Erika Baker in a comment on the last blog and Adrian Worsfold and Church Ferret (naughty little creature) on Facebook, have raised questions about the blog which they think was too tolerant in stance and tone, I suspect.
I decided that +Rowan’s Presidential address should be take absolutely at face value. There are other leaders in the Communion whose words I would not take at face value.
I also think you have to look at what has happened in the 13 years since the Kuala Lumpur statement was published (which initiated the conservative campaign against LGBT people) and make a balanced assessment. They have repeatedly issued threats and challenges, to evict other Provinces, that the Communion is already split, the net torn, they have absented themselves from Lambeth and Primates meetings and refused to share Communion, and where has it got them?
Bishop Graham Kings made a case on the Radio4 Sunday programme for the GAFCON group being marginal to other conservative evangelicals in the Communion who have not rejected the Covenant. I think Bishop Graham is being fanciful. The Primates he named have announced that they are not attending the Primates meeting, so they are absenting themselves and abusing one of the Instruments of Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury. They will not be present to contribute to any decision making process. Canada and TEC will.
The Covenant will not come into force for at least 3 years, 3 years in which the conservatives will almost certainly absent themselves from the next ACC meeting and the following Primates’ meeting. Do you imagine that they will suddenly march back in once other Provinces have signed the Covenant and demand to be allowed to sign and take over the Communion? I know they might, their tactics are that crazy, but I think it’s highly unlikely, and who’d want to be a part of such a Communion?
Bishop Graham also pointed out that the GAFCON Primates can’t make a unilateral decision about not signing the Covenant and that the decision will have to be put to each Province. These are Primates who are making unilateral, authoritarian decisions without any democracy or reference to their Province or House of Bishops and I think it highly likely that the decision they announced last week will stand.
These Primates do not represent the opinions of their bishops. I have now had many reports about the unhappiness of individual bishops in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya who disagree with their Primate. Other tensions are building in these Provinces, and Primates eventually reach retirement dates. This generation with its extreme version of Anglicanism will not live forever.
Erika commented that Rowan clearly said that actions in one place have consequences for the Communion, whether we like it or not. Yes, but not necessarily only in one direction. The Global South/GAFCON/FCA axis has been allowed huge latitude and their actions tolerated in a way which for me and many others feels intolerable. But after 10 years of posturing and threats, they haven’t got what they demanded.
Removing TEC from the Anglican-Orthodox dialogue certainly isn’t what the conservatives had in mind when they demanded punishment. Better they hadn’t been excluded at all, but it isn’t exactly onerous, is it?
The Covenant may need nothing more than a group of only 15 people stating loudly that they feel offended before the offender has relational consequences imposed on them by the offended and Father Jake may be right in identifying just what those relational consequences are, and it might come to pass that punitive action is taken against a Province and they are removed from the ACC Schedule of Membership.
I’m not pointing out to Rowan that we LGBT people really have been playing ball all this time. I’m living the faith in prayer and love and I’m not walking away and I’m not going to stop reminding the Communion of the presence of LGBT people in every Province and the scandal of homophobia and prejudice and support for punitive legislation.
I am not becoming co-dependent and I am not colluding with my own abuse. The point at which Changing Attitude did either of those things would be seen very clearly, I think, and rightly challenged by all who care about the full inclusion of the tens of thousands of LGBT people in the Communion.
I think a lot has changed in the last 10 years, and the Church of England has become more isolated in our society and is continuing to isolate itself. There is a lack of courage and integrity in individual members of the House of Bishops and in the corporate institutions of the Church at times, and there are also shining examples of truth-telling, courage and integrity, and I would name Jeffrey John, Christina Rees, Colin Slee and Nick Holtham among others.
The Church of England might collude in applying the Covenant unwisely, punitively and against LGBT people 5 or 10 years down the road if it continues to allow what I consider to be unchristian forces to determine the culture of our Church.
This is all ‘my opinion’ and others will vehemently disagree with me. To some, it does indeed look as if nothing that happened in the Anglican Communion in the last 10 years has been wise, measured and politically middle of the road. People, good people have left and others are considering leaving, in despair at the unbelievable dishonesty practiced by some bishops. I think it’s a scandal but it doesn’t get reported because those of us who know these things don’t want to make life difficult for those in the circles around us. We all, CA, IC, the Coalition, WATCH, make calculated political decisions.
The Global South conservatives think God is on their side and not on the side of LGBT people. That is their fatal mistake. God is on everyone’s side, and God knows that the theologies we all construct are sometimes fatally flawed.
I may not have Permission to Officiate at the moment (and that’s another, confidential story) but I know I am loved, blessed, welcomed, enriched by God, journeying into the Kingdom of God, whatever foul things the conservatives say about me as a gay man, because I have a deep, prayerful relationship with God, a relationship to which they seem blinded – and there’s many a quote I could make from Scripture to support my claim. But I’ll leave it there.