most visible point of contention. It is about a difference in understanding of the interface of the Church and society. England, the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the like are provinces trying to minister to a secular society and that means adapting to the social and cultural changes going on around them. The GAFCON/Global South provinces are trying to minister to traditional cultures with deep-seated societal structures. Promoting the power of religion in society is a way of resisting the foreign influence.

The Anglican Communion has been divided since 2008 when Third World primates set up their own Anglican union at GAFCON. Since then, GAFCON and its overlapping ally Global South have proceeded as if they were their own Communion. They recognized a proxy church in America in 2009 (Anglican Church in North America) cementing the break. Since there is no governing authority in the Anglican Communion, there is nothing to stop GAFCON from doing whatever it wishes. 

Whatever kind of "communion" the Archbishop of Canterbury will make this week will have to recognize what has already happened. It will not be undone. For all practical purposes, the AC is now two groups; and the GAFCON part is not in communion with the other part.

What the future Anglican Communion will look like remains to be seen. The Archbishop of Canterbury says he hopes for a looser organization. Looser? If it gets any looser it will not have any meaningful form or purpose. I suspect the AC will go on in name only with periodic meetings of its "Instruments of Communion" absent a lot of archbishops; and it will go on being what it is, thirty-eight independent churches, but with some "GAFCON Anglican" units thrown in. The old unity of the Anglican Communion is over. It ended in the fundamentalist counter-revolution of the late twentieth, early twenty-first centuries.



Thursday, January 7, 2016


(Original post, Jan. 7):
What is an Anglican? Alas, there is the problem. It used to mean a person who was a member of the Anglican Communion. To be a member of the Anglican Communion, one had to be part of one of the thirty-eight provinces of the Communion. In the U.S., that was the Episcopal Church. However, in the last dozen years, many people not in one of the thirty-eight provinces have taken on the label of "Anglican" anyway and insist they are real Anglicans because they follow some version of the old English prayer book liturgies. In the Low Country alone, there are ten separate denominations claiming to be "Anglican." That means there are ten bishops going about between Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach claiming to be Anglican. At last count in the U.S., there were over seventy independent "Anglican" denominations. 

The independent DSC, not in the Anglican Communion, is obsessed with using the word "Anglican." It is everywhere in their public relations. It is as if one repeats a myth enough people will believe it is true. Just now we have DSC's "Anglican Leadership Institute." In a few days we will have "Mere Anglicanism." Etc. Etc. DSC even cooked up some bizarre and enigmatic scheme to declare "oversight" from Anglican primate(s) of Global South so that it could announce it had been "recognized" as Anglican.

Poor Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) Justin Welby. He is trying so hard to hold together something that has essentially already fallen apart. He has called a six-day meeting of all of the heads of the thirty eight provinces of the Anglican Communion to begin next Monday. One can only suppose things are so bad he needs six days to work on them. 

What can we expect to come of this meeting? In a word, nothing. Since 1998 there have been seemingly countless meetings in AC, all of which have amounted to essentially the same thing.

The fundamental, overriding, and inescapable truth is that this "Communion" is really only a friendship circle of 38 completely independent institutions scattered around the world. There is no central authority in the Communion. The four so-called "Instruments of Communion" have no power to intervene in any one church. They are: 1-the ABC, 2-the meetings of the primates, 3-the decennial Lambeth conferences, and 4-the Anglican Consultative Council. The last is the nearest thing to a "legislature" of the Anglican Communion, but it is only a committee from the various provinces that meets every 2-3 years and hands out advice. It has no executive, legislative, or judicial power. Indeed, there is none in the overall Anglican Communion. Moreover, the 38 vary in government themselves. TEC follows a system where almost all power is in the legislative branch, the General Convention. There is only a weak executive (presiding bishop) and no judicial branch at all. Many other Anglican provinces are headed by archbishops that have considerable executive power. This is true of most of middle Africa. 

Another problem is that the institutions of the Anglican churches and the classical practice of the Anglican religion are not necessarily the same thing. "Anglican" is really a nickname derived from "Church of England." The Church of England declared itself independent of Rome in the sixteenth century. Its purpose and mission was to be truly a national church. That would mean encompassing within the realm widely different traditions and viewpoints of Christianity. It would have to be tolerant of differing views. No one view could be "orthodox" meaning that the other views were unorthodox. In other words, Anglicanism was a generic Christian religion that had to reflect the society around it. This was classical Anglicanism, and it was this that the Episcopal Church (including South Carolina) incorporated into its life at its birth in the 1780's. Archbishop Welby still clings to classical Anglicanism. He said in his invitation to next week's meeting: "A 21-st century Anglican family must have space for deep disagreement, even mutual criticism." Well, good luck ABC because GAFCON, Global South and the like have declared an "orthodox" position that means the illegitimacy and intolerance of all others. In fact, GAFCON leaders recently publicly repudiated the hallowed crown of classical Anglicanism, the concept of the "Via Media."

The reality is that the old Anglican Communion has moved in a different direction and has been doing so for at least the last seventeen years. The direct cause of the problem of the division was the issue of homosexuality. The troubles started in earnest in 1998 when ultra-conservative Episcopal bishops joined with like-minded primates overseas to steer the Lambeth Conference into denouncing homosexuality as non-scriptural. The attack on equal rights for homosexuals served different purposes for the two sides of the coalition. The American bishops were rallying opposition to the movement in the Episcopal Church toward acceptance of homosexuality that had grown very strong between 1991 and 1997. The foreign prelates were mostly African bishops who were competing with Islam for converts in cultures that were historically strongly hostile to homosexuality. The alliance of the ultra-conservatives (perhaps 10% of the Episcopal Church) and the Third World (mostly middle African and south Asian) bishops formed the vehicle that moved to the division of the Communion. TEC's election, confirmation, and consecration of a non-celibate homosexual man, Gene Robinson, as a bishop in 2003 cemented this alliance. In America, the alliance set up the Anglican Communion Network (SC was a founding member) to unify and guide the ultra-conservative cause. In 2006, TEC chose as its presiding bishop a woman, and one who advocated equal rights for homosexuals. In 2007-08, four of the ultra-conservative dioceses (of a dozen) that had formed ACN, voted to break away from TEC. In 2012, a fifth, South Carolina, followed. As soon as the first dioceses voted to leave TEC, they set up a new church called the Anglican Church in North America that was headed by an archbishop (Robert Duncan, former bishop of Pittsburgh) who just happened to be the old head ("moderator') of the Anglican Communion Network.

In 2008, on the eve of the Lambeth conference, hundreds of Anglican bishops, including ultra-conservative Americans and many from Africa and south Asia, united by opposition to rights for homosexuals, met in Jerusalem to form a shadow government of the Anglican Communion. They called it GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference). It adopted "The Jerusalem Declaration" that denounced homosexuality and rejected the legitimacy of the Episcopal Church. Bishop Lawrence of SC was an enthusiastic participant (six months earlier,in his consecration, he had vowed before God and everyone loyalty to TEC). GAFCON and its overlapping ally Global South soon recognized ACNA as the only legitimate Anglican church in the U.S. and its archbishop as a fellow primate. This, in effect split the Anglican Communion into First World (esp. England, Canada, U.S., Australia, New Zealand) and Third World (U.S. ultra-conservatives and middle African and south Asian). The First World clung to the old Anglican Communion structure. The Third World moved to GAFCON while giving lip service to the old AC. Apparently the only way the ABC could get all the primates together this time was to include, at least briefly, the archbishop of ACNA which the ABC has never recognized as a legitimate Anglican authority. If the ABC recognizes the legitimacy of the ACNA archbishop he will be recognizing the end of the AC as we have known it.    

The Episcopal Church has had four great reform movements since the Second World War: civil rights, women's ordination, new prayer book, and homosexuality. Only the last led to schism of dioceses. That is because of several reasons, one of which was that the Americans were aided by well-funded and well-organized activist agencies as the Institute for Religion and Democracy (1981) and its off-shoot the American Anglican Council (1996), which were politically motivated right-wing associations devoted to destroying liberalism in the Episcopal Church (and in America). Another reason was that the ultra-conservative bishops in America linked up with powerful overseas allies starting in the 1990's. In the 1990's, 1/3 of TEC was conservative, and one-third of that, or about 10% of the TEC, was ultra-conservative. (Conservatives were ones opposed to equal rights for homosexuals; ultra-conservatives were ones who refused to accept TEC's decisions on homosexuality.) The effect of all this was to split off part of the Episcopal Church.

So, it remains to be seen just what the well-meaning ABC can do to preserve something resembling the old AC. Perhaps it is after all an anachronism. It was created in the mid-nineteenth century as an expression of the British Empire when it was just reaching its height of glory. The world we live in now is vastly different. The peoples of the old colonies are not so willing to recognize England-America as the power center of their religion, or their world, any more. And, they have the numbers and power to back it up.

Addendum (Jan. 8):
Late on Jan.7, the Associated Press reported that the Vatican is acting to encourage unity among the Anglican primates meeting next week. For the meeting, it is lending one of its oldest relics, the carved ivory top of the pastoral staff of St. Gregory the Great, the pope who dispatched St. Augustine to Canterbury in 597. Conventional wisdom holds Pope Francis is trying to heal divisions in the Anglican Communion and calm issues that might impact on the wider Christian church. I say, more power to him. See: .

If the Vatican's policy is to heal divisions in the Anglican Communion, this is a reversal of earlier attitudes. In early October of 2003, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI and predecessor to Francis, sent a letter of support to the American Anglican Council-led convention of ultra-conservative Episcopalians in Plano TX urging them to hold for "truth." This Plano meeting of Oct. 7-9, 2003, was a repudiation of the decisions of the 2003 General Convention of the Episcopal Church and the starting place of a chain of events that led to the breakaway of the majorities of five dioceses of TEC. The Vatican also set up the Ordinariate to encourage Anglicans to leave their churches. Thus, the Vatican has reversed a policy of encouraging division to one of healing division. The well-named Pope Francis believes it is more important to care for God's creation than to stand in judgment on it. "Who am I to judge?," he said. He would have made a good Anglican.