On location in Jamaica with the Anglican Consultative Council: An Interview for Anglican Satellite Television with Bishop Nasser Alley, (Bishop-select) Canon Dr. Philip Crumb Monarch Bootslick, Canon Hatton Coaton, Reverend Doctor Art Tickle Righter and Doctor Stephen Niall N. Coffin. The interviewer is Archbishop Roald See O'Vee.
Archbishop Roald See O'Vee (RSV): There is a fairly general (though not universal) view, is there not, that Anglican differences can be understood within the spectrum of manageable diversity about what the Bible and the tradition allow and that, in the context of that manageable diversity Anglicanism is worth bothering with because it tries to be a Church neither tightly centralised nor just a loose federation of purely autonomous independent bodies that hears the Bible read in public and breaks bread and distribute wine under Christ with its threefold ministry and recognisable as Church to our ecumenical brothers and sisters...
(Bishop-select) Canon Dr. Philip Crumb Monarch Bootslick (PCMB): Absolutely, absolutely; you could not be more right.
Canon Hatton Coaton (HC): Yes.
Rev. Dr. Art Tickle Righter (ATR): Yes, absolutely.
Dr. Stephen Niall N. Coffin (SNNC): Indeed.
Bishop Nasser Alley (NA): Possibly so.
Archbishop RSV: And this is not meant in some bureaucratic way but, yes, I think so, according to that ministry...
Bishop NA: What is the question?
Archbishop RSV: Well, the question: if we were to draw on your internationalist perspective, for example, which you intend to develop, these common features of ministry and a biblically-centred form of common prayer, focus on the Holy Communion (I think so, yes): we are as a community attempting to grasp and gather regarding the action and the invitation of God that is made real for us in ministry and Bible and sacraments; and is this not what a Covenant between local Churches, by which I mean mainly national Churches, stands out as being the best way forward so long as, given the common features but the absence of one Canon Law, until some point in the future, is necessarily an 'opt-in' matter?
Canon HC: I would like to come in here. I think with this current draft, the Ridley-Cambridge, we have come to the view that it must be an opt-in Covenant between the Churches and have no impact at all on membership of the Institutions of the Anglican Communion.
Bishop NA: Why ever not? What is the point of having an agreement to be a Communion, if those who do not agree to be a Communion are still going to be in it?
Canon HC: Because we think there are legal difficulties about accepting foreign overview in some if not most Churches, and also we don't want a mad unprincipled scramble for membership.
Rev. Dr. ATR: We do not want The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada thinking it ought to join when they do not need to join. So we make it as little cost for them not joining as possible.
Bishop NA: Then what is the point of anyone joining, if it clearly means no cost and no benefit? What is the benefit of membership and the discipline of losing membership?
Dr. SNNC: It is in the entry conditions that we make a moral demand upon the protagonists: who it is who joins first, joins alone, is joined by others joining, and then decides whether the Covenant is effective or not effective, by the joining.
Canon Dr. PCMB: So those who join enhance the Communion conservative model of the Communion in the Covenant rather than those who remain out having a Federal Conservative model becoming endorsed by the Covenant, but allowing the Liberal Federal Model to keep out should conditions for them be doubly difficult.
Dr. SNNC: What?
Canon Dr. PCMB: Well, if you take the four-model...
Bishop NA: Shut up Philip, you're boring us already.
Archbishop RSV: Let me try to move this along a little with a further related question. It's about Churches, local, or national if you wish, being prepared to use the Covenant as an expression of responsibility to curtail local, or national, freedoms for a greater witness; and,of course, some might not be open to this. I think so, yes. Nevertheless, the RCDC, shall we call it...
Bishop NA: Sounds like AC DC to me.
Dr. SNNC: Yes, this has unfortunate sexual connotations which we are trying to marginalise.
Rev. Dr. ATR: Well I don't mind. Call the draft 'Jamaica'.
Bishop NA: Jamaica? No she volunteered. Like this Covenant.
Archbishop RSV: I would not use the word 'marginalise': self-sacrifice for the good of the Communion I would hope, especially if I can go on persuading others to do this. Anyway, I think we can call it The Draft. Ha ha. Volunteered! Yes, it does allow for autonomy to be better recognised but we can also allow for a set of constituent Churches and associate Churches but in a completely welcoming Anglican spirit under the newly re-emphasised Holy Spirit. Humm, yes I think so. We remain bound by historic and perhaps personal links, fed from many of the same sources, and now we try to retain as much institutional togetherness as possible whether or not we are in the Covenant or out of it, recognising that we are both in and out, and out and in, remaining a single and unrestricted sacramental communion, whilst having a situation where some Churches do not recognise others regardless of the Covenant, though it may indicate to some extent our inness and outness, and so the relationship now would be different from before when envisaged - not not unlike that between the Church of England and the Methodist Church, for example, between those who are in this Covenant and out of this Covenant.
Canon Dr. PCMB: You put this so well, Archbishop; I wish I could construct my answers in a similar way.
Bishop NA: He's lost me. Sounds like having it both ways. Typical Anglican and what does this say about informing British culture?
Rev. Dr. ATR: Now what were we trying to do?
Bishop NA: God knows - I hope He tells us by divine revelation or some such way because I don't know.
Rev. Dr. ATR: I can tell you. We were crafting a situation where clearly limited autonomy and interdependence was an issue, but also the autonomy argument of some dioceses, and that Church and province is looser now because of those who have TEC reasserter solutions and the Anglican Church of North America.
Canon Dr. PCMB: If we can just get ACNA to adopt a Communion Conservative approach rather than a Federal Conservative approach, this would go so far to repair the situation for Evangelicals. Only the other day Archbishop Orombi...
Rev. Dr. ATR: Philip, please. Please. By the way, have you been to that corner of England where you will have your new appointment? Anyone know of it?
Canon HC: Come on, come on. It is good to get out of London sometimes. Merrie England and bishops go together.
Canon Dr. PCMB: I think you might just be jealous.
Archbishop RSV: Gentlemen. This is the Anglican Communion. There really is very little to be jealous about. Ask me.
Rev. Dr. ATR: So, to continue, we have to be as flexible as possible, to allow for the possibility of new applications to become members of the Anglican Communion, though this is not directly linked to the Covenant but might just help accelerate it, with new bodies in our midst, and have dioceses join too, so that those of us like myself, in Canada, working from the inside, can gnaw away from the inside and basically bugger up the institution better than the GAFCON lot trying to do it from the outside.
Dr. SNNC: This is what I am saying to me old mates in GAFCON. Get in there! Do the old down the wing, cross the ball and goal! Get in there first. Join up and embarrass the heretics.
Bishop NA: Not at all, not at all. If the heretics join, the Covenant is worthless. This is no game of prisoner's dilemma about conditions of joining when the doors are open to the cells: it is about a Covenant that would make Anglicanism a further laughing stock if: everyone joined it, no one was disciplined for anything, and the same problems went on and on. That's why I am becoming independent. I'll do my own thing. If I can't have Canterbury, because I want to change Britain and reintroduce Christianity to the British, then we shall have to say that Canterbury is not essential to the Communion, and the Covenant assumes that it is.
Archbishop RSV: Well let me try and put it this way regarding The Draft. Jamaica? No she volunteered. Oh that is so very good. Yes, I think so. Put it this way. The associated Churches outside the Covenant would no longer have no direct part in the decision making of the constituent Churches in the Covenant, though they might well want to be observers whose views were sought or whose expertise was shared from time to time, though they could now be fully members, and with whom significant areas of co-operation might be possible either way in or out. Now of course this leaves many unanswered questions, yes, I know this, given that the lines of division with which we are dealing run within local, or national, Churches as well as between them. For example, if Sydney Archdiocese pursues the legitimacy of lay presidency at the Eucharist, what are we to do then? We would want them still at the centre of Anglican institutions even though we might want to comment on this complete breaking of the threefold order. So it cannot mean the ordered and mutually respectful separation between constituent and associated elements; but it could still mean a positive direction for Churches to work out what is involved in belonging in a global sacramental fellowship, to come together regardless for a waiting on God as St Paul commends to the Corinthians. By the way, are you looking forward to your retirement?
Bishop NA: You're not kidding. Pakistan looks like a good idea compared with all this rabble.
Canon Dr. PCMB: I'm really, really, excited about my new posting.
Canon HC: You must be riveted.
Canon Dr. PCMB: It's called wearing a pectoral cross when you are entitled to do so, Hatton.
Bishop NA: I've had enough of this. I'm going.
Dr. SNNC: I can feel another essay coming on: The Right Way is the GAFCON Way. We have the right institutions now to reform the Communion and if it doesn't like it we can do it ourselves.
Rev. Dr. ATR: I feel several essays coming on. You'll all be pleased to know that I'll get started straight away.
Archbishop RSV: Well, goodbye then Nasser. I suppose this means thank you everyone, and it's good to know that we shall soon be recommending this Covenant to the local Churches to try to get over the Anglican tendency to squabble. I shall probably then retire myself, as it will have done nothing really - will it? Yes, I think so. I don't think we'll end with a prayer. Yes, I think not. Goodbye all.
Canon Dr. PCMB: I'd just like to say to end how pleased I am that we are going forward with the Covenant and that as many... Oh I'd better leave as well if you're all going.