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Episcopal Options

[COMMENT:  I have posted very little concerning the demise of the Episcopal Church.  But here is a very thoughtful article, with lots of responses below.  It is touch and go as to whether a meaningful Anglican Church will survive.  Much depends on the stability of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is ecclesiastically orthodox, but on gender issues, pro-homosexual.  He believes that no part of the Anglican Communion should approve homosexuality until the entire Church does.  That puts his leadership in a bind. 

I believe that we (the orthodox) are in a very winnable war, but can find almost no spiritual leadership able or willing to do what is necessary.  I believe that we should, as one priest put it, neither leave the Church nor compromise the truth. 

That puts us in a bind -- discerning where the Church is that we should not leave -- just what the writers below are trying to discern.  It also requires a serious restructuring of Biblical theology, which has all but collapsed at the unifying factor in Christendom -- which very few, I think, even see the need for -- most being satisfied with their own version which have been the main source of division. 

But that project is my main interest, and what the Road to Emmaus is about.  It requires learning the two lessons at which Christians have failed miserably for several centuries -- epistemology, worldview, and ethics.      E. Fox]


Ephraim Radner:
How does the Anglican Communion Institute
see the present challenge in the Communion?

Matt Kennedy, over at StandFirm, has raised important questions and arguments about American Anglican strategy in response to General Convention, all which need to be placed on the table and discussed. Since I am unable to access his site properly, let me respond here to just a few points he raises.

1. There is no doubt that people at certain and varying points feel the need to leave the Episcopal Church – most likely because of the burden they have to protect their spiritual and emotional health. This is all quite appropriate. It is not, however, a “strategy”. It is a matter of individual discernment for the moment. On the other hand, “separation” of Christian bodies requires, well, a “body” to act and to act in a corporate fashion. Our concern is that this is not happening well at present, and that there are signs that it will not happen well in the near future. The result will in fact not be the protection of our Anglican corporate gifts, but their squandering.

2. The choice, in ACI’s view, is not between “biblical fidelity” and “communion”. We agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s own general view, and the Windsor Report’s, that the discernment of Scriptural truth in its fullness is properly sought within the visible communion of Christ and in fact leads to the building up of this communion. I realize that this is a theological commitment that is not shared by all Christians. But it has some venerable apostolic and catholic heft behind it. For all its travails, there has been an Anglican Communion, there is one still, and we believe God calls us to nurture it into the future for the sake of the larger Church which remains scattered among the nations, and the truth to which the Church is called to witness. If one accepts this call, we believe we need to think its demands through more carefully than we are currently doing in our reactions to the Episcopal Church’s failures and errors. If people think this is a waste of time, and that the pressures of the moment are too weighty to permit such thinking through, we must simply disagree.

3. We believe that the formation now of a new province is a mistake on several levels. First, it is thus far being promoted, and risks being declared, unilaterally and autonomously by one group of dissatisfied Anglicans. Until this structural response is asked for and ordered by the larger Communion, it will prove as much a fragmenting reality as a cohering one. That, obviously, is a problem only if one shares our commitments to the Church understood as visible communion in Christ’s life and word as do we. But it should be clear that if a new province is set up without the deliberate desire and ordering of the larger councils of the Communion, it will have moved in a direction contrary to the commitments and promises of those councils already expressed – the Primates Meeting, Lambeth, and the ACC (not to mention Canterbury’s unifying moral weight). This, secondly, will undermine whatever authority these councils currently have, and will only further the disintegration of our common life. This is not an abstract worry. We are already seeing signs of this happening, as, for instance, Nigeria has formally voiced doubts about the value of the Lambeth Conferences among other things.

4. No one should be under any illusions about the unified stance around all this of even the Global South Primates and their bishops and churches. To force this issue upon them at this point would be to press them into decisions and public postures they are not prepared to make at this point. It will weaken corporate witness to Christ and finally injure many of the most vulnerable of the faithful (who are not in America).

5. A new province set up at this time would, as it has been thus far discussed, include in it a range of theological and disciplinary attitudes – bound to divergences of Scriptural interpretation – that have not been addressed coherently and seriously. Many of the ex-Episcopalians now pressing for a new province left over doctrinal and disciplinary disagreements with some of those who are now more recently seeking to leave the church. One of the reasons that we sometimes put the word “orthodoxy” in quotes is because we are well aware that the term is only loosely applicable to the collection of people and groups and continuing churches and so on whom some would like to put into the same category of commitments. Those supportive of and those opposed to women’s ordination know this incoherence well; but it goes far beyond just this matter. The Windsor Report, for all its faults, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury are, it seems to us, better attuned to the realities of our churches’ and Church’s diversity – including in the Global South – than many.

5. ACI is not counseling “doing nothing”. This is simply false. We are instead counseling a way of dealing with the failures and errors of the Episcopal Church (and, by implication, other churches in this Communion – and let us be honest in admitting that these failures, even in the Global South, are legion) in a manner that takes some of the above realities (as we see them) seriously. First, we need to gather as fully as possible those within the Episcopal Church – bishops, clergy, and congregations — who are committed to the life of Christian communion (and the reception of Christ’s word that it implies) as has been gradually articulated over the past few years through the councils of our common life. We believe that a minimum threshold at this time should include a commitment to Lambeth I.10 and Windsor’s conciliar ordering. We are using the term “constituent” bishops etc., based both on the Lambeth Conference’s, our Constitution’s, and Canterbury’s language. We believe that this group is far larger than the current membership of the Network – and those who are not members of the Network should not be impertinently dismissed as “fence-sitters” but rather should be brought together in their common commitments with other Communion-minded members of the devolving Epsicopal Church. Second, having been so gathered – and this will require more work than some seem willing to expend – they need to be formally recognized in some fashion by Canterbury and the Primates together (not simply by individuals here and there), and granted some kind of official representation (a “legate”? “vicar”?) in the councils of the Communion. Thirdly, as a body and in conjunction with the larger Communion, some provisional way of caring for clergy and congregations who are not under “constituent” oversight needs to be organized and coherently received. This need not take a long time if we are able to work together. Fourthly, we believe that the councils of unity for the Communion agree that the Constituent body in the US, and those elsewhere who similarly abide by the same threshold standards, be those only who participate in the necessarily extended “covenant process”, the rationale being that those who cannot keep promises from the past have squandered their right to determine in the future what a promise ought to be. In other words, we will not have to wait 10 years so that the ordering the Communion’s life in integrity will begin to take shape. ACI is well engaged with trying to further this vision.

6. Members of ACI, individually and together with others, have been deeply involved in struggling for the historic faith and order of the Church within ECUSA for almost 2 decades. Like many others in this struggle, we have lost jobs, been banned from academic institutions and dioceses, and consistently vilified by members of our own church. But while we have seen, during this time, the further devolution of ECUSA, we have also seen the spectacular emergence of the Communion and its Gospel commitments with the clarity of a promise fulfilled. We can testify – at least briefly! – to the fruitfulness of steadfastness, prayer, reflection, and patience. We are deeply committed to staying the course and not throwing over the wonderful grace – which we attribute to the mercy of our Lord Jesus — that has made this testimony possible.

–The Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner is rector of Church of the Ascension, Pueblo, Colorado, and a fellow of the Anglican Communion Institute

43 Responses to “Ephraim Radner:
How does the ACI see the present challenge in the Communion?”

  1. mja Says:

    This will take a while to digest; however, I find the idea of forming a group that reaches farther than the network (#5 in the paper) compelling.

  2. Timothy Fountain Says:

    The search for theologically sound, practically competent and unified leadership is critical.

    The word “sober” is used at various assessment points in the ordination process…beyond its association with alcoholism or drugs, it refers to a manner of life consistent with the Pastoral Epistles - orderly family life and finances, moderation of temper, good ability to engage people beyond the church, and others. We need identified (and empowered) orthodox leaders who exhibit the whole array of New Testament qualities.

    I would say that a penchant for eccentrics is one of the great flaws in ECUSA/TEC and possibly throughout Anglicanism. This is no less true of reasserters than reappraisers. Antiquarians, ranters, people with personal lives in disarray, priests “dancing around the miter tree” are all over the place. Richard John Neuhaus, while still a Lutheran with hopes of unifying denominational orthodoxy, gave up on dealing with Anglo-Catholics because of their “eccentricities.” We really, really need an identifiable, unified orthodox leadership…even ACN and AAC seem to grate on each other from time to time.

    ECUSA/TEC has, for some time, coddled a leadership style that eschews servanthood (looking to the good of the whole body) and exalts each individual’s fulfillment. This goes on among the orthodox as well as the reapprasiers.

  3. mja Says:

    “We really, really need an identifiable, unified orthodox leadership”


  4. Matt Kennedy+ Says:

    Thank you Dr. Radner for this response.

    I will have to wait to respond more fully but for now I did want to note that in my response to the ACI’s original piece, I was not suggesting (though it may have come across that way) that the Network simply declare independence or declare herself to be a distinct province.

    Rather I suggested that the “appeal” to Canterbury should be for a distinct province notn one located within the canonical boundaries of ECUSA. Note the emphasis on “appeal”. I agree that the move should not be unilateral. It should be something granted by the communion. But since we have not asked why should we expect to receive?

    My point was that the Network diocese were asking for too little.

  5. Phil Bowers Says:

    Sounds good, but …

    John Howard, Bishop of Florida, would sign up in a minute, and then continue to work with institutional loyalists and theological revisionists to undermine and marginalize the orthodox within the diocese.

  6. Fr. George Walker Says:

    I appreciate Radner’s approach, and would expect that having to sign on to Lambeth 1.10 would exclude someone such as Howard, whose goal might be to subvert the process……? G+

  7. css Says:

    Timothy wrote:

    “ECUSA/TEC has, for some time, coddled a leadership style that eschews servanthood (looking to the good of the whole body) and exalts each individual’s fulfillment. This goes on among the orthodox as well as the reappraisers.”

    What a great quote. A key test of this for the orthodox will be the release of the names for finalist for bishop of South Carolina around August 1st.
    Numerous sources make clear there is much ground for concern based on the search committee’s actions.

    I also want to say what a shame it is that someone such as Ephraim Radner never had a chance to be a bishop in TEC given his gifting and ability. What a tragic lost opportunity.

  8. mja Says:

    #7 — if he wanted to be a bishop don’t see why that opportunity is gone.

  9. zephyr Says:

    So, here in my world, I just got back from speaking with a new neighbor with four children. She stopped to admire my dog and I invited her to my church, carefully omitting the Episcopal part of our name. She was very interested. THEN she asked the big question. What denomination is my church. I got into the disclaimer as fast as I could. She was polite. But in got the distinct impression that she doesn’t want her four children any where near an Episcopal church.

  10. zephyr Says:

    Sorry. That’s I got the distinct impression.

  11. Chip Johnson+, cj Says:

    The entire piece makes very good sense.
    I particularly agree with Rarner’s points in #3, until the ‘new’ province is called for by the WWAC, it is and will be seen as schismatic.

  12. Murray Says:

    I’m afraid these suggestions have been bouncing about since St Louis and the 1976 debacle. It they didn’t work then, when the US orthodox had some muscle, they have absolutely no chance of working now.

    My own sense is that the show is over for Anglicanism. Just as the Commonwealth is a dysfunctional relic of Empire, Anglicanism (a pretty recent construct, anyway) is the last gasp of an Anglophone cultural formation.

    Either something quite new will emerge, taking its energy from the former colonies, or the whole enterprise will break up and founder. My bet’s on the latter.

    In any case, I suspect that leadership is simply not attainable in old-style Western Anglicanism.

    When the State/Monarch called the shots, there was no doubt where final authority lay. Consequently, the CoE never developed a proper system of self-regulation or had to deal properly with the consequences of its theological messiness.

    Then the State retreated from religious matters, letting the non-conformists get on with it, and emancipating the Romans. The Victorian preference for “liberal” bishops (in an older sense), who could get along with Evangelicals and Catholics and keep the show on the road gradually hollowed out the episcopacy. We ended up with eirenic or eccentric characters who had no real authority over their parishes.

    When modern-style, revisionist liberal bishops arrived and decided to flex their canonical muscles, everything finally fell apart. It was precisely in trying to exercise authority that Anglican leaders found the fatal weakness in our ecclesiology.

    Trying to fix something so intrinsically flawed is wrong-headed. Better to begin again–or submit to other competent ecclesiastical structures.

  13. Craig Goodrich Says:

    There is an ambiguity in ACI’s response with respect to “new province” — we have at least two different calls for such, one being the longstanding FiF call — now joined by some new voices in the US — for an entirely new Communion province, and there is +Duncan’s call for a new province X within ECUSA.

    FiF’s request is tightly bound up with the rejection of women’s ordination, so it’s not obvious whether some putative new “Network” entity would satisfy this request or not; we could end up with two new international Communion provinces in North America. Does this make any ecclesial sense?

    The Pittsburgh initiative, on the other hand, leaves dioceses still under the canons and structure of ECUSA, which has legal and fiduciary advantages but will involve continuing conflict since Province X dioceses would continue to feel the need to disassociate themselves from the ever-increasing lunatic apostasy of General Conventions, and would have to discard more and more canonical revisions (including, immediately, the 2000 canon requiring acceptance of WO). Moreover, while there may be some hint of a precedent for a diocese leaving one ECUSA province for another, there is obviously none for a parish doing so, which leaves open the question of islands of orthodoxy in revisionist diocese and, as Dr. Radner mentions, the whole question of orthodox Anglican evangelism within North America.

    So in ACI’s view neither “province” solution would provide an ecclesially and pragmatically satisfactory solution to the general problem of keeping the “orthodox” in the Communion (and hopefully restoring some continuers to it) while keeping a distance from the revisionists.

    Whatever one may think of ACI’s specific proposals, they certainly deserve our gratitude and admiration for their courage in trying to find some theologically rational solution to the incredibly complex can of worms left by two generations of ECUSA activist apostasy, traditionalist apathy, and Communion fudge…

  14. Matt Kennedy+ Says:


    I agree that #3 does make sense. The problem is, from my perspective, is that it does not address the point I made…see my post on #4. I don’t think anyone is advocating a revolution. I do think we need to appeal for the creation of a distinct and seperate province. The appeal would be made to Canterbury and the primates and the move would be made with their approval.

    I understand that there are deep theological differences among the orthodox that will need to be worked out. At the same time I do not believe they are deeper than those that already exist in ECUSA. Moreover, these are secondary issues that can be worked out far easier within an orthodox province, where we are forced to confront them, than without where orthodox fragmentation will only increase.

  15. evan miller Says:

    Dr. Radner has a very valid point when he cites the vast differences among the “orthodox.” So far, we’ve just been united in what we oppose, in a very narrow sense. If those who oppose the current paganism of TEC ever succede in gaining recognition from the ABC and wider communion as an (the?) authentic branch of the communion in the US, they will have the same deep divisions that caused their original breaks. Women’s ordination, the 1979 scrapping of the BCP, anglo-catholic vs evangelical protestantism, will all have to be dealt with or we will simply be back in the same boat again.

  16. Timothy Fountain Says:

    Zephyr 9 & 10 - what you describe was stated clearly at a Rector’s Forum here on Sunday. A number of members, especially those raising kids and, sadly, new members, expressed their now tentative connection to the church because of the denominational issues they keep hearing about - especially the elevation of active homosexuals to leadership. That is a recurring complaint I hear - even from some of my more “liberal” members - the ordination of active LGBT is the real stumbling block for them.

  17. Tami Says:

    RE #4: Matt+, I agree . . . I do think the dioceses may be asking too little and/or by not making a consolidated request of the ABC, are making the any reply or action difficult, if not impossible. I’ve read the Diocese of SC Standing Committee’s request for APO and admit I’m not sure what they’re asking for when compared to Dallas & Pittsburgh - and hope for an open diocese meeting where we can ask questions.

  18. Dan Crawford Says:

    For ACI, doing “something” means the production of a never-ending series of statements proclaiming they are not doing nothing but are actually doing “something”. The longer the sentences, the more convoluted the argument indicate that the “catholic heft” to which they appeal is really a puff of smoke. They can’t honestly believe that “biblical fidelity” has no relevance to “communion”, but that is the implication of their assertion that the choice is not between biblical fidelity and communion.

    What is their plan to rescue the church?

  19. Chris Taylor Says:

    An excellent exposition of the position of those who advocate for a cautious one step at a time approach to preserving maximum unity possible throughout the Communion. This is the clearest explanation I’ve seen of the Communion conservative position. There is MUCH to recommend this approach, and I think that Federal conservatives, who are pushing for immediate action by the Network NOW, dismiss Dr. Radner’s argument at their peril.

    However, speaking as one who has, for their own spiritual and mental welfare personally had to remove themself from the insanity of ECUSA/TEC in a thoroughly reappraising diocese (NJ), it would be enormously helpful in building our confidence in this strategy if the ACI, and other Communion conservatives, could offer some clear game plan and some reasonable hope for the long-term success of their strategy, especially for those of us caught in very hostile territory.

    As Dr. Radner acknowledges, there are signs of enormous impatience, both in North America and in the larger Communion as a whole, with the glacial pace of the process of realignment. If the Communion conservatives are to have any hope of keeping everyone on the same page, and assuring maximum unity among Federal and Communion conservatives, there must be some prospect that the go slow strategy they advocate has some reasonable prospect of success. Without that, I fear that events on the ground will spin out of anyone’s control fairly quickly.

    One other point. In his statement, (at point #5), states:

    “Many of the ex-Episcopalians now pressing for a new province left over doctrinal and disciplinary disagreements with some of those who are now more recently seeking to leave the church. One of the reasons that we sometimes put the word “orthodoxy” in quotes is because we are well aware that the term is only loosely applicable to the collection of people and groups and continuing churches and so on whom some would like to put into the same category of commitments. Those supportive of and those opposed to women’s ordination know this incoherence well; but it goes far beyond just this matter.”

    That is a fair statement, but I would suggest that there are some substantial differences among the crowd of “Widsor bishops” too. Some of them seem to be deeply committed to the faith, and honestly disagree with the speed with which their Network colleagues seem to be moving. However, there are also some bishops, and I fear they seem to be the vast majority of so-called “Windsor bishops,” whose primary commitment appears to be mainly tied to the survival of a particular eccellesical institution of which they are a part, namely ECUSA/TEC. We need to have some clear and reasonable criteria for distinguishing faithful “Windsor bishops” (+Wimberly, +MacPherson, etc.) who, in good conscience, cannot embrace the Network strategy, and those many “Windsor bishops” who not only provide no objective indication that they value the faith over the institution, but who actively persecute those in their own dioceses who wish to identify with the Network. One can, I am sure, understand the hesitiance of many reasserters to place their good faith in such “Windsor bishops.”

  20. Craig Goodrich Says:

    Dan (#18) –

    Please bear in mind that ACI is an Anglican Communion theological think tank. Thinking and producing Communion-oriented statements and recommendations is what they do.

    And one of the points they have consistently (if sometimes obscurely) raised is that communion presupposes Scriptural fidelity — a theme which also underlies the Windsor Report, however deeply buried.

    What is their plan to rescue the church?

    Please read carefully Dr. Radner’s point 5 above. This comment may also provide some clarification.

  21. James Manley Says:

    Matt Kennedy #14

    Thanks for your comments here and your article on the subject over at Stand Firm.

    You make a good point that the differences between the orthodox are certainly no bigger than the differences already in ECUSA.

    The big hinderance to settling those differences in ECUSA was that there was no agreement on biblical authority. If the orthodox do agree at least on the principle of biblical authority, there may well be room to work to an accomodation of each others differences.

    If FiF could tolerate staying in ECUSA for 30 years (30 years!), I can’t see why they would suddenly balk at remaining in a province with other orthodox Anglicans.

    [Apologies to Canon Harmon for the terminology, but this is in the context of post-ECUSA Anglicanism, in which case the reasserters would simply be those who assert orthodoxy.)

  22. Matt Kennedy+ Says:

    I especially appreciate this section:

    “Second, having been so gathered – and this will require more work than some seem willing to expend – they need to be formally recognized in some fashion by Canterbury and the Primates together (not simply by individuals here and there), and granted some kind of official representation (a “legate”? “vicar”?) in the councils of the Communion. Thirdly, as a body and in conjunction with the larger Communion, some provisional way of caring for clergy and congregations who are not under “constituent” oversight needs to be organized and coherently received. This need not take a long time if we are able to work together.”

    In that it seems to be calling for something along the lines of a distinct and seperate structure within a short time frame that encompasses isolated parishes and those parishes that have joined the 7th convocation. I don’t think I have heard or read these suggestions from the ACI before, but they make me far more sympathetic to their argument.

  23. Brian Says:

    “4. No one should be under any illusions about the unified stance around all this of even the Global South Primates and their bishops and churches. To force this issue upon them at this point would be to press them into decisions and public postures they are not prepared to make at this point. It will weaken corporate witness to Christ and finally injure many of the most vulnerable of the faithful (who are not in America).”

    It would seem that Nigeria has no problem having this issue forced upon them.

  24. Brian Says:


    You say “it seems to be calling for something along the lines of a distinct and seperate structure within a short time frame that encompasses isolated parishes and those parishes that have joined the 7th convocation.”

    However, the ABC said at Synod:

    “Many provinces are internally fragile; we cannot assume that what will naturally happen is a neat pattern of local consensus. There are already international alliances, formal and informal, between Provinces and between groups within different Provinces. There are lines of possible fracture that have nothing to do with provincial boundaries. The disappearance of an international structure – as, again, I have observed in recent months – leaves us with the possibility of much less than a federation, indeed, of competing and fragmenting ecclesial bodies in many contexts across the world.

    A straw in the wind: in Sudan, there is a breakaway and very aggressive Anglican body that has had support, in the past, from government in Khartoum. Among the varied grounds advanced for its separation is the ludicrous assertion that the Episcopal Church of Sudan is unorthodox in its teaching on sexual ethics. Some mischievous forces are quite capable of using the debates over sexuality as an alibi for divisive action whose roots are in other conflicts. And churches in disadvantaged or conflict-ridden settings cannot afford such distractions – I speak with feeling in the light of what I and others here in Synod know of Sudan. It helps, to put it no more strongly, that there is a global organisation which can declare such a separatist body illegitimate and insist to a local government that certain groups are not recognised internationally.”

  25. lee Says:

    Matt+ I feel sorry for you because we think so much alike. Generally speaking, there are two types of leaders. One is a re-modeler or re-builder and the other is a developer. The re-modeler is more process oriented and the developer is more creative. There is much good in the AC and in ECUSA but I believe that ECUSA has too much baggage to be rebuilt. It has structure and political problems not to mention bigger egos than I have seen in any other organization including medicine and law. Moreover it has core theological problems which are the whole reason we are here today.

    The analogy is what is happening in many cities across the nation. Old inefficient buildings are being razed by developers and are being replaced with more efficient and architecturally significant properties. A new province would allow us a new North American presence which I believe would have rapid growth. ECUSA is too dysfunctional to be redeveloped in my opinion.

    I would like to join with you Matt+ and other orthodox Anglicans to pray for and seek out a new NA providence which has theology as its base, not politics. For those who want to continue to rebuild ECUSA from the inside they should continue this admirable endeavor. We should ask for at least this much from the ABC and other Anglican leaders. Yes we do want to get on with mission. That mission should be worshipping and spreading the traditional gospel of Jesus Christ.

  26. Marc Robertson Says:

    Dr. Radner has made a clear case for the more classic “catholic” view of the Church and its future in the current Anglican schism. His presentation is to be commended at many points, and is an honest attempt to see a way forward in a murky and painful situation.
    One of the historic inadequacies of this “catholic” view has been its inability to define the proper place of individual conscience. Luther’s “Here I stand, I can do no other” thus becomes an awkward affirmation of Christian conscience on the individual level that needs to be considered. Of course, the more radical evangelical perspective would advocate personal conscience to the exclusion of any sense of corporate identity — something not only strange to Anglicanism, but in my thinking, foreign to the biblical witness of the nature of the apostolic Church.
    His proposal is reasonable and needs not merely serious consideration but quick action. In the meantime, it is IMPERATIVE to make allowance for what I would call an “interim mentality”. This mentality would recognize our solidarity on the core issues of Christian Theology, while allowing a variety of “tactical” actions to take place as local needs and pastoral pressures demanded. What might also come from this mentality is a platform upon which the future shape of Anglicanism could be forged on issues such as women’s ordination, liturgy, sacramental theology, and other extremely important concerns that could potentially scuttle this ship before it leaves port.
    Dr. Radner decries the actions of certain segments of so-called “orthodoxy” as weakening the corporate witness of the Church, but so is the incremental exodus of God-fearing, Bible-believing persons who, on the basis of individual conscience, cannot abide by the actions of General Convention, and cannot be identified with them. That is why I prefer to talk of an “interim mentality” rather than an “interim strategy”. There is not enough time to formulate such a strategy and get a functional consensus. Instead, let’s advocate a mentality that is both practical and biblical, recognizing that in these unique times different congregations and dioceses may need to take action they deem faithful, but that may differ in tactics from one another. As the larger and longer work of “covenant construction” begins, perhaps we can create a deeper spirit of cooperation and respect within our own bounds of orthodox belief.

  27. Bill McGovern Says:

    Well of course, in a perfect world Dr. Radner is right. But these high fallutin, ivory tower, think tank theologians and their brilliant “AMEN” commentators need to get into the streets where we and Zepher Says (#9 above) live. When you’re too embarrassed of your denomination to name it or to invite a neighbor to join it, it’s time to get out of it. Afterall, would you recommend a restaurant to a friend where you wouldn’t go yourself?

  28. Matt Kennedy+ Says:


    Not sure why that is a “however”? The ABC clearly, in both letters, recognized the possibility for legitimate divisions and parallel structures within one geographical area. The situation in Sudan is precisely what the ACI and I do not advocate, a revolutionary approach. I think a seperate province distinct from ECUSA must be established (the ACI does not apparently think the time is right) but we both, I believe, think that it needs to be established with Canterbury’s support

  29. SerotoninDonor Says:

    I think it is a mistake to think that theological reflection and the production of important thought pieces is not offering leadership.

    In fact, I think the case can be made that ACI has offered the most effective sort of leadership in this current crisis.

    As I recall, ACI was behind the writing of True Union in the Body, which the primates commended as the teaching of the church on human sexuality–thus making clear after Lambeth 1998 the serious commitment of the church to its teaching articulated in Lambeth 1:10.

    True Union in the Body set out and is itself exactly the sort of dialogue the ABC has called for–addressing the theological issues around human sexuality–far different from listening to experiences of people.

    They then published Claiming our Anglican Identity, which made the case for conciliar decision making and ECUSA’s violation of this basic principle.

    They then published Communion and Discipline that presented many of the ideas and concepts that became the operating principles and outline for the Lambeth Commission’s Windsor Report.

    ACI wrote the original documents for the founding of the Network, has been involved in countless consultations around the Communion in London, Colorado Springs, Orlando, Dallas, San Antonio, Niarobi, and Charleston as I recall reading, and will, I hope, continue being active in this way.

    Check out their board of directors if you think this team is not made up of active leaders

    Their work may be somewhat ponderous in the age of cute slogans and quick fixes–but it is the stuff of Christian life and discipline as practiced through the ages.

    I care very much what the ACI Team has to say and will continue to look to them for thoughtful and theologically grounded leadership.

  30. Seitz Says:

    ACI was at the first meeting of the Network. I fought for the name. We have been at innumerable meetings, including CAPA, Emergency Primates, Truro, and the Windsor Gathering of Bishops in St Louis last year. I am on the steering committee of Anglican Mainstream and was at its first meeting. I have been intimately involved in Scottish Anglicans. We do not major in calling attention to ourselves in this way because we have sought to keep confidences. I cannot say how many churches I have spoken to or with how many leaders I have consulted. This is not 2 Corinthians but at times it is wearying to be labled out of touch or academic. Radner was a missionary in Burundi, and all our fellows do parish ministry. My entire life has been spent in this church. It would be helpful if basic perspective could be maintained.

  31. Craig Goodrich Says:

    Bill #27 –

    If you think these guys are “ivory tower” types, you might want to read Dr. Radner’s letter to his bishop written immediately following GC03 on the pastoral nightmare caused by its actions.

    Yes, indeed, the disintegration of ECUSA is causing serious problems for us all, and in many situations the only available interim solution is to leave, if only temporarily, however painful it may be. But there has to be some reasonable solution within Anglicanism, and it will require both time and thought to implement.

  32. Phil Bowers Says:

    Everyone, this does sound quite good and wise, but tell me how does this translate to the orthodox in the pew who has a busy life raising a family etc etc. It sounds like, just wait until …

    It was/is wait until the Archbishops meet, and wait until Windsor, and wait until Dramatine, and wait until GC06, and wait until Lambeth08, …

    Are we to raise a family in this mess without some clear plan of action to support the orthodox individuals? Without some clear plan that the individual who cares deeply about the Faith can see, he/she will leave to for Free Church Protestantism or the RC or the OC. By the time this works itself out 10 years from now, the orthodox will have left.

    Now if Radner’s item 5 can be done swiftly, this year for example, then the orthodox individual has some hope that there will be something in place that works, and may stay. But I can’t help but wonder why the thrust of item 5 has yet to be implemented three years past GC03. Three more years, and it’s too late. I am frustrated and tired, so I’ll stop rambling.

  33. lee Says:

    Phil you are right. It doesn’t make sense at all. I don’t know where you are located but I anticipate more sooner than later. Remember what Bishop Duncan said. There will be a meeting in July which will help the pastoral needs of the individual orthodox. (my understanding of the implication). Akinola hinted to this as well. Its seems as if something is cooking. In the meantime my suggestion is to visit another denomination.

  34. Don Armstrong Says:

    Please remember that the ACI is a Colorado based ministry and that Dr. Radner and I serve in a predominately liberal diocese under a bishop who thinks that BO-33 was an adequate response to Windsor and that Katherine Schori will offer brilliant leadership in these difficult days.

    When ACI offers solutions that require patience in the face of hostile conditions–please know we are right there at the front.

    But also know, as Dr. Seitz indicates, ACI is not operating in a vacuum, we have been to every major meeting in the church and then some, and what we suggest has real potential to become reality if we all stick together.

    To illustrate ACI’s theology in action, here is the statement the vestry of ACI’s sponsoring parish is working on:

    Statement of the Vestry of Grace Church & St. Stephen’s:

    We, the Vestry and Clergy of Grace Church, joined by other members of our congregation, have watched with both personal and corporate spiritual concern the actions of the 75th General convention of the Episcopal Church. We have received various interpretative responses, pastoral letters and communications regarding the decisions of the Convention. This parish is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion according to the Canons and Constitution of ECUSA. In that context we have reviewed the actions of the Convention, and subsequent responses to it, in light of the Windsor Report’s request, as received and approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Primates of the Anglican Communion, that the Convention express regret for the consecration of the current Bishop of New Hampshire, and that a moratorium be placed both on the consecration of partnered homosexual persons and same sex blessings.

    We believe that interpretation of, and response, to the actions of the Convention must occur in the context of the understanding and response of the Anglican Communion as a whole, with commitment to seeking communion consensus. The Windsor Report calls for greater interdependence and accountability among the several provinces of the Anglican Communion. We believe that the goal must be communion consensus and that the adequacy of the decisions and resolutions of the Convention depend on the response of the Anglican Communion as a whole. In the communion context no province can rightly reserve to itself exclusive interpretation of the meaning of its actions.

    We believe that the clear implication of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s two statements — “Challenge and Hope for the Anglican Communion” (June 27, 2006) and his July 7 address to the Church of England Synod — is that the 2006 General Convention has inadequately addressed the Windsor Report’s recommendations and requests, threatening further to strain and perhaps dissolve the bonds of affection among the provinces of the Anglican Communion.

    In addition, we are concerned that the General Convention elected to the office of Presiding Bishop one who gave consent to the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 in direct defiance of the express teaching of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates of the Communion, and the Lambeth Bishops; who has herself authorized the blessing of sexual relationships outside the bonds of marriage; who holds that Christianity evolves open-endedly such that contemporary opinions need not be accountable to the received wisdom of the Church; and rejects that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Who has also stated that resolution B033, which calls for restraint in consenting to the consecration of bishops whose manner of life may be problematic for the rest of the Communion, is simply a policy that can be reversed or revised very soon, and whose own definition of what an appropriate life style might be is reflected in her consent for a thrice married man to be the Bishop of Northern California.

    We can already see that our own work in Colorado Springs and our ministry within the larger Communion has been eroded by these actions and resolutions of this General Convention.

    To support the Catholic and Evangelical witness of dioceses and congregations in ECUSA, the Archbishop of Canterbury has proposed a two tier relationship to the larger Communion in which congregations such as our own could be assigned constituent status within the Anglican Communion by clear commitment to Communion life and discipline. We do hereby declare the intention of the vestry of Grace Church & St. Stephen’s to develop and maintain affiliations within the structures recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates of the Communion, and Bishops within our own church for the purpose of a public commitment to those threshold elements of Communion Teaching, Conciliar decision making, and Covenant that uphold and practice the historic faith of the Church.

    Further we make known by this document that:

    We are committed to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers.

    We are committed to Lambeth Resolution 1.10 of 1998 as the agreed teaching of the Anglican Communion on human sexuality;

    We are committed to the recommendations of the Windsor Report as the
    means to restoring our common life in communion

    We are committed to the vision of an Anglican Covenant set forth by the Archbishop of Canterbury..

    Resolved this 11th day of July, 2006 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

  35. Dale Rye Says:

    It all comes down to whether we think the Anglican Communion is worth saving (and belonging to). If we do, the Windsor Report and the ACI’s approach for responding to it are still the only game in town. Unilateral actions and a complete refusal to consult widely beforehand will not only result in the destruction of TEC (which might not bother most of you), and of the Anglican Communion (which might not bother many of you), but of many of the other individual member churches in the Communion. That will not only cripple evangelism in much of the world, but poses an active threat to Christian lives in some countries.

  36. zephyr Says:

    The fact remains that in my community, people roll their eyes when you say you are an Episcopalian.

  37. Don Armstrong Says:

    Zephyr–then lets restore our good name by a unified and directed response to the travesty that was, once again, General Convention.

  38. Sarah Says:

    Though I do not always agree with either the ACI or Matt Kennedy [or various other allies and reasserting groups] I am *very* grateful for all of your efforts.

    Thank you.

  39. Sophy Says:

    Matt -

    I also was struck by the phrases you referenced in comment #22, regarding alternative (eg, not one’s own diocesan bishop) representation. It would be interesting to know how Dr Radner/the ACI propose that such a representative would be selected.

    I sympathize with those bloggers who have children; particularly those in reappraising parishes - I am fortunate enough to be in a reasserting parish and our reappraising bishop is one of those few conciliatory centrists for whom perhaps praxis and structure matter more than belief, whether liberal or traditional. At the same time, I am very much concerned that fast action, whether by reasserting elements within TEC, by Nigeria, or by the reappraisers within TEC or the C of E, will have the effect of splintering the Communion into shards so small that they dissolve in a matter of a few years into Unitarian, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and New Age parishes. I suppose I am enough of a sentimentalist to think that would be a shame.

    Yes, I can “hear” many of you saying “well, who cares?” and “for the sake of my kids/my sanity, I’m leaving TEC/good riddance to the Anglican Communion etc.” Again, I can appreciate your concerns, but I still wish we could find a way out of this morass that worships Jesus Christ crucified and within the Anglican tradition. Would hate to think of Cranmer’s martyrdom in vain.

  40. Mike Watson Says:

    I almost never, at least upon reflection, disagree with the ACI but do occasionally disagree with the indefatigable Matt Kennedy. But I also am very grateful for their efforts and those of the various other allies and reasserting groups. This is an in-substance amen to Sarah’s #38.

  41. lee Says:

    Amen Sarah and I am particularly impressed with Dr . Radner being willing to respond directly to my posts which he has done in the past. I am such a theological lightweight but I do love the lord. Please, each of you listen to what Phil # 38 is saying. He represents the essence of the entire communion. There is a way to support him immediately and it should be done. It is time.

  42. Robert Says:

    This has all gotten so complex and bizarre. Radner’s infelicitous writing style hardly helps much. From what I can make of tall this, Radner counsels patience and on those various Episcopalians who lay claim to the title of ‘orthodox’. He also thinks the new ‘orthodox’ province idea is a mistake. How does that differ from what the presiding bishop would say?

    I my view it’s surely the case that the appeals for ‘primatial oversight’ were premature right out of the gate at Columbus and thereafter. The faults of the Episcopal Church, whatever they may be, are not excuses for foolishness by those people, parishes or dioceses that claim ‘orthodox’ high ground. There is no machinery in place to assure the equity and justice that should be related to such appeals, and nothing has been devised.

    Two things have happened:

    1. There has been continued fragmentation among the ‘reasserters’ enhanced by the various unilateral attempts at separations from the Episcopal Church.

    2. The presiding bishop and the national church have been put on the spot together with the archbishop of Canterbury.

    Rowan Williams has already stated firmly that he will not deal with any of this stuff by decree. Frank Griswold has no machinery at his disposal to release dioceses from Episcopal Church jurisdiction, however well founded the cause or the appeal to Canterbury.

    It seems to me that the only thing that HAS changed is that Katherine Jefferts Schori will be the next presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, whether anyone likes it or not. All else aside, that seems to me to be the presenting issue. Unfortunately for the reasserters, I think the Jefferts Schori issue is the very weakest of positions on which to base appeals or unilateral separations.

    Public opinion is a very important thing, and it is something the a reasserters are prone to dismiss as irrelevant and a capitulation to the ’sinful world’. Quite frankly I am astounded at the poor public relations capacities of the reasserters. Despite the valiant but technically flawed reportage from Columbus, there has been little in the way of coherent strategy among the reasserters that has been conveyed to the public. Most of what I read is reasserters talking to one another. The complexity of all this is as I said, bizarre, and it is certainly wearing to discipher.

    All I can see on the horizon for the reasserters is more bad management and fragmentation

  43. Tom Roberts Says:

    I cannot overemphasize the apt post of Robert #42, especially his “Two things…” analysis. If you disagree here, consider the past week’s top level posts at T19 and especially how the vast non T19 majority of Americans and episcopalians see this denomination. Plug into that public view the somewhat idiosyncratic experiences of zephyr in this thread, which are unfortunately symbolic of a pervasive and real evangelical malaise spread across the whole of North American Anglicanism. At this point, despite the best intentions of the ACI expressed several times here, I sense that historically this response is insufficient to the demands of the stormy present.

    I cannot justify the unilateral actions of CAPA prelates in the US, just as I cannot justify the reactionary oppression emminating from 815, but I fear that these times have created a situation in which success, by whatever measure, will end up justifying itself in the long run. It is entirely possible to be logically or philosophically correct, and still end up on the short end of history’s stick. Ask the Cherokees about the sanctity of land title under the US Constitution for example….

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