Wednesday, 26 December 2007

SCRUNTSKie Conference

All these people who met at Nairobi last week are now calling for a Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) lasting eight days (5-22 June 2008) in Israel/ Palestine.
(Primate) Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya)
(Primate) Archbishop Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania)
(Primate) Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda)
(Primate) Archbishop Henry Orombi (Uganda)
(Primate) Archbishop Peter Akinola (Nigeria)
Archbishop Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria)
Archbishop Peter Jensen (Sydney)
Bishop Bill Atwood (Kenya) -
who represented Archbishop Greg Venables (Southern Cone)
Bishop Bob Duncan (ACN and CC USA)
Bishop Don Harvey (Southern Cone)
Bishop Martyn Minns (CANA)
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali (Rochester England)
Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes England)
Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England)
Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India and England)
Given that none of them represent England or India in any sense, unless they more clearly signal a breakaway and then do so for this grouping, then I'd call them the SCRUNTSKies holding the SCRUNTSK Conference. If India and England are represented by schism groupings, then it is the SCRUNTSKIE Conference.

They say it is not an alternative to the Lambeth Conference 2008, except for pastoral care purposes, but it comes first and allows invited participants to decide whether or not to spend twice and go to, or save on and not go to, Lambeth. Including England on the basis of 3.7 million attendance at Christmas, they make the ludicrous claim of representing over 30 million of the 55 million active Anglicans in the world. No they don't - they represent who signs up to their groups. This means the Global South provinces that break away, Sydney (under Archbishop Peter Jensen) if it can leave (unless it gets replaced - then count who goes), departed congregations in the United States and those further that go with diocesan bishops that leave The Episcopal Church - the diocesan leadership being replaced, and whoever joins any new schisms for England and elsewhere in the world should a couple of bishops and/ or the odd Canon decide to leave. Incidentally, Bishop Don Harvey does not represent Canada, but was retired and then taken on by the Southern Cone. Common Cause is a collection of existing Churches and missions of others, likely to break up itself.

To be logical, there ought to be an English grouping formed, or say a Convocation of Anglicans in the UK, called CAUK. CAUK, part of the SCRUNTSKIEs but under, presumably Nigeria or another province. A bit like pulling a CAUK out of the English bottle, then.

It is another Christmas present, on top of the CANA congregations claiming "branches" in the Anglican Communion.

Going to the Holy Land - "There was no other place to meet at this critical time for the future of the Church than in the Holy Land," says Chris Sugden - gives it all the features of a launch. This means that those who do see a need to go to Lambeth afterwards will obviously go with a message (some may be ambassadorial) like, "This is your last chance!"

Everything is in motion then, as we knew long ago by all the intentions. The one person obviously not invited to this gathering is the Archbishop of Canterbury. Perhaps he could be a non-voting observer, if the conference has votes. Or he will be too busy in Kent.

This puts the Advent Letter in even better light. The Advent Letter should have horrified every reasonable Anglican. I know Fulcrum liked it, but Fulcrum likes to think that it and the Archbishop are buddies. What the Advent Letter did was make the argument of the schismatics: that there is one way of reading the Bible only, strictly according to Lambeth 1998 1:10, and that this is the basis of local Churches' expectations of other local Churches in order to agree to the geographical principle of one Church per locality. The difference then came, in the Letter, that it is up to the centralised - made clear, via the Covenant - Instruments of Communion, to decide when a Church had "failed" locally, and was thus subject to intervention (or interference) from the sufficiently empowered Anglican Communion.

So the vast variety of Anglicanism was dumped in order to appeal to this departing constituency. For me, just as a lowly observer, wondering why I'd have anything to do with this "one reading", I said that the Archbishop had gone too far and is now losing those who have never caused any schismatic trouble. But it seems the bishops who are going to Lambeth 2008 are more in the know. If they are right, then the appeal to the schismatics won't have any force. And in any case no Church has to take any legal notice of such Instruments of Communion. A centralised Anglican Communion busts itself, because it can only ever declare a Church out of its membership, and then no Church has to take any notice - The Episcopal Church would not be isolated.

The danger, I'd reply, is still as in the lesson of electing Tony Blair as Prime Minister. People said of him, 'Ah he'll get Labour elected so we'll go along with it, and then Labour will govern with some socialism once again.' No! Don't be surprised if you set up an agenda that this is exactly what you get. Setting out with one reading, clarification and centralisation might just produce that result.

What is more likely now, with the SCRUNTSKies meeting, is an agenda broken backed before it gets going, and the bishops there discussing under a new situation - assuming that the SCRUNTSKies meeting does involve a launch and a new identity beyond going via Canterbury. They might find, after all, a new Mind of the Communion, the Canterbury Communion, rather than the SCRUNTSKie Communion.

If they don't, the reality is that all intentions of centralising to Canterbury and its Instruments of Communion will be finished. All that pseudo-Roman Catholic ecclesiology will be no more. The Primates via Canterbury will make their own decisions of Churches they recognise, and they will gather on the older more confederal or, at best, Eastern Orthodox Catholic basis. Bishops will not only defend but also interpret faith. There will be more than one reading of the Bible; there will be a recognition of what has happened in theology over some two hundred years.

2 comments:

Craig Uffman said...

Thanks for your always insightful analysis. Can you please explain the term "SCRUNTSKIE" for me? I could not follow that. Thanks.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Yeah!

Southern Cone
Rwanda
Uganda
Nigeria
Tanzania
Sydney
Kenya
india (but not yet - mission body expected)
england (but not yet - mission body expected)