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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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In order to try to rectify this situation, the Primates - based on a number of Lambeth resolutions urging them to exercise greater authority in such situations - made the unprecedented step of proposing their own solution to the internal problems of the American province. This involves the establishing of a Pastoral Council of up to five members (chaired by a Primate nominated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and with two members nominated by the Primates and two nominated by the Presiding Bishop) to implement a Pastoral Scheme, facilitate and encourage healing and reconciliation, monitor TEC's response to Windsor and 'consider whether any of the courses of action contemplated by the Windsor Report § 157 should be applied to the life of The Episcopal Church or its bishops'. 14
The Pastoral Scheme is focussed on the group known as 'Windsor' or 'Camp Allen' bishops (and others who may join them). They may provide pastoral oversight to parishes who request it and nominate a Primatial Vicar who will be delegated powers and duties by the Presiding Bishop and be responsible to the Council. Crucially, this system is to be implemented whatever decisions are made by the House of Bishops prior to September 30 th this year and the Scheme is 'intended to have force until the conclusion of the Covenant Process and a definitive statement of the position of the Episcopal Church with respect to the Covenant and its place within the life of the Communion, when some new provision may be required'. 15
The benefits of this solution are, first, that it prevents the establishment of a new province by creating a Primatially-sponsored and overseen interim structure within TEC during the covenant process. Second, it offers the hope of bringing an end to violations of this aspect of Windsor because, once the Pastoral Scheme is in place, 'the Primates undertake to end all interventions' and 'congregations or parishes in current arrangements will negotiate their place within the structures of pastoral oversight' set out in the scheme. 16 It is, however, noted that there are 'particular difficulties' with the more structured interventions undertaken by Rwanda (American Mission in America - AMiA) and Nigeria (Convocation of Anglicans in North America - CANA), both of which have consecrated former ECUSA/TEC priests as bishops. Third, it represents a conciliar way forward for the Communion agreed by the Primates as a whole rather than a unilateral solution offered simply by some of the Primates such as the Global South grouping or a part of that network.
This proposal therefore seeks to maintain the internal unity of the American church by providing much more robust structures of alternative pastoral oversight which are to be monitored by the wider Communion. In so doing, it hopes to encourage those currently identified with (or flirting with) Group I to become more communion-minded and align more clearly with Group II, just as elsewhere the communiqué seeks to encourage the American bishops clearly to distinguish themselves from Group IV by complying fully and unambiguously with The Windsor Report's recommendations.
The Primates in Tanzania therefore managed not only to avoid any split within the Communion but also to take actions that uphold both Lambeth I.10 and the Windsor Report and that encourage bishops, dioceses and provinces to act in conformity with these and move away from Group I and Group IV (positions that increase pressure for fragmentation and realignment) into Group II or Group III. The question now is whether TEC will be able to give the necessary reassurances and implement the proposed Pastoral Scheme and whether intervening bishops from the Global South will then work with the Scheme. Each one of these conditions remains far from certain but were they to be met then there is the real possibility that there could be greater stability over the next few years as the covenant process unfolds and a new pattern of life in communion continues to develop in our Communion relationships, to be articulated in Communion statements and to reform the Instruments of Communion.
It is not short but please take the time to read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Identity Anglican Primates Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007 Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology
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